Friday, March 20, 2015

Scrap Metal - Riverside Casino - January 24th, 2015

The weekend of January 24 - 25th, 2015 was an "All-Star" weekend.  On Sunday the 25th of January two major sports had their all-star games, or "extravaganzas" if you will.  The National Hockey League was first up on that Sunday with a score that was more reminiscent of an NFL game which is interesting just for the fact that they had their own all-star game the same day.  The neat thing about "all-star games" is that the players have fun during these games and that is really all its about isn't it?

While the opportunity to talk about the two all-star games would be easy it wouldn't be prudent because you are still trying to figure out why I am talking about sports in an article about music, and so am I frankly.  I love sports, but I love music too and common sense dictates that I talk about something about music.  I will do so AFTER I tell you that the NHL All-Star game was awesome (Patrice Bergeron of my beloved Boston Bruins had a killer game)!  The fun thing about anything that is full of "all-stars" is that it would be difficult to not have a blast watching OR attending that type of event.

If you think about the world of music, music festivals are really all-star events.  Generally speaking that really is what a music festival is.  It could be construed that a music festival has "starters," "back-ups," and "third-stringers" exactly like those"all-star games."  I have been to so many festivals in the past few years I can tell you who the headliner will be before they release the entire schedule and I am sure you can too.  The rub with that line of thought is that this way of thought assumes that those starters are all from the same team if you think about it.

For argument sake consider these sports teams are bands:  The New England Patriots, the Green Bay Packers, the Atlanta Falcons and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.  Now if we put it together as an "all-star event" that means the the teams as a whole are individuals and not teams.  That doesn't make a bit of sane sense does it?  Now if you were to replace the names of the sports teams in the example and put them in a music festival then the hierarchy works.  Each team becomes a band and you can pretty easily name the opening act all of the way to the headliner.  Yes that was a long way to explain it but it works, I think.

When I traveled to the Riverside Casino on January 24th, 2015 I went to see a band that is made up of "all-stars," and everyone on the roster is a rock and roll All-Star!  Here's the lineup:  Kip Winger (Winger), Matthew and Gunnar Nelson (Nelson), Janet Gardner (Vixen), Mark Slaughter (Slaughter), Eric Martin (Mr. Big), and Bobby Rock (Lita Ford).  That is definitely an "All-Star" lineup, and some serious horsepower from the realm of the '80's - '90's hard rock / heavy metal / hair metal (you can decide what genre you want to call it!

In the last four years I have seen all of these artists in concert with their own bands (the only exception were the Nelson Brothers) and I walked away highly impressed.  I knew how each of these performers were going to sound but having never seen Nelson live I didn't know what to think.  There is a very good reason why that was, I knew three things about the band until the night I saw Scrap Metal.
  1.  I knew their Dad was Ricky Nelson. 
  2.  I knew they had a sister that was an actor, Tracy.  
  3. They had two songs I remembered hearing from time to time.
That's it.  I wasn't into their music, I was venturing into thrash metal and I already had a foothold in punk so I didn't care about Nelson.  I hear that scorn in your voice as you read this, don't judge me, heck even the girls I knew and / or dated weren't into them so it was easy to not know anything.  That changed by the way.

When I saw Scrap Metal perform I was struck first of all how personable they were on stage, they joked and really held onto the attention of the entire crowd.  That sounds creepy I suppose but the fact of the matter is that their stage presence is incredible.  I had no idea what incredible musicians they are either, VERY impressive!  Vocally they sounded exactly as I remembered them and they were a blast to watch!

A few years ago I was able to meet Kip Winger after an acoustic gig he did when Bret Michaels performed at the Mississippi Moon Bar and I thought he was a very personable guy.  He had the swagger that his career kind of demands, and when he performed at Riverside Casino with Scrap Metal he was incredible.  Winger is an accomplished bass player and he still seems to make the "girls" swoon when they are in his presence and he knows how to work the crowd!  Great job by Kip!

Watching the performers tag-team if you will as their turn in the set came up it was apparent that these people like each other.  As an example when Janet Gardner of Vixen came onto the stage she made a point of saying how her bandmates are like big brothers to her and they keep her safe.  That simply isn't something you do if you are just performing to get paid.  Speaking of Ms. Gardner, last year I was able to see her perform at Halfway Jam and I was taken aback by how uber professional she was, not only that but she was incredible on stage.  With the swagger afforded to Mr. Winger I think Gardner is deserving of just as much.  Vocally she is superior to many of her contemporaries, and it is obvious when you hear her sing.  Incredible job!

Mark Slaughter.  Enough said.  Just kidding, I have had the honor of actually hanging out with Mark and his bandmates after a performance and I am fairly sure I have seen him perform on at least six occasions.  I have noticed through the shows I have been too that those that performers that can hit that high note that makes the ears of dogs bleed and girls scream is their voices get scratchy, lower and they lose the tone that they once had.  Mark Slaughter does not fit into that category, the man can still bring it and in fact I would still compare his voice to what it was before.

In many ways you could equate my level of knowledge of Eric Martin and his band Mr. Big to that of the Nelson brothers.  I wasn't into them (see the Nelson's above) but I knew even less about Mr. Big than I did Nelson.  I knew girls loved them so I bought their first album on cassette and that was about it.  Last year I attended a rock festival that kind of imploded and Eric Martin performed there in an acoustic fashion, and he was great.  Some of the members of the group I was with met him and they thought he was a great guy so I was excited with the possibility of meeting him at Riverside Casino.  Before I was able to I was seriously in awe of this man on stage, I loved watching him perform.  To me he was at the pinnacle of some incredible vocalists that night.  Martin was engaging, fun to watch on stage, funny and he sang like he wanted us to remember every note.

All-Star games are a fickle thing.  After a roster of "all-stars" is released all too often it is picked apart almost to the cellular level, and no one is ever content with it.  I can tell you with some certainty that this roster is one of the best "all-star" groupings I have ever seen.  Scrap Metal is a band of stars, look at their alumni.  I was seriously amazed at how cohesive they were, there is a serious potential for "I'm a bigger star than you" mentality but I saw none of that.  I saw a band made up of incredible musicians and vocalists unlike any other.

Scrap Metal is a band that should get on your radar.  This band is incredible and I look forward to seeing them once again!  Find them, request them, see them live you will not be disappointed!  Absolutely amazing!

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