# CX…(110)…Birthday Greetings to a close friend…

It’s not very often in this merry-go-round that you find people that you can truly count on.  I happened to have met the person whom I refer to, Mr. Angel Ramos, Jr. (who celebrates his 34th birthday today), through my old friends in my neighborhood who were almost akin to being a family.  Throughout the countless years that he and I have been close, we have shared many adventures in life, dealing with things ranging from video games to wrestling and just about everything in between.  Over those years, he and I have helped each other numerous times, which is why whenever I make the occasional sojourn to my hometown, I can always count on getting together to “catch up”.

If it wasn’t for people like Angel in my life after my separation, I probably wouldn’t be talking to you right now.  He was just the kind of person that was a joy to hang out with…and still is!

As for today’s birthday mates in his honor, we’ll start with the 1922 birthday of former Yankee Hank Bauer, classic singer Gary Lewis (of Gary Lewis and the Playboys) was born in 1945, a star of the hit movie “The Terminator”, Michael Biehn (who played Kyle Reese in the film) was born in 1956, Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban was born on this day in 1958, former NHL great Dale Hunter (Quebec Nordiques/Colorado Avalanche/Washington Capitals) turns 53 today (1960), and the star of the “Blade” vampire movies, Wesley Snipes, was born in 1962.

Also, making their entrances to this globe on this day were former wrestler John Laurinaitis, born in 1962, British authoress J.K. Rowling (if I need to tell you, you need to be slapped) was born in 1965, former Superman Dean Cain (1966), extreme wrestling icon Kid Kash (ECW, TNA) was born in 1969, former quarterback for the Cleveland Browns, Tim Couch, was born in 1977, comedian B.J. Novak, who was an influential force behind the English transition of “The Office”, was born in 1979 and actress Zelda Williams (daughter of Robin LOL) was born in 1989.

/,,,/ ROCK ON DUDEZ \,,,\

# CIX…Rockin’ the Moonchaser with Wizard of Ozz…

Last night, I got to experience a first…both as a fan and a writer for this great thing known as metal.  For those that didn’t know, last night was the “Rock the Boat”, presented by Richie B’s of Holbrook, which was a brilliant collaboration of live local rock bands and a four-hour tour of Long Island’s Great South Bay.  I must confess, however, that the music was great but, being night-blind, I couldn’t see anything outside of what was happening on the cruise.

The music was awesome, as always, and I am happy to fill in the uninitiated as to the details…the first group to play was a really stunning tribute to Green Day (awesome band in their own right) known as Walking Contradiction, based on (obviously) a Green Day smash from the past.  I have to admit that this trio, which also included a female drummer, really had high energy like their namesakes.  The awesomely fresh band, who I have recently been turned on to at a previous outing (which was not covered here), did a spectacular job of covering hits like “Jesus of Suburbia” and “St. Jimmy”, as well as older classics.

The second band on this long journey around Long Island was another original band, known as Branch Water, which I had seen as well at the previously mentioned show with Walking Contradiction.  They performed various original tracks (sorry, left my notebook home) which were appreciated by my entourage and myself, as well as their marks in the crowd.  A very high energy performance which also was graced by them covering songs, like “Communication Breakdown” and the ever-popular Doors smash “The Alabama Song” (and a beautiful remake, I might add!!!)  A nice job from this up-and-coming band…

The official headliners, though, were Long Island locals Wizard of Ozz, who has been a staple of Long Island’s Ozzy cover “wars”.  Let me tell you something, I have been a long time supporter of the band for the 20 years that they have been around and last night’s show was no different.  Considering the surroundings, we all experienced a show for all ages and genres, it was just an AWESOME night for rock-and-roll history.

Covering the usual Black Sabbath/Ozzy Osbourne staples like “Flying High Again”, “I Don’t Know”, and “War Pigs”, the band’s awesome rendition was made more impressive by the environment, cruising on the open seas, trying to stargaze (old habits die hard) and enjoying the awesome power of the Bay.

