by Deb Rao
- Senior Columnist –
March 22, 2013 at Orleans Arena in Las Vegas, NV
For one night only the Las Vegas strip was turned into a Metal extravaganza with Bob Rocks at the Orleans Arena featuring Vince Neil, Night Ranger, Skid Row, Warrant, and Quiet Riot. The Strip may have its glamor and glitz with Celine Dion but the ’80s bands that performed at the Orleans Arena showed Las Vegas how to rock!
Quiet Riot kicked off the night’s festivities. It was so refreshing to see Quiet Riot again. After Kevin Dubrow passed many fans wondered what would become of the band. Frankie Banali surely made the right decision to continue the band. Frankie, Alex, and Chuck are back where they belong onstage. Highlight of the set was when drummer Frankie Banali took the mic to pay tribute to Randy Rhoads and Kevin Dubrow with the song “Thunderbird.” A truly class act, Frankie is one of the best drummers in the business. Kevin Dubrow also commented in the past to me many times that guitarist Alex Grossi is a great guitarist in true Randy Rhoads style.
Next up Warrant stole the show. Kicking the set off with “The Downboys” Warrant rocked the house. Back in Vegas by popular demand, Warrant sounded really tight and rocked with perfection. Highlights of the set were ballads; “I Saw Red,” and “Heaven.” Singer Robert Mason also performed on acoustic guitar. Robert is truly doing an amazing job as Warrant’s front-man.
Warrant rocked hard with guitarist Erik Tuner extraordinary performance on “Uncle Toms Cabin.” The band ended the set with their mega hit “Cherry Pie.” The bands over played 30 minute set and left the audience wanting more. Be sure to check out Warrant on tour! They also performed new song “Sex Ain’t Love” off of Rockaholic.
Next up Skid Row hit the stage. They kicked into full gear during “Monkey Business.” Singer Johnny Solinger announced the band would have a new album out April 16th entitled United World Rebellion. The band performed a new song off it that was a mixture of punk meets heavy metal called “Kings Of Demolition.” The song has that old school vibe and sounds really promising. Highlight of the set was “I Remember You” and “Youth Gone Wild.”
It was great to see Night Ranger perform again. The set rocked with many classic hits including “Don’t Tell Me You Love Me,” “Sister Christian” and “Rock In America.” Guitarist Brad Gillis did an amazing job.
Headliner Vince Neil hit the stage with much energy. Vince looked great and seemed really happy to be back onstage after his recent medical scare. The band played many Motley Crue hits including “Dr. Feelgood,” “Shout At The Devil,” Kickstart My Heart” and ended the set with “Girls, Girls, Girls.” Highlight of the set was guitarist Jeff Blando and bassist Dana Strum played tribute to the late Ronnie James Dio with “Heaven And Hell” and a cool Led Zeppelin medley.
Tonight’s concert was a journey through time. With timeless songs that have survived many decades. The ’80s were all about guitar solos and great lyrics. Tonight the top of the metal genre displayed stellar musicianship with songs that will endure for generations to transpire.
Special Thanks to Warrant guitarist Erik Turner for making this review possible.
by Deb Rao
- Senior Columnist –
In this Exclusive interview for Hardrock Haven, Warrant guitarist Erik Turner talks about the release of Warrants new wine I Saw Red – Autographed Limited Edition Cabernet Sauvignon.
HRH: Erik, tell us what attracted you to become interested in wine making? Tell us about the release of Warrants I Saw Red – Autographed Limited Edition Cabernet Sauvignon.
Erik: I finally tasted some amazing wine in 2007 during a camping trip up in Big Bear,my cousin Paul brought the bottle. I wish I could remember the name. Before that it was Boone’s Farm and 2 buck Chuck… which didn’t taste nearly as good as Coors Light or Kettle One that’s for sure, (Laughter) After that it became fun looking for and finding new wines that are delicious. I am not a winemaker, I am guitar player who loves wine and I am having fun combining my love for music and wine and creating a new brand. I find wine making and tasting very interesting obviously.
HRH: Where is the wine harvested?
Erik: In California at SouthCoastWinery.com … all estate grown grapes, we harvest and crush right on property!
HRH: What kind of flavor were you trying to achieve with I Saw Red Autographed Limited Edition wine?
Erik: A beautiful Cabernet Sauvignon, that is smooth and soft but full of delightful up lifting aroma’s and flavor… a warm Oak Barrel character.
HRH: As a winemaker, what is your goal with the release of I Saw Red – Autographed Limited Edition Cabernet Sauvignon?
