Red-hot Blues guitarist is headed to Riverbend for a show with his all-star power trio, The Rides
Kenny Wayne Shepherd has brought a youthful side to American Blues music ever since the great success of his first album, Ledbetter Heights,
which went platinum and reached No. 1 on the Blues charts. He was just
17 at the time of the album's release and has gone on to put out several
more successful Rock/Blues albums with his Kenny Wayne Shepherd Band,
featuring Cincinnati's Noah Hunt on lead vocals.
Shepherd has developed a new exciting project called The
Rides with Rock and Roll Hall of Famer Stephen Stills and Barry
Goldberg, a veteran musician who formed The Electric Flag with Mike
Bloomfield in the late ’60s and has written and produced many classics. The Rides are performing at the Ohio River
Throwdown, a new Roots music festival, this Saturday at Riverbend Music
Center, playing alongside other acts like Tedeschi Trucks Band, JJ Grey
and the Mofro, Los Lobos and many other artists. CityBeat chatted with
Shepherd recently about his new project.
CityBeat: I saw behind the scenes videos
of The Rides recording in the studio together. What was your favorite
experience being in the studio with the other two guys?
Kenny Wayne Shepherd: Well, the whole thing was a
really good experience. Everybody had a really great time doing the
record. It’s just very interesting. You look back over the course
Stephen's career, and Barry as well, and these guys have made some
really tremendous records in their time. They have also been on so many
albums and done this for so many years that they have accumulated a vast
wealth of knowledge of how to do things in the studio. For me, even
though I have had my recording career for 20 years now, I still consider
myself to be like a sponge, just trying to soak up as much information
as I can. I learned a lot from those guys and it was a really good time.
CB: Where did the name of the band actually originate?
KWS: We were putting our heads together. It went on
for two weeks. One of the hardest things to do is to come up with a
band name, at least it can be one of the most challenging things to do. A
lot of the reasons why it is so hard to do nowadays is because almost
every name has been used. Everything we came up with, we would go back
home and I would look it up online and do a Google search and someone
would have that name and we would start over again.
We spent a lot of the time in the studio between
recordings … Stephen and I are both big car guys, I mean we love cars.
Stephen and his wife have some of the most incredible cars you could
hope to own. I have a pretty cool collection myself. We spent a good bit
of time talking about cars and driving and stuff like that. As we were
exploring name options for the band, one day we were at Stephen's house
and I had driven my 1964 Dodge to his house and we were walking out to
the driveway to leave and he just looked at my car and said, “You know
we should be called 'The Rides.' ” I was like, “Yeah. That’s cool.” I
went home and checked and couldn’t find anybody with that name. So here
CB: What is your favorite car you have?
KWS: I don’t know. I would say right now my 1969
Dodge Charger, and I think it is one of the most beautiful, one of the
most visually stunning cars that was ever designed. Probably that one is
CB: I have listened to the new album and I really, really love it. What is your favorite song to play on the new album?
KWS: I go through phases when I do a new record
like, “Right now this is my favorite song …” and then a few months from
now a different one is my favorite one. Currently my favorite is “Can’t
Get Enough,” the title track. That song is a great representation of
this band and what we are about. It is one of the songs we wrote
together. It has great, heavy guitars. It has got really, good lyrics.
Even the vocal is nice and raspy and bluesy. There are lots of dynamics
to that song and I think it is just really a great representation of who
we are as a group.
CB: Typically you are touring with your band by yourself. What was it like splitting singing duties with Stephen?
KWS: I split singing duties, to a degree, in my own
band. I have Noah Hunt, who is from Cincinnati, he has been my lead
vocalist for 17 years. But over the past few years of my career, I have
stepped up here and there to the microphone when I wanted to, and on the
last record we recorded, Noah and I sang a lot of songs together. I
have kind of started to integrate that idea into my own band even though
I tend to let Noah sing most of the songs because he has such an
incredible voice and it enables me more to focus more on my guitar
playing. There is certainly, in this band, more vocal responsibility for
me. I really wanted to do it. It is pretty cool. Like being around
Stephen, who is so well known for his singing and vocals, it has been
inspiring to me to step up to the microphone and sing more.
CB: I thought I saw Noah at the Peter Frampton show in Cincinnati.
KWS: He was there. He went to the show because we
had just been on the road with Peter over the past two months, we had
done some shows with him. Noah wanted to go hang out and see everybody
when they came through town so he went.
CB: What is the favorite guitar you have ever played?
KWS: The one I am most attached to is my 1961 Stratocaster. It is the first Strat I ever got.
When you are a guitar player you hear this story about how
there is this one guitar that is your soulmate. There is one guitar out
there that was built for you. You know it the minute you pick it up and
start playing it. Some guys go their entire lives trying to find it. I
found this guitar when I was just 15 years old. The minute I picked it
up, it fit me like a glove. I did everything I could to get it, I
couldn’t afford it at the time, then later on, the following year, it
was in Los Angeles at the Guitar Center. Then I came back a year later
and it was still there. I still didn’t have the money to afford it, but I
decided I wasn’t leaving the store without it. I told my Dad, he was
like “We gotta go.” I’m like, “I’m not leaving without this guitar.”
Between him, the guy at my record company, my A&R guy, my music
attorney, they decide they would split the cost up on their credit cards
as long as I agreed to pay them back. I did. That guitar has been with
me ever since. It has toured the world with me and been on every record I
have ever done. It is just my baby.
CB: That is a great story. I have
interviewed so many guitar players and nobody has talked to me about
their soulmate guitar before.
KWS: Yeah, well, it really is. I don’t know about
those guys but there is a bond between me and that instrument. I feel
like all guitar players have their go-to instrument and there should be a
really solid connection between them and the instrument.
CB: Social media has become invaluable
with marketing music and musicians. When you are on the internet, in
general, where do you spend most of your time?
