Category Archives: National Artists

New England to perform first full-length concert since 1983

Photo - New England banner


New England is a four-piece rock band from Boston, Mass. The lineup includes John Fannon (guitar and vocals), Hirsh Gardner (drums and vocals), Gary Shea (bass), and Jimmy Waldo (keyboards and vocals). The band released their self-titled debut album, New England, on Infinity/MCA Records in 1979. It was produced by Mike Stone and Paul Stanley of KISS and contained the Top 40 single “Don’t Ever Wanna Lose Ya.” After touring throughout most of 1979, they released their second album Explorer Suite in 1980 and their third album Waking Wild in 1981. The band also spent a lot of time on the road, touring with bands such as AC/DC, Journey, Kiss, Rush, among others. They eventually broke up due to a lack of support from their record label. While the band reunited for a few short sets since then, New England is reuniting for their first full length concert since 1983 at the Regent Theatre in Arlington, Mass., on August 15, 2014. We recently caught up with the band during rehearsals for this show in Boston. We’re very grateful that every band member answered all of our questions and we look forward to catching the show on August 15th. For tickets, click HERE.

Limelight Magazine (LM): New England is performing its first full length show since 1983 with all four original members at the Regent Theatre in Arlington, MA, on August 15. How did this reunion concert come about?
John Fannon: Although this will be our first full headline show in over 30 years, we did a charity event last year playing about six songs and it was like we were frozen in time. Rocking like it was 1979! We knew we had to play more and here we are.
Hirsch Gardner: We’ve done a couple of shows over the years, usually just a short set of some of our most popular tunes. We had such a great time playing together and hanging out that we thought a full show would be great for us and the fans.
Gary Shea: We had played a few benefit shows over the past few years the most recent one being last summer at The Cafe Royal. We decided it was time to have fun playing more than the occasional gig.
Jimmy Waldo: We have actually been playing every year since 2005 in Boston, but not a full show.

LM: Did you ever expect to perform again with all four original members?
John Fannon: Yes, I always knew we would. It took a long time traveling down many individual, artistic paths but we have come full circle and are having a great time hanging out together and most important playing music!
Hirsch Gardner: Yeah…it was inevitable. Not only do we love playing together but the comments from the fans on the social media sites were inspiring.
Gary Shea: There has never been talk of performing with anyone else. It would never be the same. We are lucky that we all are very involved in the music business live as well as in the studio.
Jimmy Waldo: Yes, we have always been good friends and worked on each other’s projects. It was always in our minds to get together and start playing again.

LM: This past week you’ve been rehearsing in Boston. How have rehearsals been going?
John Fannon: Rehearsals were great. We could feel that same energy we always had. Playing these songs I think we all felt, “wow we were pretty dam good!”
Hirsch Gardner: Once we stopped laughing, joking and horsing around, rehearsals went great. It takes a lot of work to get some of that muscle memory back in shape, and just getting in shape physically is a challenge. New England is a very powerful and intense musical endeavor.
Gary Shea: Again this is not our first get together, that was back in 2005. The rehearsals went very well and this concert is the first time we will be headlining again and doing our whole show and we are very excited about that.
Jimmy Waldo: These rehearsals have gone great. We’ve had a blast playing songs from all three albums. The chemistry we’ve always had was there.

LM: What can fans expect from New England at this show?
John Fannon: Everything they remember and more. Playing live, New England has always sounded just like the “record” coming through a giant stereo.
Hirsch Gardner: Like I said, it is very powerful and intense. We play the same now as we did back in the day. This ain’t no mamby pamby cover band and we ain’t taking any prisoners.
Gary Shea: We are going to perform some material that was recorded on our albums but never done live in concert. It`s going to be a blast for us musically and hopefully our fans will really enjoy it. Also, it’s a very audience friendly venue where we will all be up close and in person. No bad seats or sound.
Jimmy Waldo: A lot of energy. The songs we have picked for this show are really rockin’ and we will be doing some totally acoustic songs as well.