Erik: Again, I am not a winemaker… My hope is that drinking a WARRANT wine would be a wonderful enhancement to a great meal, social or musical setting, special occasions and make the experience that much more special for everyone. It’s cool and fun too for people that collect wine and rock memorabilia… save a signed bottle for years and it only gets better and more valuable over time!
HRH: What techniques have you learned from other winemakers when orchestrating the release of I Saw Red wine?
Erik: Every time I hang out at the winery with Jon McPherson master winemaker and winemaker Javier Flores I learn something new about the art and science of wine making, and really enjoy trying there latest and greatest creations! Please read more about them at: http://southcoastwinery.com/winery/winemakers
HRH: Is there any special equipment that really impressed you when making I Saw Red?
Erik: The entire operation at SCW is over whelming… Beautiful property with all the latest and greatest equipment and technics are used in the making of WARRANT – I Saw Red and coming soon: Erik Turner – Rocker Red – Syrah
HRH: How can fans purchase I Saw Red – Autographed Limited Edition Cabernet Sauvignon?
Erik: You can purchase from the comfort of your own home online… we sell hand signed and numbered bottles at SouthCoastWinery.com We don’t have national distribution, the wine is produced in small high quality quantities. Here is a list of places that do currently sell the wine and the list grows like a grape every week :)
Azo Vino Wine 144 W. Badillo Street Covina, CA 91723
Henry’s-Temecula (Hwy 79) 32413 Hwy 79 South Temecula, CA 92592
Henry’s-Temecula (Winchester) 39606 Winchester Rd Temecula, CA 92591
Holiday Wine Cellar 302 West Mission Ave Escondido, CA 92025
Redhawk Cantina 45100 Redhawk Parkway Temecula CA 92592
Rustico’s 29940 Hunter Rd St 102 Murrieta CA 92563
SOL Markets 2855 Perry Rd San Diego, CA 92106
Sprouts-Corona 120 W. Ontario Avenue Corona, CA 92882
Sprouts-Escondido 510 W 13th St Escondido, CA 92025
Sprouts-Hemet 1295 S State St Hemet CA 92543
Sprouts-Huntington Beach 9861 Adams Ave Huntington Beach, CA 92646
Sprouts-Riverside 475 E Alessandro Blvd Riverside CA 92508
Sprouts-Santee 9361 Mission Gorge Rd Santee, CA 92071
Sprouts-Savi Ranch Yorba Linda 22401 Old Canal Rd Yorba Linda CA 92887
South Coast Winery
Tasting Room 34843 Rancho California Rd Temecula CA 92591
Whole Foods – Encinitas 687 S Coast Hwy 101 Encinitas,CA92024
Wine on a Dime 28061 Jefferson #5 Temecula CA 92590
World Market – El Segundo 720 S. Sepulveda El Segundo, CA 90245
by Deb Rao
- Senior Photojournalist –
July 21, 2012 at Fremont Street Experience in Las Vegas, NV
Just when the Las Vegas desert launched into triple digits, the Las Vegas concert scene spiraled out of control. As the only double header metal concert at Fremont Street Experience featuring Skid Row and Warrant kicked the heat up a notch into a higher gear on July 21st. Warrant who are currently on tour in support of their latest release Rockaholic, led off the nights festivities.
Opening with “The Downboys,” Warrant took full command of 15,000 fans that turned out for this free concert. Breaking all attendance records at Fremont Street Experience this summer the double metal bill was simply blistering.
Guitarist Erik Turner sizzled with his bright red electric guitar and vocalist Robert Mason took full command of the audience. This was the third time I have seen Robert Mason with the band and he is definitely doing a great job. Warrant performed two new songs of Rockaholic including their new single “Home,” this song fits so well into the Warrant live format.
Highlight’s of the set was the sing along to “Heaven” and “I Saw Red.” You had to be there to feel the magic of the audience singing along to this song. Warrant’s rocked hard on “Uncle Tom’s Cabin” and the encore “Cherry Pie.”
The Last Straw
Sometimes She Cries
Sex Ain’t Love
I Saw Red
Uncle Tom’s Cabin
Skid Row hit the stage at 10:15 P.M. like a lightning bolt with opening song “Big Guns.” The Jersey band showed Vegas how to rock! Slamming out hit after hit including “Piece Of Me,” “Riot Act” and “Get The * Out.” It has been many years since I have seen Johnny Solinger fronting the band and they sounded great. Highlight’s of the set were also the ballads including,” I Remember You” and “In A Darkened Room.”
Bassist Rachel Bolan stole the set with the remake of The Ramones hit “Psycho Therapy.” The closing song was “Youth Gone Wild” ended when singer Johnny Solinger screamed, “We will always be the youth gone wild.”