KWS: I am a creature of habit and repetition when
it comes to browsing the web. I have a couple of sites I look at every
day. I go online and get my daily dose of the news. I usually go to AOL,
because half of their stories report the news and the other half are
like looking at a tabloid magazine. They have some really weird stuff
they put up there.
I have a couple car enthusiast websites, like there is a
website called Moparts.org which is for all Mopart Car enthusiasts. I
love the Dodge/Chrysler/Plymouth brands, so I am a Mopart guy.
There are a couple guitar pages that I go onto to see what
is going on in the world of guitar. I check in, there is a page called
thegearpage.net, then I go to the Fender Forums and Fender.com.
I am also obsessed with the new Tesla Electric cars. I
have been browsing their forums a lot educating myself on their
technology and stuff. I am kind of a geek when it comes to cars and all
CB: Can you tell us what the fans can expect from The Rides' live show in Cincinnati?
KWS: We just rehearsed, we just had four days to
rehearse for this tour and none of us had played any of these songs
since we recorded the album back in December. So I guess with my
schedule with my band and Stephen and his band, we had a very narrow
window of opportunity to prepare for this tour.
We are basically going to do the album and throw in a few
songs from my catalog and Stephen's catalog and stuff that Barry wrote
that other people recorded. The whole goal is to be loose and have a
good time and just play music together. They’ll hear a little bit of my
stuff, a little bit of Steven’s stuff, a little bit of Barry’s stiff,
then they’ll hear the whole (Rides) record.
Blues/Rock/Soul ensemble Tedeschi Trucks Band headlines the inaugural Ohio River Throwdown
0 Comments · Wednesday, September 11, 2013
Blues/Rock/Soul ensemble Tedeschi Trucks Band, fresh off of their chart-busting album release, Made Up Mind, headlines the inaugural Ohio River Throwdown, alongside Los Lobos, JJ Grey & Mofro, JC Brooks and the Uptown Sound and many other American Roots music all-stars.
by Amy Harris
Blues rocker plays PNC Pavilion Friday with the legendary Buddy Guy
Blues/Rock legend George Thorogood has done just about everything a musician can do over his 30 years on the road. Along with his vintage Gibson ES-125, the only guitar he has ever played, cared to play or even knows how to play, he has delighted audiences with a catalog of hits, like “Bad to the Bone” and “Move It On Over,” which he can still play every night to provide a familiar, comfortable performance any audience can love. CityBeat spoke with Thorogood about his “wild” ride through Rock & Roll and his connection with his guitar. He plays at Riverbend PNC Pavilion on Friday night with Blues icon Buddy Guy.CityBeat: Do you ever get tired of playing your hits like “Bad to the Bone”?George Thorogood: I get tired, yes, but I don’t get tired of playing them. You see, we created those songs to play live. That was the whole purpose of them. I get asked that question a lot. I don’t understand it. Do artists make songs up and not want to play them a lot? CB: Most of the time they say they love to play them and most bands wish they had songs like that.GT: It has always made me feel strange because I thought if you worked really hard and made an automobile, like a BMW or something, would you get tired of selling BMWs? That is the whole purpose of making them, isn’t it?CB: Yeah, to share them.GT: I don’t get tired of playing them. What I would get freaked out about is if people didn’t want to hear the songs.CB: You have been touring a lot this year. What is the biggest difference in touring now versus the 1980s when you started? GT: Better cars, better seatbelts, better buses, better hotels, better accommodations, better food, better everything. That was 30 years ago. The world has changed.CB: It seemed more fun then, though.GT: Why would you think that?CB: I think artists now are so freaked out with social media and people seeing everything and having access to people and things can get out very quickly. I think people are less likely to have fun sometimes.GT: That part of it, yeah, but that part isn’t going away if you are famous. You can lose your money but you can’t lose your fame. That is going to be happening anyway. News just gets to people quicker now than it did 30 years ago. It’s the yin and the yang of the whole thing, when you become famous. You have to take what comes along with it. That part is not a lot of fun. But if you quit and you stop, it’s still going to exist whether you play or not. If Harrison Ford retires tomorrow, people are going to be talking about it in some form or shape. The other part of it is a lot easier. We have better hotels. There is air conditioning. We have buses. The venues are better — better for the fans, better for the bands. It’s a business now. It’s a multi-billion dollar industry. They have put so much time and capital into the business to make it up on that level. In that way, I have survived that and I am part of it. That is something to be very proud of. Let’s face it, the club owners and promoters and everybody are not going to be interested in you unless you are going to make a profit. We are a consideration and not an afterthought when it comes to that. CB: Are you working on any new music while you are out on the road?GT: Not really. We are working on putting together a record that has a combination of all the originals we have done over the years and adding one or two new ones to it. It’s a project on the table at this time.CB: I know you are a big baseball fan. I am actually surprised you are touring during baseball season. The Reds aren’t going to be there on Friday. How are you feeling about baseball this summer?GT: That’s a fun question. I have never altered my work schedule. I don’t know how that started. I took one summer off to play in a softball league and it was about 20 games, but I was active the whole time. If I took off during baseball season, I’d be broke. I wouldn’t be able to put 15 years together. It’s summertime. I have to go out and perform. There is no getting around it. I don’t know any baseball players saying they are taking off the summer because Thorogood is touring. CB: What is your favorite guitar to play live?GT: I only play one guitar, a 125. It’s the only guitar I’ve ever played. It’s the only guitar I know how to play. Actually, I like to prance around on stage singing like Mick Jagger does, but I can’t sing as good as him. So the 125 is the only one I use. Please tell people not to steal it. They don’t make them anymore and that is the only kind I can play.CB: Have you ever lost any gear or had it stolen?GT: Yeah, it’s been stolen a couple times, but we got them back. We finally put up a sign saying, “Stop