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REVOLUTION SAINTS: Jack Blades On His Career And Latest Music Endeavor!

REVOLUTION SAINTS: Jack Blades On His Career And Latest Music Endeavor!

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There is a new force rumbling across the rock ‘n’ roll landscape. It began when rock titans Deen Castronovo, Jack Blades and Doug Aldrich have combined their musical powers to form an exciting new hard rock/melodic rock supergroup — Revolution Saints! You can tell by the name – and the names involved – that this isn’t your average rock ‘n roll band. Their new album brings back the classic melodic rock style to where it should be: inspiring, uplifting vocals, soaring melodies and musicianship to die for. It’s completely badass.

Superbly handling drums and lead vocals is Deen Castronovo. Already renowned for his drum talents and backing vocals in Journey, Bad English and more, Deen’s excellent vocal talents are in the spotlight on this release. On bass, and co-lead vocals on a few tracks,Jack Blades is well known for his melodic, yet hard rocking approach to songwriting and playing via multiple classic albums by his main band Night Ranger, as well as with the Damn Yankees and the Shaw/Blades releases. On guitar, Doug Aldrich was excited to lend his fiery blues guitar attack to such a unique and melodic band. Doug, who just left Whitesnake after a fruitful 12 year run (including co-writing 2010s critically acclaimed “Forevermore” release) and also of Burning Rain and formerly of DIO, has a deep pedigree and is one of today’s most respected guitarists.

The project is the vision of Frontiers’ President Serafino Perugino, who for years had hoped to work on a project where Deen would be the lead vocalist. Having previously worked with all three artists on different projects on Frontiers, having Deen, Jack and Doug on board together was a dream come true for Perugino. With production overseen by in-house Frontiers man, Alessandro Del Vecchio (who also contributed to the songwriting and played keyboards on the album), the recording process took place in Portland, Oregon during the summer of 2014.

Revolution Saints’ music is played with a heart and soul and that highlights the passion and the enthusiasm of three of the best rock and all-around musicians in the game today! Jason Price of Icon Vs. Icon recently caught up with Jack Blades to discuss his amazing career, longevity in the business, the musical magic captured by Revolution Saints and much more!

I wanted to start by asking you about your early years. When did music first have an impact on you as a kid?

Jack Blades

Jack Blades

When I first heard the Beatles, it was like, “Oh, my gosh!” I was about 10 years old. I heard them and my dad, of course, said, “You won’t hear anything more about these guys in six months.” I thought that was pretty hilarious. From that moment on, all I wanted to be was a musician and I was always in bands or doing things musically. I had an illness where my left leg was up in a sling for four years. Second grade through fifth grade I wasn’t able to run around or play baseball or football, you know, all the things that kids do growing up. My parents gave me this dollar ukulele when I was about 8 years old, so I had been sitting in my room and playing with that and it really became my passion. My guitar was my go-to when I was anywhere from 8 to 10 years old. When I heard the Beatles, it blew my mind. I started singing and playing even more. In high school, I played in bands like everybody does. When I was 13, it seemed there were tons of rhythm guitar players and no bass players. I said, “OK! I’ll play bass.” My parents sprung for the bass amp and bass guitar. By default, I ended up being the bass player in the band when I was 13 years old. I continued through high school and college. When I was in college, I left in my fourth year at San Diego State University to move to San Francisco to join a rock band because I really wanted to give it a run. I was convinced I could do it and really it was who I was. I was young enough and I felt if I didn’t give it a shot, then I would never know! “I coulda been a contender!” [laughs] I didn’t want to be one of those guys who would always wonder what could have been.

You have been very successful in your career. What do you consider the key to your longevity?