LM: Is this a one-off show or is there a possibility of additional tour dates in the future?
John Fannon: There will definitely be more dates coming. We are committed to playing new and old music together into the future and beyond!
Hirsch Gardner: We’ll play as opportunities arise.
Gary Shea: We have been back together for a few years and logistics are now prevailing that allow us to play together much more than before. We are very excited about that. We hope to get around the country again, as well as Europe and Japan where we also have fans.
Jimmy Waldo: We will be doing more shows as well as some European and Japanese shows.

LM: Has there been any consideration yet to recording new music?
John Fannon: Yes we are working on some new material and will be playing a new song at the show.
Hirsch Gardner: We have and hope to release some by the time we gig.
Gary Shea: Yes, we have been working on new music over the years and may do a new tune live. Playing a new song live before recording it always hones the arrangement and content.
Jimmy Waldo: Yes, we have been working on new material for the last year or so. We all have studios which makes it very easy to collaborate on new material.

Photo - New England debut album
New England’s self-titled debut album

LM: Your debut album, New England, contained the Top 40 single “Don’t Ever Wanna Lose Ya,” which is the song most people associate with the band. What was it like for the band having success right from the start?
John Fannon: It was a dream come true…I remember our caravan of truck, cars and tour bus driving to one of our first headline shows in Denver and “Don’t Ever Wanna Lose Ya” came on the radio. We all stopped on the side of the road, got out and were dancing in the streets. It was such an awesome feeling. We knew “Don’t Ever Wanna Lose Ya” was playing all around the world and there it was in real life!
Hirsch Gardner: Dream come true. Touring with the likes of ACDC, Journey, Rush, Cheap Trick, Kiss and headlining venues like Santa Monica Civic, The Fox Theater in Atlanta. It couldn’t have been more fun.
Gary Shea: Ha! This band was together for 10 years under a few different names, playing all over the Northeast, Canada and the Midwest. There was no overnight success. We actually broke up in 1975 and reformed in recording only mode for three years to get a record deal. That`s when we had six major label presidents and managers coming to our studio in Braintree, Mass. It was then that we chose to call ourselves New England, for musical influences and knowing that if any band around here dared to use that name the had better be damn good. It was very exciting to tour all the arenas in North America and be accepted as a peer to many of the great bands of the time. Very rewarding and humbling. We also made some amazing fans over the years that are coming across the country to this show.
Jimmy Waldo: It was amazing. We grew into it very quickly with all the touring we did following that record. Our first 20 or 30 shows were all headline shows in 2,000 to 4,000 seaters.

LM: That album was produced by Mike Stone (Queen, Asia) and Paul Stanley of KISS. What was it like working with both producers?
John Fannon: It was awesome! Mike was recommended to us by Brian May and we all loved how the Queen records sounded so we obviously said “bring him on” and he did not disappoint. Mike was not only an incredible engineer, but also a wonderful person to be around. We became great friends. Paul Stanley brought star power and confidence to the project. Even though our music was 99 percent developed and arranged going into the recording sessions, his input and presence was invaluable! Paul also gave us a taste of celebrity status just hanging out with him in L.A., NYC, and London. It was a magical time for the band.
Hirsch Gardner: Mike was a genius at the board. The sound of our first two albums still stands up with some of the best productions today. Paul was also great to work with.
Gary Shea: It was very inspirational to have a team with major experience recording and a successful track record making heavy rock music. We had other offers but we chose Mike and Paul for their commitment and love of our music. We had a great time recording in L.A. New York, and London. When the album came out, it was very rewarding after so much sweat, tribulations, vision, and hard work to see it do well for us.
Jimmy Waldo: Mike was an amazing engineer who had done some of the best bands on the planet. Paul came from a more musical place as a writer and performer.

LM: Does anyone in the band still keep in touch with Paul Stanley?
John Fannon: No, we don’t. I wish we could.
Hirsch Gardner: I stayed in touch with the KISS guys after New England for a short while. Jimmy, Gary and I put together a band with Vinnie Vincent when Gene (Simmons) suggested we get together with him. Other than that there has been no contact.
Gary Shea: Over the years we have seen each other on and off. I last saw Paul last summer in Detroit on the Kiss/Motley Crue tour. We share the pride in knowing we all did a great job together and made some enduring music.
Jimmy Waldo: Not really.