stealing George’s guitars. They don’t make them anymore and it’s the only kind he can play.”CB: I’ll make a note in the article. You mention Mick Jagger and I saw the Stones live for the first time last month and it was pretty amazing. I know you toured with them and you have had many great tours over the years, but what is your craziest tour story?GT: Craziest? Like mental and I need a prescription from a psychiatrist?CB: Sure.GT: None. What’s your idea of crazy?CB: Crazy fans, crazy parties, anything?GT: I’ve never been to any crazy parties. There have never been any crazy fans, ever. The Rolling Stones are 100% professional outfit ran by Bill Graham. There is no time for any craziness. There was too much money involved. The Three Stooges do crazy things. The Rolling Stones and Bill Graham do not. Everything is professional. Everything was in ship-shape … they wouldn’t still be in business now if they didn’t do that. If they did anything crazy or wild, they did it while I was not around. Sorry, but I do not know where all this comes from … but when I showed up, I am the only guy that can turn an orgy into a Boy Scout camp. When I show up, it is clean cut and above the board, all the way.CB: No more fun when you arrive.GT: It was total fun. It was all fun. It depends on what your idea of fun is. My idea of fun is playing on a stage and getting to see The Rolling Stones free every night. In that case, that was wild and crazy. That is as wild and crazy as I want to get. CB: They were amazing. I was blown away. I had waited so many years to see them. I am glad I finally got the chance.GT: Yeah. They are better now than ever.CB: I have nothing to compare it to other than films.GT: Well I do, and you have to go see them now.CB: If you could trade places with anybody for a month, who would it be?GT: Trade places with anybody? Probably Michelle Obama.CB: Why?GT: I’d like to know what it feels like to be the most powerful person in the world, even if it is only a couple of days.CB: What current music do you listen to? I know you have been inspired by many of the greats over the years. Do you listen to any current music?GT: I am a little busy with my own. I haven’t really had a chance to sit and relax and listen to any current music for the last 40 years because I have been busy with my own business. CB: What is your favorite guitar solo you have ever recorded?GT: Oh, please, come on, the favorite guitar solo I’ve ever recorded. I’ve recorded so many I can’t even remember some of them. CB: I know, but some people have an experience or something that stands out.GT: Every one of them. CB: What is the hardest part about being on the road?GT: Being away from my family.CB: What can the fans expect on Friday night?GT: I’m sure they aren’t going to walk out there and say, “I hope George is OK tonight.” You go see the Cincinnati Reds, you expect them to win, don’t you?CB: Of course.GT: Well, there you go.Thorogood's music video for "Willie and the Hand Jive," filmed in Corryville at the club now known as The Mad Frog:
by Amy Harris
Freshly-inducted Rock and Roll Hall of Famers play Riverbend Saturday
Heart introduced a fresh, rebellious sound in the early
1970s when a particular voice was truly needed. That timeless voice
belonged to singer Ann Wilson. In a time when the female frontwoman was
just gaining steam, Heart found their identity in theirs. To this day
Wilson embodies the band’s sound and message. She helped make it
possible for generations of others to find their voice in Rock &
The band's legacy was celebrated on a grand scale this
year when Ann, her sister, guitarist Nancy Wilson, and the rest of the
Heart family were inducted into the 2013 class of the Rock and Roll Hall
of Fame with the likes of fellow legendary groups Rush and Public
CityBeat had the privilege of speaking with the
legendary vocalist in advance of Heart's performance Saturday at
Riverbend Music Center. Audiences can anticipate hearing classics like
“Barracuda” and "Crazy on You," as well as fresh music off of the 2012
album Fanatic, which nicely continues the Heart legacy. Don’t
miss the finale with Jason Bonham (opening the show with his Led
Zeppelin tribute) joining them on stage.
CityBeat: What was the highlight of your Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Induction this year?
Ann Wilson: The highlight of my (RRHOF) induction
this year was standing beside Nancy at the podium. That was a feeling of
great pride I will never forget.
CB: What is the most number of days you have gone without playing music?
AW: I have gone months sometimes without playing a guitar, but never a day goes by where I don't sing.
CB: What does your ideal day look like these days?
AW: Sleep in late, have a great pilates/yoga
workout, hang out with my kids and their kids, cook dinner, meditate,
sleep with my dog nearby.
CB: If you could trade places with someone for a month who would it be and why?
AW: I guess I couldn't do that. I don't envy anyone else that much!
CB: You have seen music recording formats
change from vinyl and 8-track to cassette, CD and MP3 through the
years. Do you feel like music sounds better or worse with the use of
AW: Music definitely sounds worse to my ears
because of digital technology. There is a hard, brittle sound to it.
Analog music sounded warmer and deeper, though maybe not as " perfect."
Auto-Tune makes me crazy because it removes all individuality from a
person's voice. Everyone ends up sounding anonymous. The imperfections
are where the soul is, I say leave them in. Leave in the humanity.CB: How did the latest tour come about with Jason Bonham? Any favorite tour stories from the current tour?
AW: Many people saw the Kennedy Center Honors show
on TV or YouTube and loved the tribute to Led Zeppelin. The management
was listening and everyone agreed it would be a beautiful idea. We've
only done two weeks so far, and it's been amazing. No train wrecks yet!
CB: Do you journal or take photos over the years with special tour memories. How do you document your stories and memories?
AW: We record every night and have photographers on
sight. Occasionally I will blog, but I am usually pretty wound up after
a show. Maybe this will be the year I take up a journal. A person can't
count on their memory forever!!
CB: Does it ever get tough being on the road with family? How have you handled it for so many years?
AW: Yes, the road is rough. Traveling and
performing together takes a lot out of you and sometimes things do get
emotional. We are lucky to have each other for support. I don't know how
I would have made it all these years without Nancy's love, strength and
sense of humor!
CB: Are you working on new music while on the road?
AW: My head is full of new songs at the moment.
CB: What can fans looks forward to when the tour hits Cincinnati?