It was a night of nostalgia. As fans took a walk down memory lane and had the opportunity to hear the hits of their youth. It was family night, as families brought their kids to listen to these great bands whose once ruled The Charts and still making great music today..
Piece Of Me
Thick Is The Skin
Get The * Out
In A Darkened Room
I Remember You
Slave To The Grind
18 And Life
Youth Gone Wild
Special Thanks to Erik Turner of Warrant and Darren Banks of The D for making this review possible.
by Deb Rao
- Senior Columnist –
Warrant guitarist Erik Turner has checked in with Hardrock Haven for an exclusive interview preview of their upcoming Las Vegas concert appearance at the free Rock Of Vegas Concert Series at Fremont Street Experience on July 21st at 8 P.M. also appearing Skid Row.
HRH: Erik, Are you looking forward to performing at the Rock Of Vegas Concert series on July 21st in Vegas?
ERIK: Of course we love playing Vegas, always have! Lots of friends, family and fans. We are having a very busy summer playing shows all over the country, spreading the good word about our latest CD: Rockaholic, and the two singles and videos… “Life’s A Song” and “Home” on youtube. Please check Rockaholic out on iTunes or get a hard copy with all the artwork on Amazon.com, Thanks!
HRH: Now the movie Rock of Ages recently made its debut. WARRANT had their hit song “Heaven” performed in the movie. It must have been a great honor for the band to have their song in this movie. Over the years the legacy of Warrant is still going strong. There is a new generation of Warrant fans today listening to your music. What are your thoughts on the movie and all of the timeless hits from the ’80s still being played on radio today?
ERIK: Hearing and seeing the song performed in the Play and the Movie was amazing… that little love song from the Sunset Strip night clubs has had a great run and touched many lives, including ours ha! It’s great to still be able to go out and perform “Heaven” and all our other hits live all these years later. I really loved the movie, the music is great and the movie was very funny and fun to see! I thought everybody that worked on the film did a fantastic job.
* Check out our new wine too! (WARRANT – I Saw Red) when your in So Cal. SouthCoastWinery.com
A Tribute to Jani Lane
by Deb Rao
Jani Lane former lead vocalist for the multi-platinum rock band Warrant passed away on August 11, 2011. Hardrock Haven would like to offer their condolences to Jani’s family and former band mates in Warrant. At this time, we would like to revisit the past and pay Tribute to Jani with an interview that was conducted in 2006.
Jani Lane, the voice of Warrant is best known for his exceptional power ballads that launched Warrant on to the top of the music charts which include, “I Saw Red” and “Heaven.” During the heyday of MTV, the video of “Cherry Pie” featuring blond bombshell Bobbie Brown was one of the most popular videos to appear on MTV.
With a style all of his own, and unique flair for writing catchy pop hits, I had the honor of speaking with Jani Lane regarding is solo album Back Down To One in 2006 and recent Metal Mania Stripped Tour that took place in 2005. The phone interview took place while he was on tour in Long Island or as Jani said Long Guyland! I can remember he said was hoping to play some golf after the interview. It is hard to believe such a vital force to emerge out of the ’80s music genre is now gone but not forgotten. His music will live on forever. Read more
by Deb Rao
During the MTV heyday 80′s genre WARRANT ruled the video era with hits including “Cherry Pie”, “Heaven”, and “Uncle Tom’s Cabin.” Over the years, Warrant has consistently released quality music. Comprised of top notch musicians guitarist Erik Turner, bassist Jerry Dixon, drummer Steve Sweet, guitarist Joey Allen and singer Robert Mason formerly of the Lynch Mob, Warrant is getting ready to reclaim their crown in rock history. On May 17th via Frontiers Records, Warrant will release their seventh studio album ROCKAHOLIC.
Over the years, Warrant has gone through major line-up changes with the departure of Jani Lane. In 2004, Jaime St. James joined the band replacing Jani Lane. Well they say third time is the charm and with the 2008 enlistment of singer Robert Mason, Warrant is ready to roar again with their upcoming release. ROCKAHOLIC finds the band returning to their 80′s roots with a modern day twist enthused with catchy guitar riffs, great lyrics, and melodies that represent the signature sound that Warrant are noted for.
Warrant Guitarist Erik Turner Talks ROCKAHOLIC on Hardrock Haven.
HRH: The seventh studio album by Warrant entitled Rockaholic will be released on May 17th via Frontiers. Tell us about the writing process for the album. Over how long a time period did it take for you to write Rockaholic?