New England's second album Explorer Suite
New England’s second album Explorer Suite

LM: When bands have success right out of the gate, there’s usually pressure from the record label to create another hit single. How much pressure was placed on the band when you recorded your sophomore effort, Explorer Suite?
John Fannon: I wouldn’t say we felt any pressure. I think the timing was a bit sudden and surprising because we were having so much success touring. Once we were home we just continued to do what we loved to do. Create new music. I will say with great regrets, I don’t think the record or management company knew what they had with Explorer Suite. It went right over their heads and yet this is still critically acclaimed as one of the best classic albums of all time. Kind of bitter sweet.
Hirsch Gardner: Well if there was pressure from the record company there was as much amongst the band but not pressure in a negative way. We wanted a hit single and worked very hard to achieve that.
Gary Shea: Every band is faced with the second album pressure. We were lucky in that we had a lot of material plus new songs we were working on at that time. Of course the label wants success again, we all do. Our problem was never the music. It was the roller coaster of the music business itself.
Jimmy Waldo: Elektra wasn’t as involved in the process as much as we would have liked. They really liked and accepted the record that we delivered and decided on “Explorer Suite” as a single, based on Queen’s success with “Bohemian Rhapsody.”

New England's third album Waking Wild
New England’s third album Waking Wild

LM: Your third album, Walking Wild, was produced by another big name musician, Todd Rundgren, who stripped the layered production of the first two albums. Was this a conscious effort by him and the band to go in a “leaner” direction or did it just evolve during the recording process?
John Fannon: That was a conscious effort of Todd’s. He had a very different style of production and sound. He did have some great musical ideas and direction for the songs especially vocal harmonies and string parts. We made this record in two weeks. Pretty amazing! I remember him telling me, “This is a great record. Don’t let Elektra F. it up.”
Hirsch Gardner: We had always loved Todd’s production and songwriting skills so I think that is what brought us to him. The album reflects all of that: his production style, songwriting and arrangements.
Gary Shea: We hired Todd because we were all big Nazz fans and having a very musical producer really appealed to us. There was no leaner decision, it was just how that music at that time needed to be built. There are still big vocal parts and strings bit like you say, it was just the evolution of the recording. That whole album by the way was written in two weeks at Todd`s Utopia Warehouse and recorded and mixed in under two weeks at his home studio in Woodstock. We are very proud of our achievement in pulling that off. The band had been playing together every day, all day, for over six years at that point and we were very tight musically.
Jimmy Waldo: I think it was a bit of both. We did a few songs, which had a more layered production on that record, which Todd really liked. But we also did songs like “Holdin’ Out on Me” and “Be My Dirty Dream,” which were basic rock and roll. They just didn’t need as much of a heavy layered approach as our first two records.

LM: Sadly, New England didn’t get much label support after your debut album. How much of an influence did that have on the band’s breakup at the time?
John Fannon: I think it had everything to do with the breakup.
Hirsch Gardner: By the end of the third album and tour we had played together since 1973. I think we were all pretty beat at that point.
Gary Shea: It was a huge factor. On both the second and third albums that were released on Elektra Records, the label picked singles that were not what we had envisioned. We chose “Conversation” on our second album for a single, but they said they wanted to showcase our musicality with “Explorer Suite.” Along with Todd on our third album, Walking Wild, we chose “Don`t Ever Let Me Go” which also featured Todd playing a guitar solo harmony with John. They chose “DDT” instead and a lot of female radio people didn`t like the humor and refused to play it.
Jimmy Waldo: We couldn’t continue making records and touring without a label’s financial support, so we decided to all pursue other projects. We didn’t stop working together because of personal issues – we had no way to make records or tour anymore. In those days there was no Protools, or high quality home recording. It was very expensive to make a record.

