Luhrs Performing Arts Center
May 17, 2019
By Jeff Taulton
Southern rock royalty visited Northern soil on May 17th, wasting no time making a mulish musical statement. The Outlaws, known for their “in your face Guitar Army”, opened for Blue Oyster Cult at Luhrs Center at Shippensburg University. The evening turned out to be a dubious scheduling collaboration for BOC fans as Dale Oliver and Steve Grisham tastefully shredded through 60 minutes of guitar slinging, southern hospitality. The full house was left in awe while legendary southern gentleman, Henry Paul and his seven-piece band, immediately seized control of the festive fury, taking no prisoners!
Kicking things off with southland classics, “There Goes Another Love Song", “Hurry Sundown” and “Freeborn Man”, was quite the ear opening adventure but, only the prelude of a powerful, convincing set. The fleeting musical moment continued with the band’s most successful commercial effort, “Ghost Riders In The Sky” and Paul’s solo treasure, “Grey Ghost”. The latter is the title track from The Henry Paul Band’s project from 1979 and was penned as a tribute to Paul’s friend and rock & roll icon, Ronnie Van Zant.
Henry Paul’s distinctive vocal presentation and lyrical approach have long been salient, recognizable components of The Outlaws’ music. There are very few charter members of southern rock still around that helped create and cultivate this uniquely recognizable sound. The Outlaws’ current lineup also includes the coolest name in rock & roll, Monte Yoho. The storied drummer has been a fixture of the band’s consistent tempo since the 1970s. Firming up this gifted unit are Randy Threet (Bass), Dave Robbins (Keys/Piano) and Jaran Sorenson (Drums/Percussion)
The Outlaws also offered up a taste of something new in South Central Pennsylvania with, “Southern Rock Will Never Die” slated to be included on a forthcoming album later this year. They closed appropriately with their southern rock anthem, “Green Grass And High Tides”.
The Outlaws have earned a substantial loyal following throughout the past five decades. While they may not be a mainstay on current pop radio, the band continues to forge ahead with an exceptional live show built around an abundance of immeasurable talent.
What’s more, Paul and Robbins also tour with the band, BlackHawk, which includes several members of The Outlaws. Both highly proficient ensembles will be touring America throughout the summer. The staff at AMR strongly encourage you to check ‘em out! ~AMR
Peter Mayer Interview December 2018
By Jeff Taulton
Many casual American music fans know Peter Mayer as the longtime lead guitarist for Jimmy Buffett’s, Coral Reefer Band. Mayer has had what some consider “the coolest summer job on earth” for nearly three decades now. In the “off season” however, the son of Lutheran missionaries keeps busy with a vast array of other musical endeavors. Mayer has over a dozen solo projects under his guitar strap and has produced and/or recorded for numerous other artists including his son, Brendan Mayer.
A few years ago, the singer/songwriter realized that one of his most fulfilling and worthwhile ventures is the Peter Mayer Christmas Tour. To Mayer fans, his solo tours are already legendary and the Christmas shows are deemed even more special. This year, Mayer and company will spend most of December travelling America from coast to coast performing in small theaters and churches. You might say his Christmas gig elicits a contrasting atmosphere to that of his summer band of piratical gypsies.
Pete was kind enough to talk with Antietam Music Review recently about his 2018 Christmas tour.
AMR: When did you start doing Christmas tours and what inspired you to do so?
PM: “When I was living in St. Louis, I played at churches and venues in the area, sharing the Christmas songs we had written. By the year 2000, we had recorded “Stars and Promises”, our first Christmas album. The Christmas tour officially began about that time. My brother Jim and I, along with percussionist R. Scott Bryan, would go to various venues and hire string players in each city to perform with us. It was a wonderful time. From just a few shows in the early days, we’re now up to doing 15 or so shows a season. This makes our 19th year for the Stars and Promises Tour.
AMR: Tell us about your Christmas band.
PM: “We have a 7-piece band of wonderful musicians that include piano, keys, guitar, violin, mandolin, bass, percussion and native flute. This year’s band is as best it has ever been. All of the musicians are seasoned pros and have played with some of the best in the business. What I love about their shared musical abilities is that we can move to just about any style of music pretty confidently. It makes playing this music each year a lot of fun. To add a bit of icing to the gingerbread so to speak, is our production, provided by Stewart Sound of Asheville, North Carolina. Chad Stewart and his crew have designed a wonderful set for this year and their sound and lights are state of the art.”
