The Chameleon Club & SLP Concerts Present...
Black Stone Cherry, Redlight King
25 South Queen St
Lancaster, PA, 17602
This event is all ages
A little more than a decade ago, a hard rocking trio from South Africa, changed its name from Saron Gas to Seether and disembarked for the United States. It was, according to frontman Shaun Morgan, "an emotional decision, by no means easy. Taking that big step was terrifying, but I feel that the decision we made, as tough as it was, was ultimately the correct one."
Talk about an understatement...
Over the course of five albums, Seether -- Morgan, bassist Dale Stewart and drummer John Humphrey -- has proved itself to be one of the rock world's most consistently diverse, unquenchably ambitious bands. And also one of its most successful; Seether has sold millions of albums worldwide, including four gold albums and the platinum Finding Beauty In Negative Places, and launched 11 #1 singles and 17 Top 5 hits across multiple formats at radio, including enduring favorites such as "Broken," "Remedy," "Fine Again," "Fake It", "Rise Above This" "Country Song," "Tonight" and "No Resolution."
Heck, Seether even cranked Wham!'s "Careless Whisper" into a Top 5, platinum hard rock ballad.
SEETHER 2002-2013 certainly backs that up, taking stock of the group's first decade or so of accomplishment. After all, how many bands can really deliver a best-of compilation that spans two discs, with each of the 27 songs -- including rare B-sides, film soundtrack contributions and three eye-opening demos -- as strong as the next, representing a catalog rich in defining, adventurous moments from the first single, "Fine Again," to new offerings "Safe to Say I've Had Enough," "Weak" and a high-octane treatment of Veruca Salt's "Seether," which inspired the group's moniker all those years ago.
Black Stone Cherry
The Kentucky-bred hard rockers in Black Stone Cherry have had their music blared from speakers large and small, toured relentlessly with the likes of Nickelback and Motörhead, and debuted at #1 on the UK rock chart with their sophomore release, 2008’s Folklore and Superstition. In the face of these successes, the band members decided to put themselves to the ultimate test for the creation of their third full-length, Between the Devil and the Deep Blue Sea: they took a year off from touring and focused all their energy on songwriting.
Holed up in their rehearsal space, dubbed The Practice House, which in actuality is a rundown farmhouse, the quartet—vocalist Chris Robertson, guitarist Ben Wells, bassist Jon Lawhon and drummer John Fred Young—crafted almost 50 songs of soaring, Southern-fried hard rock about everything from being proud of where you come from and true to who you are, on lead single “White Trash Millionaire,” to songs like the rip roaring “Blame It On The Boom Boom,” that will make you want to jump up and shake what your mama gave ya. The album that Black Stone Cherry emerged with is a blistering set of intoxicating anthems, much like a modern version of their heroes in Lynyrd Skynyrd or the Marshall Tucker Band, whose 1975 country-rock classic “Can’t You See” has been revamped by the band for this go ’round. They poured everything they could into building the strongest hooks and the most passionate lyrics, both of which come through stunningly in songs like “Won’t Let Go” and “Like I Roll.” And they found inspiration in the pictures of Lynyrd Skynyrd, Cream, Howlin’ Wolf, and Muddy Waters that Young’s dad, Richard Young, and uncle, Fred Young—founding members of classic country rockers the Kentucky Headhunters—pinned to the walls of The Practice House when they formed the band as teenagers over a decade ago.
For as hard as Black Stone Cherry worked, the most difficult part was taking off a year from touring. “This past year was the longest break from touring that we’ve ever taken, since forming the band,” Wells says. “Being in one place for so long was something we had to readjust to, but looking back, it gave us a chance to reflect, re-bond as brothers and craft the best songs we absolutely could.” Young adds, “It took being home with all these great people we love to create kick ass rock n roll like we do!”
Armed with an impressive arsenal of tracks, Black Stone Cherry pulled off another first-time personal feat: they recorded Between the Devil and the Deep Blue Sea (an Old English euphemism for choosing between two undesirable situations) thousands of miles from home, in Los Angeles. Under the friendly watch of producer extraordinaire Howard Benson (Theory of a Deadman, Daughtry, Three Days Grace), the bandmates tightened up their oeuvre in the studio. In fact, being on the opposite coast with Benson was how “In My Blood” came about. The song is a heartfelt auto-biographical tale about being drawn to living life on the road, despite missing family and friends. “Howard said he was missing one more song from us, one that came from our hearts,” Wells says. “We sat at his house and he just pulled it out of us. We wrote it in 20 minutes.” During the recording of the album, Benson guided them to play nontraditional instruments like mandolins, banjos and drums bought from an old high school marching band.
Between The Devil And The Deep Blue Sea is chocked full of well-crafted tales that give listeners a glimpse into life as Black Stone Cherry know it and live it. “I owned a 1981 Smokey and the Bandit Trans-Am that I drove around in primer paint when we wrote ‘White Trash Millionaire’,” Robertson says. “I spent countless hours working on it at the garage. We don’t need mansions or expensive sports cars to be content in life.” Moreover, Lawhon adds that they wrote the line about “the couch on the front porch,” because the house where they rehearse literally has a sofa on the front porch. “Of course the cushions don’t match,” he adds.
Another song that shows off the group’s affinity for celebrating the simple things in life is “Like I Roll.” A song that could mean as much to a trucker driving an 18-wheeler in a convoy as it could to a rock band on a world tour as it recalls the free spirited life of living on the road. “The song is a reminder that no matter what you have to do, do it your way,” Robertson says. “And if no one supports you, at least you took that opportunity.” Wells says, “It’s about people who travel from city to city and love every single minute of it. It’s the life we live when we’re on the road.”