Erik: It took a good two years from start to finish. Jerry Dixon was the driving force behind this new CD, he just kept throwing songs at us and pushed for us all to make this record hard. We all wanted to make a new CD. That was something we all agreed on. How we went about it was a bit of a debate, no fights, we all just wanted to make a great Warrant CD and had to find a musical path that worked for all five us, which we eventually did obviously Jerry and Robert did the lion’s share of the writing. I contributed to a few songs. I had many more ideas I through in the hat that didn’t make the CD, but its all good. It’s not about me, myself or I or any one band member, it’s about making the best ‘WARRANT’ CD we possible could at this stage in our careers. Music we believe in and the band can be very proud of and tour behind.
HRH: In retrospect, would you say that Rockaholic captures all of your influences but also reflects a more modern day sound of Warrant?
Erik: ROCKAHOLIC is a sinfully beautiful marriage of WARRANT’S song writing style, trademark sound & the influences our rock hero’s had on us growing up. There had to be at least 20 + songs written for this CD and we all voted on what we thought sounded WARRANT. The plan was, if I remember correctly, to take 15 songs to pre-production rehearsals and from there, after getting Keith Olsen’s input we would narrow it down to 12 songs. We ended up recording 14 for the CD! Keith did a great job on many different levels, but in regards to your question, Keith helped us find that sweet spot where we stayed true to our roots, but added a little modern day sound/flavor as well. I guess I could have just answered YES!
HRH: The signature sound of Warrant is surely captured on “Life’s A Song” with the catchy guitar riffs and lyrics. Would you say that this song kind of reflects the bands attitude and legacy?
Erik: I would say “Life’s A Song” captures that commercial WARRANT Pop Rock sound from the early 80’s and 90’s more than any other on the CD, which is very cool and hard to do. We haven’t put a song and video out like this one since the Cherry Pie CD. The ballad “Home” in my opinion has that same feel as well and turned out really good.
HRH: What was it like working with legendary producer Keith Olsen?
Erik: I answered some of that earlier, oops! Keith created a great atmosphere to work in and got the best out of each of us as musicians and the band as a whole. When you look at the records he has produced and the sales figures and awards that go with them, it will blow your mind if you’re a Muso like me? The band really loved what he did with our songs and I would like to work with him again.
HRH: Who designed the album cover and does the album title Rockaholic have a special meaning to you?
Erik: Robert’s brother Glenn Mason did an amazing job with the CD booklet, the cover is cool, but it all comes together with a great concept when you read the liner notes and see the photos in the booklet. It’s about this ROCKAHOLIC who is seeing a therapist in hopes of finding a cure for his addiction to rock music and a lifestyle of debauchery that is burning his soul and torturing those who love him. We have all the song titles and notes that go with each visit to his therapist in the CD booklet. This therapist is trying to find a cure for the unashamed ROCKAHOLIC and his dangerous lifestyle or something to that effect ha! It really is interesting to read & then listen to each song, for me anyways.
HRH: As a guitarist, what were you striving to accomplish on Rockaholic?
Erik: Play my parts killer and quickly with as much fan fare as possible … Look at me! I Rock … ha!
As a rhythm guitar player, that is what I mostly do. I am always looking for maybe an alternate little guitar part that goes with Joey’s part or a different interesting chord voicing that will compliment the song. I look at Keith; blurry-eyed first in the afternoon with Starbucks in both hands and say, what do you hear for this song? This is what I am thinking and then we press record and I start trying different things, some work, some don’t. It is a little more complicated than that, but that is it in a nutshell. Have fun and at the end of the day walk out a proud Mutha Fugger I guess?
HRH: Would you say that the band comes full circle on the upcoming release Rockaholic?
Erik: I would say we have started a new chapter in our musical life or have ‘Found’ a new path on our WARRANT journey, depending on how philosophical you want to get about? I would like to think and hope and plan on this to be just a new beginning, a foundation made from authentic Stonehenge granite for us to build on and do more music in the future. The glass is half full right now. Please feel free to check twitter (WarrantRocks) for updates each day on that glass ha!
HRH: Do you have any favorite songs on Rockaholic that hold a special meaning in your life?
Erik: The entire ROCKAHOLIC CD has special meaning for me. There is no one song at this time. But I reserve the right to change my mind in the future!
HRH: What are the bands future touring plans this summer? Will you be performing a lot of the new songs live?