AW: The show in Cincinnati will open with Jason
Bonham's Led Zeppelin Experience, Next will be the heart show, after
which there will be a finale consisting of about 30 minutes of Zeppelin
songs with Jason Bonham and (Bonham's guitarist) Tony Catania joining
by Amy Harris
Classic Southern Rockers perform at Cincinnati's Riverbend Music Center tonight
Where do you begin with a band like Lynyrd Skynyrd?
Everyone has been out at a bar or a concert and heard some crazy and/or drunk lunatic
shouting to the band on stage, “FREE BIRD!!!” They are the epitome of
and gold standard for Southern Rock music. Even now, through the tragedy
of the plane crash in 1977 to the re-formed band, Skynyrd still
provides electric performances every night. They still happily rock the
hits of the early days. like “Simple Man” and “Sweet Home Alabama,”
while mixing in the music they are still releasing, most recently Last of a Dying Breed, which came out late last year.
CityBeat had time to catch up with lead vocalist
Johnny Van Zant, the younger brother of the band’s original front man
Ronnie Van Zant. The two discussed how Skynyrd fits into Rock music
today, as well as the wonderful feelings the band still gets performing
every night on stage.
Skynyrd performs at Riverbend Music Center tonight with
Bad Company, providing the same energy as the cast from the ’70s and
showing audiences what real Southern Rock sounds like.
CityBeat: Do you have any crazy Cincinnati memories from the past?
JVZ: We have had so many good shows there. Years
back, when a flood hit, there was water in the first four or five rows.
People were kind of standing in the water. I was like, “Wow these are
really diehards.” I don’t even know how many times we have played at
that particular amphitheater (Riverbend), but it has always been a good, hot,
sweaty, summer Rock & Roll show, which is how it is supposed to be.
CB: The band has had multiple lineup
changes over the years since you joined the band. How do you integrate
someone new into the band?
JVZ: For us, they have to be a friend, someone we
have known, someone we admire as a musician, someone we think would fit
into our family. When we are out on the road, running up and down the
road playing shows, you have to be not only a member of a band but,
especially with Lynyrd Skynyrd, you have to be a part of the Skynyrd
nation. You have to be a part of the family. Our newest member is Johnny
Colt, who was bass player with The Black Crowes. Colt fits right in with
us. He’s loony as heck and so are we. We have a great time and love
doing what we do. I hope Johnny is with us for a long, long time. He is
quite the guy. It has been awesome.
CB: I know you guys have worked many
times with one of my favorite guitarists, John 5. What was that
experience like for you and have you done any collaborations recently?
JVZ: Well, yeah, he was on our last record, Last of a Dying Breed.
John is a good friend of us. We knew we were going to be good friends
with John because we were in Nashville writing and our manager mentioned
John and said, “You know, he is a little different than you guys.” And
we said, “ That’s OK, that’s no problem.” John walked in, he was just
coming from a photo shoot. He had on the fingernails with his hair all
up. When he walked in and I went, “Damn, you are different. Damn, are you
a freak or something?” And he said, “I was thinking the same crap about
you guys.” We just hit it off. He is a wonderful guitar player. Not
only can he play Heavy Metal and Rock & Roll, but he can play the hell
out of some Country music, which we love. I just admire his work and he
is one of the most phenomenal guitar players I have had the pleasure to
CB: A lot of people are saying Rock is dead and Country music is the new Rock. Do you believe that Rock is dead?
JVZ: No. I think Country music is Lynyrd Skynyrd. I
think a lot of the Country music is what we do, but I don’t think Rock &
Roll is dead at all. People have been saying that shit for years and
years and years: "Rock & Roll is dead." Then it comes back. It’s like
anything else. For us we just played Houston, Texas, in front of 10,000
people. We played Bristol, Va., I think there were 14,000 people on
a Sunday night. The night before last we were in Camden, N.J.,
14,000 people on a Wednesday night. I’m sure Cincinnati is doing quite
well. We are in Pittsburgh tonight. It is going to be phenomenal here. If Rock & Roll is dead and gone, man, I am missing out on it.
CB: Tell me a little bit about Last of a Dying Breed and which songs we are going to hear from that album when you come to Cincinnati?
JVZ: Well, it is debatable. What we do, each night
we try to think about what new song we want to put in. Right now we are
really concentrating on 40 years. It’s been 40 years since (Pronounced 'lĕh-'nérd 'skin-'nérd) came out. It’s been our major focus to play as many songs off that record and celebrate that era.
CB: Where do you see yourself in 15 more years?
JVZ: Hopefully alive. Hopefully playing some shows
and still doing this. Doing a lot of fishing and drinking a good
Budweiser and something like that, I don’t know. If you want to make God
laugh, tell him your plans. I never really plan too much. I just like to
go along with the flow and the good Lord throws me in the direction he
wants me to go.
CB: Do you ever get tired of playing “Free Bird”?
JVZ: Not at all. I am quick to say, "Not at all." How
many bands would love to have songs like that? Most bands say we would
give anything to have one of those. “Free Bird” and ("Sweet Home Alabama"), that’s
the cool thing about Skynyrd. We have three generations of fans who love
those songs. It is amazing to me. We are out with Bad Company right now
and we are real big Bad Company fans. We are at the top of the game
with these guys. From my era and a lot of other people’s era, Bad
Company was the rule of the roost when it came to Rock & Roll. Paul
Rogers is one of the best singers. Simon Kirke and Mick Ralphs have been
around for years. It is just great to be out on the road and playing
shows with good friends too. We are having a blast. We hope to do it
again sometime after this tour and look forward to coming your way.
CB: Are you flattered when someone like Kid Rock uses "Sweet Home Alabama" in his songs? Excited? Upset? How do
you feel when someone integrates that song?
JVZ: We were actually doing a tour with Bobby when
he had “All Summer Long” (the song that incorporates "Sweet Home") out. For us, hell, it keeps us in the spotlight.