I have always had a certain stick-to-itiveness. That is the whole thing! FIrst, you have to believe. When everyone said, “Oh, you can’t do that. It’s a million to one!” I was like, “If that’s the way you want it. I will be the one in a million then!” Constantly pushing and sticking to it has been the secret for me. Here we have all of the success we had with Night Ranger and the band had been passed on by every record company twice between 1980 and 1982. Finally, one cat decided to say, “I will take a chance with these guys.” We knew we could do it. I knew with songs like “Don’t Tell Me You Love Me” that people would love this stuff and we could be a good band that contributes. In the end, it just took one guy taking a chance. After Night Ranger broke up, we formed the Damn Yankees with Ted Nugent, Tommy Shaw and myself. It was the same thing! Guys were like “Eh, this stuff will never get played on the radio.” How many times do you have to prove yourself?! [laughs] It’s pretty funny!

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Your latest project is Revolution Saints. How did you get involved with the project and what has you excited about it?

Deen [Castronovo] called me up and said, “Hey, I’m doing this record and I want you to be involved.” The whole brainchild for this was Serafino Perugino, the owner of Frontiers Records. He said he always wanted to have Deen be the lead singer on a record. Deen kind of played around with that a little bit on one of Neal Schon’s solo albums. On “So U,” he sang a bunch of the songs on the record and, coincidentally, I co-wrote a lot of the songs on that record with Neal. I have been friends with Neal since he was in The Wild Dogs in 1983 or 1984. Night Ranger’s manager was the manager of The Wild Dogs back in 1984, so I have really known Deen forever! I have played with him a lot, we’ve done projects together and recorded together. We know each other really well, so I said, “Sure man! I’ll sign on! I would love to be involved!” Then they got Doug Aldrich to do it and I couldn’t have been more excited because I have always loved the way Doug plays. I think he is a tremendous guitar player. I have been so fortunate that I have been able to play with people like Ted Nugent, Tommy Shaw, Brad Gillis, Jeff Lawson, all great, great guitar players! Neal Schon is another one! I have played on records and we have written Journey songs together with Neal. Doug just knows how to lay it down! We said, “Let’s do this!” And with that you have Revolution Saints!

Revolution Saints

Revolution Saints

Did you have particular goals or expectations in mind for this project from the start?

Yeah, we wanted to kick some serious ass! [laughs] The aspirations were to have Deen to be the killer lead vocalist that everyone knows he is but hadn’t had the shot to do it yet. In addition, Doug had just gotten out of Whitesnake, so I wanted him to just be blazing! I said to him, “Dude, do anything you want! This is your first statement out of Whitesnake, so make it a statement! Go for it!” That is exactly what he did.

What can you tell us about the writing process for Revolution Saints. How did it differ from what you have done in the past?

It was completely different. All of the songs were pulled together for Deen. Doug and I were getting together to write some stuff but we never had time because everything was so busy. Night Ranger was on the road and Deen was constantly on the road with Journey, so there was a lot going on. The songs were pulled together by Alessandro Del Vecchio, who produced the record. He is a great songwriter, producer and singer. I contributed on a couple of things but the majority of it was Alessandro.

To get a little off track for a moment, how do you typically go about putting a song together? What is your process?

Songs hit me wherever they hit me. Sometimes the music will hit me first or playing a riff or a big hook. It all depends and I am open to whatever flows into my mind at the time. It’s funny because it is like there is a song in my head all of the time. There is always something always going on in my head and sometimes that can be really irritating! [laughs] Like right now, the chorus from Revolution Saint’s “How To Mend A Broken Heart” is playing over and over and over in my brain. Sometimes, it’s like, “Wow! Get this thing out of here!” [laughs]

Revolution Saints

Revolution Saints

Speaking of the songs on the Revolution Saints album, what songs resonate with you the most right now?

I love “How To Mend A Broken Heart.” “Dream On” is another great one. I love the first track that we came out with, “Turn Back Time.” “Here Forever” is a great song. I have to say, it is difficult to choose just a few because there is a lot of great stuff on this record.

Looking back on the process of bringing this album to life, what stands out as the biggest challenges you faced?

The challenge was being in different places with everyone recording different things. That was not a challenge but an odd thing. If I had my druthers, I would rather have us all in one room to record and that is probably what we will do next.

