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BLUE OYSTER CULT FOUNDING MEMBER ALBERT BOUCHARD BRINGS ‘IMAGINOS’ TO THE NARROWS

Albert Bouchard

Thanks to comedian Will Ferrell, former Blue Öyster Cult drummer Albert Bouchard’s liberal use of cowbell on the band’s FM staple, “(Don’t Fear) the Reaper” might be what goes down in the music history books as his defining rock and roll moment. But Blue Öyster Cult is much more than the butt of a joke or a couple of tunes in the classic rock canon, and Bouchard’s imagination stretches well beyond the percussive stroke of genius that propels one of their biggest hits.*  

Hardcore BÖC enthusiasts have long been aware of a collection of scripts and poems written by collaborator/manager Sandy Pearlman over fifty years back, entitled The Soft Doctrines of Imaginos—a secret history of the two World Wars. Think of it like a battling good-and-evil story that merges historical facts and far-flung fiction with gothic imagery, horror, elements of fairytale, and Lovecraft-inspired sci-fi. 

For those that don’t know, Pearlman wrote or co-wrote many BÖC songs and often served as a co-producer on their albums. Blue Öyster Cult had utilized fragments of Pearlman’s Imaginos storyline for songs scattered throughout their first four albums, but they lacked context, so those tracks carried an added layer of mystery that intrigued listeners looking to decipher meaning from the band’s music. The song “Blue Öyster Cult”—which could be considered their defining moment—appears on the Imaginos album, which finally surfaced in 1988.

But by the time of its release, Imaginos had gone through multiple unplanned revisions. Originally begun seven years prior in 1981, the recording and release of the ambitious concept album were fraught with complications.

Blue Oyster’s Cult’s Imaginos was released in 1988 after being in limbo for years.

In the first place, it was Bouchard who’d championed the idea of developing a rock opera around Pearlman’s storyline, but he’d been officially fired from BÖC in 1981. He then planned to release the project under his name, having inked a solo deal with CBS/Columbia. But by 1984 it was clear that the label was no longer interested. Given that they owned the existing recordings, Imaginos was then reconfigured—without Bouchard’s input—as a Blue Öyster Cult album, which eventually saw the light of day four years later. In the interim, BÖC had disbanded and reformed. By that time, Aldo Nova, Joe Satriani, and The Doors’ Robby Kreiger had all played on the album and Bouchard’s lead vocals had been completely removed.

Even after all the revisions, and despite a fair amount of critical accolades, Imaginos didn’t sell particularly well. But BÖC fans knew that it had been planned as a trilogy and, in the nearly thirty-five years since its release, they’ve continually clamored for the rest of the story to materialize.

Albert Bouchard’s Re-Imaginos was released in November 2020.

Now Bouchard is seeing it all the way through. He recorded a mostly acoustic version of Imaginos, entitled Re-Imaginos, and released it in November 2020. Then, in October of 2021, Imaginos II: Bombs Over Germany was released, featuring Buck Dharma and Eric Bloom from BÖC. Bouchard has since begun writing the third installment—the working title is Imaginos III: Mutant Reformation—which he hopes to release in 2023. And on Saturday, January 15 at the Narrows Center for the Arts in Fall River, he will perform Imaginos for the first time, in its entirety, along with selections from Imaginos II and some BÖC favorites. Paul Bielatowicz, of Carl Palmer’s ELP Legacy will open the show with an abridged version of his Nosferatu score. Purchase tickets HERE.

To say it’s been a journey doesn’t really capture the winding path that Bouchard has walked to get to this point. He recently spoke with us at length from his Manhattan apartment about the process of coming full circle with this creative labor of love. 

Limelight Magazine: What about this story holds so much fascination for you?

Albert Bouchard: It’s just a classic story. Maybe it’s a bit like Homer’s The Odyssey. It focuses on this person who travels through space and time and certain things happen to him and other things he makes happen and… all that kind of stuff. The original Imaginos is his origin story. And then the second episode, this last one I just put together, is where all the bad stuff starts happening. It’s the dark Empire Strikes Back part of the story.

LM: Was Star Wars inspiring?

AB: I first started visualizing the story as a whole when I was watching Star Wars, so, yes, definitely. I was also reading a book by Joseph Campbell… something about the gods and how these various myths just seem to continue playing out and how, as stories and reflections of our own experiences, they just never get old. Rather, they just keep getting retold but dressed in slightly different clothing. When I talked to Sandy about it back then he said that’s exactly right, that Campbell truly understood the value of myths in our culture. So, at that point, we started thinking beyond just this song and that song and began looking at the larger picture and how to deliver this story, musically, as a bigger piece.

