The Supertramp Mystique Extends to Instrumental Records, Too

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Photos courtesy of Glass Onyon PR
Carl Verheyen rocks out!
Singer/guitarist Carl Verheyen probably hasn't ever needed to file for unemployment with the musicians union. After a couple of decades as a sought-after studio axeman, he launched a solo career more than ten albums deep, teaches music at the university level, and has authored instructional books and DVDs.

Oh, and he also has been a permanent member of Supertramp ("The Logical Song," "Goodbye Stranger," "Give a Little Bit") since 1996. But for his most recent effort, last year's Mustang Run (Cranktone), he offered up an almost all-instrumental guitar record, which attracts a much different audience than a standard rock one with vocals.

"I believe that the state of the art of the so-called guitar record is not about shredding and blazing down the fingerboard," he offers while on a studio break from producing (yet another gig of his). "It's more about texture and sonic tapestries that you put together with different sounds. That's where I was coming from with this. I didn't want a 'chops' record. I wanted a melodic record."


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Super Duper Alice Cooper More Than Just Snakes and Golf

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alicecooper.com
Would you buy a used car -- or hatchet -- from this man?

Super Duper Alice Cooper
Directed by Reginald Harkema, Scot McFadyen, and Sam Dunn
Eagle Rock, 127 mins, $14.98 DVD/$19.98 Blu-Ray

Vincent Furnier was a shy, churchgoing, high-school track star and the son and grandson of preachers who had never even touched alcohol, much less illegal drugs.

Alice Cooper is a depraved sicko who likes to whip women, chop off the limbs of baby dolls, inadvertently kills chickens, sneers at the people who pay to see him, and ultimately ends up getting guillotined for his behavior. And he liked to imbibe massive amounts of Budweiser and cocaine. Massive.

That they two men are the same person has long been one of rock history's more fascinating stories, a real-life Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde -- albeit one dressed in leather and wearing snakes. In fact, footage from an old silent-film adaptation of the R.L. Stevenson story is strewn throughout Super Duper Alice Cooper to constantly drive the point home, as does the constant third-person discussion by Alice of Alice.

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Aerosmith at The Woodlands, 8/25/2014

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Photos by Violeta Alvarez
Aerosmith, Slash feat. Myles Kennedy and the Conspirators
Cynthia Woods Mitchell Pavilion
August 25, 2014

More than 40 years into a career that's seen more ups and down than the S&P 500, Aerosmith no longer has any use for another comeback. Thanks to an extensive catalogue of hits and sheer, stubborn longevity, the group even detractors have been forced to acknowledge as perhaps America's greatest rock band has nothing much left to prove (or say) at this point.

The Bad Boys from Boston didn't play anything approaching new music on Monday night, nor did anyone ask for any. All that's needed to send a huge Woodlands Pavilion crowd home happy is for Aerosmith to do what it does best: roll out the classics and continue on being Aerosmith, forever and ever and ever.

Steven Tyler can still screech out the high notes and Joe Perry can still play the hell of that axe, and they still look pretty damn good doing it -- even if Tyler's unfortunate mustache-and-beardlet combo looks like something purchased in a pop-up costume shop. The 66-year-old singer's stage shimmy may be slower and more subtle these days, and his voice has certainly acquired a bit of a patina over the decades. But he and his bandmates can still reliably bring the rock and roll thunder that has made them icons.


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Crosby, Stills & Nash at Bayou Music Center, 8/25/2014

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Photos by Jack Gorman
Crosby, Stills & Nash
Bayou Music Center
August 25, 2014

"I don't know how people got this idea that we are a political band," David Crosby -- trademark flowing grey hair and walrus mustache intact -- said Monday night. "It might be from just those one or two songs. Or 18."

And indeed, while it seems incongruous that anyone buying a ticket to see Crosby, Stills & Nash is utterly unaware of their strongly left-leaning views, those who came strictly for the warm buzz of a hippie-fest nostalgia trip sure got a rude awakening.

Oh yeah, they got the sweet, comfy love songs like "Guinnevere," "Helplessly Hoping," and a nicely done "Our House." And the bong-fest barn burners like "Wooden Ships," "Long Time Gone," and "Almost Cut My Hair."

But smack dab in the middle of that set, CSN shook it up with a number of new songs all about some pretty contemporary issues, and one decades-old that could have been written yesterday. Remember, this is three-fourths of the group that recorded and released the protest anthem "Ohio" in about a week after the 1970 Kent State shootings that it was about.


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Inside CSNY's Groundbreaking 1974 Tour

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Photos by Joel Bernstein/Rhino Records
CSNY (actually in order, Stills, Crosby, Young and Nash) onstage during the 1974 tour.
"We knew it was something special," Graham Nash says on the phone from New York City. "No one had done a tour like that, in that many big venues. But I felt we were up to the task. We could all play and sing, and there were four of us. With four intense egos!"

Today, massive football stadium tours by rock's major acts are taken for granted. But many years ago, 40 to be precise, it hadn't even been attempted. While the Beatles and Stones had done the massive gigs as one-offs, it was a reunited Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young who took the plunge first.

Their fabled 1974 tour encompassed 31 shows in 24 cities in three countries from July through September, with the group presenting nearly 80 songs played in various personnel combinations -- a quarter of which hadn't even been released at that point but would find their way onto later group, solo, and duo records.