That is cool to hear. With that said, I assume it is safe to say that Revolution Saints is more than just a one-off and you have plans for moving it forward in the future?

Yeah. We are hoping that the music will resonate with the fans and so far there has been a good reaction to it. That is a positive thing! People aren’t saying, “These dudes suck” or anything like that! [laughs] It’s a lot of fun. I think it is fun for the fans, it’s fun for us and it’s fun for the classic rock community. I think it is a good thing to shake the tree every once in a while and make people nervous. I think it is a really good thing.

As a fan, I think the album has a real energy to it and you really are enjoying the process of bringing this music to the fans. In turn, I think that is why the fans are responding to it so well.

That’s the whole thing, man! This thing wasn’t something we had to do. This is a project that we really wanted to do. It is one of those rare occasions where you don’t feel like you are obligated to do something. The three of us really want to do this. We wanted to do this album and now we want to play live and have fun. It is all about having fun and hanging out with people you like at this stage in the game. Otherwise, why do it?

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What are you looking at in terms of touring? I imagine there are quite a few moving pieces to contend with at this point.

It’s funny you should ask. We are getting everyone together in the next few days with conference calls to discuss how to attack this beast. We are getting offers from all parts of the globe to play shows with this thing. We have offers from Japan to the UK to Europe to the USA. We have to figure out how to put all of these parts together because I think it would be a real shame if we didn’t play live. I think the fans would really love it.

You have been a part of so many great projects through the years. Looking back, what is your biggest evolution as an artist and player?

Wow. That is a good question. Wow, I think that is one of those questions after 60 million interviews I haven’t gotten. That is a good one. Good for you! Ya know what? I think the biggest evolution of my whole thing was when we formed Damn Yankees. I came out of Night Ranger wondering about everything and questioning everything. I was questioning music and everything else. I got together with Tommy [Shaw] and we really hit it off. We started writing up a storm and then we linked up with Ted [Nugent]. Ted came in and was the way he is, just so straight ahead. They really broke the mold when they made The Nuge! He is his own unique character. The way he plays, the way he attacks music and carries everything is pretty rockin, dude. That really taught me a lot of lessons and was a big step in the evolution of me.

Revolution Saints

Revolution Saints

Where do you see yourself headed musically in the future? Is there still ground you are eager to explore?

I think that the world is always a wide open place to experience so many things. There are so many different directions that one can go into nowadays. There are so many opportunities and there is so much going on. Yeah, man! I feel like I am only mid-way through this journey. That is what I’m thinking!

I wanted to ask you quickly about one of my favorite projects from your career — Shaw Blades. “Influence” came out in 2007. Do you see yourself revisiting that project in the near future?

Yeah, that is a great record. Actually, we are about three quarters of the way through another one at the moment. If Tommy and I ever get our shit together to sit down and actually finish this thing up, it would be another two weeks and we would have another record done! [laughs] We are just trying to find a time we can actually do that!

One more question for you, Jack. You have seen so much in your time in the music industry. What is the best piece of advice you can offer to aspiring musicians looking to make their career in music in today’s climate?

I think persistence is the key. Keep your eye on the ball and never take no for an answer. By the time a person says no for the fourth time, you never know, they might say yes the fifth time. For me, it is all about persistence and stick-to-itiveness. That is what I have done all of my life, what I will continue to do and the lesson I have imparted upon my sons. That is what this life is all about, man!

Great advice, Jack! With wisdom like that, is there a chance we might get some type of autobiography out of you in the future?

Yeah, ya know what? Several people have asked about that. I think a great way to look at that would not just be a book about music but about the life lessons I have learned along the way! That is what this whole thing has been. It’s been about music, learning life and life’s lessons. Trust me! There have been so many lessons I have learned over the years! Rock ‘n’ roll is a good teacher! It’s just that a lot of people don’t listen! [laughs] That is when you get into trouble!

Thanks so much for your time today, Jack! I hope to catch you and Revolution Saints on the road in the near future!

