Monday, September 25, 2017

RJ Podcast: Ronnie Platt Of Kansas Discusses Current Tour & Recent Studio Album "The Prelude Implicit"

CD Review: Feel The Rush Of Emotions With The Music Of "This Is Us" And The New Release By "Home Free"

NBC found their way into people hearts with the #1 new show "This Is Us." The drama captured over 12 million viewers and is one of the most anticipated shows to return this fall. To help with that anticipation, Universal Music is releasing "This Is Us (Music From The Series)" on September 15th. The soundtrack features 20 tracks, including popular songs by Paul Simon ("Call Me Al"), Stevie Wonder ("Uptight") and Ringo Starr ("Photograph"), mixed with modern folk classics by Wilco, Maria Taylor, Conor Oberst and Sufjan Stevens. Most of the songs are beautiful acoustic, storytelling folk tales that just need to be dusted off and re-introduced to the world as with Cat Stevens' "The Wind" and "Blues Run The Game" by Jackson C Frank." Many classic artists are featured on this soundtrack including Blind Faith ("Can't Find My Way Home"), Gene Clark ("Because Of You") and Badfinger ("Without You"). Not only will these songs invoke your own memories, but were also features in crucial moments during the "This Is Us" series. Also arriving is the complete first season of "This Is Us" on DVD. Look for the season 2 premiere on September 26 on NBC. For more information on "This Is Us (Music From The Series)," please visit universalmusicenterprises.com.

American vocal group Home Free recently released their new studio album titled "Timeless." This 5-piece a cappella group decided to gather some of their favorite songs from the past 4 decades and give them the Home Free vocal treatment. The album also includes 4 original tracks mixes in among the covers. A couple of the more obvious picks for this new release are Tom Cochrane's "Life Is A Highway," Dave Mason's "We Just Disagree" along with "Man Of Constant Sorrow." The songs are of course highlighted by the wonderful harmonies between the band members. A couple of surprises that appear on this release is Ed Sheeran's "Castle On The Hill," which is given an upbeat country rhythm, and John Mayer's "In The Blood," which carries a classic Oak Ridge Boys tone. The album closes with a slicked-up pop version of Blake Shelton's "Hillbilly Bone" and the upbeat original modern country flavor of "Timeless." Home Free are currently on the road, at the beginning of their 3 month U.S. tour. For a complete list of dates and to find out more about their latest release "Timeless," please visit homefreemusic.com.

Sunday, September 24, 2017

Concert Review: The Toyota Oakdale Theatre Brings Back Hall Of Famers YES Featuring ARW

The progressive rock band Yes were recently inducted into the rock and roll hall of fame this past March. All of the band’s surviving members were present and even performed on stage together, but the love would not last. The remaining members ended up splitting the name and going their own ways. Long-time Yes guitarist Steve Howe took his version of the band on the road as the headliners of Yestival tour, while original Yes singer Jon Anderson and long-time keyboardist Rick Wakeman and guitarist Trevor Rabin went back out on the road as Yes featuring Anderson Rabin and Wakeman (ARW).

Saturday night at the Toyota Oakdale Theatre became a nostalgic trip for many in attendance as Yes featuring ARW made a much welcomed return trip to the area. The hour long first set began with the short instrumental “Cinema,” which led into “Perpetual Change,” featuring the amazing guitar work of Trevor Rabin. Keyboard wizard Rick Wakeman with his shimmering cape, led the way through “Hold On” and “South Side Of The Sky,” which leader singer Jon mentioned it came out before most of the audience was born. After the extended jam of “And You And I,” Yes closed the first set with a couple of fan favorites “Changes” and a rocking version of “Rhythm Of Love.”

The second set only featured four songs, beginning with the melodic tones of "I Am Waiting" from the band's 1994 album "Talk." Then the more epic pieces of the evening brought the audience on a sonic adventure with the deep rock groove of "Heart Of The Sunshine" and the twenty-plus minute "Awaken," highlighted by Wakeman's keyboard solos. Yes featuring ARW finished the set with their most well-known hit single "Owner Of A Lonely Heart." The song's extended jam took Rabin and Wakeman into the audience to perform solos, before reconvening onstage to add a line from Cream's "Sunshine Of Your Love."

The evening's two hour-plus performance concluded with the fan favorite "Roundabout" as Anderson, Rabin and Wakeman gave their all with a great support team of Lee Pomeroy on bass and Louis Molino III on drums. With a 50th anniversary looming in the near future, fans can certainly expect more for the Yes camp in the next couple years.

Setlist: Cinema, Perpetual Change, Hold On, South Side Of The Sky, And You And I, Changes, Rhythm Of Love, I Am Waiting, Heart Of The Sunshine, Awaken, Owner Of A Lonely Heart Encore: Roundabout

Saturday, September 23, 2017

CD Review: UFO Return With "The Salentino Cuts" & OTIS Aims For "The Sun"

Classic rock band UFO currently have one of their most steady line-ups of their entire 48 year career, having been together now for almost ten years. To celebrate that achievement, the band decided to record some of their favorite c0ver songs for their first every full covers album. The new release titled "The Salentino Cuts" will be released on September 29th on CD and limited edition vinyl.

