Kirk Keeler was coming to town to play a house party and we were lucky enough to get him into town early for an interview. Audio courtesy of KSVY.
First let me say that when I bought my tickets from the Joe Satriani fan club (I know..) I thought I was getting an evening with Joe for 2 hours or whatever.. so when I found out it was this other thing I was hopeful that it would all be good.. but probably not better than 2+ hours of just Joe. I also must say that the sound guys should all have their asses kicked.. I’ll touch on all that later…. So we get to the Clear fuck Pavillion about 4:45, park in the 20 dollar lot and in we go. Standing in line for an 8 dollar beer we see Dennis Lordan and Jon Wiebe with their fancy comp tickets.. He asks us to go backstage with them but my special 100 dollar tickets don’t seem to allow me that privilege.
Now… back in the day, the bands played in the order they were billed. Apparently that doesn’t happen any more as I thought I was missing Dokken but I was actually missing Thin Lizzy as I heard the end of The Boys are Back in Town and we started downstairs only to be met by a throng of people going the wrong way had an actual band been playing. I run into my buddy Murf and he tells me how great Sykes and Gorham were with shredding double leads and Strat and Les Paul tone thru Marshalls. Mind you I’d have enjoyed all this in row 10 had I known about the bill change.,.. and they weren’t done changing it yet..apparently now it was time for Blue Oyster Cult. So there we are in row 10 with our 8 dollar beers at the Bone Bash with bikers and metal heads in black regardless of the 100 degree heat and what are the sound guys playing?? Disco.. really… loud… metal heads around me are yelling “.. Turn this crap off!!” at the top of their lungs to no avail.. anyway Blue Oyster Cult hits the stage right at about that time when the sun is in between the roof and the trees and myself in row 10 and the stage are bathed in sunlight. These guys must have been all the original guys as they look like 30 years of R& R had hit them.. well.. maybe not the drummer..he still had rock hair…I have to say I don’t own any BOC CD’s and if there’s any vinyl in my house it was left by an old roommate….but I recognized all the tunes and I must say had they had lights, longer than 35 minutes to play and not Deaf Ed from Uncle Charlies doing the sound, it would have been a much better show..They were good. Towards the end of Don’t fear the Reaper this guy comes out and jams with them.. some thin Hetfield looking guy with a blue strat.. He starts doing what looks like shredding with Buck Dharma but since the sound guy can’t find the mic for the amp he was using, I’m not truly sure the guitar was even plugged in.. anyway later I find out it was Brad Gillis. Joy..
So now it’s time for more 8 dollar beers and Dokken. I have always liked Dokken, being into pop and metal all at the same time and I must say that the new guitar player, formerly their attorney had all of George Lynch’s licks down to a T and did them effortlessly.. Don had a little trouble with the highs but all in all it was 35 minutes of Dokken’s greatest hits.. Susan hated it and was getting a head start on another 8 dollar beer but I thought they were pretty good. Now it was time for who we actually came for.. it was getting dark and Joes set was going to have lights, the screen and the whole 9 yards. Susan almost got up front but for lack of a green bracelett she was relegated back to row 10. Joe’s guitar techs spent an easy 30 minutes arguing with the sound guys trying to get the second guitar to actually make sound and to get Joe’s guitar to come thru the monitors.
