That time Heartbreakers guitarist Mike Campbell told me how he got into Tom Petty’s band

By Steve Newton Tom Petty is one of my favourite rockers, and I'm really bummed that I never got to interview him. But I did get to do the next best thing, which was chat with his forever guitarist, Mike Campbell. I interviewed Campbell in August of 1999, before Tom Petty & the Heartbreakers played … Continue reading That time Heartbreakers guitarist Mike Campbell told me how he got into Tom Petty’s band

The 70 greatest opening tracks of the ’70s

By Steve Newton Remember how you'd set the needle down on the opening track of a new rock album and the first tune would just blow you the funk away? Me too. "(Ain't Nothin' But a) House Party" (Bloodshot, J. Geils Band, 1973) "All the Way From Memphis" (Mott, Mott the Hoople, 1973) "Already Gone" … Continue reading The 70 greatest opening tracks of the ’70s

R.I.P. Tom Petty: here’s 10 of the Newt’s fave Petty tunes

  By Steve Newton Tom Petty may be gone, but the music he made will live on forever, because that's how music works. Here's 10 of my favourite Petty tunes from 10 different Petty albums. Maybe there's a couple here you like as well. "American Girl" from Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers, 1976: "I Need to … Continue reading R.I.P. Tom Petty: here’s 10 of the Newt’s fave Petty tunes

Tom Petty lightly weighs in on Sam Smith’s ripping off of “Won’t Back Down”

By Steve Newton I normally try to avoid songs like Sam Smith's Grammy-nominated hit, "Stay With Me". It's not that I'm a hard-hearted wretch who can't stand a bit of sappiness, but, really, would it have killed the guy to throw a wailing guitar solo in there somewhere? The song is infectious, I'll admit. I … Continue reading Tom Petty lightly weighs in on Sam Smith’s ripping off of “Won’t Back Down”

The Newt’s top 10 albums of 2014: yep, AC/DC’s on there

AC/DC Rock or Bust With the help of Langley’s Mike Fraser as engineer and mixer, the Australian hard-rock icons create a fitting follow-up to 2008’s hugely successful Black Ice album. Its first-ever album without stalwart rhythm guitarist Malcolm Young shows the band in fine, swaggering form. Pink Floyd  The Endless River The prog-rock legends’ first album in … Continue reading The Newt’s top 10 albums of 2014: yep, AC/DC’s on there

Tom Petty will play some of the Newt’s fave tunes in Vancouver

I've seen Tom Petty in concert a bunch of times, and two of those gigs are worthy of my Top 10 Concerts of All Time. Or they would be if I actually compiled my Top 10 Concerts of All Time. I'm saving that one for a rainy day.The first time I saw Petty and his … Continue reading Tom Petty will play some of the Newt’s fave tunes in Vancouver

Tom Petty forgot to put the Newt in charge of the set list for his Vancouver show

@shotbykevin ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED IN THE GEORGIA STRAIGHT, MAY 11, 1995 By Steve Newton Some rock bands have a magical way of winning over a crowd straightaway, and Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers are a prime example. I saw them do it back in ’78 at the Commodore on the You’re Gonna Get It tour, and … Continue reading Tom Petty forgot to put the Newt in charge of the set list for his Vancouver show

After partying on the Black Crowes tour, the Jayhawks mellow out with Tom Petty

ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED IN THE GEORGIA STRAIGHT, APRIL 27, 1995 By Steve Newton Here’s a tip for new bands trying to get ahead in today’s music biz: make sure that when any important industry types call and you put them on hold, your music is what they hear while they’re waiting. It worked for the Jayhawks, … Continue reading After partying on the Black Crowes tour, the Jayhawks mellow out with Tom Petty

Jeff Healey defends the bluesiness of new album Feel This

ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED IN THE GEORGIA STRAIGHT, MAY 13, 1993 By Steve Newton Usually when I picture the Jeff Healey Band in concert, I visualize Healey seated at centre stage, his guitar on his lap, surrounded only by a couple of guys with curly black hair (drummer Tom Stephen and bassist Joe Rockman). But when the … Continue reading Jeff Healey defends the bluesiness of new album Feel This

Eric Clapton’s J.J. Cale tribute features Derek Trucks, Albert Lee, and Doyle Bramhall II

By Steve Newton FULL DISCLOSURE: I fuckin' love J.J. Cale. Universal Music Canada has announced that Eric Clapton will release a star-studded album honouring J.J. Cale's legacy this summer. Titled The Breeze, An Appreciation of JJ Cale, the 16-track disc will feature guitar by Clapton on all tracks, with guest appearances by such shit-hot pickers as Derek … Continue reading Eric Clapton’s J.J. Cale tribute features Derek Trucks, Albert Lee, and Doyle Bramhall II

Tom Petty blows into the psychedelic dragon’s harmonica in Vancouver

ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED IN THE GEORGIA STRAIGHT, NOV. 21, 1991 By Steve Newton “Oh, those fabulous ’70s,” intoned Tom Petty halfway through his Monday-night (November 18) show at the Coliseum. The Florida native was catching his breath between a couple of his early tunes, “Here Comes My Girl” and “Breakdown”, but you couldn’t really tell if … Continue reading Tom Petty blows into the psychedelic dragon’s harmonica in Vancouver