/,,,/ ROCK ON DUDEZ \,,,\

# CVIII…Ironic double birthday greetings…

A few months ago, while speaking about my blog with people that I work with, I was amazed to find out that, in this small world we live in, two totally different people whom I deal with are celebrating their birthday today.  So, it was with them (Happy Birthday to Mr. G and Mr. L, you know who you are) in mind that I present to you, my adoring public, with today’s celebrity birthdays.

We will start today’s list off with the late great women’s wrestling champion The Fabulous Moolah (1923-2007), former politician Bob Dole (1923), versatile actor Orson Bean (1928), fashion designer Oscar de la Renta (1932), wonderful actress Louise Fletcher (1934), English actor Terence Stamp (who played Zod in “Superman 2” and the voice of Jor-El in “Smallville”) was born in 1939, game show host Alex Trebek was born in 1940, eclectic musician George Clinton (of Parliament & Funkadelic) was born in 1941, and Supertramp (70’s group, people) founder Rick Davies was born in 1944.

Former Red Sox/Yankees superstar Sparky Lyle was born on this day in 1944, as well; big time super-actor Danny Glover was born in 1946, actor Albert Brooks (many films, including voice-over as Marlin in “Finding Nemo”) was born in 1947 along with The Eagles frontman Don Henley, the ever-popular Willem Defoe was born on this date in the year 1955, symphonic metal pioneer for the band Savatage, Mr. Jon Oliva, celebrates his 53rd birthday today (1960) and rap icon Keith Sweat (1961).

In this amazing long list are super actor John Leguizamo and comedian David Spade, both born in 1964, as well as WWE Hall of Famer Shawn Michaels (1965), and football star Keyshawn Johnson was born in 1972, and finally, for the “tweeners” out there, Ms. Selena Gomez turns a young 21 years today.

Having taken up a lot of your very “valuable” time, I bid you adieu until next time…

/,,,/ ROCK ON DUDEZ \,,,\

# CVII…Saturday Spotlight, Vol. XVII…RockStar Mayhem Fest, 07/19/13

The hottest day of the summer, so far, and the hottest concert (both temperature and music-wise) that I’ve been to in my life was yesterday’s 2013 RockStar Mayhem Festival, which took place yesterday afternoon/evening at the Susquehanna Bank Center in Camden, NJ.  The temperature when we arrived at about 1:30 PM was super-intense…it must have been about 102 degrees…talk about stifling!!  But, that notwithstanding, we endured the elements to enjoy the show…there were eight of us, including the lead singer and guitarist for the up-and-coming local band WDFA (to Cesar and Justin, a pleasure meeting and chilling with you both…looking forward to the future), my eldest brother, my nephew, my niece and her boyfriend with a close friend of theirs.

Upon arriving, we were witnesses to one of the hottest bands on the scene, the second act on the third stage, a screamo band known as Butcher Babies.  With two female leads that utilize their second set of vocal chords, they were a really premium act that had supreme crowd interaction skills, commanding the crowd into opening up a pit more massive than any pit I had seen before!  They were a nice addition to my collection that I will have to speak about more in the future.

I also was witness to another class act in the opening part of the afternoon…a really nice part of the metal scene known as Born of Osiris, which featured two lead males on their black/screamo songs that reminded me of being almost Dream Theater-like, as they utilized a keyboard in their tracks.  They also are a band that I will speak of once I obtain there music.

The last band on my excursion before shopping was a real nice black metal band known as Job For A Cowboy, which feature a male lead whose voice kind of reminded me of bands like Carnivore and DevilDriver…low, clear and raspy, like a good black metal band should have.  Totally focused on crowd interaction, they were a nice shot in the arm for my visual encyclopedia.  They were one of the acts that I had no guilt over paying to see.

