Written by: Matt Wardlaw
Rik Emmett is one of those guys that came along at an odd point in my path of musical discovery. I knew more about his solo work (because that's where I encountered his music initially) and less about his glory days as the singer/guitarist for Canadian arena rockers Triumph in the '70s and '80s.
This year's release of Triumph: Greatest Hits Remixed did a lot to further flesh out the music of Triumph for me beyond the hits and one of these days, I'll dig into their catalog releases that I inherited on vinyl a year or so ago. For now, with Emmett back on the road for a fresh set of dates with songwriting partner Dave Dunlop (as part of a duo originally known as the Strung-Out Troubadours and now, simply shortened to a new nickname of "The Troubs"), I figured I'd take the opportunity to lock in an interview with Emmett and chat about a few things. Talking with Emmett really made me excited about the upcoming Cleveland date at The Winchester on Saturday, September 25th (there are two shows at 7pm and 10pm) and I think we covered some really interesting ground.
I'm really stoked that you're coming back to Cleveland and obviously you've got a lot of history with the city. Is there a particular Cleveland-related memory that comes to mind when you think about the city?
Oh geez. I think we played that city one time if I recall correctly, it was around New Year's Eve and we opened for Alice Cooper on a Triumph show [our historians have been unable to come up with specific details on a pairing of Cooper and Triumph, but we did dig up evidence of a Triumph headlining performance on New Year's Eve of 1984 at the Richfield Coliseum, thanks to some help from ATV friend Scott Banham]. Of course back in the day Triumph never really ever opened for anybody because we always wanted to have big flash pots, flame throwers and all the rest of that kind of nonsense. But this was a thing where Jules Belkin had sort of said "look, you want to get in good with us, come here and be part of this big New Year's thing." I seem to recall we were out at the Richfield Coliseum - we seemed to be out in the middle of nowhere - you'd drive forever and forever. I remember that gig and there was an Agora show at some point and now of course I'm getting older and so my memory is a lot shorter, the Alzheimer's is kicking in so now I only really remember the Winchester which is where I'm playing [laughs].
It's interesting to hear you mention Jules Belkin, because it was definitely unique for the time that there were certain promoters in certain cities that made it happen for bands that were trying to break out at the time. Watching Phil Collins of Genesis thank the Belkins from the stage at the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame inductions earlier this year makes it clear how much of an impact the Belkins had on a lot of bands and musicians.
Oh yeah. I guess if you grow up and you only live and stay in one market you might be thinking that your market is kind of unusual or unique. But every market has people that sort of own it and run it - it's their territory and their turf. The Belkin thing - if you weren't in with them, you weren't going to be able to succeed. I guess you guys in Cleveland, you get to see a little bit of that when you see the turf protection stuff going on around the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and all of that stuff about the roots of rock and roll in Cleveland with Freed and the folks that had that impact on radio in the early days. Every market you would travel to there were certain key people that you had to kind of end up on their good side one way or another or they were going to be getting a little piece of the action somehow one way or the other. In Toronto, where I grew up, there was a guy named Michael Cohl, and of course now he globally runs that Rolling Stones franchise. But he was the Jules Belkin of Toronto for a while.more
Written by: Matt Wardlaw
I saw The Black Crowes for the first time in 1991, opening for ZZ Top at the Richfield Coliseum. It was a "complicated" tour for the band (that's the term I used to reference the tour during my recent conversation with BC drummer Steve Gorman) and truthfully, they weren't very good, which was disappointing to me, as Shake Your Money Maker had been one of my favorite albums of the previous year. But they came a long way in a short period of time and quickly found their sea legs as a band, becoming a unit very worthy of the tag bestowed on them by Melody Maker as the "Most Rock 'n Roll Rock 'n Roll Band in the World."
20 years later, they're doing what every band does to celebrate a 20th anniversary - they're calling it quits - at least for now. They're calling it an "indefinite hiatus," and I'd say that they've earned the break - leaving us with some good music to enjoy while they're away. Croweology is the band's current project - a 20 track trip through the looking glass of the band's career output to date, performed acoustically, although to call it an acoustic album would be deceptive - at many points on the album, it flat out rocks (as my buddy Tony "TNT" Tilford would say). Give honorable mention as well to Before The Frost, the album that preceded the release of Croweology - any way that you'd like to look at it, they're punching out on top.