Thanks so much, Jason! Great talking to you!

Get the latest information on Revolution Saints via their official Facebook page at www.facebook.com/RevolutionSaints. Be sure to check out all the new releases at Frontiers Records!

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Revolution Saints Release Video For “Turn Back Time,” Album To Drop February 24th!

Revolution Saints Release Video For “Turn Back Time,” Album To Drop February 24th!

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Three icons of rock music are combining their talents for the creation of one of the most anticipated new projects of 2015. Revolution Saints is the newest power trio to arrive on the scene and features guitar skills by Doug Aldrich (Whitesnake), bass and co-lead vocals by Jack Blades (Night Ranger, Damn Yankees, Shaw/Blades) and drums and lead vocals by Deen Castronovo (Journey, Bad English). The band has just released the video for the song “Turn Back Time” from their self-titled debut that is being released in North America on February 24th via Frontiers Music SRL. The video was directed by Devin DeHaven known for his work with Rick Ross, Whitesnake, Kiss and R. Kelly. The video can be seen below!

From the opening notes of “Back On My Trail” to the piano outro on the album-closer “In The Name Of The Father (Fernando’s Song),” it is clear Revolution Saints is a musical force to be reckoned with. Songs “Locked Out Of Paradise,” “Dream On” and “Here Forever” showcase the diversity that permeates throughout the entire album. Deen’s band mates from Journey also make an appearance on the album with guitarist Neal Schon showing up on “Way To The Sun” and vocalist Arnel Pineda singing on “You’re Not Alone.” The album’s 80’s vibe is reminiscent of some of the biggest hard rock tracks of the day, butwith a modern feel, backed by top-level musicianship. The album is available for pre-order at Amazon in standard CD at http://geni.us/RevSaintsAMZReg and deluxe edition with bonus DVD at http://geni.us/RevSaintsAMZDlx. Fans who order the album digitally via iTunes at http://geni.us/RevSaintsiTunes will receive an automatic download of “Turn Back Time.”

“It’s a fun record. It’s not safe. It is a musician’s record,” states Castronovo.

Revolution Saints have released an EPK discussing the new project that can be seen here: http://youtu.be/xOKjuLhUkKs.

Alessandro Del Vecchio produced the album.

The track listing for Revolution Saints is:

  1. Back On My Trail
  2. Turn Back Time
  3. You’re Not Alone (Feat. Arnel Pineda)
  4. Locked Out Of Paradise
  5. Way To The Sun (Feat. Neal Schon)
  6. Dream On
  7. Don’t Walk Away
  8. Here Forever
  9. Strangers To This Life
  10. Better World
  11. How To Mend A Broken Heart
  12. In The Name Of The Father (Fernando’s Song)

 

https://www.facebook.com/RevolutionSaints

http://www.frontiers.it

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REVOLUTION SAINTS: Deen Castronovo, Jack Blades and Doug Aldrich For New Supergroup!

REVOLUTION SAINTS: Deen Castronovo, Jack Blades and Doug Aldrich For New Supergroup!

revolution-saints-2014-1

Deen CastronovoJack Blades and Doug Aldrich. Put these three rock titans together in a band and you have the exciting new hard rock/melodic rock supergroup REVOLUTION SAINTS.

Superbly handling drums and lead vocals is Deen Castronovo. Already renowned for his drum talents and backing vocals in Journey,Bad English and more, Deen’s excellent vocal talents are in the spotlight on this release. On bass, and co-lead vocals on a few tracks,Jack Blades is well known for his melodic, yet hard rocking approach to songwriting and playing via multiple classic albums by his main band Night Ranger, as well as with the Damn Yankees and the Shaw/Blades releases. On guitar, Doug Aldrich was excited to lend his fiery blues guitar attack to such a unique and melodic band. Doug, who just left Whitesnake after a fruitful 12 year run (including co-writing 2010s critically acclaimed “Forevermore” release) and also of Burning Rain and formerly of DIO, has a deep pedigree and is one of today’s most respected guitarists.

