Sunday 30 August 2015

Whitesnake Guitarist Joel Hoekstra 

Releases New Side Project Album:

Joel Hoekstra's 13:  Dying To Live 
Released October 16th

Joel Hoekstra's 13 is a side project formed by current Whitesnake guitarist Joel Hoekstra, who is also well known for his work with Night Ranger, Trans Siberian Orchestra and the show Rock of Ages. 

The stellar musicians on the debut album “Dying To Live” are some of the absolute best the classic rock world has to offer.

Joel handled the bulk of the creative process on the album by doing all of the producing, writing and arranging (music and lyrics). 

The result could best be described as hard, melodic, classic rock that is Dio'ish at it's heaviest and Foreigner'ish at it's lightest. 

On 'Dying To Live' Joel focuses on struggles, potential pitfalls and the art of overcoming obstacles in life to finally arrive where we are meant to be

The musicians:
Joel Hoekstra (Whitesnake) - guitars, backing vocals
Jeff Scott Soto (Journey/Yngwie Malmsteen) - lead vocals, backing vocals
Russell Allen (Adrenaline Mob/Symphony X) - lead vocals, backing vocals
Vinny Appice (Black Sabbath/Dio) - drums
Tony Franklin (The Firm/Blue Murder) - bass

special guest musicians:
Derek Sherinian (Dream Theater/Black Country Communion) - keyboards
Chloe Lowery (Trans Siberian Orchestra) - vocals
Toby Hitchcock (Pride of Lions) - additional backing vocals
Charlie Zeleny (Joe Lynn Turner) - percussion
Dave Eggar (Amy Lee/Coldplay) - cello

Friday 28 August 2015

Uncle G_Tales from Space City Comic Con 2015_Chapter 4_Its A Wrap

Classic Rock Radio (Dot CO Dot UK)
27 Aug 2015
Space City Comic Con 2015
Chapter 4 - It's A Wrap!

So far I have written three stories about last month's Houston's 'Space City Comic Con', published about a week apart from one another. I saved the BIGGEST for last! A collection of Uncle G's 'best of' moments at Space City Comic Con 2015.

For the record, I spent four days covering the event. Saw a lot! Did my share of walking, and resting and leaning against walls. I'm so grateful for my walking stick. Really aided me in getting around. The fact is, I'm legally disabled. Most I'm sure who saw me probably thought the handcrafted walking stick with my initials (GB) carved into it at the top, was a television or movie prop. The thing is, I'm not ready for a cane quite yet. A long auto-bio short, the last disc in my back is totally crushed. I have other injuries as well. A five decade history of blue/white collar jobs. The writing in which I do nowadays, comes naturally, and was something I first got into when in grade school. Disabled at age fifty. Out of lemons, make lemonade. Without having to work a forty, I have more free time to focus, and devote to what I hope in the future will be a successful, and prosperous writing career. I digress. Back to my walking stick. While at the latest Space City Comic Con, I got my photograph taken (by Epic Photo Ops) with the legendary William Shatner, special guest at the Space City Comic Con, standing next to him with … my walking stick. A pretty cool moment in my life. The fanboy in me wants to yell out; "I got my photo with Captain Kirk!" I did manage to tell Mr. Shatner that I enjoyed the last CD he made with Billy Sherwood; William Shatner - Ponder The Mystery (2013).

Gary "Uncle G" Brown and William Shatner
One lady security guard questioned me in the entire four days I was there, asking me if my walking stick was a weapon. I found the inquiry rather silly considering how there were real weapons like swords, on the other side of the door I was trying to enter. So I said; "No". She looks at me. A man in his early 50's, six feet, close to two hundred pounds, with a white beard, holding onto this thick piece of wood that's as tall as he is. Oh, and I had a media pass I had shown her. She said after a moment or two of sizing up the situation; OK. And I went my way. This was on Sunday, my last day there. Previous days and no one says shit. Security people could not be any nicer to me, inside or outside the building. No one blinks an eye at my walking aide. Maybe I reminded the lady door guard of someone she didn't like?

Note: Walking Stick purchased online at Brazos Walking Sticks. Made in U.S.A.

Uncle G's Space City Comic Con 2015 Highlights

Volunteers: These are people who give of their free time, to help out at the convention. For them there may be perks like meeting celebrities, or free admission. I found the concept all very fascinating. I quizzed a few that I ran into throughout my convention travels. All were very happy with the experience, be it helping celebrity guests, or checking tickets at the front door. I'd be interested in taking part myself at an event such as this in the future, just to see what it further entailed. I'm limited to what I can do. Still, it sure is different, and I'm sure interesting as well. All the volunteers I met were very nice, and very good at whatever their assigned task was. Thanks again to all those who gave me guidance and/or a helping hand throughout the four days.