He did a good job on it. It was a hit song for him and everybody got
paid. So surely, we are like, “Can someone else use it again and again?” It is kind of funny when you think of stuff like that. Who would have
thought when that song was written a long, long time ago, people would
still be loving it and a band from Jacksonville, Fla., and what
success my brother and Alan and Gary, my hat is off to them. I love
keeping the music alive. It is a great thing. It’s a great thing because
the song has been used in Forrest Gump and various movies. Any time anything like that pops up as long, as it is not in bad taste, is great. It has been a good ride.
by Amy Harris
Posted In: Interview
at 10:26 AM | Permalink
Band performs Friday at Riverbend with Cypress Hill and G. Love
The band 311 has been bringing an intense combination of Rock and Hip Hop music to audiences for 20 years. The group last released an album in 2011, Universal Pulse, which was 311’s 10th studio offering. They are known for their high-energy, marathon shows, sometimes with set lists reaching over 60 songs. Catch the band this Friday night as they bring their annual Unity Tour with Cypress Hill and G. Love and Special Sauce to Cincinnati's Riverbend. CityBeat recently conducted a rapid-fire Q&A session with the 311’s lead singer, Nick Hexum.CityBeat: You guys have been playing shows in Cincinnati for over 10 years. Any crazy or fond Cincinnati memories from the past?NH: Always great crowds in Cincy! There seems to often be a heat wave when we play there. Which is great for us because people take their clothes off and rock out.CB: Who would you like to trade places with for one month?NH: No one!CB: What fear would you like to conquer?NH: (Fear of) burning Jazz solos with the heavy hitters.CB: What habit would you like to break?NH: Too much caffeine!CB: What made you decide to start the 311 cruise? NH: We have always liked combining destinations with our shows. That started with 311 Day. Playing shows on the high seas and on a private island was a perfect fit for us!CB: What are some of your favorite cruise memories?NH: I dressed up as a ninja and blended with the fans on costume night. I entered the costume contest and didn't even make the first cut! It was great to experience the 311 scene from the other side for a night. CB: Last year you launched Live311. Why was it important for you to make live shows available for fans?NH: People have been trading our shows (with our blessing) for years. We just wanted to make it more convenient and better quality.CB: You have a huge fan following of all ages. How do you maintain and continue to grow your fan base?NH: We do our best keep the albums creative and exciting and we put a ton of energy into our shows. The crowds keep us energized.CB: How do you choose acts to go on the Unity tour each summer?NH: We pick acts who are going to get the party started right. Cypress Hill and G. Love will be great this year!CB: What is the secret to keeping the band together for over 20 years?NH: Be ready to not get your way.CB: What does your perfect day look like?NH: Music, family, sunshine.CB: What can fans expect with the show in Cincinnati?NH: Sweat and funky Rock!
by Amy Harris
Band in Cincinnati to open tonight's sold-out Kenny Chesney concert at Riverbend
The Eli Young Band brings a taste of Red Dirt music to the forefront of Country music. The band has an upbeat and distinct sound that has caught on quickly on a national scale. EYB saw mild success through the years touring on Jet Black and Jealous and hit a major stride with its most recent album, Life At Best, featuring the hits “Even If It Breaks Your Heart” and ACM "Song of the Year," “Crazy Girl.” The Eli Young Band has now reached a new height, opening Kenny Chesney’s current tour (which is hitting mostly stadiums). CityBeat was able to catch up with band drummer Chris Thompson to get the band’s feeling on its new found success and life on tour with Kenny. The tour comes to Cincy tonight at Riverbend Music Center for a sold-out stop (the tour moves to Crew Stadium in Columbus on Saturday night). It is truly the most impressive tour in Country music.CityBeat: How did the tour come about with Kenny Chesney?Chris Thompson: A lot of people don’t know this but Kenny is really involved in who he picks to go on tour with him. In a lot of other tours, a record label will put someone on the bill or management will partner up with other management to find a tour that works with that kind of artist, but Kenny is super hands-on. Two years ago at the Academy of Country Music Awards, we were nominated for "Song of the Year" and so was Kenny, and we actually beat him, we won the category. I guess shortly after, there was a text going around from Kenny to his management, “Who are these guys that beat me?” and “I want to find out more about them.” He started getting into our music and shortly after we got the phone call that we were invited to go out on tour with him. It’s just a huge honor. Like I was saying, he hand picks the folks that are out here on the road with him. It’s the biggest tour in Country music and we are just happy to be here. CB: I was there the night you guys won the "Song of the Year" award. I was so happy for you guys. I know you have worked very hard over the years. What was the highlight of CMA for the band this year in Nashville?CT: We were only there for a couple hours really. We flew in that morning and did a signing for two or three hours and then had a couple meetings. Then, we were out of town. We have been going to CMA Music Fest for seven or eight years now. Back in the day we would stay for three or four days and play a show or two and be able to hang and meet as many people as we could. It seems like more and more nowadays, especially with the tours we have been on and our headlining tours, we are only able to get in for a day and get out. It is always fun to do the signings because you meet people from all over the country and from all over the world really who love Country music. They are so excited to meet you. They are die hard fans. They bring pictures from five years ago when we met. It’s just cool that Country music does that. We are the only genre of music that has anything like that where fans can go and interact directly with the artists and have one-on-one face time with them.CB: Tell me a little bit about “Drunk Last Night,” the new single.CT: I think “Drunk Last Night” is a lyric we can all relate to. When we all first heard the song, we were like, “Yes, this is a song for us." A lot of people hear a title and automatically think it’s a drinking song. We went through some of that with “Crazy Girl.” A lot of people saw the title and went “Oh, I know what this song is about,” and I think they were wrong. I think people will find this is not the standard drinking song. It is all about, I hate to sum it up as drunk dialing, but it is kind of like the thought of doing that and alcohol feeding that desire a little bit more than in daily life.It is also a song that we went in the studio and recorded (and) as soon as we finished the session, we could go out and play (it) live right now because it’s a great track, it’s rocking, it’s in our wheelhouse and we actually did. We started playing it at the very beginning of the Chesney tour