It was just after I witnessed that act that my nephew and I decided to go shopping around the second and third stage areas, with many different band and accessory shop you could think of…from headshops to T-shirt vendors of all shapes and sizes, to band booths with special signings and hangouts, and lots and lots of merchandise.  It was there that I purchased my first item…a genuine Zippo lighter with my zodiac sign of Aries on it…which was the last one on the rack!!  The vendor also gave me a choice of a free hat, T-shirt or bandanna with my purchase…so I decided on the bandanna complete with Zippo markings all over it.  Considering the temperature these last few days, and knowing the technique for cooling off with one, I figured that it was a good decision.

After that, he and I walked past the light rail tracks of the Camden station, towards where the main stage was positioned, we noticed more of the same headshops and memorabilia vendors…there were more than you could shake a stick at.  By the time he and I finished walking around the huge setup of carts that were there, it was almost time for them to open the main stage…at about 6 PM, which was amazing considering the short amount of time that it actually felt like.

Once they opened the gate to the spacious lawn area that our tickets had been designated for, we made our way up to the most comfortable (considering the weather) spot on the lawn and prepared to rock the evening to its’ highest pinnacle.  The Susquehanna Bank Center’s amazingly vast lawn area and the main screens positioned all around the outside of the upper facade were a site to behold…and one I would not mind visiting again.  As the brief interlude of someone winning a guitar shredding contest proceeded the first act, I noticed that there was a certain “odor” in the air…that many, including myself have come to expect from this type of event…which is NOT a bad thing at all, in my honest opinion.

The first band to grace the stage was the Swedish “Viking metal” group known as Amon Amarth, who I had previously encountered through one of my nephews.  I actually enjoyed the couple of songs that I had heard prior to this concert, including the upcoming “Deceiver of the Gods”, and I knew that the music was something that you had to hear in order to appreciate its’ beauty.  That having been said, the band came out with a get-up that included a front-view Viking ship, complete with a smoke-producing dragon-styled masthead on it, which allowed the lead singer and guitarist to venture back and forth along the way.

In my honestly humble opinion, they blew the roof (figuratively) of the arena…and many of the participants that were there with me agree.  They had a very humble presence about them…at one point, the lead singer said that “the band’s new song entered the charts at Number 19…and we thank you all for that”, which, in my mind was an act I did not expect to see at a concert of this magnitude and very classy on their part!

The next band on the main stage was a group that I had heard of called Mastodon…which took the concert back down a notch, as their mannerisms were like they had not wanted to be there at all!  Very little crowd interactions made their music, however enjoyable and Meh!!! that it was seem inferior to our final two acts.

The penultimate (next-to-last) group on the list was a band introduced to me by the same aforementioned nephew called 5 Finger Death Punch.  Now, I will be honest enough to tell you that I had grown irritated of this group presence in my life that I don’t have any of their music on my iPod…that said, I will also be honest enough to tell you that, although I will not put their tunes in my ears, I have a newfound respect for their energy.

A very well-done, very humble, super crowd-oriented, performance from a band that I had previously discarded.  The backdrop of their songs was patriotic at times and his interaction with the crowd as a prelude to an a capella intro to a popular 5FDP track (track unknown, sorry not a fan, remember?) was a nice touch.  Some of the people I overheard actually accused them of putting on better performances but, for the first time seeing them live, they have certainly changed my opinion of them.

Of course, the headliner for the night, the esteemed “Master of Horror” Mr. Rob Zombie had the ultimate stage show, complete with miniature fireworks and flames and confetti and over-sized animatronic-like robots…and a rotating “Zombie” trolley.  An awesome set, which included the musical staples “Dragula”, “Living Dead Girl”, “Sick Bubble Gum” and a new cover of Grand Funk Railroad’s “We’re An American Band”, and a guest appearance by his wife and sidekick Sheri Moon Zombie, the songs were accompanied by various animations which where displayed on large Hi-Def monitors which were encircled around the stage…that was the most awesome show that I have experienced to date!!!!

