Rickey Medlocke's latest pet project has been to shepherd the next-generation incarnation of his beloved Blackfoot, who have committed their hard-charging sound to the grooves of a new album, Southern Native (Loud & Proud Records), that beautifully meshes traditional tones with modern sensibilities. I got on the horn with Medlocke to discuss the genesis of Southern Native, keeping true to his analog-centric inclinations, and what it was like working with his grandfather Shorty Medlocke back in the early days. It’s a highway song that keeps going on and on...
Rik Emmett is an artist who’s always reveled in the creative benefits of teamwork and collaboration. The former guitarist/vocalist of Canadian power trio Triumph has forged quite the formidable and far-reaching solo career since he left the band in 1988, but he’s quite adamant about the all-for-one, band-centric, and exhilaratingly electrifying flavor of RES 9 (Provogue Records), the forthcoming album from his new four-man collective that’s been appropriately dubbed Rik Emmett & RESolution9. I called Emmett, 63, to discuss the sonic impetus behind RES 9’s audio identity, how life experience informs his songwriting, and the ongoing impact of Triumph’s Allied Forces, which was released 35 years ago this past September. “I got a burning heart/I got a hungry soul,” Emmett sings on “Human Race.” RES 9 more than RESolves the pangs of those cravings.
When Robbie Robertson met Jimi Hendrix in New York’s Greenwich Village in 1966, Hendrix (then going by the name of Jimmy James) was intent on learning about a subject crucial to his future as an artist. “He only wanted to talk about songwriting,” revealed Robertson. “Because I was playing with Bob Dylan then, he thought I might know something about those secrets.” What was the best advice Robertson shared with Jimi? “If everybody is writing about one particular thing, then I would not go in that particular direction, because it’s crowded over there.
It’s hard to believe, but the eternally youthful blues maestro Robert Cray is celebrating five decades of plying his craft with the imminent release of 4 Nights of 40 Years Live. So, uh, Robert, do you mind if we call you an “elder statesman” at this point in your career? “Well, we’re doing what we do, and I’m having fun doing it. To me, that’s the most important thing,” says Cray. “It’s funny; whenever it’s mentioned that we’re ‘getting up there,’ I always revert back to my heroes — John Lee [Hooker], and B.B. [King] — and I just think about those guys as being ‘the guys.’ I never consider myself as being on the same ship.” Sorry to disagree with the man, but Cray is most definitely onboard with being on par with the masters of the blues art form. I called Cray, 62, at his hotel during a tour stop in the Pacific Northwest to discuss the sonics of 4 Nights, the ongoing merits of vinyl, and why live woodshedding is vital for bands who want to improve. “Oh yeah, there’s been a lot of change over the years,” Cray observes about his storied career. I guess he showed us.
With speakers strategically positioned all the way around The House That Ruth Built — a.k.a. Yankee Stadium — and buttressed by a multimedia visual presentation second to none, Roger Waters and his ace band tore through Pink Floyd’s seminal 1979 masterpiece The Wall in full on July 7 in the Bronx.
Ah, sweet home Chicago. I remember partaking in a number of great local traditions when I used to call the Windy City my backyard: Going to Buddy Guy's Legends club for a late night of tasty blues. Seeing the Chicago River dyed green for St. Patrick's Day. Taking in a Chicago Cubs game in the bleachers at Wrigley Field.
“Be cool or be cast out.” So goes one of the pivotal lines in “Subdivisions,” the indelible lead track from Rush’s transitional 1982 album Signals, and it’s also a statement that aptly describes the band’s own fortunes as it navigated a hard-won ascendance from perennial cult favorite to mass acceptance over the course
of its five-decades-and-counting career. The band recently completed a triumphant 40th anniversary tour dubbed R40, celebrating its genuine Rock & Roll Hall of Fame legacy by performing a 23-song set in reverse chronology. (Actually, “Reverse Chronology” sounds like a lost track from the band’s mid-’80s synth-centric period.) I saw Rush’s late-June stop at the Prudential Center in Newark, New Jersey, and marveled at the ever-present breadth of the band’s sound and how bassist/keyboardist/vocalist Geddy Lee, guitarist Alex Lifeson, and drummer Neil Peart were able to modernize decades-old material like “Jacob’s Ladder” and “Lakeside Park” without compromising each track’s initial, individual compositional integrity and charm.