Erik: We will definitely be performing new songs in the set, how many depends on, if we are the opener on a show or the headliner. We have been playing “Sex Ain’t Love” already for the last year. Sometimes we will play two new ROCKAHOLIC songs in the set and the CD isn’t even out yet. I love all the hits from the past and the special meaning they have to us and a lot of our fans, but we are also really fired up about the new music and want to share it, pass it around the crowd and let everybody enjoy! We have about 40 shows booked so far this year and I imagine there will be at least another 10 to 20 added. Check our website WarrantRocks.com for tour updates. We have different shows booked with Poison, Whitesnake and Cinderella just to name a few so far this year.
HRH: We wish you the best with your upcoming release Rockaholic. What do you say is the secret to Warrant’s longevity in the music business? Over 20 years of great music and the band is still going strong.
Erik: Thank You! There have a been a few bumps in the road, but we wouldn’t be a rock n roll band and we wouldn’t have anything to write about if a little shit didn’t happen once in awhile. Over all, we have had a hell of a lot more good times than bad, thank God! We don’t look backwards when a set back happens, we wipe off our shoes and we find the best solution to the problem we can at the time and move forward, Phuck the past, it’s gone and who cares. Where are we rocking tomorrow? That is all I want to talk about and do! Keep on Keeping on…
Track By Track Rockaholic with Erik Turner on Hardrock Haven:
”Sex Ain’t Love” – “The first song on the CD and the first song we started playing live a year ago or so.
Straight up like a cold shot of Rock n Roll!”
”Innocence Gone” – “Up tempo rock song, sounds to me like it could have come right of DRFSR!
”Snake” – “Love this groove, nobody else would think this but me, reminds me of Lynyrd Skynyrd for some reason. Bad Ass riff comes to mind.”
”Dusty’s Revenge” – “The baby, the first song born, where we all went, hell yes! This is good, we might have something here!”
”Home” – “A damn fine Warrant ballad in the truest of WARRANT traditions, get me a Kleenex.” J
”What Love Can Do” – “Commercial pop hook from hell, then it rocks a bit my friends, LOOK OUT!”
”Life’s A Song” – “Old School WARRANT sounding to my ears, see answer above.” J
”Show Must Go On” – “Hello there, answer your phone Mason! This song started out as a ring tone on RM’s phone. High energy, the beginning stabs remind me of Riot for some reason, you might find that strange… I know I do!”
”Cocaine Freight Train” – “Pedal to the Metal song all the way to the killer breakdown section, old style 70’s rock with harp and everything! Ha!”
”Found Forever” – “Nice modern feel to me, ballad with lots of tender undertones, goes well with WARRANT RED Wine.” J
”Candy Man ”- “Big Rock Riff… that jumps into Zep meets WARRANT meets I don’t know what… Kool!”
”Sunshine” – “Stony Bridge over water, modern drop D tuning that rocks Warrant style. Heavy at times and I like it”!
”Tears In The City ”- “This one is dark and emotional and beautiful all at the same time.”
”The Last Straw” – “This is a great way to finish the CD. I am angry and feeling good about it Biatch!
Fast hard rock song in a classic early 80’s style… Horns Up!”
by Mark Allen
It’s tough for a band to recoup from the departure of their signature lead vocalist. All too often such a loss results in the group’s career going into crash-and-burn cardiac arrest and leaves it dangling hopelessly on life support, miserably waiting for some kindhearted soul to administer the mercy bullet. After Jani Lane walked away from Warrant, the band attempted a comeback in 2006 with the aptly-titled Born Again which featured Black N Blue singer Jamie St. James serenading the microphone. While a serviceable hard rock project in its own right, it bore little resemblance to the Warrant of old and was poorly embraced by fans who continued to clamor for a Jani Lane reunion.
Flash forward five years to the present day. With Lane still incognito and the band hungry for another comeback shot, they turned to Robert Mason to take over lead vocals. The result, while not exactly classic Warrant, is a high-energy hard rock album that is several notches better than Born Again and actually manages to incorporate some faint traces of the old days. On Born Again, you never once felt like you were listening to a true Warrant release; on Rockaholic, however, if you’re paying attention, you will hear bits and pieces that will remind you of Dirty Rotten Filthy Stinking Rich. No, it’s not classic Warrant–it probably never can be without Lane at the helm–but at least this time there are some hints of the sound that put the band on the melodic metal map.
What this sounds like more than anything is a ‘80s hard rock album. There is no modern rock mimicry, no attempt to curry mainstream acceptance by clutching at anything resembling the flavor of the week. Warrant has fallen prey to fad-chasing before (Belly to Belly, anyone?), but not this time. Rockaholic is retro-cool in its stylish swagger, all about loud guitars, big hooks, and fist-pumping choruses.
