Tag Archives: rock and roll

“In Case You Just Tuned In” White Label Analog Review

wla logoBringing power pop and rock and roll together is a difficult feat. Austin, Texas band White Label Analog ruffles these genres together to get their sultry but dancey sound. Upbeat and tangy, the keyboard synthesizer brings their melodies to another level.

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Rock And Roll Mecca Worth the Trip

Destination Cleveland: The Rock And Roll Hall Of Fame

I recently decided to escape the sweltering summer heat of Orlando for… well, the sweltering summer heat of Cleveland and made my first pilgrimage to the mecca of rock music, the Rock And Roll Hall Of Fame and Museum. What an amazing journey…

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Great White takes a bite out of Jacksonville!


Great White Concert Review

HappyJack is back with another RARA’s Farm concert review.

Minutes after finishing my afternoon radio show here in Jacksonville, I grabbed my gear and headed downtown to the Jacksonville Fair; where on this rain soaked evening, the band had a show to do; live in front of thousands of fair go-er’s. A nice way to branch your music to others of all music genres.

Great White in Jacksonville
Great White in Jacksonville. Photo: Leon Jonjock

Now, I was born here in Jacksonville back in the Kennedy era – and we have always had a festival or fair for as long as I can remember. And this big Southern town – home of many music superstars and hall of fame artists – knows how to throw a party!

And when they chose artists for the annual “Jacksonville Fair” they wanted the best musical artists – acts with songs always on the radio – songs we always hear and sing along to.  This year’s line-up featured Great White, a popular band on classic rock radio stations. This band has came a long way from the beginning. Founding member and lead guitarist extraordinaire, Mark Kendall, was a rock music fan from his early days – always jamming to rock legends – his vision of a cool band was evolving. After a few years and a few bands, he got a group that seemed to sound like what he really wanted and put together the band we all know today as Great White.

Back then, MTV promoted bands of rock n roll on T.V. , not this hip hop junk they show today.  And, this band had some catchy hooks and more than one hit song .

In Jacksonville in the misty rain, on a cool black night – the thunder was loud and wind was starting to swirl in all directions, a great setting for rock ‘n roll. I was standing in my normal stage position to get a few photos – stage right, on the floor, right in front of the artist. While adjusting my cameras, I felt a chill in my bones, like something out of the normal was going to happen. Then with all the wind blowing and amplifiers humming, lighting bolts flashed across the Jacksonville skies, and we heard the first ominous notes from Jaws. With a powerful build up, the lights came up to a very energetic and happy to be here in Jacksonville band: Great White.

From the moment they came onstage, they smiled with everyone, and to each other. The guitars sounded crisp and the bass was super-smooth; the drums steady and loud! And then the guys from Great White:

  • Terry Ilous: Vocals, Background Vocals, very nice guy , happy to see us
  • Mark Kendall: Lead Guitars, Background Vocals,- Sunglasses at night – maniac guitarist
  • Michael Lardie: Guitar, Keyboards, Background Vocals, smiles and Harmonica
  • Audie Desbrow: Drums, Percussion, lots of energy and big sticks
  • Scott Snyder – Bass,Background Vocals, and a bass playing style that reminds me of Motley Crue’s Nikki Sixx

Read Cretin’s Interview with the band here: Great White Interview

They had the crowd dancing and singing to every song.  Then when vocalist Ilous spoke to the Jacksonville crowd, the hometown fans came alive, swinging their fists, (and beer cans) to the band in perfect timing.

He was a very good singer with a voice that sounded like a seasoned veteran. He stopped between songs to tell the story line of the band and little gems of knowledge – which we all love to hear. Then every song they played was like they were playing in front of 12,000 screaming fans acting like they were fresh out the box instead of seasoned veterans like they are.

High energy, non-stop smiles, lots of hit songs. One highlight was their newest hit , an Ilous penned balled – “Hard to Say Goodbye.” It was top ten chart material and left the crowd with their lighters in the air. Then Kendall played solo that had the crowd jumping. The fingers were fast and the effect he had was cool and hot at the same time.