LM: Out of three albums you recorded, which one is your personal favorite?
John Fannon: Although I love all three albums, Explorer Suite is my personal favorite. My goal was to write songs that would give each of us even more space to showcase our creativity and diversity as musicians. I think we got there.
Hirsch Gardner: All of them. I still marvel over the playing, songwriting, sound of those albums. I’m a pretty big fan of New England!!!
Gary Shea: I like all three for many various reasons, whether it’s the song, the parts I played, or what was happening at the time. They are all great little stories and we gave them all our love and attention.
Jimmy Waldo: That’s a tough question. I really like all three for different reasons. All the songs on all three were really good. As a keyboard player, each album brought new challenges for me, which I loved.

LM: For anyone out there who is on the fence about coming to the show on August 15, what’s the number one reason why they should attend this show?
John Fannon: Rehearsals have been ROCKIN’. We still have that same powerful melodic sound and energy wrapped around great songs that has always been New England, and we are looking forward to debuting a new song! Come join us on August 15 at the Regent Theater in Arlington, Mass., strap on your seat belt and get ready for AN HISTORIC NIGHT OF POWER ROCK!!!
Hirsch Gardner: Who’s on the fence?!?!?! Give me there name and address!!!!!!
Gary Shea: Come down and see a real rock band that can play and sing its ass off melodically without sounding wimpy. No auto tune, no pre-recorded backing tracks, just four guys that have devoted their lives for that two hour moment in the limelight. We won`t disappoint.
Jimmy Waldo: We are a great band, that has great songs, and plays them live with lots of energy. We all love playing together and it shows. It’s a great show with lots of dynamics.

New England
New England


Metal Church ‘ready to bring it’

Metal Church
Metal Church


After seemingly calling it quits forever in 2009, veteran heavy metal band Metal Church reunited last year and released their 10th studio album Generation Nothing. The album marked a return to the classic metal sound of the band’s first two studio albums, Metal Church (1984) and The Dark (1986), while still sounding contemporary. We recently caught up with vocalist Ronny Munroe just days before their month long tour of the United States.

Limelight Magazine (LM): In 2009, Metal Church announced on its website that they were “calling it quits” due to a number of industry-related factors. What was the chain of events that brought the band back together again?

Ronny Munroe (RM): Basically [Metal Church founder and lead guitarist] Kurdt [Vanderhoff] called and said we had an offer from 70000 Tons of Metal (a heavy metal festival that takes place annually aboard the cruise ship the MS Majesty of the Seas] and what did I think about putting the band back together and I said, “of course, let’s do it.”

LM: Did you ever expect to be working with Metal Church again?

RM: Yes, I knew it would happen when it was supposed to happen and it did.

LM: You’re now the longest serving vocalist for Metal Church with four studio albums under your belt. How did you end up getting the position a decade ago?

RM: I went to audition for Kurdt’s “Vanderhoof” project actually and then I mentioned “hey why don’t we do Metal Church?” And after a lot of thought on Kurdt’s part he finally called me and said, “so you wanna do Metal Chuch, let’s do it.”

LM: Metal Church could have easily rested on its laurels and went out on the road playing material from their previous studio albums, but the band decided to record a new album. Was that always the plan when the band reformed?

RM: Yes, it was. We figured if we were to do the cruise show and have all that exposure that it would be a good time to do a new record. But more importantly, we wanted to give the fans the best possible record we could and I think we did that with Generation Nothing

LM: Reaction to Generation Nothing has been nothing short of stellar. We didn’t think it could get any better than your last studio album This Present Wasteland but it did. Are you pleased with the reaction to it?

RM: I am very pleased with the outcome and the reaction of the true fans of the band, but I am eager to do the next one.

LM: Can you share with us a little about the recording process for the album?

RM: It starts with Kurdt writing and recording demos and then sending them to me to listen too and then write too. We work out the harmony lines and collaborate on the lyrics. But it has always started with Kurdt. He’s a great writer.

LM: What’s your favorite song off Generation Nothing and why?

RM: I dig the whole record which is odd for me to say because I usually don’t listen to my own recordings, but this one I do. I’ll pick ‘Bulletproof’ because it’s about growing thick skin so the B.S. just bounces off.

LM: Metal Church is about to embark on a month long tour of the U.S. Are you looking forward to being on the road again?

RM: It’s going to be great to get out there and see and play for the fans again. It’s been a few years but we have the metal burning in our veins and were ready to bring it!