Cos players: Mostly grown adults who have fun escaping lifes realities by pretending not to be themselves. In this case, characters somehow connected with what one would regularly see at a comic book convention. I saw a lot of Batman's and Superman's walking around. Because of the Star Trek events, and William Shatner from the original show being there, the convention drew a ton of Trekkies. Star Wars was represented as well. Some of the ladies looked truly out of sight. The Cos Player who got my attention most, surprisingly wasn't a beautiful scantly clad woman, but instead was a pretty cool dude portraying remarkably well, the beloved Mr. Spock character from the original Star Trek program, Paul Forest AKA Spock Vegas. Easy to find on Facebook, and has his own website. In his own way, Paul ROCKS! it was a pleasure saying hello, and I even got a picture with him. My first ever photo with a professional Cos Player. Very good job Paul! You keep the memory, and spirit of the late Leonard Nimoy's, Mr. Spock alive, and in our hearts.

Spock Vegas and Gary "Uncle G" Brown
Music: Not really classic rock per-say, but the three day comic book convention extravaganza did have it's share of live musical entertainment. The reason that, that got me to attend Space City Comic Con in the first place, was seeing Tim Russ play. He's more old school rhythm and blues. I enjoyed his performance immensely, which was evident in my review.

A world music instrumental band with a Celtic flavor who calls themselves, Tartanic, seriously got my attention. Bagpipes and drums. I saw them play to the crowd in general, and draw a crowd they did. Along with the music performed by guys in kilts, two very pretty lady dancers. To help remember, as I'm typing this, I'm playing one of their CDs; Tartanic - Universal (2012). Listening to the bagpipes and awesome drum beats in my own living room, really is pretty cool. Included on the CD is a very cool cover of AC/DC's Thunderstruck (Extreme). And I luv a number they call, Haboob (he said boob). I was not only impressed by their performances, but with them as well. A pleasure to be around as a matter of fact, for I did spend time with various members, with the consumption of beer varying at every occasion. Music's great to drink too! In person, they sure know how to entertain! If ever the occasion to see Tartanic live … do so! Speaking of which, I might see them again at the next Texas Renaissance Festival (Oct 10th to Nov 29th, located just 50 miles northwest of Houston, Texas). They will be there! Admittingly not the type of music I listen to everyday. In the case of Tartanic, good for my Irish soul. The two CDs I have of theirs are all keepers by the way, as I'm sure everything else in their catalog is. The other one I have is a bit older (2008). Called Tartanic - Uncivilized. It seriously ROCKS! 

For more information on Tartanic, please consult their offical page @

Also worth mentioning is a young band that has in my opinion, a very promising future. A pop punk group who collectively call themselves; Make Out Monday. The group includes actor Jeremy Shada. The younger ladies in the audience seemed to adore them. Very energetic when performing. I chilled out having a cold beer, watching them play, and then checking out the audience reaction. Performed on Saturday nights after hours shindig along with Tartanic. Seeing Tim Russ perform earlier in the evening, it all made for a cool night of toe tapping tunes.

Cool People: Friday I got to hang out some with Adam Howard, and Rick Sternbach. Two guys whose imagination helped make many stars. We talked music, mostly. Go figure. Mr. Howard knows his prog-rock. While Mr. Sternbach ate a snack, Adam and I both talked, and seemed to really enjoy ourselves doing so. If ever the opportunity arises and you can meet these two guys, go for it. If at A Star Trek convention (always a part of larger conventions nowadays) the lines will be longer for the actors, then for the guys who helped design a few things for the show they were on, including the spaceship the actors called home, as is the case of Star Trek Voyager, whereas Rick designed the main spacecraft. Mr. Sternbach was also an artist on the original Cosmos TV program.

Adam and Rick are probably some of the best artists/set designers/visual effects guys in films. When Bart Simpson writes on the school chalkboard, that font is Adams. And a cool thing happened when I again was visiting with Rick. International Space Station Astronaut Douglas Wheelock came up to give his regards to him. How impressive is that. And we're next door to an official NASA booth where I got an official NASA coffee mug for only six bucks.

Automobiles: At the Space City Comic Con, be prepared to witness anything. That includes cool cars. What caught my eye was Speed Racers Mach 5 with front duel saws that I would love to have driving home to Katy from Houston on super Highway I-10 during rush hour traffic. 

Space City Comic Con 2015: Mach 5
Another car that caught my attention was a fan tribute to the tv program Supernatural. The jet black 1967 Chevrolet Impala. The owners are from Texas and seem to be really nice people. Appear to seriously enjoy having the car, and people's reaction to it. GREAT photo opportunities in which I did myself. Sorry to say that most pictures taken came out too blurry to publish. OK because it was fun to see in person. Way cool automobile. A fantastic job with the details. Dedication I'd rate; A+. And remember...old men over fifty usually carry their own knives. 

For more information on this cool CW Network Supernatural TV show replica 1967 Chevrolet Impala go to above web addresses. Pass on Uncle G said hello. 

Young Artists: It was a comic book convention I was at. While walking down the aisles a cool recreation of Beavis and Butt-head caught my eye. Favorites of mine. The young artists from a company they call; Bakerz Duzen/Bakerzduzen Art. The great older artist of today, were in their youth, unknowns. I purchased a copied version (not original) of the 1990's antihero's. The least I could do. Would hate to hear of any of them starving later on.