LM: Was expanding it into a trilogy something that you’d discussed with Sandy from the beginning, further elaborating on his original writings, or was that an idea that came later?

AB: From what I remember, that aspect of it didn’t come together until towards the end of the time I was with BÖC. But Sandy’s original writing was epic, so it was never a story that could be easily condensed.

I’ve always found with doing this stuff that you can’t hold anything that sacred. You might find a better twist of a word or phrase that improves a song, so it’s best not to get too attached to doing something a certain way. Because when you’re talking about songs, you’re talking about rhythm and melody at the same time as you’re talking about the actual words, and you have to balance all of that out. Sandy’s writing didn’t always loan itself well to song structures because he was wordy. Wordy songs can get tricky. Originally, “The Siege and Investiture of Baron von Frankenstein’s Castle at Weisseria” was very long with lots of additional parts. Some of it was very good, but some of it was… just embarrassing. So I kept working on it. I thought the first version I did was pretty good—had a lot of nice little guitar licks in there— but Sandy said he didn’t like it. So then I redid it, and this time it was really awful. But at least I’d gotten the words to better sync with the music. That made it clearer to Sandy said we should break it into two songs, so it became “Siege and Investiture…” and “The Girl That Love Made Blind,” so that rather than forcing it to work as a suite, one was more of a ballad and the other was a heavier, angrier piece. Just scarier. More menacing.

LM: Do you think Sandy Pearlman would be happy with what you’ve done with Re-Imaginos, Bombs Over Germany, and the third installation that you’re working on? Is this true to the form he thought the story would take?

AB: I think he’d be okay with it, yes. I remember somebody in the press saying, when the original Imaginos came out, “Sandy Perlman is doing all the interviews… who wants to interview the manager?,” not grasping his contribution to the band. But he was our fifth Beatle, you know? Especially in the beginning, he was there all the time. And always with ideas and suggestions for how to make things better. And, of course, this story was his original idea.

When I was working on the first record back in the early 80s, Sandy and I were very excited. We felt as if we were doing something that hadn’t been done in rock music. The music itself seemed almost indescribable, and we had the gut feeling that it was quite good. I had a lot of great players on it who could do just about anything I asked them. So it was very intoxicating. And at the time we thought, okay, so we’ll put this out, and if it hits, I have my solo contract, we can keep going. So, we began writing songs for part two right away, but there were schedules to work around. Blue Öyster Cult and Foghat were using the same studio, so I had to take time off recording the original tracks because I couldn’t get in there and everyone had other projects they were contributing to… we couldn’t just do it all at once. During those breaks, Sandy and I worked on writing for part two and conceptualizing part three, but no songs got written for the third part at that time.

LM: Would you credit Sandy with setting the sort of ominous, mysterious tone that runs through so much of BÖC’s output?

AB: Yes, I would. He didn’t like to fill in all the blanks. So there would always be plenty of space for you to imagine what we’re talking about. He loved that. He never wanted to be nailed down to any specific meaning on any specific thing. He just enjoyed having a sort of poetic attitude about what BÖC was doing, what each song meant, what each song might suggest. He was trying to create something different. I’ll say this—we were heavily influenced by the original Alice Cooper band. But not so much their theatricality, even though that was great, but more their musical style. Initially, it was very hard to pin down what they were. I think people kind of bemoan Alice Cooper’s show now because he’s kind of taken on that heavy metal mantle with the four guitar attack, but the original Alice Cooper would do some very unusual stuff. It was as if they felt like they could do anything and get away with it, and we admired that.

LM: So, What made this the right time to get this done?

AB: This has always been something I wanted to do, but in 1987, I began working in a public school. I would play on weekends or sometimes tour with a band during vacations, but I decided to put my time into that career. I’d planned to retire at 70 to get in a good ten years of rock and roll. I’m going to be 75 in a couple of months, so time is limited for me to do the things that I want to do. And this is one of the main things that I wanted to do. In 2015, Sandy had an accident and he was in a coma. The music writer Robert Duncan was checking in on him at the hospital and sending out email updates about his prognosis. I wrote back to Robert and said I want to go and see him because I had all these things I wanted to talk to him about, one of them being about finishing this trilogy idea. We had songs that we’d started to write and never finished. I wanted his input. Fans were saying I should do my own version, asking if it’ll ever get finished, and I would always say I’d have to have Sandy Pearlman help me because it was his idea. I couldn’t just go and do it without him. I wouldn’t even think of it, really, just out of respect for my friend. He eventually came out of the coma, I went to the hospital and told him that he had to get better because I wanted to complete the trilogy. And then, in the end, he didn’t make it. He never really regained his faculties. He was conscious and could hear what people were saying. He could communicate by moving his left index finger or that kind of thing, but he really couldn’t have a conversation. He could just acknowledge if he understood or not.