LM: What can your fans expect from this tour?

RM: A great night of music first off and just a bunch of guys having a great time playing and singing their asses off.

LM: Given the bands extensive catalog of music with three different singers, how does the band decide on a set list?

RM: We just pick what has always worked best and then throw in a couple different ones just to change it up a bit.

LM: Every member of the band is involved with a lot of different side projects. Will the band members continue with their side projects now that Metal Church is back together?

RM: Metal Church is a main priority for each and every one of us, but let’s be real. We’re not big enough to just survive on what this band makes. It’s more for the love of music. So yes we will continue doing our side stuff.

LM: One thing that really stands out about this band is that you are actively engaged with your fans, especially on your personal Facebook pages. What do you like most about engaging with your fans?

RM: The fans are everything to me/us. If we don’t have the fans then we’re just playing to ourselves. More importantly, it’s good to talk with people and find out what they’re about and how our music has touched or helped them.

LM: What’s the best part about being in this band for you personally?

RM: Getting to sing such thrash metal classics and having the opportunity to spread the metal love around the world and do some good.

LM: Apart from music, what do you do in your free time?

RM: Spend time with the kids and take wildlife pictures. When I’m not devouring the stage, I like to relax.

LM: Any final thoughts or comments?

RM: Thank you for the time and I hope to see all of you on the road one day soon!

For more information about Metal Church and to view their current tour schedule, please visit or

Guitar virtuoso Vinnie Moore helps ground UFO



As British hard rock pioneers UFO prepare to bring their show to the Narrows Center for the Arts in Fall River, Mass., on Oct. 14, guitar hero Vinnie Moore took time out to chat with Paul Bielatowicz about his life-long love affair with music.

The name Vinnie Moore was revered in guitar circles long before he joined veteran British rockers UFO.  Moore began playing guitar at the age of 12, “I got my first guitar for Christmas. I was really into guitar bands and wanted to play because of Jimmy Page, Ritchie Blackmore and Brian May.” However, his first encounter with the instrument almost proved to be his last, “It was much more difficult than I had expected, and I almost quit.” Thankfully, Moore persevered, “There was a love, and that kept me going. As I progressed it seemed to become easier and more natural.  At about the two-year mark I got more serious and started practicing for a couple of hours a day. Soon after that I became obsessed, and at that point I couldn’t stop because the guitar owned my soul!”

Moore began playing in local bands and, a few years later, a major guitar magazine featured him as an up-and-coming star. It was this article that led to his first big break, “A production company in Los Angeles was casting for a Pepsi TV ad which featured a rock guitarist. They saw my write up in Guitar Player Magazine and gave me a call one January evening. The next morning I was on a plane to L.A. I went through the audition process and was chosen to do the music for 30 and 60 second versions of the commercial. It was just amazing for me, hearing my playing on national television a few times a day. The ad was a great kick starter for my career as it helped create a bit of a buzz before my first record came out.” The ‘buzz’ did the trick, and his debut solo album was a huge success – seemingly overnight, Vinnie Moore had arrived! 

Over the years, Moore has enjoyed a long and varied career. “Being a solo artist, a member of UFO, playing with Alice Cooper, guesting on several projects… man, it’s all been great and I feel very fortunate. There have been many highlights but I think that maybe the journey itself has been the best part.”

Aside from his reputation as a performer, Moore has also earned a name for himself as a world-class teacher.  His two tuition videos, released back in the 80s, provided guitarists with an insight to the closely guarded secrets of a virtuoso guitarist.  Today, Moore is still involved in teaching – when he’s not on tour or in the studio he can often be found giving guitar master classes.  Asked what advice he gives to students, he responds, “I think that love and passion are the most important things. If you have those first, then all the other things will somehow fall into place. Listen to as much music as you can because you will learn from it all.  Find a teacher because that will help you learn things more quickly. And find a group of friends who play, because you will learn from one another. Just play as much as you can. I learnt a lot from my teacher, listening to records and from playing in bands with guys who were more accomplished than I was. But nothing helps as much as sitting in the bedroom and putting the time in.”