A cool caricature of B & B by Bakerzduzen Art
Shout Out: To author James Kahn. I tried to find that Star Wars poster for you, but then realized I had an appointment to get my photo taken with William Shatner. After that I tried to find you, and saw your table with the poster, and you not there. Then I got side tracked. Enjoyed talking to you. Good luck with the Wrongside Bob project. 

More Details @
James Kahn IMDb Page:
Again I thank the good folks at the Space City Comic Con for allowing me to do my thing. Am happy with the results myself. I got four different stories out of the experience, including this one. Thousands of words, several cool photos...a short story with four different parts. A cool experience that I would recommend others doing. Repeatedly, which is more than likely why you will see me at the next SPACE CITY COMIC CON. 

Helpful Links - Previous three stories:

Chapter One: One Question with Uncle G_Star Trek Alumni

Chapter Two: Concert Review_Tim Russ @ Space City Comic Con 2015

Uncle G_Tales from Space City Comic Con 2015_Chapter 3_The Trade

Gary "Uncle G" Brown
American Correspondent for
Twitter @GBrown0816

Wednesday 19 August 2015

Review_Moraz Alban Project

Classic Rock Radio (Dot CO Dot UK)
19 Aug 2015

NEW MUSIC from Classic Rockers
Moraz Alban Project (2015)

I got turned onto pianist / keyboardist Patrick Moraz via way of the progressive rock group, Yes, back in the nineteen seventies. Patrick was Rick Wakeman's replacement after he and the group parted company upon completion of the Tales From Topographic Oceans tour. 'Tales' as YesFans like to refer to it as, is a double studio album that consisted of four songs total. Introduced Alan White to the group. A replacement for Bill Bruford, who went off to King Crimson. Patrick comes in on Yes' next studio after 'Tales' was released entitled; Yes - Relayer (1974). Patrick's unique contributions, making this an "Uncle G" perfect rock album. 

Yes' Relayer album had three musical compositions on it. The playing is outstanding! Loud and stimulating. Quiet and thought provoking. Think of it nowadays as pre Metal-Prog. Yes' hardest rock album to date. If needing one, an excellent example as to what a superior prog-rock album should should like. All five musicians involved were on top of their game. Recorded at the late Chris Squire's estate. Around the same time Chris did his masterpiece first solo record, Fish Out Of Water (1974), that BTW, Patrick also appears on. 

Another album Patrick was involved with, and this was right before he joined Yes, is an absolute must have for every Prog-Head out there; Refugee - Refugee (March '74). Includes ex-Nice members bassist Lee Jackson and drummer Brian Davison. The first track off their self titled album was pure instrumental magic; Papillion. I imagine Patrick's fingers at times just flying up and down the keys. And then from one keyboard instrument, to another. All stacked up and capable of making any sound imaginable. There are songs like that on this new MAP release. Different people might dig more on different tracks. I'm seriously into keyboards, but I luv good drums and bass as well. This album has that. I like mostly upbeat music. This album has that. 

The new Moraz Alban Project - MAP is in many ways samples of what I like best about listening to Patrick's music all these decades. The sounds blasting from my Sony Speakers, are vibrant, and demand attention. From the start of the CD to the last notes played. All nine songs. It's a 'Patrick Moraz' the fan base will recognize. A 'Patrick Moraz' people will stop, and listen to. A Swiss prog-rock piano / keyboardist / composer from the twenty century that's displaying via this new MAP release, just how it's done. 

Uncle G's Rating of Moraz Alban Project - MAP (2015)

An instrumental that combines different elements of World Fusion, Rock, Jazz, and a sprinkle of ambient to create an enjoyable listening experience. Includes other musicians that come off sounding equally talented as Patrick at what they do. 

A good example would be the co-header in this act, Greg Alban. An extraordinary drummer who at times on this CD, reminds me of both Bill Bruford, and Alan White. Perfectly timed rhythm capable of weaving in and out of Patrick's sound, without crashing into anything. In the past I was always amazed hearing Patrick play classical themed compositions. The rocker in me totally gets off by what he's capable of doing with a huge collection of electronic keyboards, and a competent drummer. 

Besides Patrick and Greg throughout the album, we hear some standout performances by; Lenny Castro - Percussion. John Avila - Electric Bass. Patrick Perrier - Electric Bass. Matt Malley - Slide Electric Sitar. 

Dave VanSuch's saxophone work on the third track of the CD called 'Canyon Afternoon', is for those into the sounds of the sax, fucking unbelievable. I imagine Dave did his four minute solo, and then everyone else featured in the piece, finding ways of working around him. Speaks highly of Patrick to allow another musician of superior talent, play alongside him. The saxophone playing here triggers memories of the late Clarence Clemons (Bruce Springsteen E Street Band), and from television's Saturday Night Live, Lenny Pickett. Legendary sax players, the both of them.