With a very productive two days behind me, I would like to thank again my companions on this wonderful vacation day…the aforementioned Cesar Perez and his lead singer Justin, my nephew, etc., to all the bands involved, and to the Gods of Metal for making my life just a little brighter.

/,,,/ ROCK ON DUDEZ \,,,\

# CVI…Rawkin’ Birthday Greetings…

On my 71st post (March 24), I wrote about a show from the night before about a group that I hadn’t experienced in my short time on the rock scene on The Island.  That group was known as Tang and the only reason I bring this wonderful rockin’ band back into my blog is to celebrate the birthday of bassist/vocalist Bonnie Parker, who is one the most enlightening stars in the music industry.  It is my honor and privilege to present a list of celebrity birthdays in her honor.

Starting with the late Harriet Nelson (of “The Adventures of Ozzie & Harriet” sitcom) {1909-1994}, we continue with versatile actor Hume Cronyn (the late husband of Jessica Tandy/co-star of “*Batteries Not Included”) {1911-2003}, comedian Red Skelton (1913-1997), South African President Nelson Mandela (1918), former astronaut turned politician John Glenn (1921), late jazz bassist Don Bagley (1927-2012), the late musician/producer/actor Screamin’ Jay Hawkins (1929-2000), “Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas” author Hunter S. Thompson (1937-2005), and Dion DiMucci (Dion and the Belmonts, anyone? LOL) was born in 1939.

A few more names from the list include actor James Brolin & former Yankee manager Joe Torre were both born July 18, 1940, singer Martha Reeves (1941), business magnate Steve Forbes (1947), former wrestler Carlos Colon, Sr. (father of southpaw Carlito) {1948}, country superstar Ricky Skaggs (1954), former wrestling hardcore veteran Al Snow (1963), and talk show hostess Wendy Williams (1964), as well as acting heartthrob (for the ladies out there) Vin Diesel in 1967.

All I can say to finish this wonderful excursion (and I apologize in advance to Miss Parker)…

/,,,/ RAWK ON DUDEZ \,,,\

# CV (105)…Prehistoric Music Lesson…

Back in March (Post # 78 or LXVIII), I wrote a short piece for the anniversary of the death of one of today’s birthday celebrators, the late Daniel MacMaster of the short-lived group Bonham, which was named after its’ founder, drummer Jason Bonham (son of Led Zeppelin drummer John “Bonzo” Bonham).  I bring back this tale to celebrate his credentials and contributions to the industry that I’m so fond of.

Daniel MacMaster’s vocals on Bonham’s “The Disregard of Timekeeping” (1989) and “Mad Hatter” while with group were nothing short of an inspiration for me, as I was just cutting my teeth into what would ultimately become my career (not the writing, if you’ve been paying attention).  Back in those days, the tracks like the ever-popular “Wait For You”, “Room For Us All”, “Chimera” (from ‘Mad Hatter’), “Bringin’ Me Down” and “Guilty” were never too far from my ears.

For a group that only put out two albums, Mr. MacMaster’s singing is something that has stuck with me since before I became an adult…which speaks volumes, as I’m not nearly as mature as I think.  Daniel also released solo albums (“No Thanks” in 1994, “Rock Bonham…And The Long Way Back” in 2005, and “Heroes of the Night”, which was part of a collaboration, in 2008.  Unfortunately, if you’ve been paying attention, he was taken from this planet on March 16, 2008…and the rock universe (as a whole) has not been the same since.

You certainly won’t be disappointed in seeking these out though whatever social media you so desire to use…looks like I have a lot of digging to do myself!

/,,,/ ROCK ON DUDEZ \,,,\

# CIV…For my father…

Against the ideas that I’ve had all day from the stress at work, I will tell you that I had originally scheduled to write a major blog in honor of my father’s birthday.  My day’s events will not be addressed here…as I will tell my father that  I love him and miss him very much.

RIP Frederick H. Johnson (07/08/31 – 05/21/99)…always and forever Semper Fi!!!

/,,,/ ROCK ON DAD!!!! \,,,\