Joe hits the stage and after about 1/2 a tune of the sound guys actually start to get some tone thru the mains. I like Joe but his first album was Surfin with the Alien and I must say.. I think the alien is Joe as he has turned himself into one different lookin’ dude, but my guitar playing friends.. he could truly be the best all around rock guitar player of our time.. His licks and tone are truly second to none, on top of that his music has remained relatively in tact thru the Hair band days, grunge, techno etc. The top 2 bands had no amps on stage.. only speaker cabs and, for whatever reason, Joes were mic’d about 3 inches from the top and left side.. no where near the middle of the speaker. Now… Joes Band.. Campeletti is a great drummer … no problems there.. Matt Bisonette seems to play bass… but rarely, it seems, ever with the drummer.. maybe they’re that tight but he still offends me.. Now… on to Galen Henson. My friends… any of us could be this guy.. I don’t know why he’s there.. apparently he used to be Joes guitar tech and maybe since he wasn’t ever anybody there’s no ego thing but this guy doesn’t even play the second parts of the songs as they are written… He basically plays bar chords all night.. on top of that, Joe is bending and stretching his strings to new heights and using the same ax for 3 and 4 tunes but Bar Chord boy has to have a new guitar each tune….maybe I’m just jealous…So Joe plays for almost an hour and showcases 4 or 5 new tunes with many of the fav’s. I will say the show was good but I thought the G3 set from last year was better. To prove we were there look at the pic Here
Susan could have left now but I wanted to see Deep Purple not having seen them since the reunion with bitter Ritchie Blackmore. At this point I am no longer drinking 8 dollar beers but 4 dollar waters. I go down a little early to see Highway Star, as Deep Purple always opens with Highway Star… but not today..While Joes db level hit 100+ from time to time, Deep Purples started there.. not that screaming mid range loud.. but concussion loud… you felt it more than you heard it… they obviously had MUCH more power thru the mains than all the other bands…. so there you are .. on the crew… making sure everything works… don’t you think SOMEONE would have checked the lead vocalist of the headlining acts mic?.. apparently not as Ian Gillian comes out belting and we can’t hear a sound… apparently the monitors were working as they were shocked that they got booed after the first 2 tunes, having no idea how the sound guys (again) were fucking up. Anyway.. Ian gets a mic with a cable ( I guess it was the wireless fucking up) they press on and if you close your eyes, Ian’s voice sounds as good as 1974… signature.. Roger Glover and Ian Paice were good and pro as well… It’s too bad Jon Lord retired as I don’t think anyone replaces him.. Donny Airey tries.. but he’s not Jon Lord. Steve Morse… what can you say.. an excellent player but so out of place with this band.. for me anyway.. his tasty licks just don’t belong… he’s not nearly as pissed off as he should be.. Yngwie would be a much better fit… or some old pissed off rock guitar god… like.. oh.. I don’t know.. maybe Blackmore??? Unfortunately Deep Purple was twice as loud with half the tone of Joe and Steve’s Musicman Guitar’s with Dimarzio pickups are never going to cut it.. for my likin anyway..So we cut out about 10.. my buddy Murf says that they went on to play some Deep Purple classics till about 11:15 or so, but like I said in the beginning… I would have been happy with Joe alone.
There you go… My next review will be Southbound at Vinnies….
We get to the Clearchannel Pavilion about halfway thru the first set, Why? Well because the whole world other than Sonoma sucks for traffic and I truly didn’t think it would take 1 hr 50 minutes to get there.. but it did..The weather is nice tho. So we get in, grab a beer and head down to the seats.. not bad either.. they must have released these seats at the last minute or something as I can’t believe no one got these before I did, as all the seats are full and spilling onto the lawn…. only 5 days before the gig.. we’re 3 rows back in the permanent seats on the left side.. 30-40 feet from the stage. We see Yngwie (heron referred to as ‘Vay’) and my friends.. this guy is huge.. I mean Elvis size.. Jeff Carr.. we have nothing to worry about..but Vay still must think he weighs 130 lbs, as he is in tight leather pants and has his shirt all the way open.. just hangin gut.. But he is shredding.. He has 5 Marshall stacks with 2 heads and is using them all..even the bass player is playing thru Marshalls.. Vay is doing all the classic vay tunes.. swingin his guitar around.. only to be stopped by his gut.. he must have done more rock positions that night than I have ever done in my life..even rips the strings off one of his Strats in the middle of a tremolo solo. He is truly one of the fastest players I’ve ever seen and his arpeggio sweeps are second to none.. he is actually better now than he was when he was younger.. He was singing a tune and the mic quit.. I was ready for him to start kicking stuff but he seemed to mellow in his old age.. Susan liked him but thought he was too much of a poser.. he did pose quite a bit..he ended with a medley of tunes from the first 3 albums.. very nice set.. well what we saw anyway..so we go up and get a beer.
We’re up top and Vai comes on.. I have 1 Vai CD and I’ve only always thought he was OK.. wasn’t quite into some of the weirdness..so we go downstairs skeptically… Oh My God…. this guy proceeds to put on the most intense emotional guitar performance I have ever seen in my life. If you own a Vai CD and have never seen him live, don’t listen to it again until you do. Words just can’t describe the feeling this guy puts out and the sounds that he gets out of his guitar.. The guy sitting next to me has seen Jeff Beck 6 times and said that he had never seen anything like this.. On top of that he’s got Billy Sheehan on bass, Tony Macalpine on rhythm and some young protege on guitar as well. They’re playing thru Legacy cabs and Vai’s gear is off to the side so I couldn’t see his whole rig..He uses his guitar with the handle on the top for most of the set. They do a whole all 4 players playing each others guitar thing and Vai does shred and he does the usual arpeggios, although after Vay you have heard all the arpeggio sweeps you need to. The fast playing and shredding were not the best part of his show.. the emotion he puts into his playing was unbelievable.. He ends the show with a version of ‘For the love of god’ that is just blistering.. gave me the kind of chills up my spine like the first time you heard Freebird live.. he was absolutely unreal..Susan had never even heard of Vai before this.,. but she is now a big fan….so we go up and get a beer.