LM: It must have been challenging to deal with what happened to the original Imaginos album since this was your solo project with Sandy, and then it was released as a BÖC album that you’d lost creative control over. There are a lot of stories about various betrayals on the parts of both the band and the label. How did you feel at the time?

AB: Well, you know, emotions can cloud our perception of things. So when the record finally came out, I was very unhappy. I felt like the mixes weren’t good. What I’d heard when we cut the basic tracks was so much better, but it was six years since I’d cut those tracks and it’d been worked on, on and off, for those six years. Everything was on tape at that time, and every time you play the tape, it deteriorates a little. So there was that problem. They replaced my vocals, which I wasn’t thrilled about, but I have to admit that the vocals were largely an improvement. Donald Roeser’s—you know, Buck Dharma—versions of my vocals were excellent. Much better than I could do. For the most part. Eric Bloom did a great job… at least as good as I did, if not better. And Joseph Cerisano, thank God they used some of his stuff. I heard this rumor that Columbia didn’t like the vocals and that’s why they weren’t behind the record. But you’ve got to figure it was Al Teller and Donnie Lenner running the show at that point… anybody who knows what was going on at Columbia in those days knows those guys didn’t have a clue. Al Teller was an accountant and Donnie was his buddy. So, what does that tell you? Clive Davis was gone. Bruce Lundvall was gone. All the people with ears for music were all gone. And the people that’d signed me to the solo deal were all gone. All we had were these accountant guys, and they had no interest in music. Then they brought in Tommy Mottola to keep it from becoming a total disaster. At the time, I was extremely angry with the record company, that they wouldn’t put it out as my record, that they would only put it out as Blue Öyster Cult, you know, and Blue Öyster Cult… they did the best they could do under the circumstances.

LM: Have you been able to reconcile all that upset?

AB: For the most part, yes. What was even more mind-blowing was that the label led me to believe that, since my solo project had been folded into a Blue Öyster Cult project, I would be back in the band when they toured Greece in 1987, just before Imaginos came out. And then the band informed me that they had never agreed to that and that they’d hired other people for those gigs. They said they had no idea the label had made any such promises to me. I was really angry about that, too, but they didn’t know anything about the conversation I’d had, so I couldn’t blame them.

That was the same year I’d gotten the job at the school, but working in a school hadn’t changed me yet. Becoming a teacher is a very solitary kind of thing, in a way, because it’s just you and the kids in your classroom, and nobody’s going to help you. You have to just sort it out on your own. On the other hand, working in education, you’re always examining your practice. And you invite other teachers to give you feedback. The amount of meetings that get scheduled is extremely annoying, but over time, it changed me for the better. I became able to separate my ego and look at the process rather than the product. I think that has made me a better person—much more responsible and much more patient. As a teacher, you have to be extremely patient, and you have to be able to present things in more than one way. And believe it or not, this has helped me deal with what happened back then.

LM: There was some debt to the label, too, right?

AB: Yes. I was three-quarters of a million dollars in debt to Columbia, which is why the band thought by not letting me back in they were doing me a favor… I wouldn’t have gotten any royalties for years, you know? We’ve talked about it since then. BÖC basically absorbed my debt for the solo recordings. I guess you could say that ‘Reaper’ started paying for Imaginos. So how can I complain about that?

LM: When you think about performing this work, is it daunting? Who’s in the band you’ve assembled?

AB: Not daunting to me, no, I could go into a club tomorrow and play the whole thing! I’ve set up a group of six, including myself. I’m going to be playing mostly acoustic guitar… or maybe an electric guitar that sounds like an acoustic. It’s a hybrid of the two guitars that are the backbone of all the Imaginos songs. It was just a concept in my mind, but I explained it to my luthier and he said he could do it, so we’ll see. Supposedly, I’m getting it this week. But the main, lead guitar player is going to be Mike Fornatele, who I met at a party hosted by May Pang, John Lennon’s ex-girlfriend. She has three parties every year and he’s always there, so that’s how we originally met. Then I did a gig with him and my brother backing up Mark Lindsay from Paul Revere and the Raiders. My brother, Joe Bouchard, is playing keyboards, trumpet, and flute. Cyzon Griffin will be on drums, this amazingly talented 26-year-old guy that I met when he was busking in Central Park. He reminds me of Larnell Lewis from Snarky Puppy. David Hirschberg, who’s on all the new Imaginos material, will play bass. And then we have Dana McCoy, who played ukulele and keyboards and sang on some of these songs, and hopefully, she’ll be joining us. We’ve been rehearsing!