The chat with Gorman for the Riverfront Times was a lot of fun and 30 minutes of 86 mph conversation that left me with way more material than I needed for the final piece. The first part can be found here with additional "outtakes" here, including a very cool story about his experience working on Warren Zevon's final album The Wind. The rest of everything that was left follows below, and I think you'll find that there's some very tasty stuff. After the interview, I quickly remembered why Gorman is the guy that does a lot of the Black Crowes press - he has a limitless number of good stories and a great personality - it was a really enjoyable interview!
Early on in your career, the band had a couple of complicated tours with Aerosmith and ZZ Top. As a member of the band during that time, what was your takeaway from those experiences?
Aerosmith was a drag - it was something that we went into thinking that it would be a lot of fun, really great and exciting. It was our first introduction to the real business of big time rock. And that's nothing against the guys in the band, it's their machine was just sort of, we were just a bump on their ass for that tour. But that was fine because it wasn't the Aerosmiith that we grew up listening to, it was Aerosmith 1990. Which was still a very good band, [but] it wasn't something we were really enamored with personally. We decided to keep telling ourselves that "well, we're getting in front of a lot of people."
We weren't very good yet either - we were playing really fast and we were just trying to get noticed. We came off that tour and then did a tour with Robert Plant which was the exact opposite. That was a great professional environment to hang in. He was a very constantly creative and interesting person to hang out with and did make himself completely available to us constantly. So that was way more what we kind of thought being on tour with a big guy would be like. By the time ZZ Top rolled around, we were very confident and we figured out how to do those big shows in arenas and all of that shit was going on.
When all of the shit started where they wanted to fire us, we honestly - people think it was a big setback, we could not have possibly cared less. We never even discussed it. When they did fire us, we thought "well fucking great, now we can finally do some of our own dates." We saw the value in it because you can't help but notice "wow, everyone's talking about this." Beyond that, we didn't care. But again, that's not even the guys in ZZ Top - Billy Gibbons has always been awesome to us and with us and we're friends. That didn't have anything to do with anything, that was just business and so that's why it didn't bother us, it was like "well this isn't our business, this is their business."
I had just seen the band in Cleveland, and you left the ZZ Top tour shortly after that show. Pre-internet, when you would hear about something like that on the radio, it was really shocking. But I think you're right, you definitely got some good mileage out of the incident, because it was all that anybody was talking about.
Well it was funny because they actually fired us in Atlanta, so that's our hometown. We were doing three nights at The Omni and we walked off stage after the second night and they said "you're off the tour." It was amazing because that night at midnight, Chris went on [syndicated rock radio call-in program] Rockline [laughs], which you remember, used to be a big deal. And then two days later, David Fricke came to Atlanta to do the cover story for Rolling Stone. It couldn't have been more "really, you guys just fired us? Awesome! Great, thanks!" We threw together a six week theater tour, which was our first headlining tour outside of clubs and we were just elated. We couldn't have been happier, like "oh fucking right on, we can go play a full show now." We brought out Jellyfish to open, which we loved their record - we'd never been happier.
Touching on Shake Your Money Maker a little bit, it was fun for me to pick out the band's influences while listening to that album. The band had a sound that was instantly classic and yet not a clone sound of the bands that had come before.
It's funny, for all of the Stones comparisons, you can't say on any level Chris ever sounded remotely like Mick Jagger - not voice wise, phrasing or lyrically - it's a whole different thing. If you want to say Rod Stewart, well our band, truth is that we don't play anything like The Faces. If you A/B our music and The Faces, it's pretty hard to find. It's not to say that we don't love those records - we listen to The Faces, The Stones and we listened to Nirvana when that came out. We listen to everything, but those people were sticking those things on us, which truth be told if you're going to say I sound like a band, I'll take the Stones - that's hardly a problem.
As a live band, we took way more cues from Led Zeppelin, how they played live, [and we] took way more cues from Little Feat and The Grateful Dead, I mean we certainly tried to. That's the bands that we were emulating with how we did things live. Truth is, because we're all pretty much self-taught musicians, we weren't good enough to do covers for the first three years that we were a band - we had to write our own songs. But our playing style, the reason we have our own sort of style is because we only know playing with each other and how we interact with each other and everyone's individual things they do. At this point obviously it's years since it's made sense to compare us to another band.
I definitely saw the progression from that first show that I saw on the ZZ Top tour and the next Black Crowes show that I saw a few years later.
Oh yeah. The Shake Your Money Maker tour, we were just in school for two years. When we started the Southern Harmony tour in the summer of '92, that was like okay, this is where we're getting to now. By the time our third record came out in the fall of '94, that's when it was no longer like we're trying to get somewhere, that felt like ok, we're here, this is where we're at now. We started playing together in 1987 and I had owned a drum kit for two years when we made Shake Your Money Maker.