Using the one to five star rating system, whereas one star means it's equally as bad as Donald Trump's hairstyle, to five stars meaning it's a must have recording to have for house parties, be that with sixty of your closest friends, or just that special someone (wink wink). Lite the candles and fire up the lava lamp. Uncle G gives Moraz Alban Project - MAP ... 5 stars! Seriously, I can't be any happier with this album. It's like taking everything you like about Patrick Moraz's keyboard playing, putting it in a blender, and out comes a solid forty-seven minutes worth of tunes. Give it a listen, and see what I mean. 

For additional information on the Moraz Alban Project - MAP , including where to get and how to buy, we advise you to consult the following websites.

01.) Patrick's 'NEW & IMPROVED' official website:

02). Greg Alban Official Website:

03). The MAP:

Gary "Uncle G" Brown
American Correspondent for
Twitter @GBrown0816

Tuesday 18 August 2015

Anderson Ponty Band release Debut Album on September 25th
"Better Late Than Never" 

One of the most eagerly awaited releases of 2015 by the AndersonPonty Band, featuring music icons Jon Anderson and Jean Luc Ponty, is scheduled to hit the streets on September 25th 2015!
Better Late Than Never is the new studio album taken from a live performance, and enhanced with innovative production. The package includes a bonus DVD featuring outstanding performances by the band captured in September 2014 at the Wheeler Opera House in Aspen, Colorado. Better Late Than Never will be released on September 25th 2015 as CD+DVD (Deluxe Edition) and CD (jewel) through earMUSIC.
The AndersonPonty Band has created some breathtaking new musical compositions. Better Late Than Never also showcases rearrangements of classic YES hits including Owner Of A Lonely Heart, Roundabout and Wonderous Stories, as well as some ofJean Luc Ponty's beloved compositions, with Jon's lyrical vocals and melodies enhancing the music and creating a very special and unique sound such as Infinite Mirage a new song incorporating Jean Luc's classic tune Mirage.
YES's original singer/songwriter for 35 years, Jon Anderson has had a successful solo career, which includes working with notable music artists as Vangelis, Kitaro, and Milton Nascimento. International violin superstar Jean Luc Ponty is a pioneer and undisputed master of his instrument in the arena of jazz and rock. He is widely regarded as an innovator who has applied his unique visionary spin that has expanded the vocabulary of modern music. Together these two music legends have formed a musical synergy that is unparalleled!
A breakthrough feeling came as I sang with Jean Luc's music, to be in a band again is very exciting on many levels, we will play and sing our way around the world and have fun, for music is pleasure, music is all that is.” - Jon Anderson
Collaborating with Jon who is such a creative singer/songwriter is unlike any project I have done before. I knew that we had plenty of musical affinities to make it work, but the result is way beyond my expectations. It is also a lot of fun to reunite with these excellent musicians who played with me in the past, they really put their heart in this project and with Jon's creative input we are not just rehashing the past but giving a new life to the music we started developing decades ago.” - Jean Luc Ponty
The AndersonPonty Band also includes Jamie Glaser on guitars who has played with Jean Luc Ponty, Chick Corea, Bryan Adams and Lenny White; Wally Minko on keyboards - virtuoso player and composer who has performed and recorded with many worldwide stars including Pink, Toni Braxton, Jean Luc Ponty, Tom Jones, Gregg Rolie and Barry Manilow; Baron Browne on bass who has played with Steve Smith, Billy Cobham and Jean Luc Ponty; and Rayford Griffin on drums and percussion, who has played with Stanley Clarke Band, George Duke, Jean Luc Ponty and Michael Jackson.
The band visit the music created by Jon Anderson and Jean Luc Ponty over the years with new arrangements, virtuosic performances and new energy.
Jean Luc Ponty was originally approached by Jon Anderson with the idea of working together as far back as the 1980's. Now 30 years later the dream has finally come to fruition! In support of the new release, a world tour is currently in the works. Also, a videography documenting the making of the “Better Late Than Never” album will be released along with videos and performances.

Operation Mindcrime: "The Key" 

Released 18th September

Tracklisting:  Choices; Burn; Re-Inventing The Future; Ready To Fly; Discussions In A Smoke Filled Room; Life Or Death?; The Stranger; Hearing Voice; On Queue; An Ambush Of Sadness; Kicking In The Door; The Fall.

What would you do if you discovered the key to changing the way we view the world, the way we look at time, the way we travel, and could essentially change the human condition - for better or for worse?

The Keyis part one of an epic musical trilogy from iconic metal vocalist Geoff Tate, and it initiates that very question within a web of international politics, the world economy and social ethos. It is the debut album under Tate's new Operation: Mindcrime banner, a creative platform that continues in the spirit of the historic album of the same name, spawning concepts as grand as the music, and intertwining the intensity of the former Queensryche vocalist's iconic past with the provocative, progressive mindset that has made him one of music's most resolute forces and frontmen.

