Joe Satriani: Live in Paris – I Just Wanna Rock (DVD)

Joe Satriani is my #2 favorite guitarist just right behind Steve Vai. I usually purchase everything he comes out with and go see him every time he comes to San Diego. But when it comes to any concert DVD, I try to rent them first from Netflix before I buy. I am so glad that Netflix had the I Just Wanna Rock DVD. I watched it this past weekend and  I strongly recommend to everyone to not purchase this one!! I had to turn it off after three songs. The complete over use of visual effects, colorization, zooming in and out and MTV like editing (switching views every second or less) caused me to quickly hit the eject button! Most of the time it looked like the video and audio weren’t even in sync! If I had Epilepsy, I would have quickly gone into a seizure.

I have met Joe and know he is a perfectionist (most great guitarists are) and I can’t believe he saw this before it was released!!! Maybe he was too busy with his other bands. So save your $15 and wait for the next one. Sorry Joe.

Ultimate Music Challenge 2010 – Part II

Still reeling from last night and my ears still ringing and sleep deprived I muddled through the work day and on the drive home, sometimes the only time I get to think, I started thinking about the winning bands from last night… or are they? Based on what the lead singer of Super Magnetic told me herself, they put this line up together just for this competition. Now that I think of it, the Dave Band’s first time every playing live ever was at UMC4 on May 16th and the lead singers major mistake was actually saying that during their 20 minute set! (I can find no reference to the “Dave Band” on the web anywhere)

Before continuing with this post, you you haven’t done so, you should first read Part I .

Thanks to the power of the Internet (Google) let’s look at the winners shall we?

Super Magnetic (won $25K)

This band started 2008 as a house band for a local cable TV network labeled as a Motown – funk music. But that project got shelved at some undisclosed time. I can’t find any reference of them until they registered their web site March 26th of 2010, right before this contest started. I can’t find anywhere in their current line up where they have played any gigs except for this contest. One of the waitresses told me that the current female singer has a contract with a three female group that sings at Viejas. (searched all over their web site but could not find the group name)

Radio Karma (won $10K)

Labeled themselves as Top 40, 80’s, Latin, Hip-Hop, Dance (English and Spanish) from what I can find started around late 2009 not long before this contest. No web site, and had four gigs before this contest. If anyone wants, RadioKarmaBand.com is still up for grabs (maybe they can use $9.95 of their $10K to purchase it)!

Damaged Inc. (won $5K)

This Metallica tribute band is the first non-dance top 40 bands to win any money! Formed in 2002 by vocalist / guitarist Aaron Pearson. On bass guitar, is Stephen Goodwin, lead guitar, KK, and drumming, Larry Howe. This was the only true rock band that won any money in this dang contest, so my hats off to you guys. They are based out of Los Angeles so check them out if you are a Metallica fan!

Something Smells Fishy

There are many seasoned musicians that have been in the business for a long time looking to have fun and maybe some extra cash for their time some need to do it to supplement their income in these hard times. Since I’ve been in San Diego, there have never been many places for original bands to play, especially that pays or people actually come to. Back in the day, bars were filled with cover bands and that was the only way to make money. Bands bring in drinkers that sell more liquor, which has a huge markup for bars/ casinos etc.

So as most of you might have guessed by now, I’m not a huge fan of dance, top 40, R&B music. Sure I like it, and if I’m with a date I might actually get on the dance floor (not a pretty site). But no offence to the musicians in these bands, but these bands in San Diego are a dime a dozen. You can’t shake a stick on Friday or Saturday night without hitting one.

As a matter of fact on a whim, I went down to Humphrey’s Backstage Lounge on Saturday night hoping to hear some jazz or blues. Nope, just the same old top 40 dance music, after I paid $24 to get it! I could not take it anymore so I went outside on the deck to get some fresh air and guess what was playing in the main Humphrey’s outdoor venue… you guessed it the same top 40 dance music, just a bigger stage! Actually they were playing the same damn songs they were playing in the Backstage Lounge! I had to run out of there to find some real music. If I weren’t running so fast I would have asked for my $24 back!

The night was saved by Patrick’s II and the Dennis Jones Band who by the way is one of the best blues players around and the most friendliest. Dennis Jones came by my chair twice to chat. Don’t see any of those dance bands doing coming around to chat.

My point, if I get around to it, is that there are lots of musicians that are trying to be “original” tribute bands (kind of ironic) and do something different than the same old top 40 dance bands that litter the San Diego county/ southern California landscape. Give people a choice over that mindless, buy more drinks until your wallet is empty music or puke… which ever one comes first, and actually work their asses off recreating adding their own spin to music from The Stones, Queensrÿche, Tom Petty, Led Zeppelin, Van Halen, Oingo Boingo, Bad Company, Heart, INXS, Jonny Cash just to name a few. None of which ended up as money winners in this contest. Because lets face it, most new music is crap because record companies think everyone has ADD. That’s why young people, middle aged and older people are flocking to these type of shows! Why the hell to you think the Belly Up is featuring this type of music for a large portion of the summer on Friday nights? They get it and what better way to finish off your crappy work week working for the man with a great “tribute” band at a very cool venue that’s easy to get too but the ocean and a cool beer? Doesn’t get much better than that!

