Showing posts from October, 2019

A Conversation With Black Stone Cherry Guitarist Ben Wells

As Southern rockers Black Stone Cherry wind down their tour in support of 2018's Family Tree they are releasing a second volume of blues covers called Black To Blues, Vol 2.  Guitarist Ben Wells took some time to talk about the new record, where these cover ideas came from and so much more.
Please press PLAY below to hear the Conversation with Black Stone Cherry guitarist Ben Wells:
On deciding which songs to cover - It's never totally easy I think we love so many different artists and different songs. I think there might have been a handful that we knew we wanted to do and then once we got the studio we kind of just listen to some other artists that we had covered before and we just listen to their songs.  Like for example Elmore James was one of the main ones, we knew we loved and appreciated  Elmore James and we want to touch on some of his music as well and of course, we did Freddie King. he's one of our favorites. A lot of times we just get in the…

A Conversation with Elizabeth Cook

Elizabeth Cook is a woman of many talents.  Her groundbreaking records like Welder and Exodus of Venus set the bar for women in modern country music.  Additionally, she hosts the incredibly popular show Apron Strings on SiriusXM's Outlaw Country channel.  I had the pleasure of talking with her and then catching her live the following night.  As you'll hear in our conversation, she is currently on the road performing a solo show that brings in a handful of new songs mixed with her classic tracks.  Her voice and playing are pristine with each song prefaced by a story behind the lyrics.  Seeing Elizabeth Cook live in this solo setting is an intimate experience that brings you deeper into the characters of her songs and the story of her life.
Please press PLAY below to hear the Conversation with Elizabeth Cook: On developing new material - I'm always playing songs that aren't out yet no matter what because I'm always sort of working on them and I l…

Alter Bridge - Walk the Sky

8.5 out of 10
Alter Bridge is one of those bands that still feels like a "new" band even though they've been around for quite a while.  The band, made up of powerhouse vocalist Myles Kennedy, guitarist Mark Tremonti, bassist Brian Marshall, and drummer Scott Phillips, released their first record One Day Remains back in 2004, Walk the Sky is their sixth studio record and could be their best to date. Alter Bridge was a force to be reckoned with from the start.  There are few voices in rock that compare to Kennedy and Tremonti is easily one of this generations best guitar players, but for me,  the songs and sound just weren't working on some of the early records.  That all changed with the release of 2013's Fortress which really showcased the entire band and featured a full set of strong songs, firmly establishing the band in the upper echelon of the new wave of rock and metal acts.  As Kennedy and Tremonti both have other high profiled projects (Slash featuring My…

Grand Funk Railroad, Wolf Den, Mohegan Sun Casino, Uncasville, CT 10/19/19

Controversy has surrounded Grand Funk Railroad for the last twenty years.  These past two decades have seen a steady lineup up of original drummer/vocalist Don Brewer, original bassist Mel Schacher, vocalist/guitarist Max Carl, guitarist Bruce Kulick, and keyboard player Tim Cashion, but notably missing is founding guitarist/vocalist Mark Farner.  While certain fans refuse to acknowledge the current lineup, others realize that this is a highly talented group of musicians that carry on the legacy of this band and the classic songs they created. The night, part of the band's 50th Anniversary celebration, kicked off with "Rock & Roll Soul" off of 1972's Phoenix record and from the first notes the open floor was filled with dancing bodies.  As the band reeled off one classic after another more and more people left their seats to hit the dance floor.  For a band that hasn't released new material in more than 30 years, Grand Funk can still bring in an enthusiastic…

Toto, Foxwoods Casino, Mashantucket, CT - October, 18, 2019

If this was goodbye, it was a hell of a way to go out.  For over 40 years Toto has been one of the most successful and misunderstood bands in the history of rock music.  Nearly everyone knows the "Big 3" - "Hold The Line", "Rosanna" and "Africa", but if that's all you know then you are missing out on 4 decades of incredible songs and a level of musicianship that just isn't seen anymore. When I spoke to vocalist Joe Williams before the start of this last leg of the tour he mentioned that, due to ongoing legal issues, this could very well be the end of Toto, a sentiment echoed by guitarist Steve Lukather recently. If that is the case, then the final weekend of shows, kicking off with their return to Foxwoods Casino, takes on a historical significance.