The Narrows Center is located at 16 Anawan Street in Fall River. Tickets are $38 advance and $43 day of show. 

*Actually, the cowbell was producer David Lucas’s idea, but it was Bouchard who decided to use a timpani mallet to beat the bell, thus producing an unusual tone on the final track.   

Don Felder to perform Eagles classics in Fall River, MA

Don Felder, who was a former lead guitarist of the Eagles for 27 years, will make his debut appearance at the Narrows Center in Fall River, MA, on March 1, 2022. He will perform the hits he co-penned or performed with the Eagles, such as “Hotel California,” “Victim of Love,” “One Of These Nights,” “Heartache Tonight,” and many more with a full band. This show is expected to sellout quickly. Purchase tickets HERE.

Felder is a legendary singer-songwriter, a 1998 inductee into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame with the Eagles, a New York Times best-selling author, and a true American rock and roll guitar hero. Felder spent 27 years with the Eagles, recording the classic albums One Of These Nights, Hotel California, and The Long Run, and the live albums Eagles Live and Hell Freezes Over. With the Eagles, the band owns the fine distinction of recording the top-selling album of all time – Their Greatest Hits (1971-1975– which has sold over 38 million copies (and counting). He also co-wrote some of the band’s biggest hits, including “Hotel California” and “Victim of Love,” and became a New York Times best selling author with his autobiography Heaven and Hell: My Life in The Eagles (1974-2001). His iconic double necked guitar was featured in the Metropolitan Museum of Art’s Play It Loud exhibit in May 2019 – the first major exhibition in an art museum dedicated entirely to the iconic instruments of rock and roll – and is currently on display in the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame’s exhibit of the same name. He was inaugurated into the Musicians Hall of Fame and Museum in Nashville in 2016, and the Florida Artists Hall of Fame in 2017. His most recent solo album American Rock ‘N’ Roll (BMG) was released on April 5, 2019.

The Narrow Center for the Arts is located at 16 Anawan Street in Fall River, MA. Tickets can be purchased online by clicking HERE or calling the box office at324-1926.

JOHN 5 AND THE CREATURES TO PERFORM IN NEW BEDFORD, MASS.

John 5 (Photo by Jeff Graham)

In celebration of John 5 and The Creatures new album, Sinner, the band will be going on tour with a stop at the Vault Music Hall in New Bedford, MA, on May 12, 2022. The tour will feature support from The Haxans (featuring Ashley Costello of New Years Day and Piggy D of Rob Zombie). This concert is presented by JKB Management and Booking. Tickets can be purchased HERE.

For almost 30 years, John 5 has been one of the most in-demand guitar players on the planet. As well as a guitarist for hire, John 5 has shared the stage as axe-man for Rob Zombie, Marilyn Manson and Rob Halford. He has also worked with an impressive array of names, from all walks of music, including KD Lang, Rod Stewart, Dave Lee Roth, Alice Cooper, Tina Guo and Steven Adler.

To call John 5 a shredder does not do him justice. There’s little he can’t put his hand to.

John 5 was born John William Lowery, on July 31st 1970, in Gross Pointe Michigan. His love of guitar began at age seven, when he began watching the Hee Haw series with his father. “I watched the guitar playing and knew that was what I wanted to do. My friends wanted to be astronauts and such but all I wanted to do was play and play and play”. Other notable influences included KISS and Jimi Hendrix.

John 5’s solo career turned out not to be a flash in the pan, and he has now released ten studio albums, two live albums and a remix album. He has worked with several special guests on those albums, including Albert Lee who called John 5 “one of the nicest guys I’ve worked with,” Steve Vai who called John “underrated,” Joe Satriani, Jim Root, Eric Johnson and many more. As well as his solo albums John 5 teamed up with the vocal talents of Joe Grah (formerly of Texas band Jibe) to form “radio rock project” Loser. Their first single, “Disposable Sunshine” was featured on the Fantastic Four soundtrack. 

In 2006, John 5 was invited to join Rob Zombie for a short Ozzfest tour. Despite being told “not to get too comfortable,” the pairing brought a resurgence in Zombie, who at the point was turning his hand to directing movies and taking a break from music, they began work on 2006’s ‘Educated Horses’. As a consequence, John 5 had to make the decision to leave his fledgling band Loser. “Being the founding member of Loser, my decision to leave was not an easy one.”

