That time 26-year-old Stevie Salas told me about opening for Joe Satriani on the Blue Dream tour

By Steve Newton Way the funk back in June of 1990 I interviewed singer-songwriter and kick-ass guitarist Stevie Salas, who at the time was promoting his Stevie Salas Colorcode album, which I liked enough to put on my Top 10 list that year. "Hendrix meets Funkadelic in the Red Hot Chili Peppers’ practice space," was … Continue reading That time 26-year-old Stevie Salas told me about opening for Joe Satriani on the Blue Dream tour

That time I asked Steve Morse if the success of Joe Satriani and Steve Vai boded well for instrumental-rock artists

By Steve Newton When I interviewed Steve Morse for the first time in May of 1991, the American instrumental-rock scene was making great strides. While Morse himself was winning over critics with his Southern Steel album, both Joe Satriani and Steve Vai were heading toward gold-album status with their most recent discs, Flying in a … Continue reading That time I asked Steve Morse if the success of Joe Satriani and Steve Vai boded well for instrumental-rock artists

Album review: Joe Satriani, Flying in a Blue Dream (1989)

ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED IN THE GEORGIA STRAIGHT, DEC. 15, 1989 By Steve Newton Joe Satriani is the ultimate hero for air guitarists. When he burst on to the mainstream recording scene with the all-instrumental Surfing With the Alien last year, his high-voltage attack had people everywhere going, "What the hell is that?" Not since Eddie Van … Continue reading Album review: Joe Satriani, Flying in a Blue Dream (1989)

That time I asked Jeff Healey about his 1989 Grammy nomination and he told me that Jimmy Page would probably win

By Steve Newton On February 16, 1989, I did the second of my three interviews with Canadian guitar hero Jeff Healey. He was only 22 at the time, but holy crap could that guy play! Anyway, this was about five months after the release of his wicked debut album, See the Light, which you may … Continue reading That time I asked Jeff Healey about his 1989 Grammy nomination and he told me that Jimmy Page would probably win

Happy Newt Year: a social-studies teacher really likes my book on Gord Downie

By Steve Newton Happy Newt Year everybody! January 1 is often a day of reflection, going over the previous year's highlights, so let's get reflectin'. As a rock writer, 2018 had some memorable moments. I pulled off my eighth interview with guitar hero Joe Satriani, for one thing. I had my first chat with Gerry … Continue reading Happy Newt Year: a social-studies teacher really likes my book on Gord Downie

Newt’s Top 10 Albums of 2018

By Steve Newton This year I picked some instrumental rock, some hard rock, some southern rock, and some Beatles, but the underlying thread running through most of this stuff is the blues. You just can't beat the blues. Joe Satriani What Happens Next Bay Area guitar wizard hooks up once again with Langley producer Mike Fraser … Continue reading Newt’s Top 10 Albums of 2018

AC/DC in Vancouver: Mike Fraser spotted with Brian Johnson and Phil Rudd, maybe calling Cliff Williams on his phone?

photo courtesy Glenn Slavens and Crystal Lambert (cgrocker18@gmail.com) By Steve Newton Hardcore AC/DC fans and photographic rumour-spreaders Glenn Slavens and Crystal Lambert are at it again. The dynamic Vancouver duo--he has the camera, she has the pad--have shared another photo with Ear of Newt that furthers the idea that everybody's fave hard-rock band is working … Continue reading AC/DC in Vancouver: Mike Fraser spotted with Brian Johnson and Phil Rudd, maybe calling Cliff Williams on his phone?

Album review: Blue Öyster Cult, Imaginos (1988)

ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED IN THE GEORGIA STRAIGHT, SEPT. 9, 1988 By Steve Newton Few rock 'n' roll bands can fuse raunchy guitars and menacing vocals and still come up with really beautiful music. But New York's Blue Öyster Cult has done that on more than a dozen albums since 1972. The latest boasts the same hard-hitting, … Continue reading Album review: Blue Öyster Cult, Imaginos (1988)

Album review: Joe Satriani, Surfing with the Alien (1988)

ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED IN THE GEORGIA STRAIGHT, JUNE 3, 1988 By Steve Newton Boy, talk about a guitarist's wet dream! This Satriani guy comes up with some of the wildest, most innovative rock guitar sounds in many a day. He even makes Eddie Van Halen sound like a hacker! Okay, so maybe he's not that good. But if … Continue reading Album review: Joe Satriani, Surfing with the Alien (1988)

Caught on tape: that time Strat fanatic Yngwie Malmsteen trash-talked Ibanez and Les Paul guitars

By Steve Newton The most popular story I ever posted on Ear of Newt--until I broke the news about AC/DC being spotted in Vancouver back in 2018--was the one from 2014 with the headline Yngwie Malmsten calls Ibanez guitars "a bad copy" of the Strat and says Les Pauls are "furniture". For some reason people--mostly guitar players, … Continue reading Caught on tape: that time Strat fanatic Yngwie Malmsteen trash-talked Ibanez and Les Paul guitars

Album review: Yardbirds, Birdland (2003)

ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED IN THE GEORGIA STRAIGHT, MAY 8, 2003 By Steve Newton You might think, since the current version of the Yardbirds includes only two founding members of the pioneering ’60s Brit-rock act—rhythm guitarist Chris Dreja and drummer Jim McCarty—that the latest installment is just trying to cash in on the group’s famous name. One … Continue reading Album review: Yardbirds, Birdland (2003)

Album review: Joe Satriani/Eric Johnson/Steve Vai G3—Live in Concert (1997)

ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED IN THE GEORGIA STRAIGHT, JULY 10, 1997 By Steve Newton Talk about a rock-guitar freak’s dream gig! Three American masters of the electric six-string unite for a tour that sees each of them performing a separate set before they combine on a three-song jam-o-rama. Break out the air guitars, kids—and dust up on … Continue reading Album review: Joe Satriani/Eric Johnson/Steve Vai G3—Live in Concert (1997)

Album review: Nathan Cavaleri Band, Nathan (1994)

  ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED IN THE GEORGIA STRAIGHT, DEC. 22, 1994 By Steve Newton Rock-guitar wizards just keep getting younger and younger. Last year I thought I’d seen the littlest guitar wizard around when 13-year-old Steve Vai protégé Thomas McRocklin and his band, Bad4Good, opened for Joe Satriani at the Queen Elizabeth Theatre. Now 11-year-old Australian … Continue reading Album review: Nathan Cavaleri Band, Nathan (1994)

Album review: Joe Satriani, The Extremist (1992)

  ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED IN THE GEORGIA STRAIGHT, SEPT. 10, 1992 By Steve Newton As much as I admire Kim Mitchell as a musician and songwriter, I must say that he ticked me off somewhat when I interviewed him a couple of months back. We were talking guitarists when Joe Satriani’s name came up, and Mitchell … Continue reading Album review: Joe Satriani, The Extremist (1992)

Album review: Alice Cooper, Hey Stoopid (1991)

ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED IN THE GEORGIA STRAIGHT, NOV. 28, 1991 By Steve Newton “Hey, hey, hey, hey...hey stoopid!” Why do I keep singing that line to myself when people are within hearing distance? Shouldn’t a 30-something guy like myself have grown out of such juvenile practices? No friggin’ way. Alice Cooper is still my hero, even … Continue reading Album review: Alice Cooper, Hey Stoopid (1991)

The incredible story behind the Ear of Newt autographed guitar

By Steve Newton Back in January of 2013 when I started planning the Ear of Newt website--which I launched on Halloween night that year--I knew I had to get my autographed plexiglass guitar into the picture. I'd been dragging it around to concerts to get it signed by my fave pickers--folks like Link Wray, Ronnie … Continue reading The incredible story behind the Ear of Newt autographed guitar

Roland Nipp proves himself a Satch-style melody master with In the Cool of the Dawn

  By Steve Newton I first got turned onto Roland Nipp--a Canadian guitarist out of Richmond, B.C.--through his 2000 debut album, Blue Room, a multicoloured mix of jazz, blues, and rock stylings that blew me away with its blend of technical prowess and melodic sense. Now Nipp's got a new album out, In the Cool … Continue reading Roland Nipp proves himself a Satch-style melody master with In the Cool of the Dawn

Bass god Stu Hamm compares Joe Satriani to Steve Vai and raves about Jaco Pastorius