Great White in Jacksonville
Great White’s Mark Kendall in Jacksonville. Photo: Leon Jonjock

The band played an hour and a half to a very receptive Jacksonville crowd. Took their bows and exited the stage. I just wondered how they timed the lighting flashes in our Southern skies at the same time their biggest hits were being played? This show will be another great show in my rock and roll lifetime of memories. With cool night time visual effects you can’t buy – lighting flashes, wind gusts and total bliss  – what a show!

While getting my gear together to meet the band backstage I could overhear fans saying that the new singer was better than Jack Russell, their former front-man. And that this new guy is a great addition to the band; my thoughts exactly.

Backstage, my assistant, Kathleen and I took a few minutes to talk to the band. I first said “hello” to Micheal Lardie , a guy who gets second looks, because he looks a bit like Jack Russell, Nice guy, he mentioned that they are working with Vince Neil and making plans for other tour dates, including the Monsters of Rock Cruise.

Then we spoke to Terry Ilous and he was also refreshing to talk to. He came over and spoke to us a few times.  While speaking to him and listening to his visions of the future, the band, the ups and downs, the humbleness, the family man he is, the positive attitude the band has with each other – made me feel like I was his friend; and damn it, I am. I felt his compassion for this industry that seems to fade each year with the new crop of hip hoppers and glorified gang banger’s who steal the fans away to another culture; music with no value, just programmed beats and no guitars.

He was soft spoken, and charismatic, preaching that life is one moment at a time – take your time and learn from it. He was cool to chat with, not brushing us aside, and really wanted YOU FANS to know – Great White is back!

These guys have their heads on straight and their appreciation for their fans was not a put on. When they come to Jacksonville, we’ll all be back to see them jam! So, when they come to your town – go see a band that gives back to the fans 100%.

Great White – We all were bitten in Jacksonville!

Thanks again to RARAs Farm for supporting the Florida rock scene, the great Southern town of Jacksonville Florida, The Jacksonville Fair, Management of Great White, and especially new vocalist Terry Ilous , and the band “Great White”.

Thank God for California Rock!

(Like Us on Facebook, or check there soon for more photos from the show.)

Until next show…

HappyJack
WJXR 92.1FM
Rarasfarm.com


Kansas Headlines St. Augustine’s “Old City Music Fest”

Kansas in St. Augustine. Photo: Leon Jonjock
Kansas in St. Augustine. Photo: Leon Jonjock

Kansas Show Review at Old City Music Fest

Hello fans – HappyJack is back with another concert review.

I saw on my schedule, a wonderful event known around Florida as St. Augustine’s “Old City Music Fest.”  I was quickly impressed that the line-up consisted of a wide range of music, including Uncle Kracker, John Anderson, Bush Hawg, Angie Johnson and Morgan Frazier – Music for everyone, plus a D.J. spinning his wax during band breakdowns.

But, I requested this show for my next review because of the headliners, classic rockers, Kansas. Five professional progressive members of Kansas , the garage band from Topeka, are on their 40th anniversary tour. I was particularity excited because way back in 1975, a little kid known as HappyJack, got to go his first rock ‘n roll concert in the old Jacksonville’s Veteran Arena (now a new Auditorium has been built), where I saw Bob Seger open up for Kansas.

Back in ’75, this was a special show for me; I bought a neon necklace for $1 and stood in front of the stage. Soon after Seger’s act was done with their high energy set, Kansas came on with a blast of steam. I was mesmerized; this guy on the stage was dancing and kicking his legs high whenever he banged on his giant overshadowing steam organ. I had heard their songs on the radio and was glad to get the chance to see them perform live.

Flash forward to 2013 – I am standing in front of the stage again – this time with my cameras at the ready as I watch these guys get into their own playing. They played aggressively smooth and with subtle overtones – perfect for their style of music.  The fans were happy to see these legends live, and so was I. It’s been a few years since they were around , but it seemed like yesterday.

From “Carry On My Wayward Son” to “Dust In the Wind” and all of the other hits, we all sang and raised our glasses to this band from the heartland. 40 years of music experience, and it showed. The double bass drumming, powerful guitar solos and pounding bass lines, along with a piano and a fiddle player was such a sucess – and it sounded cool. They perfectly blended with each other, coming in at out at different times to showcase the instruments, a musical vision to behold!