In 2015, following a series of web shows to celebrate the release of his solo album Careful With That Axe, John 5 decided to take his solo set on tour, and formed The Creatures band to support his live shows. Initially joined by long-term friend Rodger Carter on drums, the band continues touring to this day, and now work as a unit on John 5’s solo albums. The current line-up includes John 5, Ian Ross on bass and drummer Logan Miles Nix.

The Vault Music Hall is located at located at 791 Purchase Street in New Bedford, Mass. The venue is set within a former bank building featuring original vault doors and a truly historic feel. 

MUST BE 21 or OLDER with Valid ID for Entry.

THE ENGLISH BEAT TO PERFORM IN FALL RIVER, MASS.

The English Beat will perform at the Narrows Center in Fall River, MA, on Friday, April 1, 2022, at 8 p.m. The band continues to dish out two-tone, ska, reggae and new wave, while mixing social commentary with danceability. Purchase tickets HERE.

Founded in 1979 by Dave Wakeling, The English Beat is a band with an energetic mix of musical styles and a sound like no other. Their infectious sound, which crosses fluidly between ska, soul, reggae, punk and rock, has allowed them to endure for four decades and appeal to fans of all ages all over the world.

Throughout their career, The English Beat has scored multi-platinum record sales, sold out shows and, most importantly, universal fan approval because they kept “The Beat” alive.

Along with their contemporaries The Specials, The Selecter, and Madness, the band became an overnight sensation and one of the most popular and influential bands of the British Two-Tone Ska movement. By Christmas 1979, The Beat were riding high in the UK charts with their first single, a smoking remake of the classic Smokey Robinson tune “Tears of a Clown.” Over the course of the next five years, The Beat toured relentlessly and released three studio albums: I Just Can’t Stop ItWh’appen, and Special Beat Service.

Following a lengthy hiatus, Wakeling continued to keep the music alive and strong, touring the world as The English Beat.

Today, The English Beat is still lead by Wakeling with an amazing all-star ska backing band that will play all their signature tunes, such as Mirror in the Bathroom,” “Save It For Later,” “Can’t Get Used to Losing You,” “Hands Off, She’s Mine,” and “I Confess,” as well as some covers, songs from General Public, and their 2016 studio album Here We Go Love, the band’s first new release since 1982’s Special Beat Service.

The Narrows Center is located at 16 Anawan Street. Tickets can be purchased online at narrowscenter.org or by calling the box office at 508-324-1926. For those wanting to purchase tickets in person, box office hours are Wednesday through Saturday, 12 noon to 5 p.m.

The English Beat (PHOTO BY EUGENIO IGLESIAS)

THE ZOMBIES TO PERFORM IN FALL RIVER, MASS.

Iconic British psychedelic pop legends The Zombies are back to celebrate their long-awaited Induction into The Rock & Roll Hall of Fame, with a new album in the works and their 2022 “Life Is A Merry-Go-Round” Tour, which will make a stop at the Narrows Center in Fall River, MA, on May 1, 2022. Purchase tickets HERE.

After receiving their fourth nomination in 5 years, the support for The Zombies’ induction among the public and their peers was undeniable – the band placed 4th in the public online poll with over 330,000 votes, while even fellow nominee John Prine called for their induction before his own in a Billboard interview.  On March 29, 2019, at Brooklyn’s Barclays Center, The Zombies joined Stevie Nicks, Radiohead, The Cure, Def Leppard, Janet Jackson, and Roxy Music as the 2019 Class of The Rock & Roll Hall of Fame.  Fittingly, the Induction Ceremony took place exactly 50 years to-the-day after The Zombies’ classic “Time of the Season” first hit #1 on the charts in America.

Never content to only look back, The Zombies spent the Pandemic touring-hiatus in the studio recording the follow-up to their 2015 Billboard-charting album, Still Got That Hunger. The title for their 2022 tour – “Life Is A Merry-Go-Round” – is a lyric from one of the new songs, but is also a fitting description of the dizzying effect the past 2 years have had on the world.  The band exclusively debuted several of the new songs in their only live concert of 2021, broadcast around the world in September from the legendary Abbey Road Studio 2 in London.  Led by founding members, vocalist Colin Blunstone and keyboardist Rod Argent, The Zombies’ 21st-Century line-up features Steve Rodford on drums, renowned session guitarist Tom Toomey, and the newest member, Søren Koch, who joined the band following the untimely passing of their beloved bassist Jim Rodford (formerly of ARGENT and The Kinks) in early 2018.

The band’s live performances, described by Rolling Stone as “absolutely triumphant”, take fans on a journey through time, from their early hits…their 1968 masterpiece Odessey & Oracle…post-Zombies solo favorites…right to today with brand-new material from their forthcoming album.