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Graham Nash Can't Stop, Won't Stop

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Photo by Chris Kissnger/Jensen Communications
Crosby, Stills, and Nash (actually Stills, Nash, and Crosby) ply their trademark three-part harmony at a recent show.
Now that his production work on the four-years-in-the-making massive CSNY 1974 box set is over and fans have in their hands what they've dreamed about for years, 72-year-old Graham Nash can just lie back and take it easy, right? Not a chance.

"I'm busier now than I've ever been in my life, ever," he says. And his daybook planner backs up the claim. Currently on tour with longtime partners David Crosby and Stephen Stills, he is also doing publicity for the paperback version of his autobiography, Wild Tales, writing new music, recording a CSN covers album, showing his painting and photography work in galleries all over the world while making new art, and even sculpting.

And maybe changing a diaper or two.


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The Top 40 Charting Hard-Rock Songs: Part 2

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Somewhere, we hope Casey Kasem is smiling.
Welcome back to the show! We're counting down the Top 40 hard rock songs of all time, according to Billboard (sort of...). I'll take a moment to recap Nos. 40-31.

40. "Don't Tell Me You Love Me," Night Ranger
39. "Cumbersome," Seven Mary Three
38. "Trampled Underfoot," Led Zeppelin
37. "Back In Black," AC/DC
36. "Sweet Emotion," Aerosmith
35. "One," Metallica
34. "Black And Blue," Van Halen
33. "Live And Let Die," Guns 'N Roses
32. "Everybody Wants You," Billy Squier
31. "Metal Health (Bang Your Head)," by Quiet Riot

If you're in the dark as to what's going on, please refer to Tuesday's first half of the show for the qualifications and my self-imposed limitations during the selection process and breakdown of my results.

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The Top 40 Charting Hard-Rock Songs: Part 1

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Sam Howzit via Flickr
Coming at at No. 40 on our countdown, it's the boys from the San Francisco Bay Area, Night Ranger.
Numbers. The applications to which they are used in various fields can yield results ranging from the trivial to the catastrophic if not interpreted properly. If you are involved with numbers at NASA or the military, lives could hang in the balance if something is miscalculated or misrepresented.

The misuse of numbers in the music industry isn't going to cost anyone his or her life. While music has been one of my biggest passions, I do have another guilty obsession: I'm also a baseball junkie, and if there's one field where trivial calculations influence decisions based on overinflated misinterpretations it's baseball. A perfect example of this is the 'W,' the pitcher's win: a pitcher can throw a terrible game and still get the win, and a pitcher can have an excellent game and still get a loss. For those who don't follow the sport, how a pitcher gets the win is not the point here, but the relevance is. Many around baseball (unfairly) still regard that 'W' as what determines a pitcher's worth during a season.

For those not in the know, the music industry had a number that, just like the 'W,' it relied on it for more than 50 years called the Billboard Hot 100 chart. Now, why is this one misleading as opposed to the other Billboard charts? Well, those charts tend to put the participants on an even field. There are charts exclusively for genres, such as country and Christian, and even the Top Albums chart tends to be mostly fair because it's open to all albums being sold.


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Chuck Negron: The Oldies Circuit's Sober Companion

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Photo courtesy of Stafford Centre
Chuck Negron
A little over a year ago, former Three Dog Night vocalist Chuck Negron stood onstage at the Stafford Centre at the finale of the "Happy Together" tour stop, belting out numbers while shoulder to shoulder with The Turtles, Gary Lewis, Gary Puckett and former Paul Revere and the Raiders vocalist Mark Lindsay.

Nearly three hours long, the show was an all-killer-no-filler time travel through well-known radio and chart hits of the '60s and '70s. Negron proffered signature hits like "Joy to the World," "One," "Just An Old Fashioned Love Song," and "Celebrate" to the gray-haired audience whose years melted away from their faces as they sang familiar choruses.

Celebrating its 30th anniversary this year, the "Happy Together" tour returns to the Stafford Centre tonight with Negron, the Turtles, Gary Lewis and the Playboys, and new additions Mitch Ryder the Detroit Wheels and former Grand Funk Railroad singer/guitarist Mark Farner.


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The Five Most Repellent Things Ted Nugent Has Ever Done

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Photo by Jim Bricker
The Nuge at House of Blues, 2013

If your favorite gun store was out of ammo this morning, it's because Ted Nugent is back in town. The Motor City Madman rumbles into House of Blues tonight, and he's sure to bring the requisite shitload of guitar solos and flaming arrows with him.

And hey, that's great -- at least it was, 40 years ago. "Stranglehold" is great, sure, but "Cat Scratch Fever" was pretty stupid from the get-go, and if he's had a hit since that one, it hasn't cracked the rotation over at 107.5 The Eagle yet.

Then again, who cares? Over the last decade or so, old Ted has become far better known for the outrageous noises coming out of his mouth than for the slightly louder outrageous sounds blasting out of his amplifiers. The transplanted Texan has made his views on Democrats, immigrants, minorities and the 2nd Amendment painfully clear many times over, to the point that his right-wing blowhard act is getting as tired as his music. He's become so predictable that it's getting hard to work up much distaste for his antics, let alone outrage.

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