Geoff Tate has sold more than 25 million records at the helm of Queensryche, the band he fronted for 30 years from their inception through 2012, earning three Grammy nominations, five MTV Music Video Award nomimations, and one MTV Music Video Award along the way. The landmark concept album Operation: Mindcrime thrust Tate's unique social consciousness, style and expertly crafted lyrics into the national spotlight in 1988, and was followed by Empire in 1990, the album that delivered Queensryche to arena-headlining status and sold more than three million albums on the back of hit singles and radio staples "Silent Lucidity" and "Jet City Woman." By the time the band released Promised Land in 1994, Geoff Tate was universally acknowledged as one of the greatest frontmen in rock and metal, and a driving force behind one of the most innovative bands in mainstream music. From Mindcrime and Promised Land through 2009's overlooked gem American Soldier - Tate's ambitious concept album that explores the consequences of war as told through the voices of veterans - Tate's 13-album tenure with Queensryche was marked by exploration, intrigue, bold risks and gratifying results.

The Keycontinues in that fine tradition.

"Musically, this album is quite adventurous," says Tate of his first release in a new worldwide deal with Frontiers Music SRL. "Of course there are key elements in the music, melody and phrasings that are really identifiable, but throughout my career I've opened my eyes and ears to new standards and arrangements, and that's what keeps things fresh and exciting as an artist - we've thrown out the rules for this record, and it's been really liberating. I'm a fan of old prog, and that music didn't stick to rules. It's inspiring and enjoyable to be able to explore, and it's great being in a position to write without constraints."

The results are a series of albums that don't languish in nostalgia, instead offering listeners an opportunity to delve into a world of ideas and inspiration that Tate has been nurturing for the better portion of the last decade. Instead of asking, "Who killed Mary?", Operation: Mindcrime now asks, "What are the implications of changing the world?"

 "Like every album I've ever done, people will hear and experience it differently, and that is something that I look forward to," continues Tate. "Music is an intimate experience - your inspirations are unique to you, and will be heard differently through every set of ears and experiences - but isn't that really what makes art exciting? It inspires us all in different ways and for different reasons, and this album is no different. There are quite a few sections of this album that help propel the story with segues and dialogue, but the lyrics don't lay out a breadcrumb trail and tell the story in a linear fashion, there's a puzzle. We have several characters, and three other people singing lead vocals on the first album. That made it even more fun for me and helps give the album its own special character.

"Musically, there's quite a smorgasbord, we've played with sound and established a sound palate - heavy guitar, obviously, cool drumming... all the music is very sophisticated, and there are interesting time changes, the band is playing with different countings and we switch throughout each piece. We can perform the verse in one feel, the bridge in another, and transition to a new chorus, very challenging stuff and lots of different sounds that people probably haven't heard on one of my albums before - new and different guitar sounds and vocal treatments, very dynamic stuff."

Joining Tate on The Key are a hard-hitting cast of familiar faces and new collaborators: bass players Dave Ellefson [Metal Allegiance] and John Moyer [Disturbed, Adrenaline Mob], drummers Simon Wright [AC/DC], Scott Mercado [Candlebox] and Brian Tichy [Billy Idol, Ozzy Osbourne], guitarists Kelly Gray [Queensryche] and Scott Moughton [Geoff Tate], keyboardist Randy Gane [Myth] and vocalist Mark Daly [The Voodoos]. Tate makes one point exceptionally clear - Operation: Mindcrime isn't a band, it is a musical project of like-minded people uniting to achieve a common goal. While the songwriting rests predominantly on the shoulders of Tate, Gray and Gane, it's up to every contributor to add their influence and help color the landscape.

"The songs on these records tell a story, and each song is a scene or chapter - every scene is different. The words tell the story, the musical bed, the chord progressions and melodies, they set the pace. That's how I envisioned this album in total, very theatrical and definitely cinematic.

"How do we describe passion?" Tate asks in conclusion, cautiously answering his own question: "Music is a personal journey, and all you can do is write what moves you. That's what passion is - it's so difficult, yet it's such an important human emotion. There are moments on this record that really impact me, the questions raised and the music those questions are set to... I don't know if it will have that same effect on everyone else, but that's where my passion and their passion meet. I do this because I love doing it. I love touring and I love playing live, performing with like-minded people in front of like-minded audiences, and being there in the moment together when all of our passions collide."

And if, in the process, Geoff Tate can tell a story that turns people on end and keeps them talking long after the music has stopped playing? That's not just icing on the cake, that's what it's all about...
That is Operation: Mindcrime.

GEOFF TATE • Vocals, Keyboards, Saxophone
KELLY GRAY • Guitars, Vocals
SCOTT MOUGHTON • Guitars, Vocals
RANDY GANE • Keyboards
SCOTT MERCADO • Drums, Dulcimer

Wednesday 12 August 2015

Uncle G_Tales from Space City Comic Con 2015_Chapter 3_The Trade

Classic Rock Radio (Dot CO Dot UK)
12 Aug 2015
Space City Comic Con 2015
Chapter Three: The Trade

 Star Trek:Voyager 20th Year Anniversary
Space City Comic Con 2015 Reunion Banner
So I walk up to actor Garrett Wang's table, looking to do a trade. Garrett is best known at least to this convention, for his role as Ensign Harry Kim. A popular character that lasted all seven seasons, on the third spin-off from the original 1960's Star Trek television program. Fan favorite; Star Trek Voyager. First run episodes ran from 1995 to 2001. Closer to what I personally think the original Star Trek show was about; exploring the unknown, character development, and having scenes of good lookin' women in heavenly attire. The science fiction series in total, filmed one hundred and seventy episodes. I have many favorites. Most of which center around Jeri Ryan and her 7 Of 9 character (wink wink). Excellent storytellin' throughout it's entire run. State of the art effects used back in the day (14 years ago). Bravo to all the series employed, behind the scenes and in front of the camera. Now, back to Garrett.