Revolution Saints

Revolution Saints

You can tell by the name – and the names involved – that REVOLUTION SAINTS isn’t your average rock ‘n roll band. The new album brings back the classic melodic rock style to where it should be: inspiring, uplifting vocals, soaring melodies and musicianship to die for. It’s completely badass.

The project is the vision of Frontiers’ President Serafino Perugino, who for years had hoped to work on a project where Deen would be the lead vocalist. Having previously worked with all three artists on different projects on Frontiers, having Deen, Jack and Doug on board together was a dream come true for Perugino.

With production overseen by in-house Frontiers man, Alessandro Del Vecchio (who also contributed to the songwriting and played keyboards on the album), the recording process took place in Portland, Oregon during the summer of 2014.

REVOLUTION SAINTS’ music is played with a heart and soul and that highlights the passion and the enthusiasm of three of the best rock and all-around musicians in the game today. Truly, this will be a release that you cannot afford to miss. Lovers of melodic rock will fall in love all over again with REVOLUTION SAINTS.

Order the regular edition here: http://geni.us/RevSaintsAMZReg

And the deluxe edition here: http://geni.us/RevSaintsAMZDlx

REVOLUTION SAINTS
Deen Castronovo: lead vocals, drums
Jack Blades: bass, vocals on Turn Back Time and Way To The Sun
Doug Aldrich: guitars
SPECIAL GUESTS
Alessandro Del Vecchio: keyboards, backing vocals, vocals on Way To The Sun 
Arnel Pineda – co-lead vocals on You’re Not Alone
Neal Schon – guitar solo on Way To The Sun

Produced by Alessandro Del Vecchio

Check out the official Facebook page of the band at this location: facebook.com/revolutionsaints

ALBUM TRACKLISTING

  1. Back On My Trail
  2. Turn Back Time
  3. You’re Not Alone (Feat. Arnel Pineda)
  4. Locked Out Of Paradise
  5. Way To The Sun (Feat. Neal Schon)
  6. Dream On
  7. Don’t Walk Away
  8. Here Forever;
  9. Strangers To This Life
  10. Better World;
  11. How To Mend A Broken Heart
  12. In The Name Of The Father (Fernando’s Song)

 

Bonus Tracks (Deluxe Edition only)

  1. You Are Not Alone (Arnel Pineda version)
  2. Way To The Sun (Doug Aldrich version)
  3. You Are Not Alone (Deen Castronovo Version)


DVD Content (Deluxe Edition only)

  1. Making of the Album documentary
  2. Turn Back Time (promo video)
  3. Back On My Trail (promo video)
  4. Here Forever (promo video)
  5. Way to the Sun (lyric video) 


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Styx’s Tommy Shaw To Drop Bluegrass Debut on March 22nd!

Styx’s Tommy Shaw To Drop Bluegrass Debut on March 22nd!

Tommy Shaw, guitarist of legendary rock band Styx, is set to release his debut Bluegrass album, “The Great Divide” on March 22nd, 2011, through Pazzo Music/Fontana Distribution.  The album features an impressive roster of guest musicians, including: Alison Krauss, Dwight Yoakam, Jerry Douglas, Sam Bush, Rob Ickes, Stuart Duncan, Byron House, Gary Burr and many more.

With this album, Shaw, a Montgomery, Alabama native, establishes himself as an authentic addition to the Bluegrass community. Born with a unique gift for music, a passion quickly recognized by his parents, he picked up his first guitar at the age of ten. From what his brothers remember, after Tommy’s introduction to the guitar; “We never saw him again…”, as he would stay in his room for hours practicing day and night. His tenacity and intrinsic passion for Bluegrass at an early age implies that this new release isn’t a casual endeavor, but a return to the music on which he was raised. Shaw wrote or co-wrote every song on the album in addition to playing acoustic guitar, dobro/resonator and mandolin.