Mason is a masterful vocalist, proven by his work with Lynch Mob and Big Cock, and he serves up another fine performance here. While normally he sports some sassy grit in his voice, this time he sings more melodically, at times sounding like he’s trying to channel Jon Bon Jovi. Surprisingly, it works, especially on the rock-ballad “Home,” which is precisely the kind of nostalgic, mid-tempo tune that makes up Bon Jovi’s bread and butter these days. It is grossly unfair that the same exact song that would be a smash hit for Bon Jovi will likely be ignored by the modern rock sheep because it came from “an old hair metal band.”
Speaking of songs, they are all fairly straight-forward, crafted with standard ‘80s catchiness intact. The blow-your-skirt-up track is “Dusty’s Revenge,” a moody, atmospheric rocker that starts with a dark, bluesy vibe in the Cinderella vein before exploding into a gripping hard rock tale of retribution reminiscent of “Kiss the Bastards” by Saints & Sinners. The song is, quite simply, absolutely perfect, from its brooding beginning to its badass bridge to his backing vocal-boosted chorus.
Elsewhere, “The Show Must Go On” pins the throttle to the floor with ripping guitar work, but the repetitive chorus relegates it to filler material. Frankly, this happens a few too many times. “Candy Man” cranks like crazy, but stumbles when it hits the chorus. A heavy powerhouse of a groove provides the backbone of “Sunshine,” but what should be a Tyson-size knockout punch of a chorus is more like a tentative jab. Thankfully, there are more diamonds than duds, from the GN’R-inspired “Cocaine Freight Train” to the soaring power ballad “Found Forever” to the rip-snorting “The Last Straw,” which brings the curtains down and demonstrates how a hard rock album should close.
As the final power chord reverberates through your speakers, you will realize that what you just heard may not be a masterpiece, but is still a pretty good comeback from a band that has been forced to find a way to forge ahead without its signature component. Rockaholic isn’t quite good enough to make anyone forget the Jani Lane glory days, but it is good enough to make you realize that the new incarnation of Warrant has plenty to offer hard rock fans as well. Just because you dine on filet mignon one day doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy a sirloin steak the next, and just because you crank up Cherry Pie today doesn’t mean you can’t rock out to Rockaholic tomorrow.
Genre: Hard rock
Robert Mason (vocals)
Joey Allen (lead & rhythm guitars)
Erik Turner (rhythm & lead guitars)
Jerry Dixon (bass)
Steven Sweet (drums)
1. Sex Ain’t Love
2. Innocence Gone
4. Dusty’s Revenge
6. What Love Can Do
7. Life’s a Song
8. Show Must Go On
9. Cocaine Freight Train
10. Found Forever
11. Candy Man
13. Tears in the City
14. The Last Straw
Label: Frontiers Records
Hardrock Haven rating: 8.3/10
July 21 – 23, 2010 at Sioux Empire Fairgrounds, Sioux Falls, SD.
by Derric Miller
The third annual Dakota Rock Fest took place in Sioux Falls, S.D. July 22-24 at the Sioux Empire Fairgrounds. Like Rocklahoma a couple years back, Dakota Rock Fest 2010 unfortunately had to battle with Mother Nature, and it ended up shortening the Friday night event to just two bands—Lita Ford and Bret Michaels. While the weather didn’t turn tornadic, it still put a bit of a damper on the event, considering one of the best new bands on the planet, Mama Kin, traveled from Sweden and didn’t get to show the crowd exactly why you need to be their biggest fan.
On Thursday night (which Hardrock Haven was unable to attend), promoters Leisinger Entertainment opened up the gates free of charge for past and current military personnel and their families. All you had to do have some sort of military ID, and you could have seen bands like Asphalt Valentine, Rock N’ Roll Damnation and one of the most talked about bands at festival, Hairball. The word on the street is that Hairball pulled out all the stops, went through extensive and believable costume changes, featured two lead singers who pulled off covers of Twisted Sister, KISS … and even Prince.
While the anticipation for Friday was sheerly about Lita and Bret, the bands Mama Kin, Attention and Far Cry planned on having their say as well. But the weather reports forced the promoters to put Lita on at 5:45 p.m., and Michaels at 7 p.m. While the promoters and all of the local radio stations made every effort (and then some) to get the word out, the venue was not as full as anyone would have expected when Lita tore things up. While Lita’s new album has taken some head for going in an industrial direction, you cannot deny her musical talent or refute that songs like “Close Your Eyes Forever” and “Kiss Me Deadly” have stood the test of time. Lita, who isn’t used to being the opening act for anyone, made it known she wasn’t thrilled playing so early, but that didn’t stop her from being a true professional. She had the crowd eating out of her hand, and her husband Jim Gillette even sang backing vocals the entire set. Gracious yet still full of snarky fire, Lita lived up to her name.