Joe’s up next and having just seen him 2 weeks ago at B. R. Cohn with the Doobie Brothers, I figure I had seen most of the show.. no way..completely different set.. same guys.. Joe is playing thru 3 Peavy triple XXX’ amps and using a variety of Ibanez hot rods. This is obviously Joe’s gig.. he has only his gear on the back line and all the lights known to man. He comes out and does everything note for note.. feedback, tremolo sweeps absolutely precise.. and almost snickering knowing full well that no one else can do it like him. He plays a version of ‘The Crush of Love’ off the first album.. let me tell you.. this guy has at least a 7 fret reach.. his hands or fingers must be huge..If you’ve ever heard that song there’s that long run in the middle of the song that must consist of 200 notes and he does it.. note for note.. I was laughing at the end as I couldn’t believe what I was seeing.. Joe really does kick ass.. Susan liked him best.. in her words .. ” He just came out in jeans and a T-shirt and kicked ass.. no posing..”.. and that he did.
Then it was time to bring everyone else out. That is when cultures collided. They start with a version of Neil Youngs ‘Keep on rockin in the free world’. ..picture this… Satriani, Vai and Vay jamming to a Neil Young tune.. I didn’t know how to react.. so I just sang along.. then they start with some other covers with massive guitar solos, call and response routines etc.. They bring out Neil Schon.. now they’ve got 5 lead guitar players on stage and about the time they launch into La Grange I figure it was time to mosey and get a jump on the traffic as, truly, Southbound has done better versions.. turned out to be the right move as it was the last song and we got out of the lot no problem. .. time home: 55 minutes.
(From an e mail that went to my band at the time, Southbound)
I went to see Pat Travers at 19 Broadway in Fairfax.. a place half the size of the Viking in Novato. Lou’s band opened and Crazy Larry was there.. he asked about the Pignose (just kidding.. but he was there..and amazingly still alive..). Ran into Mike Varney as well. Apparently Varney’s label has put out the last 12 Travers CD’s.. apparently not as big sellers as the old days. Pat uses different back up bands depending on where he is playing. These guys were from San Jose and have a band called ‘Wondereyes’.. or something like that. They book the gigs and fly Pat out here and do shows. These guys were lame and any one of us could’ve backed Pat as well. but they had pro gear and they knew Pat’s tunes.. but they had 2 rhythm players..who basically stepped all over Pat’s tone most of the night. I was in front.. literally 2 feet from Pat.. he comes out first as just a trio and jumps into a version of Highway 61 revisited that if you closed your eyes you’d swear it was Johnny Winter in 1977.. with an old 60’s Les Paul tuned to open ‘G’. and playing slide like there’s no tomorrow… then he jumps into Voodoo Chile..”No Way”.. I’m thinkin…. He then puts on an even older double cutaway Les Paul with a old factory tremolo bar , and the rest of the lamos join in, and proceeds to play every f-cking Pat Travers favorite you can imagine..
Hooked on Music, Life in London, on down the line.. and I’m realizing… “Hey.. this guy stole all my licks!!!…’. I can see now where I learned how to play.. even my unorthodox patterns of playing scales were right there in front of me.. laid out faster and better of course.. but he played the same patterns as me.. (or I as him.. as it were..). Anyway.. he plays for an hour and change and ends with this version of Grand Funk tune that kicks ass (apparently the new CD is covers,.which I will procure).
So I go outside to get some air and there’s some kid out there talking about how he hadn’t seen such a rock show like that since he saw ‘Crossroads’ at Pete’s 881 about 6 months ago..I ask him Crossroads?? He says.. ” Yeah.. there was this crazy guy with a Marshall and a tremolo bar and this other guy with a Strat and they were just balls out..” I tried to convince him that the Band was Southbound and I was in it.. He was kind of buyin the fact that it was me but wasn’t sure the band wasn’t called ‘Crossroads’??. Maybe we should change our name….