A perennial part of the rock scene since the mid-70s as a member of STYX, Damn Yankees and Shaw/Blades, Bluegrass may at first seem like a stretch for Shaw, but his transition to Bluegrass is seamless.  Having been raised on the genre, Shaw has always been deeply enamored with Bluegrass’ ability to connect to the listener through storytelling. “These are story songs,” says Shaw, an Alabama Music Hall of Fame Inductee.  “I think songs that take you on a little journey are the best ones.”

This is the story of a Southern boy who made it “big,” but always held tight to his roots. “The Great Divide is a story of love and life; of happiness and hope; of loss and discovery,” says Shaw. “It’s the story of a journey that spans generations and is ultimately about trying to find your way home.  And I’m as proud of this story as any I’ve ever told.”

The legendary rocker proves to his listeners that although this may be his first Bluegrass venture, it certainly won’t be his last.

“The Great Divide” was produced by Tommy Shaw, Brad Davis and Will Evankovich.  It will be released on CD, vinyl and digital formats on March 22, 2011.

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STYX To Launch “The Grand Illusion/Pieces Of Eight” Tour This October

STYX To Launch “The Grand Illusion/Pieces Of Eight” Tour This October

STYX

Tommy Shaw (vocals, guitars), James “JY” Young (vocals, guitars), Lawrence Gowan (vocals, keyboards), Todd Sucherman (drums) and Ricky Phillips (bass), along with the occasional surprise appearance by original bassist Chuck Panozzo—are getting ready to head out on the U.S. concert trail again this year.  However, for this round of dates, the band has an extra-special treat planned – it won’t be a typical STYX show.  Along with the classic hits, the band will be performing 1977’s THE GRAND ILLUSION and 1978’sPIECES OF EIGHT in their entirety.  Both albums spawned such hit singles and Classic Rock radio standards as “Come Sail Away,” “Renegade,” “Blue Collar Man” and “Fooling Yourself (The Angry Young Man).”

And as icing on the cake, a seven-song EP, entitled REGENERATION, VOLUME 1, containing six newly re-recorded classics–“Come Sail Away,” “Crystal Ball,” “Fooling Yourself (The Angry Young Man),” “Lorelei,” “The Grand Illusion” and “Sing For The Day”—and a brand new track, “Difference In The World,” will be available for sale at every stop along “The Grand Illusion/Pieces Of Eight” October/November tour route.

“This is the most unique STYX concert ever,” says singer/guitarist Tommy Shaw.  “It’s a hybrid experience of enjoying the artistry of the vinyl album and the energy and of our live performance.  Some songs have never been performed live!”

Spawned from a suburban Chicago basement in the early ‘70s, STYX would eventually transform into the virtual arena rock prototype by the late ’70s and early ’80s, due to a fondness for big rockers and soaring power ballads.  Over the course of their 38-year career they’ve released 15 studio albums, 6 best-of compilations and 4 live albums, garnering 8 Top Ten singles. STYX has sold over 30 million albums worldwide.

On the touring front, STYX has performed more shows since ’99 than all of the previous years of its career combined.  Two Super-Bowl appearances, Pollstar box office chart-topping tours with Def Leppard, Journey, Boston, REO Speedwagon, Bad Company, Foreigner (to name a few), two more studio albums and no end in sight, STYX continues to conquer the planet, one venue at a time.

Check out the “The Grand Illusion/Pieces Of Eight” at any of the following stops:

Thu 10/14 – Evansville, IN – The Centre (on-sale 8/13)
Fri 10/15 – Merrillville, IN – Star Plaza Theatre (on-sale 8/14)
Sat 10/16 – Waukegan, IL – Genesee Theatre (on-sale /14)
Sun 10/17 – Columbus, OH – The Palace Theatre (on-sale 8/13)
Tue 10/19 – Chattanooga, TN – Tivoli Theatre (on-sale 8/20)
Thu 10/21 – Melbourne, FL – King Center (on-sale 8/20)
Fri 10/22 – Ft. Myers, FL – Barbara B. Mann Perf Arts Hall (on-sale 8/20)
Sat 10/23 – Clearwater, FL – Ruth Eckerd Hall (on-sale 8/20)
Mon 10/25 – Salem, VA – Salem Civic Center (on-sale 8/20)
Wed 10/27 – Washington, DC – Warner Theatre (on-sale 9/10)
Thu 10/28 – New York, NY – Beacon Theatre (on-sale 8/6)
Fri 10/29 – Baltimore, MD – Hippodrome Theatre (on-sale 8/20)
Sat 10/30 – Albany, NY – Palace Theatre Albany (on-sale 8/19)
Tue 11/2 – Bangor, ME – Bangor Auditorium (on-sale 8/27)
Wed 11/3 – Lowell, MA – Lowell Memorial Auditorium (on-sale 8/20)
Fri 11/5 – Erie, PA – Warner Theatre Erie (on-sale 8/27)
Sat 11/6 – Toledo, OH – Stranahan Theatre (on-sale 8/27)
Sun 11/7 – Louisville, KY – Louisville Palace (on-sale 8/27)
Tue 11/9 – Memphis, TN – The Orpheum Theatre (on-sale 8/27)
Thu 11/11 – Nashville, TN – Ryman Auditorium (on-sale 8/27)
Fri 11/12 – Biloxi, MS – Hard Rock Casino & Resort (on-sale TBA)
Sat 11/13 – Atlanta, GA – Cobb Energy Center (on-sale 8/27)

**On-sale dates are subject to change.

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Shaw Blades: Live at Rams Head Tavern – Concert Report

Shaw Blades: Live at Rams Head Tavern – Concert Report

Jack Blades and Tommy Shaw

Jack Blades and Tommy Shaw

An acoustic evening with Shaw Blades

November 26, 2007
Rams Head Tavern
Annapolis, Maryland

By JASON PRICE

Well over a decade ago, MTV brought us the acclaimed Unplugged series. VH1 followed suit with the breakthrough series Storytellers. Now seasoned rockers Jack Blades and Tommy Shaw have bottled the magic of these landmark series and taken the show on the road. Shaw Blades has been trekking around the country since the spring in support of their latest release, Influence. The album is the result of their much-discussed idea to pay homage to the artists and songs that had influenced their careers.

The duo rolled into Annapolis, Md., aboard their biodiesel-fueled bus and arrived at the Rams Head Tavern, which was packed to capacity. The fans that had gathered were ready to take in the songs and off-beat antics of their rock heroes. The band is touring smaller venues across the the country, which enhances the more intimate setting. With the fans comfortably seated and the wine and spirits flowing, Shaw Blades hit the stage. Jack and Tommy were all smiles as they took their places on the tiny stage, amid the hoots and hollers of the Styx, Night Ranger and Damn Yankees fans that filled the small club’s audience. Will Evankovich (American Drag), providing backing vocals and guitar work for the duo on this tour, was also along for the evenings festivities. Shaw Blades immediately launched into Seals and Crofts’ “Summer Breeze” and followed that with the classic Styx jam “Too Much Time on My Hands,” which left smiles on the faces of the fans excited abut the evening ahead. The sound and lighting at Rams Head Tavern, for those who haven’t experienced this venue, are superb for an act of this sort. The crisp, rich sound pumping through the sound system accentuates the experience, taking acoustic shows to new levels.

Shaw Blades is a band in full command of the stage and their performances. They know how to control the room and present the songs in a fashion that spellbinds the audience. The offerings from Influence came fast and furious. Songs like ?Your Move? (Yes), ?I Am aRock? (Simon & Garfunkel) and the Buffalo Springfield classic “For What It?s Worth,” had the audience captivated and singing along. That is part of the beauty of the Influence album and the live show. Even if you didn’t own the original LPs, we all somehow know the words to the songs and can sing along. Only about 20 minutes into the show, the band had already warmed up the crowd and started coming into its own.