The second U.K. band following the Beatles to score a #1 hit in America, The Zombies infiltrated the airwaves with the sophisticated melodies, breathy vocals, choral back-up harmonies and jazzy keyboard riffs of their 1960’s hit singles “She’s Not There” and “Tell Her No.” Ironically, the group broke-up just prior to achieving their greatest success – the worldwide chart-topping single “Time of the Season,” from their swan-song album  Odessey & Oracle, ranked #100 in Rolling Stone’s ‘500 Greatest Albums of All Time.’  To this day, generations of new bands have cited The Zombies’ work as pop touchstones, and the band continues to be embraced by new generations of fans.

Following the break-up of the original band, lead vocalist Colin Blunstone went on to develop an acclaimed solo career (with hits including “Say You Don’t Mind,” “What Becomes of the Brokenhearted”, and “Old & Wise” with Alan Parsons Project) and keyboardist/songwriter Rod Argent rocked ‘70’s arenas with his eponymous band ARGENT (“Hold Your Head Up,” “God Gave Rock ‘n’ Roll To You”), but the legend of The Zombies continued to take on a life of its own.  By the start of the new Millennium, Blunstone and Argent were inspired to resurrect The Zombies.

The explosive release of Still Got That Hunger proved that Zombies fever is stronger than ever, with premieres at Rolling StoneMojoThe Wall Street Journal, The Guardian  Speakeasy, and Spin, alongside special broadcast performances, including Later…With Jools Holland, The Tonight Show with Jimmy Fallon, Conan, The Late Show With Stephen Colbert, CBS Saturday Morning and AOL Sessions. Moreover, it marked a historical moment on the Billboard charts, as The Zombies’ critically acclaimed album Odessey And Oracle re-entered the Billboard 100 forty-eight years later at the same time as Still Got That Hunger!  

The band’s 2019 Rock & Roll Hall of Fame Induction marked a major triumph in their 5-decade career, but you can be sure they will not rest on their laurels.  The Zombies story continues on….!

The Narrows Center for the Arts is located at 16 Anawan Street. Tickets to his show can be purchased online HERE or by calling the box office at 508-324-1926. For those wanting to purchase tickets in person, box office hours are Thursday through Saturday, 12 noon to 5 p.m.

The Zombies – Photography by ALEX LAKE insta @twoshortdays WWW.TWOSHORTDAYS.COM

Mark Cherone channels Pete Townshend in Who celebration band SlipKid with brother Gary

BY CHRISTOPHER TREACY

Plenty of adolescents have been inspired to pursue the guitar because of Pete Townhsend. But only a few professional guitarists actually end up playing Townshend’s role in a Who cover band, and even fewer are good at it.

Enter Mark Cherone.

As a member of Hurtsmile with his brother, Extreme’s Gary Cherone, he gets to satisfy his ongoing itch to play original material, which has remained his primary musical ambition since attending Berklee College of Music in the mid-80s. This leaves him wide open to enjoy the duo’s other project, SlipKid. Dubbed “A Celebration of The Who,” the brothers Cherone get to channel their heroes with an invigorating showcase of tunes that highlights The Who’s undeniable genius, power, and passion.

Slowly emerging from the pandemic, SlipKid is playing at The Vault Music Hall in New Bedford, MA, on Saturday, February 12, 2022. Purchase tickets HERE. Johnny Barnes and the Nightcrawlers open the show.

Mark Cherone recently took the time to speak with Limelight Magazine about how this project came to be and what it means to him and his brother.  

LM: Do you remember the first time you heard The Who?

MC: I do. I remember. You know, since childhood I’ve grown to love many artists like all of us do, but The Who? The Who made me want to play guitar and be in a band. I saw their movie, The Kids Are Alright, in the theater in the late 70s, I was 10 or 11. A friend of my brother took me. And there it was on the big screen! I just remember seeing Pete Townsend slide across the stage on his knees during “Won’t Get Fooled Again” at the end of the movie, and I just thought he was the coolest person on the planet. I’ve loved him ever since, his whole career, I love his solo albums. I’m just crazy for him, still, and I love The Who. So SlipKid is really a labor of love. I’ve never been in a cover band, only original bands, which, looking back, seems a little odd. I kind of wish I had played in cover bands… maybe it could’ve helped my guitar playing.

LM: So, what were you doing while your brother was having success with Nuno Bettencourt in Extreme?