Went off course again, so maybe I’m disgruntled, upset what ever. Maybe so, but something smells fishy when the two biggest winners of the night last night won a total of $35K from the Viejas Indians and the winning band does not really exist. The fishy part to me is that these two might or might never be heard from again, while all the other bands are left empty handed for their years of hard work.

If Super Magnetic and Radio Karma end up with a contract at Viejas, I feel they should donate ALL their prize money to local school music programs. Then I (and hopefully others) will be happy and maybe some good will come from all of this.

Judges Blog

I read the blog posting from the judges on what happened last night after I left and rioting started. Some people there have been drinking since 4pm or so, what do you expect? When I left I was following a bunch of drunks on that horribly dangerous Willow Road that could not do over 30mph and almost could not find the freeway entrance (last week I almost got hit by an SUV full of four drunks with no lights on). Funny how the Casino doesn’t do anything about that (just worried about people taking pictures)? But I have to call you all on your shit on what you wrote on your blog. Not sure where you got your facts from but they are wrong!

Dave Patrone (1st judge) stated “I think Dazed and Confused were morons to play four shows before this one.” Well Dave, it’s you who is the moron, and I’m not sure who told you this and if this in anyway effected your judging then I have lost all respect for you, not that I knew who you were before this contest. Did you even bother to check their web site to verify this (didn’t you have a computer up there)? Dazed and Confused has had NO public gigs since the semi-finals and the finals. Their next public gig is not until June 26th. Some of people, like you, have to make living, pay bills. It’s tough out there. Figured you would realize that before shooting your mouth off.

Alicia Champion (2nd judge) IM’d judge #3 “The whole drive home I kept thinking if I should’ve pushed harder for Radio Karma.”  I think I just threw up a little in my mouth. Where is that guy from Damaged Inc. so he can kick you in the mouth for saying that! I also think who ever called Alicia the “B” word, well that is just uncalled for. Pissed off people + hours of drinking = idiots.

Edwin Decker (3rd judge) Ran around with a recording machine taping people. Good thing he did not talk to me. He actually seemed to take much the brunt of the anger last night but to actually say that Dazed and Confused pulled a DSB (some reference to the Journey band last year), I think I just threw up in my mouth again, is utterly insane. Like most finals, they are usually a let down from the shows running up to it. If you say that Dazed and Confused pulled a DSB, well all the other bands did not do very well either, you admitted it in your own blog! The only band that sounded halfway decent was Radio Karma because who knows how long they had to do a sound check. The other bands had 15-20 minutes or less under crappy house rules that made it worse. Not near enough time if you want your band to sound good for a final contest.

Let’s Meet The Judges

So who are these judges who have been presiding over 40 bands since April 11th? Deciding who goes home, who doesn’t and who wins $40K (if that is what we are supposed to believe). What qualifications do they posses to tell bands if they are good or bad? Not sure how much they got paid by Viejas for 11 weeks of work but hopefully enough to endure this, because I’m not in a band (might never be after this post), so I don’t have to kiss up to them or Viejas.

Dave Patrone

Dave Patrone
Dave Patrone

I believe he was new this year… might be his last. Dave is 2009 San Diego Music Award winner for “Best Jazz”. Here is what his web site says: “San Diego’s Premier Male Jazz Vocalist and Master of Ceremonies. He croons and delivers Jazz standards with the distinctive swagger found in Frank Sinatra, and the Rat Pack, with a legitimate Jazz foundation”. Seems he has some regular gigs at restaurants, weddings. So how did he get hooked up with this event? Full of rock bands like Metallica, Iron Maiden, Queensrÿche, Bad Company and more with a mix of top 40 dance bands? Lets call him the Randy Jackson of the group. Had one real working stint in Journey and never heard from him again until American Idol (puke) and both of them have no hair.

Dave also kept trying to get people to go bowling with him after the show each week. Not sure anyone went. Sorry Dave, like your first name though. Last name sounds fake.

Alicia Champion

Alicia Champion
Alicia Champion

Here is what her bio said on the UMC4 site: “is a full-time record producer officially under the Universal Music Group (note here the only producing I could find is her own company which I can not find any updates on in awhile). She is endorsed by Steven Tyler of Aerosmith and WINNER of VH1’s nationally televised reality talent competition, “You Rock With…” (2001) Alicia is also co-founder and producer of the San Diego IndieFest (2004). As a performer, Alicia has shared the stage and worked with Artists such as Melissa Etheridge (2001).” What they left off were the what year this happened, which I happily filled that in for you. Born in 1981, she is from Singapore (I’ve been there, wait, that might have been around the time I was there, she might be my daughter). Below for your enjoyment is the latest video of our dear Alicia at IndieFest 2008 playing rhythm guitar unknown band (maybe she will write and let me know). I wonder how well you would have done in the UMC4?