It was amazing to see the reaction because I remember thinking “wow, you people are reviewing us and critiquing us like a real band.” It didn't dawn on me that we were a real band. It's like I guess if you put a record out, you're jumping in the big shark tank. I'm sitting there going “man, we've only been together three years, this is going to take a while.” It was six or seven years as a band before we really felt that everything we've learned, we're able to apply it in a way that's making a lot more sense.
It's like anything, you gotta start at the bottom and work your way up. The commercial success of Shake Your Money Maker thankfully didn't deter us from what we always wanted to be, which was to just get to be a really great live band. You know, that record sold that many copies because of a lot of elements – promotion sells records and your live show sells tickets, and we were always more focused on the ticket part. We love making records and we love our records but the idea that you're going to go spend a year talking about one album as opposed to the band, we were always promoting The Black Crowes, not just one record.
I think that you certainly had a bit of foresight, focusing on touring instead of record sales, because these days, bands are obviously making the bulk of their money touring, because they're not making that money off of album sales.
Oh, totally. That was always the thing with us. It's amazing to talk to people now and to remember in the '90s that we used to get royalty checks [laughs]. It's like "wow, that was great!" You know what I mean? You're sitting at home and every three months a check comes for record sales, that's shocking. It was about an hour and half after some kid in a dorm room figured out Napster, that was the last check that we ever got. It was like "man, that kind of blows." But that's just what it is - thankfully we were always doing the live thing, because it is an amazing thing for technology to end so many careers. It built so many careers, but it certainly ended just as many.
The Black Crowes are on tour for the rest of the year, a tour that appropriately is called "Say Goodnight to the Bad Guys." Their new album Croweology is in stores now. Visit their official website for all things Black Crowes including the latest tour dates.more
Written by: Matt Wardlaw
.....who was on stage?
That's the stumper of a question posed by the ticket stub below.
ATV reader "Cynthia" shot me an email with a question about the stub - would I be able to help? I reached out to all-knowing Bear of Cleveland Rock and Roll and we put our heads together with no results. I also shot a few emails to "people that would know" and they also had no answers. So I'll put the picture up here and invite you to reach into your ticket stub collection, look at 1974 and let me know.more
Written by: Matt Wardlaw
Without question, The Coliseum at Richfield was one of my favorite concert venues growing up. When it was announced that it would close, to be replaced by Gund Arena, I was very unhappy (to put it mildly). To close down a legendary venue that was barely 20 years old, and call it outdated, it was obvious that there were politics involved that had nothing to do with the age of The Coliseum.
Adding additional insult, the building sat vacant for several years before the eventual demolition finally came around.
The video above really is an amazing document of the final moments of The Coliseum. While it's sad to watch the destruction of a much-loved part of my youth, there are some amazing shots of the inside that bring back good memories. I saw a number of shows there, including my first Springsteen show in 1992, ZZ Top and the Black Crowes in 1990 (and ZZ Top again in 1994), two Bryan Adams shows in 1992 and 1994 (the 1994 gig featured a guest appearance from Brian Setzer), and so many more. I had tickets for a Deep Purple show that was canceled, and ticketholders had the option of a refund, or they could use the ticket to see Winger (the originally scheduled opening act) at the Akron Agora. I took the refund.
What are some of your favorite show memories from the Coliseum?
Written by: Matt Wardlaw
I officially have my tickets for Crossroads Guitar Festival 2010!
Tickets quickly sold out within minutes after they went on sale Saturday morning at 10am Central.
As I hoped, I was able to get general admission field tickets for the show. When the ticket purchase page went live, I was ready to go and after waiting a couple of nerve-wracking minutes for the Ticketmaster system to look for tickets, there they were - my golden tickets had been acquired.
As a teenager, I spent a nervous morning in line, waiting to buy tickets for my first Clapton show at Richfield Coliseum. Anytime that I was stuck near the end of the line (as I was on that morning), I was always aware that there was a very good chance that I might not get tickets, which made the eventual acquisition of tickets a very sweet victory.
For a show like that, I was competing with Northeast Ohio for one of 20,000 tickets at the Coliseum. All of these years later, the competition was global for one of the 28,000 tickets for Crossroads at Toyota Park, on a bill that features Clapton and over 20 additional artists/acts!
