Concert For Ronnie Montrose Is As Good As Any Major Label’s Live Recordings

Courtesy:  RoMoCo

Courtesy: RoMoCo

2013 has seen quite the surplus of live concert recordings.  Bands the likes of Jane’s Addiction, The Rolling Stones, Black Sabbath and so many others have been released to the masses.  Each of those live recordings has proven to be exceptional in its own way.  These recordings will be seen by countless audiences thanks to being released via some of the music industry’s biggest labels. It doesn’t mean that they’re the only live recordings to hit the market this year.  One independently recorded and released live concert event that deserves just as much coverage as those aforementioned recordings is the Concert for Ronnie Montrose.  Recorded April 27th, 2012 at the Regency Ballroom in San Francisco, California, this live concert event will impress anyone that is a fan of true, pure, guitar-driven rock and roll.  This applies to even those that might not be so familiar with the work of Ronnie Montrose.  There is much to like about this new live recording.  The most obvious of factors is the concert’s audio and video mix.  For a show that was independently recorded and released, it looks and sounds surprisingly good.  The show’s set list and guest lineup collectively make up another of the reasons to check out this concert.  And while it is something relatively subtle, those charged with finalizing the concert included names and titles for each artist on each song.  For those that might be unfamiliar with the artists, this inclusion will help to introduce the artists to said new audiences when they look up each name.  In turn, it could open audiences’ eyes and ears to a whole new world of music.  Together with the aforementioned factors, the Concert For Ronnie Montrose proves to be just as enjoyable as any live recording released by the industry’s major labels.

The Concert for Ronnie Montrose is an independently recorded and released live concert event.  The automatic thought that might be raised in some audiences’ minds upon reading this is that it probably doesn’t match up with the live recordings released by the record industry’s major labels.  That belief could not be any more wrong.  The reality of this concert recording is that it looks and sounds just as good as any of the countless other live recordings released on said labels already in 2013. The camera crews charged with capturing the concert expertly carried out their duties.  Home viewers get the best seat in the house.  They are taken right on stage with the musicians and even above the crowd to see the full extent of the audience in attendance.  Seeing how packed the house was on the night of April 27th, 2012 just goes to show that while Ronnie Montrose might never have been one of the biggest names in the industry, he was and still is one of the most respected individuals to pick up a guitar. It is truly a telling statement, and one that any Ronnie Montrose fan will appreciate when they watch this concert for themselves.

The Concert for Ronnie Montrose was captured just as expertly on video as any live recording released via the industry’s major labels.  It is crystal clear.  And the camera work itself is just as impressive.  Having examined the recording’s high-quality video, the next logical step is to examine its audio mix.  Having been recorded in the semi-intimate setting of San Francisco’s Regency Ballroom, it goes without saying that it was extremely important that the audio be perfect.  Those that are more familiar with the science of acoustics will appreciate the painstaking efforts taken to ensure that the concert’s sound was on par with any major live recording.     Not one of the guitarists overpowered the other at any point throughout the evening.  And none of the musicians overpowered their fellow guest vocalists, either.  That set alongside the equally top notch camera work and video editing serve as the foundation for a concert recording that proves in the long run to be just as good as any of the year’s major concert recordings.

The audio and video mixes in the Concert for Ronnie Montrose collectively make for a solid foundation for this recording.  Having examined both, the next logical step in examining the presentation is to look at the collective set list and the guest lineup.  The set list that comprises this tribute concert spans the late guitarist’s rich career before his passing.  From his days with the Edgar Winter Group to his work with the band that bore his name to his solo career, this concert is front loaded with more than its share of great music.  Even audiences that might perhaps be less familiar with Montrose’s work will likely recognize the Edgar Winter Group’s hit songs ‘Frankenstein’ and ‘Free Ride’ and the cover of The Rolling Stones’ ‘Connection.’  What’s more, those that might be fans of Dream Theater will hear quite the similarity between the concert’s opener, ‘Overture’ and certain work by Dream Theater guitarist John Petrucci on the first of Liquid Tension Experiment’s two records.  Petrucci wasn’t one of the artists on hand at the Concert for Ronnie Montrose.  However, some equally big names were in attendance. And their presence is sure to impress audiences just as much as the show’s set list.

The lineup of artists on hand to pay tribute to Ronnie Montrose is just as eye-opening as the show’s set list.  Classic rock fans will recognize former Journey band mates Steve Smith and Neal Schon and Tesla front man Jeff Keith.  Also on hand were two equally big names in the form of Montrose’s former band mate and friend Sammy Hagar (Montrose, Van Halen, Chickenfoot) and world renowned guitarist Joe Satriani (Chickenfoot).  Hagar and Montrose’s fellow former band mates were on hand for the concert, too.  Anyone that was a fan of the band in its heyday will appreciate seeing its members back together if only for a one off show.  If the set list that makes up the show isn’t enough for audiences, then this megastar lineup of artists is certain to convince audiences to check out this recording.