The crowd reached ten thousand for the festival and there were thousands for the headliners.  Everyone danced all day long, not one fight, nor bottle thrown – everyone naturally respected the families in attendance that came to see the all star line up, and the headliners Kansas.

Kansas in St. Augustine. Photo: Leon Jonjock
Kansas in St. Augustine. Photo: Leon Jonjock

I met the band’s manager and he gave me a set of all three of the bands guitar picks. I took a few good photos which we will post soon. I’ll love to look at them again – many years later, and still enjoy every precious memory while looking forward to seeing them again soon.

St. Augustine’s OLD CITY MUSIC FEST was a blast – I was there for over 10 hours, and I’m already making plans to return in 2014.  I highly recommend that you see a festival when there is one in St. Augustine. Next year’s Old City Music Fest will be booking three days worth of acts to be held on November 7, 8 and 9.  Camping spots for next year’s event will be available beginning next week. Get in early for their version of a Southern Woodstock with all big time acts. Are you ready? Pack those sleeping bags, I’ll see ya at the stage! Visit their Facebook Page for more info.

Thanks to St. Augustine Flea Market , and the town of St. Augustine, Florida for having us! And a special thank you to Kansas Management team and Old City Music Fest for the media passes, you guys rocked North Florida!

And, thanks to the fans that keep us busy at Rarasfarm.com. HappyJack will be attending another show soon – until then – post  a comment!

Do you remember seeing Kansas?

A Few Minutes with Fred LeBlanc – The Patron Saint of Mardi Gras

The moment these guys take the stage, you know you’re in for a special evening. They’re synonymous with New Orleans Rock ‘n Roll and their shows are a little bit different than the typical rock show. Cowboy Mouth performances are energetic, passionate and powerful experiences, driven by the heart and soul of the band, their front man, drummer Fred LeBlanc. Yup, that’s right, their drummer is front and center, belting out vocals, leading the band and energizing the crowd all while wailing away on the drums; and damn, it really works.

LeBlanc and lead guitarist/vocalist John Thomas Griffith have been together for 15+ years, playing straight from the heart rock ‘n’ roll and impressing throngs of fans with their one-of-a-kind performances.  They do it all with an unabashed connection to their beloved New Orleans, where they’ve basically become the Unofficial Band of Mardi Gras. If Cowboy Mouth is the Rock Band of Mardi Gras, Fred LeBlanc is surely The Patron Saint.  We were able to carve a few minutes of his studio time to chat about the band, his city and Cowboy Mouth’s unique connection with their fans.

Cretin: When rock music fans think about the New Orleans music scene, typically the first band they think of is Cowboy Mouth. Is that something you’re proud of?

Fred LeBlanc: Yeah, I’m definitely proud of that.  My whole career I’ve been trying to show that you don’t have to go to a big media center to make a living in music. But with the advent of the web and all of the other advances over the last ten to fifteen years (it’s easier). I tend to look at being in the music business like owning a small business. I’ve always found that it’s better when you’re that exotic visitor from out of town.

Cretin: Yeah, rather than being one of many in a large market?

Fred LeBlanc: That’s tough trying to come in and mark out some of somebody else’s turf. It’s always better to be a visitor, to go somewhere and get out. And it helps if it’s from some place colorful like New Orleans. Growing up I didn’t really have a sense that New Orleans was so different. It’s not until you’ve traveled around that you realize there’s no po boys in Atlanta, there’s no red beans and rice in Norflok, Virginia. New Orleans tends to celebrate its highs and lows. Our ability to laugh at ourselves for the things that are both positive and negative about the city is a unique spin on life.

Cretin: For folks from New Orleans, including Cowboy Mouth, you seem to wear your emotions right there for everyone to see, whether it’s joy or sadness.

Fred LeBlanc: You know, we played a show in New Orleans last Sunday at The Mardi Gras festival and before we played “I Believe” we mixed it with an older song I wrote called “The Avenue.” It was written right after Katrina. I didn’t want to write anything angry or pointing fingers, I wanted to write a song that was like a musical arm around the shoulders to say “Hey, this is bad, but everything will be okay.”  Coupling that with “I Believe” on this tour shows that we’ve been to the bottom, we’ve been to hell and back, and we got back due to our faith in each other as people and in our community.