MC: I was also in a band. Actually, I was in a couple of bands before Gary and I started Hurtsmile with Joe Pessia around 2007. In the time during Extreme’s huge success, I was in a band called Flesh. And Nuno helped us out, helped get our album out. Extreme took us on tour, which was a lot of fun. Then, in the late 90s, I was in a band called Super Zero, which was another great band and fun time. We got two albums out on our own. A Japanese company put out some of our music, so we went over to Japan. And after that, I did another band where I was singing. Since then, I started splitting time between SlipKid and Hurtsmile, since they started around the same time.

LM: How did SlipKid come about?

MC: My whole career, I just dove into the original music thing. Looking back, I don’t know if that was wise, but it’s what I did. Many years ago now, Gary and I talked about doing some kind of Who thing and it just seemed like a cool idea. We talked about doing Tommy, which SlipKid has performed. It kept coming up when we’d see each other. At one point he called and said “Hey, I’ve got a drummer here… come down and let’s run through a couple of songs.” And it just snowballed right away. The very next week, he had a bass player. And the drummer then tells us, “I know a keyboardist that knows all the Who tunes,” and we were like “Get him over here.” So it just came together, and pretty quickly at that. When we’ve performed Tommy… let’s just say it’s a pretty big undertaking. Honestly, I’m not even sure how we pulled it off, but we did the entire thing. The audience seemed to love it and we had so much fun doing it. I really love being in this band.

LM: So, it looks like SlipKid was active for a while and then took a hiatus?

MC: Sort of, yes. This is the second coming of SlipKid. We got started a while ago—maybe 2006 or 2007? I honestly don’t remember, but it was around the same time Hurtsmile started. And we played out all around Boston and the surrounding area. Gary would leave and do Extreme tours and other projects, so we worked around that for about eight years. But then, at a certain point, we took a good ol’ break and we were kind of out of commission for a handful of years. Sometime in 2019, we said let’s try to get this set back up and running and do some shows. We were able to do two shows in January of 2020, and then the pandemic hit, so we ended up taking another year off.

LM: Since this is your first cover band, it must feel completely different to step into somebody else’s catalog. Is it almost a relief? Or, is it more daunting? Maybe a little bit of both?

MC: It’s been interesting and wild. These are songs that we’ve been singing along to, on the radio, in the car, for decades. And then you go to learn the chords and discover surprises like really weird chord changes, and you have to wonder, like, ‘why would he go from here to here??’ But, you have to learn it. I ended up developing an even greater appreciation for Pete’s writing when I had to figure out the chords and pay attention to the arrangements in a new way. A lot of the stuff on the radio is very square—you know, eight measures for this, eight measures for that, eight measures for the other. Pete does these weird nine-measure, ten-measure solo sections, just really odd. We asked each other, ‘should we straighten this out and make it square?’ But we decided to perform the songs as they were written, which has made it more challenging, but it’s helped us with Hurtsmile because we will take more chances with progressive arrangements thanks to learning this material.

LM: How did you go about creating a setlist? I imagine it’s a tough call whether to stick with crowd-pleasers or indulge in deeper cuts that might be more satisfying to you, but maybe not for the audience.

MC: I think we’re such Who fans that we have to kind of ask ourselves, “I love the song, but does everyone else love this song?” except for the most obvious ones. And we do have to stick close to the vest on a majority of the set, so we don’t lose the audience. But we throw in as many deep cuts as we can without being self-indulgent. We decided on a mostly chronological approach. There are a few things out of order, but for the most part, it’s kept chronological, so it shows the band’s musical evolution.

LM: The song “Slip Kid” was originally written as a vague warning about the music business, amongst other things. Was that the context in which you chose the band name?

MC: No, not really. It was an aesthetic choice. It’s the sound of it, the punchiness of it. I don’t think we brought in the lyrical content of that particular song, but we’re aware of the band’s rebellious edge. We don’t even call it a tribute band, we refer to it as ‘A Celebration of The Who.’ We go up there and we try to channel the visceral piss and vinegar of The Who without smashing our instruments, you know? More than imitating or paying tribute, we’re celebrating this incredible catalog of music.

The Vault is located at 791 Purchase Street in New Bedford, MA. The venue is set within a former bank building featuring original vault doors and a truly historic feel. Patrons have raved about the superior acoustics and intimate setting.

Please note that one MUST BE 21 or OLDER with Valid ID for Entry.

Gary Cherone’s SlipKid to celebrate music of The Who in New Bedford, MA

If you are a fan of The Who, you won’t want to miss Gary Cherone’s SlipKid: A Celebration of The Who at the Vault Music Hall in New Bedford, MA, on Saturday, February 12, 2022. It is the popular tribute band’s first appearance in southeastern Massachusetts. Local rock trio Johnny Barnes and The Nightcrawlers open the show. This concert is presented by JKB Entertainment Group. Purchase tickets HERE.