The day before this, I had an opportunity to ask Mr. Wang a question for a story idea I thought of. Had to do with Voyager's Holodeck, and using its technology, being able to recreate one musical event of the past. For yours truly I used Woodstock as an example. Main reason being because I was still in my single digits when that took place. If older I'm sure I would have at least tried to attend. Using the fictional spacecraft's technology, I could do that. For those who read my story, Garrett's answer was he'd use the Holodeck so he could attend an Elvis Presley concert. In my mind, a super cool answer. In part because outside the NGR Center, in which we were, was the Houston Astrodome. Still standing, and in need of a little renovation. I'm being sarcastic here. The place looks like a shit-hole, as compared to its glory days. Has been voted by city residents to be torn down. Yet, there it is. Historical in a sense that grand events from the past taken place there, including Elvis playing at the annual Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo. The last time was back in 1974. Played two shows, for a combined attendance of; 88,119. During one performance Elvis commented about the large size of the audience saying it was the largest crowd he'd ever played for. Like they say, things are bigger in Texas.

So forty-one years ago across the hot parking lot from the building Garrett and I were in, was where the legendary Elvis Presley and his band played.

Walking up to Garrett, I thanked him for being cool the day before and answering my question. Next came the setup for a proposed trade I wanted to do with him. I said (paraphrasing) I will trade you your autograph on a 3x5 card that I will supply, costing you nothing, and in return I will give you this CD, and I hand it to him. Now remember everything I said up to this point. Here's the CD I made a copy of only a few hours beforehand; Elvis Presley - Event Number Eight: Houston, Texas, U.S.A. March 3, 1974.

Now for those who want to Google and buy this CD themselves, it's really not for sale. At least not legally. This is what is typically referred to in the trading circles as a, bootleg. A ton of Elvis's shows was recorded back in the day. Many of them soundboards. Which is what 'Event Number Eight' is. Sounds better then if at the actual event.

Anyone who attended a concert at the Astrodome in person, in which I did more than once, knows the sound was borderline horrible. Plain and simple, the acoustics sucked. Makes sense the soundboard recording is better sounding. Listening to this treasured recording would be a real trip for those who I bump into every now and then who attended either one of the performances. I stay about thirty-five minutes away from the Astrodome. Many of those in attendance at either one of the two shows that faithful day is still alive. I'll run into folks every blue moon who once they find out that I write for a classic rock station, want to tell me every detail of their being there. Talked about like it was the historical event that it was. Entertaining recollections indeed. All the world loved Elvis, especially Houston Texas.

So Garrett has the home-made CD-R in his hand. He starts reading aloud what took me almost an hour to print. One word explanation; arthritis. But it's cool. Something I wanted to do. Got the idea while having morning coffee going over the day before events. A light bulb went off over my head when I was reading Garretts answer to my holodeck question.

For like a year, a decade ago, I got into a serious Elvis Presley kick. Started buying his CDs. Since a kid, I have been into trading. Too poor to buy everything. Pertaining to music, not regular products. I always loved broadcasted concerts, and pretty early on would stay up late at night and record them over the radio. And then I make copies and trade. Others did the same thing with musicians / bands they liked. Then I discovered bootlegs. As a collector of music and having thousands of CDs, some of these rare recordings are too good to pass up. I found a serious Elvis collector who also liked Prog-Rock, so off to the races we went. I remember one he wanted was Yes @ Roosevelt Stadium, back in the 1970's. A concert I was at as a matter of fact. Broadcast by what was at the time, New York City's top rock station; WNEW FM. And that Ladies and Gentlemen is how I got a very special collector's CD of Elvis at the Astrodome in 1974. Entire show, afternoon performance. Broke attendance records only to that night, break another attendance record. That's impressive!

So Garrett is reading aloud the cover I made of the CD. Has a hint of excitement in his voice as he's going down the tracks, reciting one great song title after another; All Shook Up, Love Me Tender, Hound Dog, Fever, Suspicious Minds, and then the closing number, Can't Help Falling In Love. Garrett looks at me and says; "I'll trade!". Took my 3x5 card and signed it. We both smiled. I thanked him, and left so he could get back to business and sign autographs for money.

Track Listing n' Actual Photo
So how cool is that? Thanks to Garrett Wang for playing along TWICE with me. I hope very much he enjoyed listening to the live Elvis recording. It was more a gift, than it was a way of obtaining his autograph. Afterwards I thought it would make for a cool story to tell. That's what I do right? I explained to a Space City Comic Con volunteer while just hanging out, that I was in all actuality, a storyteller. Not that I wasn't able to be a stick to the facts reporter. I learned journalism 101 back in high school. Writing to me, is more fun this way. 