Lets call Alicia the Paula Abdul of the bunch. Cute, had one hit, and just faded away until American Idol (puked again) came along to turn her into a drunk (not talking about Alicia). Still not sure why she was picked for the UMC either. Most of the music that she is judging came into existence before she was born or while she was a baby. Not that she can’t have an appreciation of it.

Edwin Decker

Edwin Decker
Edwin Decker

Is hands down the Simon Cowell (triple puke) of the group. His web site says: “Edwin Decker is 48 year old freelance writer and performance artist residing in San Diego. He regularly publishes articles in various newspapers and magazines in San Diego and around the country”. So what type of performance artist is Edwin… drum roll please… spoken word! Lets check out his video:

So what else did I find out about Edwin? All of you Dazed and Confused fans that live in Ocean Beach, guess what? He lives right where you do! So I checked out his web site and this is what it says towards the bottom, I was laughing so hard, thanks Edwin. “Decker is a bartender, having slung drinks in several San Diego’s premier live music clubs including the now defunct Bacchanal (gone), 4th and B (on it’s way out), Buffalo Joe’s (gone), Club 710 (formerly Blind Melon’s) and Winston’s Beach club where he served as General Manager before being abruptly fired by an alcoholic, semi-insane, though lovable boss.” (I see a pattern emerging here) Again Viejas and DMC4, where does Ed get his qualifications for judging this contest except for spouting his opinion like a writer and critic does and writing the blog (hope you got paid well Ed).

UMC5 in 2011?

So my fingers are getting tired and I need to go to bed for work tomorrow. So if Viejas actually holds an UMC5 in 2011, here are some helpful hints (that might ward off the boycott building against the casino and venues like Viejas Arena and the angry (as Edwin put it) rioting crowd:

  1. Get some real, well known, musicians to judge the contest! All three judges. No puppet judges (just like American Idol) that need money or free publicity. There are tons in San Diego. San Diego has a huge music scene! If you need someone to write a crappy blog, that’s not hard to do. Heck, I’d almost do it for nothing. Wait, I’m joining the Viejas boycott. Maybe you can have a special guest musician each week to get different types of opinions.
  2. Change the Rules! When I got home tonight for the first time I read the official rules. Here are the only real rules for the band entering (besides the music cannot be original):
    1. All performers must be 21 years of age or older.
    2. Bands can be a maximum of ten performers but cannot be fewer than three.
  3. Make sure the bands have been around! And can prove it with real gigs (real paying bookings at clubs, venues etc., not friends parties or restaurants), blogs, web sites, photos, etc. for at least six months prior to the contest and a strong fan base. None of this crap when their first gig ever was playing in a $25K contest. WTF? Or like below, putting the band together just for the contest. My opinion on second place is still out too.

Does anyone but me see a huge loophole left open in #2 above that the winning band took advantage of, maybe because she (or others) work at Viejas? I’ll give you a few seconds to think about it. Do you see it? Well here is the scenario… maybe I’m wrong but here is what came to mind of… lets say you already work at Viejas and hear about this contest coming up where you can win $25K (5K more than last year). Call up all of your musician buddies (10 to be exact), your former second singer from 2008 (who by the way is awesome and left right after their performance last week), work out some songs, put sheet music in front of the horn section, maybe the keyboard players (which the one judge criticized them for last week). Do some practicing, play three times and never be heard from again? Maybe it’s late and things are getting fuzzy. But they registered their one page website on GoDaddy and expires on 10/13/2010. Now do you know why is smells fishy to me?

These three rules, maybe I will come out with more, should weed out many of the bands we saw this year. Viejas… you have your name on music venues and more. Make this a real music contest next year! Not an audition.

One last word to the judges, I apologize for my rant in advance, but you opened up your opinions, blogs and your ability to criticize others in this event, so it’s only fair. If you are judging hundreds of people’s careers, source of revenue, maybe we should look at you first. If I see you at an event soon well lets just say I’m not very worried. The comment box below is open to take your best shot back.

*Judges, your bios were too dang long so I had to edit them. This is already way too long. Already up to almost 3,000 words. (before you comment on it)

Ultimate Music Challenge 2010

I just got home from the Ultimate Music Challenge 2010 finals held at the Viejas Dream Catcher Lounge in Alpine, California and with ears still ringing, I am still in total shock. The big prize this year was $25,000 and to everyone’s surprise was awarded to a band put together just for the event called Super Magnetic, an R&B dance band featuring a very excellent female singer that already has an act at Viejas. This 10 piece band will most likely get a contract with Viejas to regularly play in the Dream Catcher lounge for a very lucrative contract for who knows how long on Friday and Saturday nights.