I had a short debate about going to this year's edition of Crossroads, since the lineup is very similar to the 2007 edition. But then when I thought about how incredible that 2007 show was, there was no question about it - I had to go!
For those of you that didn't wind up with tickets - keep your eyes peeled and you might get lucky. There were two additional blocks of tickets released in 2007 after the initial onsale. The final block of tickets (which ultimately is how I scored my tickets that year) was released several days before the show. So if you can stay flexible schedule-wise, chances are good that you might be able to grab tickets and make it to the show.
Anybody else going?one
Written by: Matt Wardlaw
When I think about the early concerts that played an important part in my development as a music fan, there's one that comes up in conversation quite a bit. My friend David had tickets to see ZZ Top at Richfield Coliseum in February of 1991, a concert that is also notable for featuring the Black Crowes opening, a slot that marked their first major arena tour. Truthfully, the Crowes weren't very good (which was a shame, since I really liked their debut album at the time) but their inclusion on the bill was historic, because they would get booted from the tour a short time later for their continual criticism of Miller Lite, the official sponsor for the tour. I wasn't a huge ZZ Top fan at the time - I knew the hits, but didn't really own any of the albums, except for Afterburner, which I had obtained while growing up as a kid. I had seen the videos, and I definitely knew the drill, but hadn't taken it any further than that.
With an offer of a ticket to the Richfield show, I decided it was finally time to complete my ZZ Top education, and I couldn't have made a better decision. Pre-game activities included watching a very large man eat an entire large pizza all by himself, followed by an incident a few moments later in which he vomited all over the person sitting in front of him. This was my 4th or 5th major concert, and I was glad to not be sitting in front of this gentleman, and at the same time, I really enjoyed the incident which seemed like something you could only experience at a rock and roll show. It made me want to attend more concerts, which I've certainly done plenty of, since then.more
Written by: Matt Wardlaw
Just in case you missed it, I'm going to be the last person to post video of Springsteen's appearance on The Daily Show with Jon Stewart this past week (following Pete at Blogness, Dave at Wings For Wheels,etc.)
|The Daily Show With Jon Stewart||M - Th 11p / 10c|
|Bruce Springsteen - Interview|
It's a really fun interview, if you haven't seen it...
Later on Twitter, @springsteen pointed me towards video of Stewart on Conan 10 years ago, talking about his love for Bruce on the night that bandleader Max Weinberg was about to depart for a six month reunion tour with Springsteen and the freshly reunited E. Street Band.
And that brings us to the reason for this post. Backstreets alerted me to the fact that this week marks the 10 year anniversary of Bruce's reunion with the E. Street Band. Springsteen and the band played their first rehearsal shows (of many that would follow later) at Asbury Park's Convention Hall on March 18th and March 19th 1999.
"I've never played here," Bruce told the crowd that first night -- this before the numerous holiday shows and morning show broadcasts yet to come. "It's nice to be able to play here tonight. This is a special night for us, because it's kind of a rededication -- it is, it's a rededication of our band, and the job that we do, and our committment to serve. So it's a big, big night."
It remains big in our memory, too -- a mere three days after Springsteen's induction into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, the stunning sight of the E Street Band back together for a full tour, the band's first in a decade, Steve's first in 18 years. The world premiere of "Land of Hope and Dreams" and an E Streetified "If I Should Fall Behind" signified that nostalgia would be taking a back seat, Bruce telling the crowd, "We're going to leave you with something new, because it's a night of rebirth."
I bought tickets for both nights, November 14th and November 15th at Cleveland's Gund Arena, a pair for each night at $67.50 a pop plus service fees.
"Good evening, good evening, Cleveland....thanks, glad to be back in town, Patti .... Patti sends her regards, she´s still at home with a perforated eardrum but, uh, tonight the boys are gonna do their best for you so..."
I went to the first night with my girlfriend Kelly, who remarked at the time that I bought the tickets "I don't understand why you're going to both nights," thus securing her mandatory spot on the guest list for the first night. After the show, she turned to me as we were walking out and said "Now, I understand why you're going both nights."
The "perforated eardrum" comment has become a joke with my friend Tony "TNT" Tilford and I that will inevitably be said by one of us as we are walking into a Bruce show. "Perforated eardrum" and "Cleveland! Cleveland!" (a Bruce comment that came on the second night, are our two oft-used references when leaving voicemails for each other, talking Springsteen, or otherwise. This was the first Bruce show of many that I've attended with Tony.
These shows were also my first Bruce shows in any form, since the very first Bruce show I ever saw in August of 1992 at my beloved, dearly departed Richfield Coliseum.