So much has already been noted as to what makes the Concert for Ronnie Montrose such a joy of a live recording, even having been recorded and released independently.  There is still one factor in the recording to examine.  It is a subtle, yet important factor to examine.  It is the inclusion of what is called “supers” (or superimposed images) highlighting the names and titles of each musician to take the stage throughout the concert.  Their inclusion is important for those that might happen to be new to each musician.  The names and titles are placed right in front of each musician.  This allows audiences to directly link a name with a face.  Audiences that are less familiar with said artists can in turn link the names and faces when looking up information on each one online or otherwise.  The latent effect of all of this is the potential introduction of a whole new world of music to new audiences.  For that alone, those charged with making sure the supers matched with each artist deserve their own round of applause.  And together with the camera crews, sound editors, and performers themselves, it all comes together to make the Concert for Ronnie Montrose a concert that any purist rock and roll fan will appreciate no less with each watch.  It is available now and can be ordered online at http://www.ronniemontrose.com/merchandise/index.php?main_page=product_info&cPath=65&products_id=238.  More information on this and all things Ronnie Montrose is available via the official Ronnie Montrose website, http://www.ronniemontrose.com.  To keep up with the latest sports and entertainment reviews and news, go online to http://www.facebook.com/philspicks and “Like” it.  Fans can always keep up with the latest sports and entertainment reviews and news in the Phil’s Picks blog at https://philspicks.wordpress.com.

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Chasing Twisters A Sweet Taste Of What May Be To Come From Delta Rae

Delta Rae Chasing Twisters

Courtesy: Sire Records

Delta Rae has been quite busy since the release of its full length debut record, Carry The Fire.  The Durham, North Carolina based band has toured the country and made countless TV and radio appearances along the way.  All the while, the band’s fans have waited with baited breath for its next new release.  Those that have followed the band even before it signed on with Warner Brothers Records have been rewarded with a new EP titled Chasing Twisters.  The band’s new digital-only release is a very strong statement of the band.  If it is a statement of what’s to come from Delta Rae, then audiences have plenty to look forward to whenever the band releases its sophomore album.

Chasing Twisters opens with the EP’s up-tempo title track.  The song is led by drummer Mike McKee’s driving four-on-the-floor rhythm.  It partners with singer Brittany Holljes’ vocals to make the song come across as being more pop influenced than the songs on the band’s debut.  At the same time, it still maintains a certain vibe established by the band on its debut record.  This blending of the old and new makes the song even more enjoyable.  What makes this song especially interesting is that among some listeners, it will conjure thoughts of the theme from The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly.  What sets the two apart though, is that ‘Chasing Twisters’ is that ‘Chasing Twisters’ is not a western.  The emotion in Holljes’ voice crescendos as she sings, “So kiss/me now/This whiskey on my breath/Feel the lies/That I have taken/What little soul that I have left/And oh/My God/I’ll take you to the grave/The only love I’ve ever known/The only soul I ever saved.”  It adds so much to the song’s overall impact.  This is especially the case when she reaches the peak of that emotion, only to pull back and crescendo again in the next verse before the song eventually reaches its end.  It would be a surprise if this song isn’t an instant fan favorite by those final fading moments of this track.

Chasing Twisters’ lead track was most definitely the right choice to open the EP.  Just as enjoyable is the EP’s second track, ‘Run.’  This song is such an interesting addition to the release first and foremost because it’s one more example of the band’s growth.  It boasts something of a 1980s vibe with its keyboards.  What’s ironic about this is that even those that aren’t fans of 80s music will appreciate this song.  Maybe that’s because it doesn’t go all out with that seeming 80s influence.  It could also be because of the song’s energy.  Again, drummer Mike McKee serves largely as the song’s driving force alongside the equally driving keyboard part.  Holljes gets to exhibit her vocals even more this time, too.  And she takes full advantage of that.  The song comes in at barely more than three minutes in length.  Over that short time, her vocals soar as she sings, “I wanna run/To feel again/To be no one/To lay/Under the stars of Orion/And all my life/I’ve been burdened by the dreams/I’ll hide/Now I want to run.”  She shows yet again why she is one of the best female pop vocalists in the industry today, even if the big names don’t recognize that.  Those amazing vocals coupled with the work of her equally talented band mates make this one more wise addition to this new EP.

‘Chasing Twisters’ and ‘Run’ aren’t the only new material included on Delta Rae’s new EP.  The closing number, ‘I will Never Die’ is just as impressive.  This song throws back to the band’s debut, stylistically speaking.  It bears a sound and style very similar to that of ‘Bottom of the River’ yet it somehow manages to maintain its own identity.  The song develops a certain eeriness to the song thanks to the song’s slower bass drum beat set against Holljes singing, “You can bury my body/But I’ll never die.”  It’s but one part of what makes this song as a whole one of the EPs best songs.  Together with the acoustic takes on ‘Dance in the Graveyards’ and ‘If I Loved You’, it is the finishing touch to an EP that sets the bar pretty high for this Durham, NC based band for its second album.  If this EP is any indication though, the band will more than likely live up to those expectations.  The band is currently touring in support of its new EP and its debut album.  It will be at Bimbo’s 365 Club in San Francisco, CA this Thursday.  That performance is followed up next Tuesday, December 10th at Mechanics Hall in Worchester, MA.  The band will take a short break after that show in order to recharge its batteries and get ready to hit the road again in 2014.  An extensive list of the band’s 2014 dates is already listed on the band’s Facebook page, http://www.facebook.com/deltarea.  Fans can go there or the band’s official website, http://www.deltarae.com to check out the list and get the latest news from the band.  Fans can also follow the band via Twitter and MySpace at http://twitter.com/deltrae  and http://www.myspace.com/deltaraemusic.  To keep up with the latest sports and entertainment reviews and news, go online to http://www.facebook.com/philspicks and “Like” it.  Fans can always keep up with the latest sports and entertainment reviews and news in the Phil’s Picks blog at https://philspicks.wordpress.com.