before it was even picked as a single. The crowd really seemed to dig it and now here it is, going to be a single. Good stuff.CB: Do you guys know or do you have a feeling when you have a hit or when you hear a hit presented to you?CT: Yeah. I think sometimes you hear a song, sometimes people say the song gives them chills and they know that’s the one. Sometimes you get that feeling in your gut. When you hear a song sometimes, you write a lyric and you feel that, it is almost like that feeling of falling in love. Your chest kind of swells. When multiple people feel that way at the same spot or for the same song, then I don’t know if anybody can guarantee a hit, but you know that it is at least a lyric or a song that people can relate to and I think typically good songs are universal in that sort of way.CB: I loved your “The Cuss Jar” video — I could buy a house if I implemented that process. I wanted to know if you had bought anything fun with the money?CT: No, actually I think that era ended. The jar got too full and I think we used that jar for laundry money one day when we stopped somewhere on the road and had a few days off and emptied the whole thing for band and crew’s laundry. Then we got too lazy to keep up with it.CB: What has been your craziest tour story recently?CT: I think playing Cowboys Stadium in Dallas on the Chesney tour was probably the craziest thing because we are from Dallas and we have played every tiny bar around the stadium. To just get up on stage at the biggest stadium in America was totally wild. All of our families were there; it was craziness.CB: That’s such a special moment, I am sure you have plenty of those all the time. Do you do anything special yourself to keep the tour memories? Do you take photos or journals? Some bands blog or journal and do things to keep it fresh.CT: Yeah, we have been fortunate on this tour, since the beginning of this year, we have had a guy out on the road with us that has started doing social media. Mainly he is taking pictures. Since January, this whole thing has been documented and we really appreciate that. It is definitely hard for us to get good photos when we are on stage playing, when we are really in the moment, because we are playing, so he is out there doing that. This is the biggest tour we have ever done and just the momentum that this year is building, we are just happy about that.CB: What does a typical day look like for you?CT: On the Chesney tour when we are doing stadiums like we are doing today, we will go out and do a tailgating event, at 1 or so in the afternoon, we will all get into some golf carts and we will go out to where all the fans are tailgating and they will bombard us with jello shots and beer bongs and the local foods they have. We hang out with them for an hour or two then we will start doing radio events where we will play a couple songs acoustic, sitting on our bus or backstage for various winners. Then we will do a meet and greet for about 60-100 people. Then, we will grab a bite to eat around then. Then we hit the stage and rock out for about an hour. After that, we will go hang out with some radio folks or some friend that are in town and wind down about the time Kenny hits the stage so we can watch him. It’s pretty cool. It’s pretty unreal.CB: If you could trade places for anyone for about a month, who would it be?CT: Right now it feels like we are living the dream. I think the four of us are really happy with what is going on in our careers right now. We have had some national success. It feels like we have broken out of being a regional band and it feels like we are on the cusp of something more than that. It’s a great time for Eli Young Band and it is important for us to enjoy this. I probably wouldn’t want to trade places with anyone right now.CB: What can the fans look for from you guys tonight in Cincinnati?CT: We try to always bring a high-energy show. We were playing a show last night and there was this older gentleman almost in front row sitting in his chair arms crossed and it looked like he wasn’t really enjoying himself. About halfway through our set he leaned over to his wife and he points at us and he goes, “Those guys are workin’ up there.” Then he smiled real big. We want to bring that energy. We want to get on stage and have a good time and fire up the crowd. We go on right after Kacey Musgraves. Kacey is real cool and laidback and all that when she does her thing and it’s great. Then we get to come in and kick the audience in the butt a little bit. During our set we have some new music in there and some cover songs I think gets the crowd up and clapping. After that Eric (Church) comes up and burns it down. Then Kenny Chesney comes out and the place goes nuts.
by Mike Breen
The cross-country “Kings of the Mic” tour is technically an old-school Hip Hop exhibition, but the packaging of these particular artists — most of whom have been and remain vital and relevant today — makes it much more than just a 21st century version of an “oldies” revue.And the fact that the three headlining artists’ classic music still sounds so vital today makes it more than just some nostalgia trip. Headliner LL Cool J was one of Rap’s first superstars and, thanks in part to his acting/hosting career (and also his album releases), he remains a superstar to this day. Public Enemy’s smart, socially and sonically progressive sound remains as fresh today as it did when the group released 1988’s It Takes a Nation of Millions to Hold Us Back — one of the greatest albums ever made. Like P.E., De La Soul has remained artistically inventive and the trio’s influence is often underestimated. Rounded out by a pair of even earlier influential performers — Doug E. Fresh and Slick Rick — the Kings of the Mic tour’s stop at Riverbend tonight is not just a history lesson, but the best party to start off your summer right. Tonight's concert starts at 6:30 p.m. and tickets range from $18.50-$84.50. • Bluesy, soulful British rockers Leogun return to Cincinnati tonight. The trio — which was scheduled to appear at Cincinnati's MidPoint Music Festival last year but had to cancel due to work visa issues — was influenced by the pure Rock sounds of artists like Jack White and Queens of the Stone Age. But it was an Eagles of Death Metal concert that kickstarted Leogun's career into overdrive. Singer/guitarist Tommy Smith talked his way backstage at the band's London show in 2009, where he met a guy who introduced him to Elton John's Rocket Music Management. The threesome quickly inked a deal with Rocket and then with Yamaha's record label. The band is digging in hard in the States and touring on a consistent basis behind its just-released debut album. Catch Leogun tonight for free at MOTR Pub in Over-the-Rhine at 10 p.m. Here is the band's first single, "Let's Be Friends." • Tonight on Fountain Square is your chance to be a part of a Guinness World Record, as the weekly "Salsa on the Square" event invites dancers far and wide to come out and help set the bar for "Most Salsa Dancers" higher. The event starts at 7 p.m. (instructors are always on hand so don't worry about your lack of Salsa skills) and live music is provided by Grupo Tumbao. Click here for more details. Here are even more live music options in Greater Cincinnati for tonight.