Toto took the stage in an 8-member configuration, the three core members, guitarist Lukather, Williams on vocals and Steve Porcaro on keys, plus five additional members, Lenny Castro on percu…

A Conversation With Beth Hart

They say "never meet your heroes", apparently "they" never met Beth Hart.  A few weeks back I had the absolute pleasure of spending some time with Beth on the rooftop of her NYC hotel as we talked about her new record, War In My Mind, her career and so much more.  She is truly one of the most open, welcoming performers I have ever interviewed.  The moment you meet you you feel like an old friend.  There are some highlights below, but I highly recommend listening to the full interview.
Please press Play below to listen to the MisplacedStraws conversation with the one and only Beth Hart:
On the meaning behind "War In My Mind" - Okay, so I'll tell you the honest-to-god story of what happened. It's going to be very dramatic, but I tend to be overly dramatic anyway with everything. So I had had 5 years,5 months  and 6 days of sobriety once when I was young and I lost it. When I lost that sobriety I couldn't get sober again for eight years of strug…

Rock Hall Class of 2020 Nominees

Earlier today the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame announced the nominees for induction into the class of 2020.  The 16 names on the list represent a mix of bands that have been previously nominated and first timers.  Although there are always bands that should have been on the list, this is a pretty comprehensive list and marks a definite change in the Hall with the inclusion of multiple hard rock and alternative bands.
The Nominees are:
Pat Benatar - She has been on every list of biggest snubs for years now.  Interesting to note that she is nominated along with her husband/partner Neil Giraldo. This is her first nomination.
Dave Matthews Band - Not my thing, but they did bring jam band culture to the masses.  I don't see them making it this year but, being a critic's favorite, they'll probably make it in at some point.  This is their first nomination.
Depeche Mode - Highly influential, highly successful, still doing their thing.  There's a strong possibility that The Cure&…

A Conversation with Black Star Riders & Thin Lizzy Guitarist Scott Gorham

Scott Gorham is a true rock n' roll survivor and one of the nicest guys in the business.  He joined Thin Lizzy in 1974 as they were about to release the Nightlife record and was a mainstay on guitar until the band imploded in 1983.  After spending time working with other artists, Scott reformed Thin Lizzy and eventually evolved into the incredible Black Star Riders.  Scott and the band just released their fourth record Another State of Grace and he took some time to talk about it as well as his time with Thin Lizzy.
Please press PLAY to hear the Conversation with Scott Gorham: On dealing with lineup changes for this record - It seems like t it changed a lot and then not at all. What I mean by that is  the quality of the recording and all that has stayed the same so that's great. There's been no hitch at all getting couple of new guys in the band and that's  really down to the to the quality of just how good  Christian (Martucci, guitar) is and how g…

A Conversation with Stryper Vocalist Michael Sweet

There are few people in rock music that are more prolific than Michael Sweet.  Whether he is fronting Stryper, putting out records with George Lynch or about to release a new solo record, Michael Sweet is always working.  His tenth solo record, aptly titled Ten is about to come out and is packed with guest guitarists and the heavy, melodic rock you expect from any Sweet release. He took some time to chat about Ten, the guest guitarists that appear as well as the ones that didn't work out, his history with Stryper and Boston, and the idea of a full band solo tour.
Please press PLAY below to hear the Conversation with Michael Sweet: On all of the guests that appear on Ten - Most of the guys that are performing on the album are friends of mine. I've met them either in person or over or through Instagram or Twitter or Facebook, social media and we just became friends and stayed in touch. I admire their talents in their performances and their abilities and they…