Other standouts on the album include the emotional “Won’t Let Go” that really shows the strength in Robertson’s vocals. “The lyrics were pouring out of us because we could all relate to them,” Robertson says. “No matter where we go, we’re not going to let go of who we are and where we come from.” Showing their powerful vision, the band’s cover of “Can’t You See” sounds as if it were actually written by Black Stone Cherry, thanks to some thick guitars and more forceful melodies. “Blame It on the Boom Boom,” which has a fist-pumping chorus, is a party rocker par excellence, custom-built for sporting events and jukeboxes alike. Young expounds: “Blame it on the Boom Boom" is about anything you want! Whatever gets you in trouble is the Boom Boom!” If anything, the album presents an even keel between Black Stone Cherry’s most memorable bangers and their most introspective songs.
What’s clear, when the band looks back on the hard work they put into making the record, is that the time off was worth taking. It was a long process, but Black Stone Cherry’s Between the Devil and the Deep Blue Sea is one of the most well-rounded hard rock releases to come out of the last ten years.
There's stubborn. And then there's Kaz stubborn. The singer-songwriter of Redlight King refused to take no for an answer when music business suits denied his request to sample a Neil Young classic, pressing relentlessly until he got a "yes." More importantly, Kaz held on to vanquish the inner demons that nearly wrecked him several years ago. Now, with "Something for the Pain," Redlight King's redemptive Hollywood Records debut album, Kaz relives both his darkest days and the turn-around, when he clawed his way back to the light.
A latticework of rock and hip hop, the album conjures old school sounds, thanks to Kaz and producers Wally Gagel and Xandy Barry, as well as the good vibes at Hollywood's TGG Studios (now called Wax Studios, whose alums include Jimi Hendrix, the Doors and, yes, Neil Young). "I'm all about mixing in the old sounds," Kaz says, "and giving it that warm, analog feel. There is sampling, hip hop grooves and beats, but I also wanted good old fashioned meat and potatoes: bass, guitar, drums."
The sound may be warm, but his songs revisit the cold climate of Kaz's native Hamilton, Ont., and the even chillier emotional landscape of his lost years. In the astonishing hip-hop flavored debut single, "Old Man," Kaz offers a reluctant salute to his father, a larger-than-life figure who taught school by day and raced stock cars at night ("The life he demanded/Kept us all in a struggle/When he ruled with his fist/It kept us all out of trouble"). "No father issues here," says Kaz with a laugh.
Hard-edged rockers like the blustery "Bullet in My Hand," "The Underground" and the title track take listeners on a vertical drop into an abyss Kaz once knew all too well. "Most of it was written while the feelings were still there," he recalls. "My songs are written about real issues, real experiences. I like to bring listeners in deep, and give them time to look around."
Kaz starts "digging six feet up" (as he puts it) on songs like "Comeback," "Built to Last" and the irresistibly melodic "Driving to Kalifornia." Collectively, they describe the hard labor of rebuilding a life, then hitting the road, with the wintry east receding in the rear view mirror. The album ends with the acoustic-flavored "Past the Gates" and "When the Dust Settles Down," the former a hope-filled forward glance, the latter a last look back. He may be whistling past the graveyard, but it's such a pretty tune.
Kaz grew up in Hamilton, Ont., once a booming steel center on the shores of Lake Ontario, and now struggling in the global economic meltdown. He grew up in middle class home where his parents "struggled to pay the bills." Like his dad, Kaz loved cars and drag racing (Redlight King is named for the light "tree" that signals the start of a race). As he grew, music also began to take hold. He loved Queen, Springsteen, Dylan and Lennon no less than A Tribe Called Quest, Rakim, Treach and Nas. He started writing early on, recording his first track at age 16. But in his teens, music took a back seat to judo. He was good enough for a shot at Canada's Olympic training center to prepare for the 2000 Games. But he didn't make the team -- a blow that would take a toll later.
Meanwhile, Kaz returned to music, landing a deal and releasing an album in Canada. That led to a Juno Award nomination for Best New Artist, but the affirmation wasn't enough to halt a steep slide. "You know why it's happening," he recalls of his struggle with substance abuse. "You don't know where the end is, you've lost all rationality. You're borderline insane. But in the end, you make a decision to start again, and the only way was to forgive myself for my mistakes."
It worked. Kaz came back strong, headed to California in a rebuilt '49 Mercury pick-up and converted his two-year nightmare into the song cycle that became "Something for the Pain." Says Kaz, "Writing songs when you're in a dark place is dangerous. The songs I wrote for this album I won't write again. I won't have to."
Just because he lives in Los Angeles now doesn't mean he's gone Hollywood. When the mood strikes, he takes his rebuilt 1950 Harley up the PCH, just to clear his head. Hot rodder that he is, Kaz is currently restoring a rare 1937 Lincoln Zephyr coupe, with plans to make "a film capturing the journey and process of bringing the car back to life," he says. "Hot rod culture runs deep in my roots."
Music runs even deeper, and with the release of "Something for the Pain," Kaz will take the show on the road very soon. He knows his music touches a raw nerve, but that's part of the appeal for him. "I hope people will be able to connect with it and take from it what they need," he says. "It's about the human condition. In the end, we're all the same."