Chris Whitley figures Johnny Winter is the best blues-rock record ever made

ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED IN THE GEORGIA STRAIGHT, NOV. 14, 1991 By Steve Newton Certain albums hold sacred places in people’s hearts. They know every chorus, verse, and bridge of one particular LP. For me, that ultimate album might be Mott the Hoople’s Mott. For dobro ace Chris Whitley, it’s definitely Johnny Winter’s Johnny Winter. “To me, … Continue reading Chris Whitley figures Johnny Winter is the best blues-rock record ever made

This Is the Blues goes heavy on underrated guitar hero Peter Green

ORIGINALLY POSTED ON STRAIGHT.COM, JUNE 15, 2010 By Steve Newton Several years ago I was combing the CD stacks at Zulu Records—back when they were located on the other side of Fourth and a little further east—and came across the 1995 tribute album Rattlesnake Guitar: The Music of Peter Green. Man, what a find that … Continue reading This Is the Blues goes heavy on underrated guitar hero Peter Green

Bob Dylan Blu-ray smokes with Johnny Winter, Neil Young & Tom Petty

By Steve Newton Back in October of '92 a mindblowing array of the world's top recording artists performed at New York's Madison Square Garden for Bob Dylan's 30th anniversary concert celebration, and this Tuesday (March 4) a deluxe edition of the concert is being released on CD, DVD and Blu-ray. I watched the Blu-ray this … Continue reading Bob Dylan Blu-ray smokes with Johnny Winter, Neil Young & Tom Petty

Ear of Newt’s Top 30 Rock Albums of 1979

Ah, 1979. According to my calculations, that was the last year of the '70s, which was the greatest decade for guitar-based rock music ever. I'd like to thank Fender, Gibson, Marshall, and everyone else who created the instruments of my enjoyment back then. A Million Vacations: Max Webster ("Paradise Skies", "A Million Vacations", "Let Go … Continue reading Ear of Newt’s Top 30 Rock Albums of 1979

Ear of Newt’s Top 30 Rock Albums of 1978

I'll always remember 1978 as the year I saw Tom Petty & the Heartbreakers at the Commodore Ballroom in Vancouver, when they were touring behind You're Gonna Get It. I'll also remember it for that time Thin Lizzy guitarist Scott Gorham took me backstage when the band opened for Styx at the Coliseum. Unfortunately, I'll … Continue reading Ear of Newt’s Top 30 Rock Albums of 1978

Country grrrl Kathleen Edwards on Back to Me

ORIGINALLY POSTED ON STRAIGHT.COM, MAY 26, 2005 By Steve Newton When Toronto roots-pop sensation Kathleen Edwards calls the Straight from a Tennessee tour stop, she's strolling the streets of Nashville en route to a yoga class. "It's what you need when you sit on a bus all day," she points out. Along the way, she's … Continue reading Country grrrl Kathleen Edwards on Back to Me

Spirit of Keef surfaces on top-notch Matt Mays & El Torpedo

ORIGINALLY POSTED ON STRAIGHT.COM, OCT. 27, 2005 By Steve Newton There's a foldout poster that comes with the self-titled Matt Mays & El Torpedo CD, but it's not your typical rockers-posing shot, suitable for taping on any starstruck fan's wall. It's more like what veteran Straight scribe Alexander Varty describes as "guitar porn": a photo … Continue reading Spirit of Keef surfaces on top-notch Matt Mays & El Torpedo

Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers’ Vancouver gig shows time is catching up with the rockers

ORIGINALLY POSTED ON STRAIGHT.COM, JUNE 9, 2010 Man, I gotta quit living in the past, because my expectations are just too damn high. Two of the greatest concerts I’ve ever seen were Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers at the Commodore in 1978 and then Petty again—with Bob Dylan—at Berkeley, California’s Greek Theatre in ’84. Both … Continue reading Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers’ Vancouver gig shows time is catching up with the rockers

Drive-By Truckers make a departure

ORIGINALLY POSTED ON STRAIGHT.COM, MARCH 9, 2011 By Steve Newton Last year the Drive-By Truckers released The Big To-Do, a raucous collection of southern-fried alt-country tunes highlighted by the exuberant single “Birthday Boy”. A totally different vibe typifies the band’s new album, Go-Go Boots, which is surprising since its material was recorded during the same sessions as … Continue reading Drive-By Truckers make a departure

Sun Wizard takes an old-school approach to rock ‘n’ roll

ORIGINALLY POSTED ON STRAIGHT.COM, MARCH 29, 2011 “SUN WIZARD ARE your favourite band from when you were in high school,” begins the bio accompanying local guitar-rock quartet Sun Wizard’s full-length debut album, Positively 4th Avenue. That’s a pretty grand statement, but of course its accuracy depends on when and where you went to high school. It wasn’t … Continue reading Sun Wizard takes an old-school approach to rock ‘n’ roll

The Darkness lights up Vancouver with a guitar-rock show for the ages

ORIGINALLY POSTED ON STRAIGHT.COM, FEB. 25, 2012 By Steve Newton I've seen a lot of great rock concerts at the Commodore over the years, but the one that's always stood out for me as "best ever" was Tom Petty & the Heartbreakers back in '78, just after the release of the You're Gonna Get It! album. I … Continue reading The Darkness lights up Vancouver with a guitar-rock show for the ages