by Joe Dolan
– Guest Columnist —
Continuing the epic struggle of a hard rock legacy during a time of one hit wonders and the stage escapades of artists like Miley Cyrus proves the strength of well written and well performed rock music, especially when that music is Stuart Smith’s Heaven and Earth. The third installment of Smith’s all-star, high energy and deeply rooted classic rock style is showcased in 2013’s acclaimed release Dig, and the wave of critics’ hoorahs continues to grow throughout 2014.
British guitar legend Stuart Smith was highly visible performing with the band Sweet, making appearances on stage over the years alongside friend and fellow guitar hero Ritchie Blackmore and in the studio with top draw recording artists including Richie Sambora (Bon Jovi), Glenn Hughes (California Breed), Joe Lynn Turner (Deep Purple) and Tony Franklin (Blue Murder) to name a few. On the album Dig, Smith enlisted the skills of Chuck Wright on bass (Quiet Riot), Richie Onori on drums (Sweet) and Arlan Schierbaum on keyboards (Joe Bonomassa) to record the music and he chose the most sought after voice in the LA rock scene, Joe Retta; a singer and multi-instrumentalist that has recorded and performed on stage with every major act that has played through the southwest corridor of the US. The result is a landmark album, produced by Dave Jenkins (Metallica, Tower of Power), further establishing the dominance of Smith’s songwriting power with Heaven and Earth.
The first appearance of the Dig line-up drove throngs of music fanatics and industry professionals to line the street at the Fonda Theater in Hollywood for a show packed with the insane genius of Chuck Wright’s stage design, compiling a carnival-like atmosphere with an unending supply of food and drinks, onstage music performances including song stylist Dilana and joining the band for the first live installment was Ed Roth on keyboards. The venue packed to capacity and the band immediately followed the show with a video release for the song No Money, No Love, ranking well over a quarter-million views online in just the first month. Few bands in the genre had stirred this music interest in a release since days long gone by and Heaven and Earth was just getting started.
The band lined up a second show at the world famous Canyon Club in Agoura Hills, CA and released a follow-up video for the song “I Don’t Know What Love Is,” developing a film-like trilogy portraying a story that builds from the characters in the first video release. Like the days of old when MTV reigned as the world’s strongest entertainment video channel, Heaven and Earth was recreating the magic that lured fans to the table to witness a complete package. With an amazing album release, strong supporting video content and mind-blowing stage shows, Heaven and Earth had arrived triumphant.
In 2014 with Quiet Riot booking tour schedules bassist Chuck Wright had to make a decision, departing from Heaven and Earth to maintain the supreme bottom end of the time tested rock legends alongside Frankie Banali and drummer Richie Onori was called to his own projects that would take time out of Heaven and Earth. Longtime friend and artist appearing on earlier releases from Heaven and Earth, Tony Franklin, would perform with the band at the Canyon Club while Smith undertook the task of replacing the original line-up with powerhouse artists capable of maintaining the originality of the band. This came in the form of drummer Jackie Barnes (Steve Morse), keyboardist Ty Bailie (Ego Band) and bass player Lynn Sorensen (Bad Company).
“I’d come off tour and bought a new house in Los Angeles,” Ty Bailie shared. “I put an advertisement up in a local music store offering keyboard lessons and Stuart called me. It was a rare opportunity and I was glad to take it.”
During the week ending on Friday, June 20th, Heaven and Earth wrapped up tour rehearsals for the European Summer Tour in North Hollywood. Music Journalist Joe Dolan was invited to witness the magic of the new line-up melding into a music machine, finalizing the stage show and getting ready to offer the U.K. a chance to witness what the hype is all about. The planned dates are as follows:
June 26th – Birmingham, UK – O2 Academy
June 27th – Glasgow, UK – O2 Academy
June 28th – Newcastle, UK – O2 Academy
June 29th – Sheffield, UK – O2 Academy
July 1st – Liverpool, UK – O2 Academy
July 2st – LONDON, UK – O2 Academy
July 5th – Montrose Jazz Festival – Music In The Park
July 6th – Uden, Holland – De Pul Live
July 8th – Munich, Germany – The Garage Deluxe
July 10th – Ingolstadt, Germany – Eventhalle Westpark
July 15th – Bilston, UK – The Robin II
July 16th – Southhampton, UK – The Brook
July 17th – York, UK – Fibbers
July 18th – Wakefield, UK – Warehouse II
July 19th – Bournemouth, UK – Mr. Kyps
July 20th – Aberbeeg, UK – Steelhouse Rock
The set will undoubtedly feature improvised solos and rare showcases from each of the individual artists performing their passions with each of their instruments, but an inside view of some songs fans can look forward to hearing includes a number of tracks from Dig along with tracks fans know from the bands catalog. Rehearsals included:
– No Money, No Love
– House of Blues
– Man and Machine
– Rock and Roll Does
… and upwards of a dozen and a half songs that will create a show well over an hour in length and guaranteed to satisfy.
Heaven and Earth Concert Photo Gallery
To learn more about the 16 planned shows, other dates as they are added and how you can purchase and own an official copy of the latest CD Dig or other albums from the band’s catalog, visit the official website and follow the band on the social network at the following links.
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