Second prize ($10,000) went to the first band that played tonight that basically phoned it in called Radio Karma and actually ended their set with a slow George Michael song, that we all thought secured their fourth place spot for the finals (no prize money). Which most thought was fine, since they most likely get a contract with Viejas playing in the V Lounge which brings in around $1,700 a night. Not bad if you ask me.

Third place and $5,000 dollars went to Los Angeles based Metallica tribute band Damaged Inc., that brought an entire busload of fans with them (good move). But their sound was awful and the songs they picked were not very well known. I was in the back and saw large groups people leaving during their set (something the judges don’t see).

The shocker and why many of us were in shock was that San Diego based band Dazed & Confused (Led Zeppelin tribute band) walked away empty handed. They won UMC week 4, won last week (along with Super Magnetic) and from what I saw had the second highest audience VU meter reading of the night. They ended their set with a rendition of the Led Zeppelin song Dazed and Confused that left many of us breathless. It literally took me five minutes to recover and calm down from their 30-minute set (all bands had 30 minutes tonight).

Dazed & Confused also brought with them a busload of people from San Diego to cheer them on (the only band that did this the two previous times). This band was also a judge’s favorite. The last two rounds this was the only band that the judges had nothing bad to say about and only praise… and plenty of it. Sorry, I forgot one judge writing the blog hates medleys which they did the first week. During the semi-finals this same judge even praised them for taking a chance, going out on a limb and choosing a slower Led Zeppelin song, Since I’ve Been Loving You which turned out in their favor! Isn’t that what a music challenge is all about, especially when there is $25K on the line? Something the judges have been harping on for weeks… well at least when I was there.

I think the sound guys at Viejas phoned it in tonight too. The last two times I have been there the sound has been good considering five bands playing each night, but tonight the sound was awful! All bands sounded pretty bad mostly because of the mix, which is strange because tonight they had the longest to setup. The worst sound of the night was actually Damage Inc. and strangely enough the winners Super Magnetic. At the end of their set I was putting my figures in my ears to save them from the high screaming pitches.

I was there tree times for the UMC, many of the bands I saw I wondered why they were in the challenge because the seemed more like Vegas lounge acts. Even the first night, I was wondering if they are just there to audition in front of Viejas people to get a job. Didn’t understand why they would use this contest to do so instead of just doing a normal audition? They pretty much played the same old lounge/ dance music… just different players. Then you have a few really great tribute bands that have been working years on their craft, like Dazed and Confused, Deeper Purple, Blasphemous Guitars and others like them that got totally shut out of this contest.

Don’t get me wrong, all musicians there tonight were awesome and deserve to be in the finals. I talked to many of them and wish them the best of luck (please don’t burn my house down). But in my mind, this was a real music competition for $25K and you had to turn it up to eleven!

At the end when they announced the winners it became totally clear to me. I didn’t know where this $40,000 of prizes money was coming from. I thought some of it might have been coming from the Vodka company sponsoring the event (no they just paid for keyboards for the local Alpine schools). They announced it was coming from the Viejas tribe… so I guess the winners are whom ever the tribe wants to play in their casino.

So I ran of out there before the people started rioting and came home to write this article. I wanted to get something online while the judges who are in the V Lounge having a drink and they write their opinions tomorrow. I would actually be totally ashamed to be any part of this contest.

I sincerely hope there is not a UMC 2011. If there is, all real musicians (non-dance bands)… STAY AWAY!

Click here for Part II of this article.

New Judas Priest CD Sounds Like Spinal Tap

I got an email yesterday about the new Judas Priest CD being released on June 16th titled ‘Nostradamus’. The email allowed me to download and listen to the title track from the album. After the 56 second intro consisting of keyboards and Rob trying to sing oprea, it opened up to a hard hitting guitar attack. But to me it sounded more like Spinal Tap!

It seems that the entire CD is about the life and times of Nostradamus… visions of the Spinal Tap movie running around my head. I think I wont be purchasing this CD or see them on their summer tour. Sorry guys.

For more info on their new CD, go to: http://judaspriest.com/nostradamus/default.asp

Cheap Trick – From Tokyo to You (DVD)

Let me first start off saying that I am a HUGE Cheap Trick fan. I buy anything they put out. While this DVD is great, it is not a live DVD… it is really a documentary (or rockumentary). With that in mind, it has great insight to the history of the band that I never knew like Tom invented Pop Tarts and Rick’s dad was a famous opera singer.

I was let down that there is no way to watch the concert footage (most of it new songs) in its entirety.