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Charlie Thomas' Blog

Weekdays 6p - 10p


Mr. Clean

Ed Cassidy turns 88 yrs old today (5/4).  If ya don't recognize the name...or the shaved Mr Clean chrome dome on the drumkit...he was the drummer for Spirit.  Ed was stylishly bald at a time when most musicians were growing hair down past their shoulders.  What was unique about Spirit was that Ed was the step-father of guitarist Randy California..not a typical relationship in rock bands.  But it DOES explain why one of Spirit's albums was called The Family That Plays Together.--which  contained their biggest hit, I Got a Line On You.  Spirit also had a very jazzy feel to their music...much of which came from Cass's jazz background.  In 1964, he had formed the band Rising Sons with Taj Mahal & Ry Cooder.  Rock on, Mister Clean....**photo by Bruce Pates**
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ROCK'in the Vineyard

..is an event coming up Saturday, May 14, at Young's Vineyard, in the Amador County wine country.  Craig Chaquico (pictured) will headline the concert, with some incredible guitar work.  The Rhythm Vandals will open the show at 1 pm with their outstanding tribute to Santana.   Proceeds will benefit FEAT--Families for Early Autism Treatment.  You'll also be able to sample the new spring wine releases from Young's--tasty!  What a great combination--wine..and music..for a good cause.   Get ticket info at www.feat.org.  **photo from the FEAT website**  Oh, and if you haven't yet discovered the Amador County wine country...it is beautiful, with excellent wines (especially red zins)...and is a scenic short drive from Sac down the Jackson Hiway to Plymouth.
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Gettin' Iggy wid it

Iggy Pop performed at American Idol last nite.  He's still a wild man, singing Real Wild Child, tossing out some expl*tives, and causing J-Lo to raise her eyebrows.  Iggy is 63 now--at an age where some guys have trouble climbing stairs, he's stage diving!  I chatted with Iggy a quarter century ago--Feb 1987.  He was an engaging, charming guy in the studio, polite, with a sense of humor.  But on stage later that nite..at the *old* Arco Arena, he was a whirling dervish, twisting & distorting his body, and belting out the songs.  Iggy opened for the Pretenders that nite, and Chrissie Hynde kissed the stage in homage where Iggy had danced.  Coincidentally, Pia Toscano closed out the A.I. episode singing a Pretenders tune.
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A Winter's Night...this Spring

Blues legend Johnny Winter will rock the Boardwalk in Orangevale this Tuesday nite.  Reminds me of my FIRST real rock concert...with--yep--Johnny Winter, on the Still Alive & Well tour, 1973 in Memphis, TN.  My memories are still vivid of that show--how LOUD it was, with Johnny struttin on the stage with his trademark Explorer guitar.  His sharp blues riffs pierced the sweet smoke hanging over the crowd.  --These days, because of health issues, Johnny plays sitting down...but he can still rip on that ax.  Check it out Tuesday nite at the Boardwalk, with Mick Martin & the Blues Rockers, AND Frank Hannon sharing the stage that night. **photo by John Pastorello**
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Re-Idolizing Elton

Last nite's American Idol was one of the best episodes I can remember.  It was Elton John tribute nite--and I'll admit I was never a huge Elton fan.  But some of these A.I. contestants breathed fresh interpretations into some Elton John classics...and reminded you WHY they were such big hits in the first place (with a tip of the cap to Bernie T for the lyrics).   Alaina did a beautiful version of Candle in the Wind, James "lit up" Saturday Nite's Alright, Casey did justice to Your Song, even local Norcal girl Thia showed unexpected maturity with Daniel....but it was Haley who STOLE the nite, with a breezy but powerful take on B-b-bennie & the Jets.   Haley is a mix of Rickie Lee Jones, Joan Osbourne, Jewel & Janis...and she was BREATH taking last nite.   Could SHE be the next American Idol?  BTW...my choices to go home this week...Paul (awww) and Alaina.    --Not ashamed to admit I watch A.I. this season...a bit too much of a love fest with the judges, but still entertaining....
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No, not the drummer...

I'm sure Phil Collen of Def Lep is tired of being confused with Phil Collins, the singer/drummer who just retired. Collen is the guitarist for Def Lep, and maybe one of the most UNDER rated 80's guitarist.  He linked up with Def Lep during the recording sessions for Pyromania, and has been with the band ever since.  He & Steve Clark (RIP) were known as the "Terror Twins" because of their amazing dual guitar work.  Phil is an excellent technical guitarist, who was able to take the studio demands of producer Mutt Lange, and painstakingly create some awesome guitar legacies. I love to watch him play...and oddly enough, my path has crossed with Phil's a few times over the years...pictured, sharing some "tea" at Abbey Rd in 1999. --and NO, he won't sing Su-su-sudio for ya...
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Strat Master

"Trower just gets better with age, like a good wine," my buddy Dana said to me last night at the Boardwalk, between songs.  And it's true--I've seen Robin Trower a few times in the last 25 years, and his seasoned licks are still mighty tasty. He looks like a college English professor, but when Trower straps on that Strat, he makes it speak--in bends, and crisp bites,  wah-wah warbles, and harmonic delays...all laid over a trance groove.  It was an impressive show at the Boardwalk--the room sounded GOOD, not TOO loud..the 400 or so in the crowd were into the groove, shouting out like a rock revival session. I cut out soon after the encore started--I'd heard the 4 tunes from "Bridge of Sighs" that I wanted to experience--but I can imagine seeing Trower again.  He'll probably be playing & touring til the last...(photo by Carl Lender)
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Frankenstein for Halloween