by Amy Harris
Revitalized rockers headline Riverbend's final show of the season Friday
Journey is a legendary Rock act from the ’70s/’80s, but the band is not done yet. The group put out its 15th album, Eclipse, last year, Journey's second effort with current lead singer Arnel Pineda, and is currently out on tour with fellow ’80s hitmakers Pat Benatar and Loverboy. The band's classic music is standing the test of time and crowds still react emotionally to its vast catalog of hits, as well as some of the new music selections.CityBeat spoke with keyboard player Jonathan Cain, who is now in his fourth decade with the band, and discussed how he was influenced to write one of Journey's biggest hits, as well as how the band stays relevant in today’s ever changing musical landscape. Journey performs the final concert of Riverbend Music Center's season tomorrow (Friday). CityBeat: You guys have been touring on Eclipse for the past year. Are you guys working on new material yet?Jonathan Cain: No, we are just settling into the touring aspect of things right now. We worked pretty hard on the last one and thought it was time to focus in. I recently had a child and (guitarist) Neal (Schon) has been going through all his things with Michaele (Salahi). We have been busy. I just opened a new studio in Nashville called Eviction Sound. We have been focusing on all the stuff we have to do. It’s a balance deal. We’ll start working on new music eventually.CB: You mentioned some of the personal issues with Neal and Michaele. (Salahi, a former Real Housewives of D.C. star, left her husband for Schon in a very public "love triangle" soap opera.) Has any of that gotten in the way of the band’s activities?JC: No. Not at all. They are getting through it and still in love. It’s all good.CB: Any fond Cincinnati memories from the past?JC: Fond Cincinnati memories? I have had some nice encounters with the fans down at the hotel bar there; closing the bar there would be the response. I do enjoy going to the ball games as well. Cincinnati always has a pretty good baseball team. CB: I was recently covering the CMT Awards in Nashville and saw the performance with Rascal Flatts. How did that collaboration take place?JC: The Rascal Flatts thing came about because we have a mutual friend. I play golf with one of the guys who produces the CMT Awards. He asked me one time on the golf course, “Who do you think Journey should do a (CMT's cross-genre showcase) Crossroads with?” And I said, “Honestly I think Rascal Flatts best fits with the sound Journey does,” and he agreed. We talked to their senior management and the rest was history. We will probably do a Crossroads together at some point.CB: I couldn’t get the song out of my head for four days after that night.JC: It’s one of those hummers. Every band needs one.CB: My favorite Journey song ever is “Faithfully.” I know you wrote that song. Can you talk me through that process to put that song together?JC: Basically, the song was written on the road. I was in Saratoga, NY, in upstate New York. We had just come off the bus and I was feeling a certain way watching the crew take the stuff down every night with the riggers and the roadies. I felt they needed to have a song and same with us. We all miss our family the same way. I don’t care who you are in this business, you still sacrifice something to be out on the road. It’s something I wrote for all of us. It’s a good ol’ Country song that turned out to be a big ol’ hit. (Original singer) Steve Perry actually wanted that on his solo album and I declined. I said, “Journey or bust.” It was the last song we recorded on the Frontier album back in ’83. We never even rehearsed it. That was live in the studio. That was the third take. Steve put his signature vocal on it. I was thrilled to have penned that song, then we played it live and the fans came back with “I’m forever yours, faithfully.” They turned it around and it was pretty cool.CB: I have asked other artists about hits like that and they say, typically, the hits come out quickly. Was that the case with that one?JC: Yeah, I wrote that in a half an hour on a napkin. It was very quick in the room. I woke up and I had started it. I wish I still had the napkin. I don’t have it. Then there was the keyboard I had on my bed I used to bump around ideas on. It was one of those Casio keyboards you just take in your suitcase. When I got to the gig, I got a real piano backstage at the Saratoga Performance Arts Center and sort of flushed it out. The first time I did the demo, I was working with Keith Olson back in L.A. and he let me record it just by myself and that was what I played for everybody. He played it for the girls from Heart. He said Nancy (Wilson, guitarist) cried when she heard it. I thought that was a good sign. I guess they liked it.CB: I saw on your website that you share blogs and journal entries. Have you kept journals all through your touring years?JC: No, I should. I sort of dropped the ball on that one. I am getting inspired to write a new one. A lot has happened since the last one. I want to update the fans. It just may take on the highlights. We have just had this movie released Every Man’s Journey. We debuted it at the Tribeca Film Festival and San Francisco Film Festival. It’s a documentary that was made by a Filipino lady that heard about Arnel (also Filipino) joining our band. So she came out on our tour. She spent her last four years following our buses around, coming to rehearsals. So they finally put a movie together. That was really exciting to attend and it really helped him solidify himself as he has evolved as an entertainer and a star. You see it actually happen, I think they are going to release it next Spring. It is really something. It is a neat story. We are proud of him. CB: I find it very inspiring you welcomed someone new into the band and are so supportive of them moving forward.JC: It was kind of a no-brainer. The guy can sing better than anyone can sing it. We went, “You know what. Let’s go with this guy.” We loved his heart. We loved the man as a father. The whole package. He makes us better. He is great.CB: I saw in your journals you were blogging about South America and other places. I wish I had written down all my travel stories over the years. What has been your most memorable travel story recently?JC: Actually, the European thing with my son was really great. We went to Europe and he went on the road with me and we got to go to some pretty incredible places. We played golf together in Scotland. There was this incredible experience, everything from the Eiffel Tower to the Royal Palace of Stockholm and to see it with your son is pretty darn cool. We went to San Salvatore, about a mile up and you look out from the Swiss Alps and it is breathtaking. I have to say that European trip was at the top of the list.CB: Any habits you’d like to break?JC: I probably drink too much wine.CB: Any regrets over the years?JC: No. I believe life is perfect. You live to learn from your mistakes and grow. If you regret something then lessons haven’t been learned. Everything you regret is something you haven’t accepted in life. Mistakes are chances to grow, chances to understand a deeper sense of who, what, and how you relate to the universe.CB: Do you think Rock music is a dying art?JC: No. I don’t. It is a niche now. We are a niche now. We aren’t as popular as we were but if you come to our show you can see it is alive and well. Just because the media has stiffed us doesn’t mean we aren’t out there in our own way. We are quietly playing for thousands and thousands of people. We have sold 800,000 tickets. It’s crazy. It’s a lot of people. It’s a good show. Pat Benatar is on the bill. We have Loverboy opening up when it is the three of us. We are having fun. We are keeping things alive. CB: Are you a political band? We are in a critical election time. Are you planning to back any candidates?JC: No. We stay out of that. If they want us to play and pay us a bunch of money, we will play for them. CB: Either candidate?JC: We would. The bottom line is we have a lot of fans on both sides. That’s my feeling. I’m tired of Republicans, I’m tired of Democrats. Let’s just get the people together and get shit done instead of arguing and bickering. This is the worst Washington has ever been. That’s just my take on it. (Journey reportedly was paid a half million dollars to perform during the Republican National Convention this year.)CB: We are looking forward to you in Cincinnati. What can the fans look forward to that night?JC: It is a cool mix of all of our stuff. Some new, some old. Great video, great lights. We have a new sound guy. Our P.A. sounds like a big, giant jukebox. I don’t think we are too loud. I think we sound cool. I think we look pretty cool. They are going to see a great show. It is going to be a good first class Rock show with a lot of hits.