On the first night at the Gund, there were some interesting songs in the soundcheck - A snippet of "Midnight Special," and "Adam Raised A Cain." Sadly, neither made it into the setlist that night. I would have freaked if they would have busted out "Adam." We did get a set that was fairly heavy on Born In The USA material with "My Hometown," "Working On The Highway," "Bobby Jean" and the title track. "Spirit in the Night" was also in the set, and "Ramrod"" was a nice add-in on the tail end of the encores. Tony was really happy to hear "Ramrod." No, I'm serious, he was REALLY happy. Who knew that he liked "Ramrod" that much? I learned exactly how much on that night, and I began to build a mental list of songs that would induce child-like levels of excitement with Tony.
"Cleveland !....Alagonia...Alagonia.....is anybody from Alagonia ?....Cleveland !....Cleveland !....Cleveland ! ....Cleveland !....but everywhere I´ve gone I´ve seen people lost in the wilderness....I´ve seen people lost in confusion....I´ve seen people lost in the Cleveland Browns memorabilia....I´ve seen people sticking pins in the (?) Modell voodoo doll....I´ve seen people lost in confusion, in faithlessness, in hopelessness but that´s alright ´cause tonight we´re here on a search-and-rescue mission, we´ve come thousands of miles and if you´re downhearted, if you´re disgusted, if you´re dispossessed, if you´re downsized, analyzed, stigmatised, retropsychedelicized, Pokemonized, Pikachu-ized and I know you are....if your heart´s on empty, if your soul bankrupt, if your spirit´s i got bad credit, I´m here tonight to re-educate, to resuscitate, to regenerate, to reconfiscate, to reindoctrinate, to reillustrate, to resexualate, to rededicate, to reliberate you with the power and the glory, with the power and the glory, with the power and the glory, with the power and the glory, with the majesty, with the mystery....with the mystery....with the ministry of rock and roll !....it´s alive....it´s alive.... and we´re doing it....that´s right....now, unlike my competitors, I shall not, I will not, I shall not, I cannot promise you life everlasting....but I can promise you life....right now !....and all you´ve got to do is raise your hand, raise your hand and say ´I´....”
On the second night at the Gund, I took my good friend Joe to the show, "Computer Joe" as we called him, to distinguish when conversing about him and the other friends that I had named Joe. Joe's nickname came from our working relationship of building websites together. Somewhere around the time that I purchased the tickets, I mentioned it to him, and found out that he was a huge fan, and my companion for night #2 was locked in.
The second night was exhibit A on the short list of reasons why a Springsteen fan would want to attend multiple nights in the same city. A total of 12 songs played during the second show that were not played on the first night, which was a record for the reunion tour. The "country-western" pedal steel version of "No Surrender" made its debut, with other highlights including "Trapped" (!!!,) "Point Blank," "Independence Day," "Hungry Heart," and another treat in the encores with "Blinded By The Light" coming after "Land of Hope And Dreams."
As a fan, you can imagine how thrilled I was when high quality bootlegs popped up for both nights. I thought it would be appropriate to mark the 10 year anniversary of the "rededication" by posting the audio of the second night. I had/have a DVD of this somewhere featuring video shot by a fan in the crowd, synched with the high quality audio. I recall the video being a bit hard to watch, because of the shaky camera work.
You won't have that problem with the audio below, but you are guaranteed to have a good time listening to this one.
Bruce and the band will officially launch their road work in promotion of Working On A Dream with sold-out rehearsal shows on Monday and Tuesday at Convention Hall. I know that it's officially tour time, because I'm watching setlists and rehearsal reports, while eagerly anticipating the moment when I'll catch my first Bruce show of the tour.
At the moment, it looks like the first show for me will be Bruce's performance at Bonnaroo, but if I can get to a show before that date, I'll be there!
Enjoy the audio memories below from a special night in Cleveland...
Thanks to BruceBase for the ticket stub scans and Bruce quotes!
Thanks to Tony for always understanding my need to see at least 3 shows per tour....and for being willing to attend them with me. I know it's hard. Ha.
Bruce Springsteen & The E. Street Band
Setlist: Intro/Don't Look Back/Prove It All Night/Two Hearts/Trapped/Darlington County/Independence Day/Point Blank/Youngstown/Murder Inc./Badlands/Out in the Street/Tenth Avenue Freeze-out/You Can Look/Because the Night/No Surrender/Backstreets/Light of Day
First Encore: Growin' Up/Hungry Heart/Born to Run