While at the Con, and observing that which was going on around me, I happened to watch Garrett with his fans. The dude can't be any cooler. Doing a simple Google search will show one picture after another of Garrett behaving wonderfully with whoever approached him. I would recommend if the opportunity ever arose of being able to attend a convention and Garrett was there, to go up and say hello. Just bring your wallet. Leave the trading up to the professionals.

Garrett Wang Star Trek: Voyager Promo Photo + Garrett Wang autographed 3x5 card 
Gary Brown
American Correspondent for
Twitter @GBrown0816

Saturday 8 August 2015

Uncle G's FUN Movie Reviews_The Lazarus Effect

Classic Rock Radio (Dot CO Dot UK)
06 Aug 2015

Uncle G's FUN Movie Reviews
Spotlight: The Lazarus Effect (2015 Blumhouse Productions)

Available at the local Redbox Rental Machine, and kind of new at the DVD / Blu-ray stores is a horror film that came out this past February called; The Lazarus Effect. The trailer caught my eye. Rented the Blu-ray version this past Monday night. Dinner and a Movie Nite, with the main course being Mexican take out from a place in Katy called, Taco Cabana. I luv their fresh tortillas.

The Lazarus Effect has a small cast that stars Olivia Wilde. She's another reason why the film made my radar. Olivia played a character (Remy "Thirteen" Hadley) on TV's House, M.D. I caught the entire series on DVD. Took me a few years. Research credits Olivia with being in 81 episodes, out of the 176 that made up the entire television program. Hard to believe I watched eighty one of anything, yet along a whole series that produced 176 hour long episodes in total. I credit that to good writing, as well as good acting. It was an entertaining program. And Olivia I found by watching all her performances on the television drama, to be a very good actress. Plus she's very pleasing on the eyes. Not sure if I would have rented The Lazarus Effect if Olivia wasn't in it. She's certainly a draw.

Uncle G talks … The Lazarus Effect

What we have is a small group of eggheads in their 20's / early 30's from some fancy university, that when trying to develop a serum to prolong death so Doctors can have more time to save lives, instead comes up with a drug that not only brings back the recently departed, but makes whatever they shoot their new drug in, a seriously scary version of their former self.

Filmed well containing both suspense, and downright scary moments. The writing is good. Includes a talented cast who pull off a wonderful job acting out a medical, what if. Shit hits the fan after Rocky the dog is brought back to life. Wait till a human gets the serum. All HELL breaks out then.

Question: Is The Lazarus Effect worth the two buck I paid renting it for one night? That answer would be; Yes. In 2015, an above average horror movie. Classic story of prolonging death, with a twist. Overall I enjoyed the film, plus I found the score by Sarah Schachner to fit the film perfectly.

Compared to most other films in the same genre, I imagine that if I was sixteen and stumbled onto this movie one late night on a Saturday, that I'd totally get off on it. Older folks might find parts of the storyline, a tad predicable. Still, it's a fun watch.

No bonus features pertaining to the film on the blu-ray. Would have liked to have seen a 'making of' featurette. Something cool when buying the retail version I imagine. Must come with more bells and whistles than just the rental.

                        Official Movie Trailer - The Lazarus Effect 

Gary "Uncle G" Brown
American Correspondent for
Twitter @GBrown0816

Tuesday 4 August 2015

Concert Review_Tim Russ at Space City Comic Con 2015

Classic Rock Radio (Dot CO Dot UK)
03 Aug 2015

   A Concert Review

Tim Russ @ Space City Comic Con 2015 Houston Texas USA
Date: 25 July 2015

So I arrive on Saturday at the NRG Center building, which is next door to the old Astrodome, and where this years Space City Comic Con is being held. This is now my third day in a row driving here. Am getting to know the parking lot attendants pretty good. 
I feel sorry for those making a buck outdoors. The end of July in Houston, Texas and the heat can literally kill you. In the 90's and it's only early in the afternoon. The heat index pushing it to the 100's. Events and such are hot inside too, just not enough to burn you.   

Inside there are people all over. Countless of CosPlayers walking around, and several of the ticket buying public, dressed in some kind of cool costume having to do with the convention. Seemed to be more in attendance than the day before. Still early afternoon. The day for me covering Space City Comic Con has begun. I go kill a twenty dollar bill getting a chicken sandwich, and down a cold Samuel Adams Boston Lager.

Tim's performance is said to be started around 6:45pm that evening. In the meantime, I hang out, talking and having fun at the various booths and attractions. Getting around show time, I go upstairs and get in line. Sometime right before doing this, I took a break. Had another cold Samuel Adams Boston Lager. Now waiting in line patiently, and guess what? All that beer needed to make it's way out of me. Nature calls, I go do my thing, and on the walk back pass Space City Comic Con guy Devin Pike, in which we exchange pleasantries. The closer I get, I start to hear familiar music. Oh shit! Tim's show has begun. I enter the hall, and am lucky to get a seat pretty up close. It's the first song, and Tim is entertaining the crowd with a song off an album he released in 2012 called; Tim Russ - Then & Now. The opening number; Stand Up & Be Strong.