Gary Cherone, lead singer of Extreme (and formerly Van Halen), has joined together with his brother Mark to take you on an Amazing Musical Journey through the power and passion of The Who live. The band was formed to not impersonate The Who but rather deliver the music and the experience of The Who from every era. As the band puts it, “it’s a celebration, not an imitation.” The combined backgrounds and passion of the musicians in SlipKid make for a powerful, memorable rock show – they do The Who justice for sure. Get your tickets and “join together with the band!”

The Vault is located at 791 Purchase Street in New Bedford, MA. The venue is set within a former bank building featuring original vault doors and a truly historic feel. Patrons have raved about the superior acoustics and intimate setting.

MUST BE 21 or OLDER with Valid ID for Entry.

FIREHOUSE TO PERFORM AT VAULT MUSIC HALL IN NEW BEDFORD, MA

Rock band FireHouse will be appearing at the Vault Music Hall in New Bedford, MA, on Saturday, November 20th for their only New England date of 2021. They will be playing their debut album in its entirety at this show. Boston-based rock trio Stormstress will open. This concert is presented by JKB Entertainment Group. Purchase tickets HERE.

FireHouse rose to fame with their self-titled debut album, FireHouse, in 1990. The band’s first single, “Shake & Tumble,” had impressive radio success. The band then released their first bonafide hit, “Don’t Treat Me Bad,” followed by “Love of a Lifetime,” and “All She Wrote.” This string of hits vaulted their first album to double-platinum status in the United States while also going gold in Canada, Japan and Singapore.

The band’s second album, Hold Your Fire, produced the hits “Reach for the Sky” and “Sleeping with You.” Another Top Ten hit, “When I Look into Your Eyes,” peaked on the United States charts at #8. This album earned the band two more gold albums and over one million sales worldwide.

In 1995, FireHouse released their third album, simply titled 3. Once again, FireHouse produced another U.S. top-forty hit with “I Live My Life For You.” With this album, FireHouse made their promotional tour of Southeast Asia.

As the 1990s progressed, the band released Good Acoustics in 1996 and Category 5 in 1998.

The turn of the century brought their sixth release O2 followed by Prime Time in 2003 and Full Circle in 2011.

As music changes over time, FireHouse continues to evolve their musical style; yet, at the same time, hang onto their hard rock roots. Expect to hear what FireHouse is famous for…soulful, melodic hard rock.

The Vault is located at 791 Purchase Street in New Bedford, MA. The venue is set within a former bank building featuring original vault doors and a truly historic feel. Patrons have raved about the superior acoustics and intimate setting.

Please note that one MUST BE 21 or OLDER with Valid ID for Entry.

Winger to perform in New Bedford, MA, on May 5, 2022

If there is one hard rock band that always delivers, it’s Winger. The band will be appearing at the Vault Music Hall in New Bedford, MA, on May 5, 2022. Iron Tiger open the show. This concert is presented by JKB Entertainment Group. Purchase tickets HERE.

Since their formation, Winger soared to immediate success with their 1988 self-titled release. The album spawned the hit singles “Seventeen” and “Headed For A Heartbreak” and achieved platinum sales status. Winger also stayed on the Billboard Top 200 chart for over 60 weeks where it peaked at #21. Their next album, In The Heart Of The Young, also achieved platinum status and contained the singles “Can’t Get Enuff” and “Miles Away”. The change in musical climate of the mid-90’s, compounded with unprovoked ridicule on MTV’s popular Beavis and Butthead, led the band to go on hiatus in 1994 following the release of their critically acclaimed third album Pull. In 2001, the band reunited and have not looked back since.

Winger continues to make a name for themselves with relentless touring, and recent studio albums IV, Karma and Better Days Comin’ shows the band on top of their game, winning back fans and critics alike because of their exceptional musicianship, Kip Winger’s powerful vocals, and the band’s incredible songwriting. Winger’s resurgence in popularity has seen the hard rock four-piece break back into Billboard’s Top 100 and in 2016 Grammy nominee Kip Winger hit #1 on Billboard and iTunes charts with his debut classical music album Conversations with Nijinsky.

According to Classic Rock Magazine, “This is a band who refuse to merely glide on past glories…Winger push their own boundaries.” Don’t miss Winger at The Vault Music Hall on Nov. 20th.

The Vault is located at 791 Purchase Street in New Bedford, MA. The venue is set within a former bank building featuring original vault doors and a truly historic feel. 

Please note that one MUST BE 21 or OLDER with Valid ID for Entry.