Cretin: You’re right the city’s recovery came a lot from inside the community.

Fred LeBlanc: That’s kind of like the whole Cowboy Mouth idea. In the song “I Believe” it’s about how faith above everything else can bring out the very best of you in terms of strength.  It’s the act of having faith and what that creates inside the human spirit to make us go above and beyond.

Cretin: So, getting back to Katrina, you guys had some personnel changes right after Katrina. Did that event have any impact on the way you approached music and your shows?

 Fred LeBlanc: No, I think it reinforced what we did. We had some personnel changes after Katrina, but those were coming long before Katrina anyway. Keeping a bunch of musicians focused is a very difficult thing, because musicians by definition tend to follow their own muse. We’ve had people in the band who’ve wanted to go do their own thing, and that’s fine. When people part it’s never pretty, but you need to wish them the best and move forward. You go through all of the crappy emotions, but eventually time heels everything… It’s just life, and you learn as you go on.

Cretin: I think that’s why you connect so well with the crowd. A lot of the lyrics and themes to the songs are things people can relate to, even people who’ve never seen Cowboy Mouth before.

Fred LeBlanc: Well, thank you. When I formed the band, my goal was to create something kind of spiritual. I grew up Catholic.  I wanted to believe, but it was all about “you’re an original sinner, you’re terrible,” and then the things that took place with some of the priests; it shook your faith. I had a friend of mine in New Orleans, I’d sneak out of the house on Sunday morning because they had a black Gospel church and these people were just going to town, dancing and screaming, raising a ruckus, and they all left in the best mood, feeling great as a community. I left thinking “I want to do that.” And, I wanted to bring that to rock and roll.

Cretin: The Gospel roots definitely come through in your shows.

Fred LeBlanc: I wanted to bring that energy to rock and roll without limiting it to a certain religious message.  As far as religion goes, the worst thing you can do is limit the almighty.  I tried to write about things that everybody goes through, you know, “write what what you know.” It was not trying to make grandiose statements, it was more “Hey, this is what I’ve been through. Here’s how I got through it. Isn’t it great to be alive?”

Cretin: And, a lot of people resonate to that.

Fred LeBlanc: They seem to. I’ve been doing this 22 years, so obviously I’m doing something right. I also think that with Cowboy Mouth, I get a lot of attention for being the front man. It’s not about me just saying “Ain’t I wonderful, Ain’t I the shit?” No, I take all of that energy the audience is enthusiastic to give and I just focus it back on them.

Cretin: I’ve tried to describe Cowboy Mouth shows to people who have never seen the band nor know the music very well. It’s hard to compare to any other show, but I say it’s a combination of passion, good music and almost a feeling of togetherness, which no one else can replicate. It’s something unique that you guys do really well.

Fred LeBlanc: When people leave a Cowboy Mouth show, they feel good.  How much these days is designed to make people feel good about themselves? Look at mass media, it’s designed to keep us scared. A Cowboy mouth show is a celebration of yourself.  I’m not really into the status thing or trying to play cool. I have no problem of being looked at as some kind of musical court jester, because at the end of the day, the court jester is the only one who can tell the truth to the king.

Cretin: You mention how your shows are different; there are other drummers who play huge roles for their bands: Don Henley, Dave Grohl and Phil Collins, but none of them do it the way you do. You’re the only guy who is front and center. Was that something you drove?

Fred LeBlanc: I got tired of sitting in the back and watching guitar players butts who weren’t better singers. I thought “I’m a better singer, why am I in the back? My songs are more hooky and better than that guy’s songs.” The truth of the matter is I kind of just got tired of it. I got tired of the whole “You’re just a drummer shut up.” I had put together a nice backlog of songs, and I quit the band. As good as the band was, it was really just a crazy drug psycho-fueled, wild hayride, but I needed to get away from it. It got to the point where I needed to do something because this is killing me. It wasn’t just killing my body, it was killing my soul.

So, that’s it for part one. We’ll have part two posted on Fat Tuesday as we continue our chat with the Patron Saint of Mardi Gras...