When your band is comprised of two vocalists whose projects, in their heyday, reached staggering heights, you have no shortage of quality material. The duo reached into their personal stashes to pull out hits from both Styx and Night Ranger. During the course of the show, fans clamored for their favorite songs, occasionally shouting them out by name. No one can ever say Tommy and Jack don’t deliver. I honestly can’t recall one song the fans called out that wasn’t played at some point. “Sister Christian,” “CrystalBall,” “Coming of Age” and “High Enough” are just a small sampling of what the band offered up. In between the great music, Tommy and Jack shared stories, capturing the essence of what made Storytellers such a success. Never taking themselves too seriously, they even played their now classic rendition of “When I See Beth Smiling,” a reworked version of a listener-submitted song they had originally performed during their second appearance on The Howard Stern Show this year. The appearances on Stern have turned a few people onto the band that wouldn’t have discovered them on their own. Hopefully, this is just another piece of the puzzle that will fuel the band’s success and provide us with another offering from Shaw Blades in the near future.

By the end of the evening, Shaw Blades had laid down a two-hour-plus set and made it look easy. Jack Blades and Tommy Shaw showed once again they are at the top of their game, with their masterful playing and terrific stage presence. There wasn’t a single person left in their seat, as they received a standing ovation as they took there final bows for the evening. There is no denying the Shaw Blades experience is something that is captured well on their album but should definitely be taken in in person at a small venue. With a little luck, the boys will soon capture the live show on DVD for fans who are looking for a keepsake and the fans who will surely discover them down the line.

Related Links:

www.shawblades.com
www.jackblades.net
www.tommyshaw.com
www.styxworld.com
www.americandrag.net

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Shaw Blades – ‘Influence’ – CD Review

By JASON PRICE

Jack Blades (Night Ranger) and Tommy Shaw (Styx) are no strangers to? the music scene. With?more than three?decades of music history between them,? there is no doubt that this duo has influenced and inspired countless? numbers of performers. They are now paying homage to the sounds that influenced them. Influence is an idea they had discussed for years and have now?presented as the first release?from VH1 Classic Records. The album is the follow up to their 1995 collaboration Hallucination. The sophomore release does not disappoint.

The album is simply a collection of Tommy Shaw’s and Jack Blades’ favorite songs. A cover album often can?be dangerous?territory for an artist to venture into, but these classic vocalists make?raising the bar look easy. The album includes such hits of the ’60s?and ’70s as The Mamas & Papas’ ?California Dreamin?,? Simon & Garfunkel?s ?I Am a Rock? and ?The Sound of Silence,? Yes? ?Your Move? and the Zombies’ classic ?Time of the Season.”?? There isn’t a single choice on this album that?will fail to satisfy the listener.

In addition to the timeless songs, the duo brings fantastic?instrumentation and production to the disc. What? sets this disc apart from many other covers albums is the vocal work?by these two seasoned rockers. Blades and Shaw sound better?than ever and are at the top of their game. Their classic vocal?harmonies combined?with the crisp acoustic sound breathes new life into these hits. The fresh takes on these songs?make the music of the past easily accessible to a generation that?wasn’t necessarily brought up with these songs or the even the earlier outings by Shaw?and Blades.

Blades and Shaw shine on this album and bring what could?only be described as their unique presence or chemistry to each?song. It makes the listener wonder where the future will take them and if an album of new material could be on the way.

THE VERDICT: 5/5

TRACKLISTING:

1. Summer Breeze (Seals & Crofts, 1972)

2. Time of the Season (The Zombies, 1968)

3. Your Move (Yes, 1971)

4. I Am a Rock (Simon & Garfunkel, 1966)

5. Lucky Man (Emerson, Lake, & Palmer, 1970)

6. The Sound of Silence (Simon & Garfunkel, 1964)

7. California Dreamin? (The Mamas & The Papas, 1963)

8. On?a Carousel (The Hollies, 1965)

9. Dirty Work (Steely Dan, 1972)

10. For What It?s Worth (Buffalo Springfield, 1967)

11. Dance With Me (Orleans, 1975)

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