By Steve Newton Way back in October of 1991 I did an interview with bassist Stu Hamm, a giant of the four-string who was best known for his work with guitar heroes Joe Satriani and Steve Vai. He had recently released his album The Urge, and was headed to Vancouver for a club gig. At … Continue reading Bass god Stu Hamm compares Joe Satriani to Steve Vai and raves about Jaco Pastorius

Joe Satriani isn’t a Gibson man but he’s the ultimate melody maker

By Steve Newton Joe Satriani has long been known as one of the most technically proficient rock guitarists around, a speedy fretburner and masterful creator of—to use the title of his 2002 album—Strange Beautiful Music. The beauty in his tunes has a lot to do with his ability to craft gorgeous melodies. You may recall … Continue reading Joe Satriani isn’t a Gibson man but he’s the ultimate melody maker

Joe Satriani likes Uli Jon Roth’s Sky guitar, but says 24 frets are enough for him

By Steve Newton Back in 2016 I went and saw Uli Jon Roth's Ultimate Guitar Experience in Vancouver, and man--the things the German guitar wizard and ex-Scorp can do on his 32-fret Sky guitar are something to behold. So a few weeks later when I interviewed Joe Satriani for the sixth or seventh time I asked him what … Continue reading Joe Satriani likes Uli Jon Roth’s Sky guitar, but says 24 frets are enough for him

That time I asked Joe Satriani to pick five “desert islands discs” and he went 80 percent Hendrix

By Steve Newton Back in 2016 I interviewed one of my fave guitarists, Joe Satriani, for the seventh time. I'm always curious what the world's finest pickers would choose as their "desert island discs"--the albums they'd choose if they were ever stranded like Gilligan, but with some vinyl and a killer stereo. And electricity, of … Continue reading That time I asked Joe Satriani to pick five “desert islands discs” and he went 80 percent Hendrix

That time Uli Jon Roth told me that Yngwie Malmsteen was “one of the alltime greats”, but that he wasn’t impressed by speed

By Steve Newton When Uli Jon Roth called me up in 2016 to promote his Ultimate Guitar Experience show in Vancouver, we ended up chatting about some of the other guitar tours he's been on, like the G3 European Tour back in 1998, when he shared the stage with Joe Satriani and Michael Schenker, who … Continue reading That time Uli Jon Roth told me that Yngwie Malmsteen was “one of the alltime greats”, but that he wasn’t impressed by speed

Uli Jon Roth recalls the friction between Joe Satriani and Michael Schenker on the 1998 G3 European tour

By Steve Newton Back in 2016 I had a nice chat with German guitar maestro Uli Jon Roth. As we were talking about Uli Jon Roth's Ultimate Guitar Experience--the tour he was on with Jennifer Batten and Andy Timmons--I mentioned a previous guitar tour he was part of, the G3 European Tour of 1998. That … Continue reading Uli Jon Roth recalls the friction between Joe Satriani and Michael Schenker on the 1998 G3 European tour

Newt’s Top 10 albums of 2000

ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED IN THE GEORGIA STRAIGHT, DEC. 14, 2000 By Steve Newton Sometimes I feel like I don’t know anything at all about popular music. Maybe you feel that way too—like I don’t know anything at all about popular music. I just don’t understand how a hate-filled sicko like Eminem can be revered by millions. … Continue reading Newt’s Top 10 albums of 2000

Newt’s Top 10 albums of 1998

ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED IN THE GEORGIA STRAIGHT, DEC. 17, 1998 By Steve Newton Yee-hah! I managed to make it through yet another year without having to listen to anyone named DJ anything. The Tragically Hip Phantom Power  Ontario’s guitar-rock kings continue their winning ways with a potent batch of raggedy ruminations on everything Canadian, from Bobby … Continue reading Newt’s Top 10 albums of 1998

Newt’s Top 10 albums of 1995

ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED IN THE GEORGIA STRAIGHT, DEC. 1995 By Steve Newton I must have gotten tired of listening to rock vocalists in 1995, because the majority of my top picks for the year turned out to be instrumental releases. Who needs to rack their brain deciphering lyrics when a well-handled guitar can do all the … Continue reading Newt’s Top 10 albums of 1995