AMR: Musicians joining Mayer on stage for this tour are: Chris Walters (Piano/Keyboard), Zeb Briskovitch (Bass), Brendan Mayer (Guitar), Mark Holland (Flute), Miles Vandiver (Percussion/Drums) and Ben Sanders (Violin/Mandolin).
AMR: Will all the material be Christmas themed?
PM: “Yes it will. There will be carols old and new in settings that feature much variety in the music. Musical styles run the gamut from Jazz to Americana, Classical to Rock and Celtic.”
AMR: How did you choose the locations and venues for these shows?
PM: “One of the challenges of playing a Christmas tour is that we have about three weeks to do all of our performances. That is quite a puzzle to solve when trying to make the city to city transportation. When riding by tour bus, it’s doable. We are thrilled to be playing in Hendersonville, North Carolina for our first show at Grace Lutheran Church.”
AMR: Your December 12th show is in Winchester, Virginia, the hometown of Patsy Cline. Have you ever performed in Winchester before?
PM: “I have not, but can tip my cap and perk up my ears for the sounds of Patsy Cline and all the great music she gave us.”
AMR: Will you be touring with Jimmy Buffett again in 2019?
PM: “Yes, it looks that way. Jimmy seems to be related to the energizer bunny and does not slow down for long. It has been an amazing journey to be with him for these 29 years.”
AMR: In addition to being a singer/songwriter and musician you are also an author. How did your book “A Junkman’s Christmas Eve” come about?
PM: “This book came about because of my love for Christmas, its music, its celebration of some “best of us”. I believe there’s not one of us that don’t get stopped in our tracks when a song that accompanied a formative story of our lives plays out of the blue. Ever since I first walked into the living room where my dad would play his classical and popular LPs in India where I grew up, the melodies, harmonies, voices and lyrics of music made sense of the sentences that rattled out of a noisy world each day.”
The Peter Mayer Christmas Tour begins in Hendersonville, North Carolina on November 30th and concludes in Tulsa, Oklahoma on December 20th. Mayer’s book and his CDs are available on line and will also be sold at the events.
Details and ticket information for all shows can be found at www.PeterMayer.com.
The Doobie Brothers
Charles Town, West Virginia
May 22, 2015
By Jeff Taulton
The Doobie Brothers visited the Eastern Panhandle of West Virginia on May 22nd, thrilling an enthusiastic, multi-generational crowd, representing at least 5 states and Washington, DC. Whether you are a hard-core DoobieHead or just a casual fan of Classic Rock & Roll this was the ultimate mid-Atlantic, springtime musical event for you.
The eight-piece, post-middle aged ensemble achieved an instant trifecta from the outset with "Jesus Is Just Alright", "Rockin' Down The Highway" and "Take Me In Your Arms". The first pair, originally released in 1972, were amazingly fresh and salient. Although the "Doobies" have had numerous personnel changes over the past 40 years, the longtime '70s nucleus of Patrick Simmons, Tom Johnston and John McFee remain innately intact. Their stage presence was energetic, complementary and positive.
The set for this particular sold-out show included many top-10 hits as well as some re-discovered, previously hidden jewels. One such gem was, "South City Midnight Lady", featuring the golden phonetics of Simmons, tastefully enhanced by the beautifully melodic pedal steel talents of McFee. For many, this lone 5 minute ditty was well worth the cost of admission.
A pleasant surprise to some was, "Takin' It To The Streets", an ambitious refrain known for the distinctive cantata of former Doobie, Michael McDonald. This vocal treasure was covered incredibly by Simmons and bass player, John Cowan. Yes, the same John Cowan of New Grass Revival fame. However, “JC is not your typical bluegrasser turned rocker." Cowan has been displaying amazing bottom end chops for decades, while his pleasantly piercing tenor is second to no other in Rock & Roll today. What’s more, John Cowan is a perfect fit for maintaining the eclectic low end of this fabulous band.
The acoustic selection for the evening was of course, "Black Water", with a clever West Virginia moon reference tossed in by Simmons. The interpretation of this all-time classic was stellar, while easily eliciting an abundance of crowd participation.
After completing an impeccable 15-song set with, "Long Train Running", this incredible unit closed with, "China Grove", "Road Angel" and "Listen To The Music". A fabulous encore to an excellent show indeed.
If you are old enough to have seen The Doobie Brothers in the 1970s, the current lineup will surely blow you away. Referring to this team of seasoned musicians as a "sentimental oldies act" is an insult. The 21st century rendition of The Doobie Brothers are clear, powerful and full of vigorous enthusiasm. ~AMR