Edgar Winter plays at Thunder Valley Casino this Saturday nite--the nite before Halloween--and thankfully the show will be indoors, cuz the forecast calls for showers. Last time I saw Edgar, the weather was quite the opposite...a scorching hot July afternoon, at the Gold Country Fairgrounds in Auburn. He was the headliner that year (2005) for the Placer SPCA's BBQ & Blues show. As you may know, Edgar is an albino..so he has to take extreme caution in the sun--which meant he was wearing long pants, and a heavy black jacket.  I thought he was gonna melt in the summer heat!...but he survived, and rocked it..and the highlight was a 20 minute jam on "Frankenstein", where Edgar showed his musical virtuosity.  He not only played his signature keyboards (slung around his neck)...but took a stint on percussion, and saxophone as well.  Good stuff...but stay outta the sun, son.
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Bill Graham

Of all the folks I've had the chance to chat on the radio with over the years, Bill Graham was the most fascinating (pic from summer 1987). Monday 10/25 marks 19 yrs since his death in 1991 from that helicopter crash. Bill not only energized the SF music scene in the 60s, bringing the Dead, the Airplane, Santana, into the international spotlight..he transformed the whole business of rock concerts.  When I spoke to him in 1987, he had just arranged an American rock  concert in Moscow (BEFORE the wall came down)...and announced on-air with me that Skynyrd was reuniting for a tour with Johnny Van Zandt. Sure, he could be brusque, and prone to strong-arm business tactics, but here was a guy who had escaped Nazi Germany as a child...and still enjoyed playing cowbell when he sat in with Santana.  Bill also liked putting bands on a bill that seemingly did not go together..just for the variety & additional exposure...and staged many concerts as benefits.  In fact, the night he died, he was returning from Concord Pavilion after discussing plans for a show to benefit victims of the Oakland firestorm.  RIP...BG.
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Bad Co..the OTHER Guy

Paul Rodgers is THE voice of Bad Co, and one of the premier vocalists in rock history. But give credit to Mick Ralphs, the guitarist for the band, who will also be at Thunder Valley Friday nite in concert. Mick co-wrote a number of BadCo hits, and was the riff-master for many more.  He isn't the flashiest guitarist, but has a nasty tone, with memorable licks. Mick had been in Mott the Hoople before joining Rodgers to found BadCo in 1974, and had written "Can't Get Enough" for Ian Hunter (of the Hoople).  Ian couldn't sing it..but it proved to be the first monster hit for BadCo. In the pix, I'm chatting with Mick at Abbey Road Studios...and Mick plays his ax in a 1978 show.
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MSG & the Flying V

The Gibson Flying V guitar looked futuristic when it was introduced in 1958...and STILL does today. Personally, tho I like the rippin tone, the V never felt comfortable to play...something about the balance of the body.  But.. Albert King played one, as did Jimi sometimes...and  in the heavy metal world, it was KK from Priest and Michael Schenker who made them popular.  Schenker is on his 30th anniversary tour with MSG, and will be at the Boardwalk in Orangevale this Tuesday nite..no doubt shreddin on his V.  Tix & info at www.boardwalkrocks.com.
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Stairway to Stardom

The 30th annual S2S concert happens this Sunday 8/15 at the Crest Theater...a sold-out show! It's been my privilege to MC the festivities for what?--7 years now?  The 8 week program is put on by Skip's Music, open to 12-17 yr olds, who form bands, and write  3 original songs. This year, 21 bands will perform their 3 song sets...and then, in the near future, will get to record one of their tunes at a local studio. In this picture from last year's Stairway concert, one of the boys in the band decided a kilt would be fashionable...hmmm...**photo by Kevin Graft**
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Woodshop Rocks!

James Hetfield of Metallica...with a guitar made in the Woodshop Rocks program...and with Duane Calkins of  WR.  Duane reminded me...this Sunday May 16.. the annual Concert in the Quad happens at Buljan Middle School in Roseville from 3 - 7 pm.  Six bands will perform, including Chris Martinez Blues Band..admission $ 5, with proceeds going to Woodshop Rocks.  WR is now a class offered in several area schools, including Buljan, Casa Roble, Mira Loma, and Highlands.  Students actually design & build a guitar as their class project.  It's a long way from the hat rack I built in woodshop class!!  Woodshop Rocks involves students with music & crafts...and is a class the students actually LOOK FORWARD to.. Proceeds from the Concert will help procure the raw materials needed for this visionary program.  Info at woodshoprocks.com.
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Nashville Cats

Unfortunately, Nashville cats have been dog paddlin'...cuz they've had rains of biblical proportions this week. Some areas got 15 inches of rain in a 3 day period! There's a lot of tragedy...9 deaths, homes flooded, millions of $s in damage--and many musicians have been hurt by the flooding in Music City. SoundCheck (pictured) is a musical rehearsal and storage facility that is now submerged...with many instruments damaged or missing.  Vince Gill lost a rare guitar collection....some of the other bands affected are Lynyrd Skynyrd, Peter Frampton, John Fogerty, and Keith Urban.  The next Skynyrd cruise may be on an ark...!
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