• Concert Review: Steely Dan at Walmart AMP/Arkansas Music Pavilion, Rogers, AR

    Photos & Story by Scott A. Smith

    Remember way back when, when Steely Dan ignored the road, treating the word “tour” like a big, glowing slab of Kryptonite?steely-dan-1-by-scott-a-smith

    Back in the mid- and late-1970s, Steely Dan’s creative nucleus, Donald Fagen (keyboards, vocals) and Walter Becker (guitar, bass, vocals), showed extreme favoritism to the recording studio, where they meticulously built still-great-sounding, jazz-rock LPs such as 1975′s “Katy Lied,” 1976′s “The Royal Scam” and the Grammy Award darling from ’77, “Aja.” Back then in those big-car, pre-digital times, Fagen and Becker steered clear from touring, even though they had the musical gifts to cut it on the stage. In their minds, who needed auxiliary touring musicians, the endless hours of travel and a meddling road manager? It was more fun for the Dan to hole up in a studio and cut into black discs of wax with friends like Michael McDonald, Jeff “Skunk” Baxter and Larry Carlton.… Continue reading

  • Review: The Winery Dogs, May 20, Neumeier’s Rib Room & Beer Garden, Fort Smith, AR

    Photos & Story by Scott A. Smithwinery-dogs-1-by-scott-a-smith

    How many bands has former Dream Theater drummer Mike Portnoy been in over the last decade?

    That could be a million-dollar question for many rock followers.

    Portnoy’s latest post-DT project is The Winery Dogs, a powerhouse of a trio that magically marries Superman-like instrumental abilities with a disciplined focus on the song. Also featuring bass guru Billy Sheehan (Mr. Big, David Lee Roth) and singer-guitarist Richie Kotzen (Mr. Big, Poison), The Winery Dogs showed how to be hard-hitting aggressive in sound without shoving melody away from the front-and-center position May 20 at Neumeier’s Rib Room & Beer Garden in Fort Smith, Ark.

    Following an impressive opening set by Charm City Devils, The Winery Dogs commandeered the stage by immediately diving into the jet-propelled “Elevate,” pulling the capacity crowd into a frenzied wave of exciting rock and roll music. Assertive, loud and air-tight on their stops, starts and everything in between, the group pounded out rhythms and patterns that did justice to the studio versions on its self-titled debut CD.… Continue reading

  • Review: Don Felder/Styx/Foreigner, May 16, Zoo Amphitheatre, Oklahoma City, OK

    Photos and Story by Scott A. Smith

    Cool-breeze melodies and some of the most gripping guitar solos and riffs in all of rock-and-roll land are among the high points found on the new U.S. tour by Styx, Foreigner and former don-felder-by-scott-a-smithEagles guitarist-singer Don Felder.

    Billed as “The Soundtrack of Summer Tour,” the tour saw its second night at the Zoo Amphitheatre in Oklahoma City, with Felder and his four-piece solo band mixing his solo work with  must-play Eagles numbers over the course of a well-received, 50-minute set. Donning sunglasses, black vest, black pants, black shoes and a polka-dotted, black-and-white shirt, a grinning Felder emerged from the backstage area to greet the all-ages audience with an impressive take of The Eagles’ “Take It Easy.” Felder handled the song’s lead vocals with ease — why Eagles founder Glenn Frey continues to erroneously claim Felder is no lead singer is one of music’s biggest head-scratchers.… Continue reading

  • Review: Black Star Riders, Neumemier’s Rib Room & Beer Garden, Fort Smith, AR

    Photos and Story by Scott A. Smith

    The spirits of Thin Lizzy, Brother Cane and Megadeth are near – but never overpower – one of rock’s newest, most invigorated bands.black-star-riders-by -scott-a- smith-1

    Black Star Riders are burning down U.S. highways to promote their debut CD, “All Hell Breaks Loose,” and their concert May 5 at Neumemier’s Rib Room & Beer Garden in Fort Smith was loud and proud, with the quintet of veterans giving 150 percent over the course of a well-paced, tour-hour set.

    Guitarists Scott Gorham (Thin Lizzy) and Damon Johnson (Brother Cane) kept six-string fans and casual rock fans happy with edgy, always tasteful interplay, while bassist Marco Mendoza (Ted Nugent, Thin Lizzy) and drummer Jimmy DeGrasso (Megadeth) formed an air-tight rhythm section from the get go. This instrumental base gave lead singer Ricky Warwick (The Almighty, Thin Lizzy) the ultimate, punchy platform.

    Well-rehearsed but often incorporating brilliant flashes of improvisation, Black Star Riders played the bulk of their new CD, with “Kingdom of the Lost,” “Kissin’ the Ground,” “Before the War” and the title track all leaving a sustained impression on audience members.… Continue reading