The new 12-song album begins with the classic sixties sounding "Heartful Of Soul," originally by The Yeardbirds. The band continues with an energized, punk-like version of The Doors' "Break On Through (To The Other Side)," before trying their hand at an odd cover for UFO, Mad Season's "River Of Deceit." The music is almost identical to the original, while lead singer Phil Mogg's vocals gives the song a bluesy vibe. UFO sound renewed during John Mellencamp's "Paper In Fire," while guitarist Vinnie Moore takes over the lead with his solos on Montrose's "Rock Candy" and Robin Trower's "Too Rolling Stoned." They wrap up their new album with a return to the sixties with a hard rocking version of The Animals "It's My Life." UFO are currently on tour, just recently returning to the states for two months of shows. To find out more about their new album "The Salentino Cuts," please visit the band's Facbook page at facebook.com/UFOofficial.

If the loss of the Allman Brothers Band have left a hole in your blues heart, then I have the perfect remedy, shot of OTIS! This south Kentucky band recently released their sophomore album, "Eyes Of The Sun" and have been hailed by legendary blues guitarist Billy Gibbons (ZZ Top). Their new 11-song release begins with "Change," which will bring up memories of Duane Allman's sweet slide guitar work as the band motors through this high-powered rock gem. The album continues with the big blues guitar sound of "Eyes Of The Sun" as lead singer Boone Froggett belts out the vocals with shear force. OTIS also showcase their ZZ Top influence on the guitar-boogie shuffle of "Home," before the back-to-back six minute jams of "Shake You" and "Turn To Stone." They finish up their new album with the swampy acoustic blues instrumental "Relief In C" and the 7-minute, gospel-like blues of "Let Your Love Shine Down." To find out more about OTIS and their latest release "Eyes Of The Sun," please visit theotisband.com.

Friday, September 22, 2017

Concert Review: Katy Perry Makes The 2nd Stop Of Her "Witness: The Tour" At Mohegan Sun

Elite pop artist Katy Perry kicked off her brand new "Witness: The Tour" last Tuesday in Montreal, Canada to stellar reviews. Her first U.S. date on this 5-month tour was Thursday night at the Mohegan Sun arena in Uncasville, CT and it went wonderfully, with only a couple of hitches. Walking into the arena, you were greeted by a huge eye-shaped video screen that stood from the ceiling to the stage floor and took up the entire width of the arena. Flowing from the eye was an extended catwalk in the shape of a tear that was used extensively during the evening's performance.
 
The night was broken up into five different acts, each grouped together with songs that carried a common theme. As the lights went out shortly after 8:30 p.m., The huge eye-shaped video screen came alive with a space-like introduction. Each of the night's five segments kicked off with a video introduction, plus each act had it's own set of outfits for Katy Perry and her dancers.
 
As the opening video's journey ended, the screen split in two to reveal Katy Perry on a giant metal star being lowered to the stage as she kicks off her show with one of her new songs, "Witness." The awards show-like production of her concert featured giant dice with dancers coming out of the holes during "Roulette" and even left shark (from her Superbowl halftime performance) made an appearance during "California Gurls."
 
The night became a little more improv and less scripted when she called her mother from the stage to see how she was doing. Her mom asked how Katy was doing, by using her nicknames, "feather" and "turtle" and Katy's mom also told her to try the sky drop (which actually appears at the Foxwoods Resort & Casino).
 
Katy Perry continued to rock the night away with the guitar frenzied monsters of "E.T." and the funky groove of "Bon Appetit," before being eaten by an enlarged venus fly trap. This being only the second show of her extensive tour, she hit some technical difficulties when the planet she was supposed to ride would not drop from the ceiling in order for her to get on. After a short wait, Katy Perry was able to climb aboard her planet which would bring her on a track throughout the arena as she sang one of her favorite songs acoustically, "Thinking Of You."
 
Dressed in a sliver, shimmery costume, Perry would perform one of her new ballads "Save As Draft" from a smaller stage located in the middle of the area, before a laser show signaled the intense drum roll of another one her new songs, "Power." The final act of the evening included a ride on Tron-like motorcycle during "Hey Hey Hey" and a giant basketball shoot-up between Katy Perry and a father from the audience (who made his daughter's day by getting Katy Perry to wish her a happy birthday) during her recent hit single "Swish Swish." She finished her set with a giant lion's head appearing from between the video screens during her performance of her big hit single "Roar." 
 
The encore would feature Katy Perry rising from under the stage at the end of the tear-shaped catwalk. She would appear in the palm of a giant inflatable hand in a perfectly fitting evening gown to perform her hit song "Firework" as every fan in the arena was singing along, almost drowning out the pop star. So even though the beginning of her tour was delayed and she overcame a couple glitches in her performance this evening, Katy Perry made the audience feel extra special that night for being a part of her dreamlike, spectacular concert. 
 
The evening's opening act featured pop singer, Noah Cyrus (daughter of Billy Ray Cyrus), as she performed a short 30 minute set that included a cover of Lady Gaga's "Million Reasons" and her brand new single, "Again." Her performance also featured a quick, 2-song acoustic set, which seemed to fit her country background.
 
Setlist: Witness, Roulette, Dark Horse, Chained To The Rhythm, Teenage Dream, Hot N Cold, Last Friday Night, California Gurls, I Kissed A Girl, Deja Vu, Tsunami, E.T., Bon Appetit, Thinking Of You, Save As Draft, Power, Hey Hey Hey, Part Of Me, Swish Swish, Road Encore: Firework