by Amy Harris
Two contemporary Rock giants join forces on Honda Civic Tour
Linkin Park and Incubus have hit the road together this summer on the Honda Civic Tour, a four-week, 18-city tour of North America. The tour comes to Cincinnati tomorrow (Wednesday) for a stop at Riverbend Music Center.Linkin Park's fifth studio album, Living Things, debuted at No. 1, giving them more No. 1 albums on the Billboard 200 than any other band this century. Since 2000, Linkin Park has had more Top 10 singles on the Alternative chart than any other artist, as well.Celebrating their 20th year together, AltRock giants Incubus recently turned a Los Angeles storefront space into a low-key, hi-tech residency that resulted in six nights of free performances and fan encounters in 2011, chronicled on special HQ Live CD/DVD bundles. Last summer, Incubus released its seventh studio album, If Not Now, When? Linkin Park and Incubus will continue the tradition of a "Green" Honda Civic Tour in 2012 by supporting the Power the World organization, to raise awareness about people who have no access to energy and to fund cleaner energy solutions.To kickoff the Honda Civic Tour (which also features Mutemath), the two bands joined forces for an open press conference with lead vocalists Chester Bennington (Linkin Park) and Brandon Boyd (Incubus). Q: What can fans expect from this year’s tour?Chester: I think the most special thing about this tour is the fact that you have two headlining bands singing together on one bill. The fact that both Incubus and Linkin Park perform full sets with full production is kind of special. Linkin Park isn’t the band that you go to see with chairs on the floor in the arena. No one wants to come to a Linkin Park show and stand there and look at the band and listen to beautiful music. People want that but they also want to be kicked in the face and they want to run into each other and they want to jump up and down and sing and have a really great, high-energy time. The new record has so much energy that we feel like we could add a bunch of new music to the set and people will be stoked about it.Q: You guys are committed to green energy on the Honda Civic tour. Can you talk a little about it?Chester: Yes, it’s more of a purpose-driven green movement in terms of just wanting to be more clean and efficient with our tours so we leave less of a footprint when we’re out there.Q: As you each grow older and wiser, how do you both stay inspired to produce the style of music on both the record and in concert that your most loyal and long-term fans both love and expect?Chester: You know? When I’m 70 I don’t know if I’ll be, um, screaming “Victimized” at anybody. Hopefully that will be the case, but I doubt it. That’s one of the things that is so interesting about our business. None of us are guaranteed that anyone can come to one of our shows or care about the last record we put out. Every record that we go into, I look at like, this is our very first album and this is the best representation of what we are giving something to the people who are going to hear it. It’s basically like when you create a song and people hear it and they connect with it, you’re giving that person a sense of inspiration.Brandon: I know for me as a lyricist and as a singer, my deepest intention beyond just trying to express myself with a sense of purity is to hopefully achieve a sense of timelessness. You want to touch on subjects that are potentially universal. And that don’t really need to be tied to the ’90s or the 2000s or the 2030s. You want to be able to make music that will essentially transcend time.I’m not interested in making a kind of music. I think that’s why Incubus records have changed sometimes dramatically over the years. Our newest record If Not Now, When? is really a good example of that. It’s more different than any of our records than we’ve ever done before. And I personally am really inspired by that. I’m proud of that. I want to make music that continues to evolve and challenge people and surprise people.Q: Throughout the years both bands have essentially kept their core members. So how do you all stand each other after such a long time, because it’s got to be kind of tough on tour.Brandon: There’s the understanding that it’s family, and it’s very much a familial thing. That even though there are times when they hurt your feelings or they might get on your nerves, essentially the majority of your experience with them is rooted in love. So as long as we can hold on to that sort of transcendent notion, everything usually is OK. And it’s OK to be angry at your family members sometime, and it’s OK for them to get on your nerves. The best thing to do, I think, is just to remember who you are. And understand the difference between a need to express frustrations and potentially your own ego.Chester: I think that within Linkin Park we all have similar aspects of our personality that we share with each other. We all are very driven. We all like to work really hard. We all like to do whatever it takes and be involved in every aspect of what we do. But it takes all of us. Together, the band is worth far more than each of us is as an individual. And I think that being in my band is an example of the most functional relationship I’ve ever had in my life.