Now just so we're all on the same page, and I hate to mislead anyone, what I'm witnessing here is Tim doing live vocals, and playing a plugged in borrowed electric guitar. All other accompanying music is previously recorded. Canned music you say? I first heard Keith Emerson and Greg Lake do this on a tour they did a few years back. No drummer, so what you heard was a drum track the two musicians played along with. You'd think at first maybe this wouldn't be cool somehow, but it was. We're not talking pop Goddess Britney Spears and accusations of her lip-syncing. Tim's singing was spot on, one song after the next. And his guitar skills are phenomenal. FYI, Mr. Russ was a professional musician before he was a paid actor. Been playing since a kid, and believe it or not, Tim is approaching age sixty soon. He's for sure a professional musician who mastered the ax, and appears to play now with admirable ease. I got the same impression when watching Roye Albrighton of Nektar play when I saw the band in Fort Worth Texas, back in 2013. I watched Michael Bruce of the original Alice Cooper band pick up an electric guitar that wasn't his, and after not playing for months, make the damn thing smoke. Shows what hard work and dedication can do. Seriously, you're either a guitar player, or you're not. It's a skill, that to me improves with age. I already knew Tim played well. Getting an opportunity to see the man play in a live setting was the main reason for me wanting to cover the convention to start with. Glad I pursued it. That, and the whole Space City Comic Con was a whole lotta fun.

Tim ROCKED! He did about a forty-five minute set. Mostly upbeat old school style RnB music. Covers and original music. Perfect for a performance such as this. Not really your normal concert crowd. No smell of herb in the air. This was one event of many at Space City Comic Con. A three day extravaganza for people of all ages. The show was free to all who attended. This means little seven year old kids were standing up dancing, while us older folks was grooving in our seats. It appeared a good time was had by all. Went by super quickly, which means I must have really enjoyed the hell out of it.

Tim Russ @ Space City Comic Con (25 July 2015) Setlist

01. Stand Up & Be Strong
02. Rainbow's Cadillac
03. Walkin' The Dog
04. No Place For Hero
05. I Love My Baby
06. Still Raining
07. Lifeline
08. Unchain My Heart

Tim Russ - Plugs

Tim's music can be found in various places including iTunes, and CD Baby Dot Com. That's where I got Tim's latest CD called Lifeline, in which I reviewed favorably this past June.

Star Trek: Renegades - One of Tim's latest projects. A proposed television pilot. Received well at a premier showing just this past weekend. Mr. Russ reprises his role as Tovok, in a story that takes place a decade after Voyager's return home from the Delta Quadrant. The cast includes many Star Trek alumni, and cool new additions to the Star Trek Universe like televisions Xena's, Adrienne Wilkinson. I talked to her at Space City Comic Con briefly. Super nice young lady. Kick-ass actress. 

So if ever a Star Trek fan of any series, or if just getting into the monumental first show starring William Shatner, or any of it's offshoots, then please take a few seconds and please support the purposed show. In my opinion, 'Star Trek Renegades' would make a welcome addition to the official franchise. Besides, it's been too long (ten years) since 'Star Trek Enterprise' ended its run. The world needs a new Star Trek television program. Is only logical. So lets all wish Star Trek Renegades luck. BTW...The pilot is directed by Tim Russ. As is this music video for the program in which I'm all too happy to include in this report. The song, Captain Of My Soul, by Automatik Eden. 

Official Website for Star Trek: Renegades (make sure...check it out)

Tim Russ Official Website

ONE MORE THING - A Fun Tim Russ Fact - Yes he was in Sharknado 3: Oh Hell No! (2015 The Asylum) playing the part of General Gottleib. 

Gary Brown
American Correspondent for
Twitter @GBrown0816

Monday 3 August 2015

Geoff Tate's New Band Release Album
 "Operation Mindcrime" Release "The Key On September 18th

Former Queensrÿche frontman Geoff Tate will release the debut album by his new progressive metal outfit  OPERATION: MINDCRIME on 18th September via Frontiers Records.

Entitled ’The Key’, the album is the first part of a trilogy from the iconic metal vocalist and initiates that very question within a web of international politics, the world economy and social ethos. Operation: Mindcrime is a creative platform for Tate that continues in the spirit of the classic Queensrÿche album of the same name, spawning concepts as grand as his music and intertwining the intensity of his past with the progressive, provocative mindset that has made him one of rock music's most resolute forces. His 13 album tenure with his former band was marked by exploration, intrigue, bold risks and gratifying results; ’The Key’ continues in that fine tradition.
Joining Tate are a hard-hitting cast of familiar faces and new collaborators: bass players Dave Ellefson [Megadeth, Metal Allegiance] and John Moyer [Disturbed, Adrenaline Mob], drummers Simon Wright [AC/DC], Scott Mercado [Candlebox] and Brian Tichy [Billy Idol, Ozzy Osbourne], guitarists Kelly Gray [Queensrÿche] and Scott Moughton [Geoff Tate], keyboardist Randy Gane [Myth] and vocalist Mark Daly [The Voodoos].