Bret Michaels, who is a nonstop touring machine and by now could do this in his sleep, unleashed his arsenal of Poison hits and some solo work to a crowd that seemingly can’t get enough of his music. He was the main headliner in 2009 and Dakota Rock Fest was fortunate to get him back considering the health woes Michaels has struggled with over the past year. The ultimate professional, Michaels closed the concert by making a few carpe diem comments—sometimes it’s just good to be alive, especially if you are Bret Michaels.
While the other bands were still holding out hope of playing after Bret Michaels, the minute Michaels left stage the venue announcement lightning, heavy winds and rainstorms are on the way, so everyone got the “you don’t have to go home, but you can’t stay here” send off. You couldn’t help but feel sympathy for Mama Kin, who were living the dream right up until the promoter told them of the lineup time change. Lead singer Ward said it best: “He’s Bret Michaels. I can’t tell him when he can or can’t play.” Far Cry, the talented band with powerhouse vocalist Mark Giovi, found a slot on Saturday so their trip to Sioux Falls was not for naught. Mama Kin had a show in Omaha the next day, though, so maybe next year …
Saturday rolled around, and the promoters switched around playing times again, trying to accommodate as much music as possible. By noon, the music started, and local Sioux Falls favorites Jukebox Zeroes were on by 12:45 p.m. In the past, Jukebox Zeroes offered mainly covers, but every single person in that band has been a staple of the Sioux Falls’ music scene for a couple decades, and they featured mainly originals for their set. Singer/keyboardist Amy Ellsworth is one of the best singers you have yet to hear (unless you have), and covers be damned … their original music rocked. Of course, the band is known for their Heart covers, so they ended it all with “Crazy on You.” Even when you come to expect greatness from them, they exceed expectations anyway.
Hardrock Haven’s own Derric Miller took the stage to announce Paisty Jenny. This was Paisty Jenny’s third time playing Dakota Rock Fest, and first time with new guitarist Stan Liberty, who adds a bit more Metal to the overall sound. Since the band has opened the event the past two years, this was their first chance to play before a larger afternoon crowd (and not hungover morning crowd). Paisty Jenny is now a well-oiled machine, driven by songwriter/singer/guitarist Gregg Lee’s snarling yet fiercely melodic anthems. Along with drummer Tye Lovette and bassist Gabe Matthews, Paisty Jenny once again proved they belong on stage with every single band before AND after them.
Tango Down and Far Cry, both Kivel Records recording acts, had their time in the increasingly blistering sun as well. Far Cry, who fortunately found a slot Saturday after the Friday bounce, opened with “We Rock” from Dio and never let up. If you haven’t seen or heard them yet, you are doing yourself a disservice. Tango Down had 50 percent different people than last year, and the big addition is David Reece (Bangalore Choir). Tango Down’s music becomes more serious and Classic sounding with Reece behind the mic. Former singers Phil Naro and Alex Barbieri both fronted the band at one time, but neither have the weight of Reece’s legacy behind him. In fact, two songs played weren’t even Tango Down songs—they played a Bangalore Choir and an Accept song instead, making Reece the focal point of the band.
Bombay Black, who has a new album out called Love You to Death on Triage Music, are simply one of the best sounding live acts around. What they create in the studio they can recreate perfectly on stage. Their aggression, their sense of humor, their huge vocal melodies and their limitless attitude come to sonic life when you see them live. Each member is an original personality in his own right, and together, Bombay Black just keeps getting better.
Ted Poley of Danger Danger (www.tedpoley.com) was one of the most anticipated musicians of the whole event. He hasn’t played anywhere around the Dakota Territories in far too long, and to finally hear the voice of Danger Danger live was more than worth the wait. To put it bluntly, Poley is the ultimate frontman. He works the crowd, he draws you in, he makes you smile and laugh while you are trying to sing along with hit after hit, and vocally, Poley tied for the best vocals of the entire festival. Unfortunately for Poley, he was so dedicated to giving the crowd everything he had, he forgot that it was now in the high ‘80s, the sun was blasting a black stage, he had holes in his jeans … and he kept sliding to his knees on this searing surface. After the show, once the adrenaline wore off, Poley realized he was the proud owner of some nasty second degree burns; he even pulled off a silver dollar sized fried piece of himself and flung it at one his prior label heads. He was even nice enough to send a picture of his fricasseed knees for your viewing pleasure. It was a coup for Dakota Rock Fest to get Poley to play in Sioux Falls. Poley’s band featured Vic Rivera (Adriangale, Poley Rivera) and some players from Far Cry, including guitarist Pete Fry who dexterously nailed his Andy Timmons solos.
Last year, Dakota Rock Fest dipped into the vault and brought April Wine to Sioux Falls. This year, their retrospective look included Axe and Molly Hatchet. Axe fared the better of the two, with their hit “Rock And Roll Party in the Streets.” Molly Hatchet even played a Skynyrd cover, for some reason.
Warrant — who has undergone singer changes from Jani Lane to Jaime St. James back to Jani Lane now to Robert Mason (Lynch Mob, Big C**k) — played right before closer Vince Neil. Warrant finally has a singer who can hit all the notes, recreate the past and help forge the band’s future. If you haven’t heard Mason live before, his immeasurable vocal talent and limitless energy has to be daunting for other singers to follow. You don’t want to be the person to follow Robert Mason, period. From “Cherry Pie” to “I Saw Red” to “Uncle Tom’s Cabin,” they played all their multi-platinum hits and everyone witnessed a rejuvenated and recharged Warrant steal the show.
With the “evolution” of Rocklahoma, who completely sold out to the Corporate Rock Gods, it seemed that Dakota Rock Fest had the opportunity to steal some of their thunder by featuring these still-relevant ‘80s acts. Would it have been a bigger draw for the promoters had Motley Crue, Poison and Danger Danger played? Yes, certainly. Dakota Rock Fest is extremely affordable compared to other festivals, but they may have to bite the bullet and pull in a band like Whitesnake next year if they want to keep making the festival bigger and more relevant (and make bank for their efforts). The promoters have updated and rearranged the festival every year and have proven they can adapt, so it should make next year’s Dakota Rock Fest even more interesting.
Dakota Rock Fest 2010 Photo Gallery
Photos provided by John Kindred
July 16, 2010 at Wolf Den, Uncasville, CT.
by Deb Rao
Warrant first burst onto the LA metal scene with Dirty Rotten Filthy Stinkin Rich. The band had a penchant for cranking out the Top 40 ballad hits “Heaven” and “I Saw Red” but also proved they could rock with the best of them with their mega rock hits “Cherry Pie”, and “Uncle Tom’s Cabin.”
During the heyday of MTV, Warrant ruled the video airwaves. I think it was every boys dream to date video vixen Bobby Brown. Over the course of the late 80′s and early 90′s, Warrant were at the top of their game. Selling out arenas, riding high on the Billboard Charts, and then came Grunge. Who could prepare for a whole generation of fans wearing flannel shirts and lyrics and bands like Nirvana singing about the perils of life? From one extreme to another, was metal dead?
During the dark age of metal, Warrant never gave up on their musical style. In 2004, Jani Lane left the band. Replacement singer former Black N’ Blue singer Jaime St. James came to the rescue and the band released Born Again in 2006. Jaime stayed with the band for 3 years until Jani re-joined for a short re-union in 2008. That was then and this is now. In 2008, former Lynch Mob singer Robert Mason joined Warrant and the rest is history! Finally the missing link to the puzzle was found. A band full of quality musicians waiting for the right break to regain their crown in metal.
Warrant featuring singer Robert Mason, Erik Turner, Jerry Dixon, Steven Sweet, and Joey Allen performed to a sold out crowd at the Mohegan Sun’s Wolf Den on July 16. The 80′s metal revival is in full gear and Warrant is once again are garnering new fans as well the die-hard fans. I had the opportunity to talk with many fans at the concert in CT. Everyone agreed, new singer Robert Mason sounds amazing.
Opening with “Sure Feels Good”, Warrant took the audience down memory lane performing such hits as “Sometimes She Cries”, “Blind Faith”, and “The Downboys.” Guitarist Erik Turner shined and the rhythm section of bassist Jerry Dixon and Steven Sweet sounded very bluesy. The band has evolved so much since their heyday. They performed with a new found confidence. Singer Robert Mason did an excellent job on the ballads “Heaven”, and “I Saw Red.” For over an hour, Warrant fans were treated to the new version of Warrant. A band that has survived the odds, proving The Downboys still have a lot more music to write and perform with a whole new riveting attitude and vibe.
Guitarist Erik Turner informs us, “The new CD will be just some bad ass, killer no filler, kick ass Warrant rock and roll! We hope our fans will like it. We are working really hard and we all have all our influences in each of the songs. Nine songs have been demoed so far, in September we will be finishing a bunch more songs to be demoed as well, it’s a long process, but hopefully worth the wait.”