Speaking to Moore, it’s clear that his childhood love and passion for the guitar is still very much alive. He remains hungry for musical development and the continued perfection of his art, “If I didn’t feel like I was making some sort of progression I would probably quit. This is what keeps it exciting for me. Music is so incredibly infinite and there is always something new to learn and explore. It’s not something where you learn it all and then you’re done. There always seems to be something that you didn’t know about before; it’s amazing what can be done with 12 notes.”

UFO is a band with a rich heritage of guitar players – Michael Schenker (Scorpions), Bernie Marsden (Whitesnake), and bassist Billy Sheehan (David Lee Roth, Mr. Big, The Winery Dogs) count among Moore’s predecessors. Moore has been a permanent fixture in their line-up for the past decade, appearing on four studio albums, including last year’s critically acclaimed release Seven Deadly that returned the band back to the charts. Although UFO boast a serious pedigree and have indelibly carved their name into rock history, one can’t help but notice their desire to have fun and enjoy the ride.  This goodtime attitude is evident in their music and performance. Concertgoers can expect,A lot of energy and inspiration. We do this because we still love expressing ourselves in front of an audience. The day that I don’t feel that, then I don’t want to do it anymore. We give every show our all and feed off the energy from the crowd.  Song-wise you will hear something old, something new, something borrowed, something blue.”

With a career spanning 30 years and counting, Moore’s eyes remain fixed firmly on the future, aiming to, ”Continue doing what I love, keep being inspired and fascinated by music and keep playing for people.” With a new solo album in the pipeline, Moore’s hunger and love for his art continues to propel him forward on his musical journey, as he wows audiences worldwide.

Louis St. August and Gene D’Itria of the Revere-based rock band MASS, who received considerable airplay on MTV and radio with their single “Do You Love Me” in the 1980s, will open the show with a rare acoustic set.

The Narrows Center for the Arts is located at 16 Anawan Street. Tickets can be purchased online at, by calling 508-324-1926, or in person at the box office. Hours are Wednesday through Saturday, noon to 5 p.m. and during all shows.

Howie to have his ‘Day’ at Narrows on Sept. 20

Howie Day
Howie Day


With two Top 10 hits and more than a million albums sold, singer-songwriter Howie Day will be performing at the Narrows Center for the Arts in Fall River, Mass., on Sept. 20th as part of a northeast tour. Rebecca Correia, a singer-songwriter from Rochester, Mass., opens the show.

Along with a keyboardist, cellist and percussionist, Day plans to treat fans to an unplugged gig of new material yet to be released, plus his platinum single “Collide” and “She Says.”

“We call it ‘living room acoustic,’” said Day. “The four of us got together and were like, ‘if we can’t rehearse this in my living room then it’s going to be too much.’ It’s pretty laid back.”

Between shows, he’s been visiting Boston to record what will be his fourth studio release, an album that will likely be available in late 2013 or early 2014. While it’s yet to be titled, he’s laid down a few tracks and said having the opportunity to perform a majority of the songs before recording them has been a unique experience, as getting the chance to test the music on the road allows him to make adjustments in the studio.

“It’s the reverse of the way most people do it and makes it a lot more fun to play live,” Day said. “In the past, I’ve made albums and then I have to try to figure out how to play it live, whereas this one will be ready because we’re already playing it live. And it reflects a live show, which is great.”

He decided to record the album in Boston partly due to his longtime friendship with producer, Mike Denneen, who is based in Bean Town and produced most of Day’s music. Day trusts Denneen and often seeks his advice.

“He’s like my oracle,” said Day.

The writing process, he said, has been different to past albums. He’s done a great deal of collaborative writing, but he’s doing most of this one solo.

“With this album, I’m trying to write on my own a bit more, which is more difficult because you have to be disciplined about it,” he said, noting that singer-songwriter Sam Bisbee has encouraged and inspired him via “off the cuff” social meetings. “It’s like having a trainer at the gym: you have to show up. And you want to record and do things as best you can and not look back. It’s tough to not look back, but you have to just let each recording have it’s own moment. You have to keep evolving and move forward.”

During one of his trips to Boston, he performed with the Boston Pops at the Esplanade on the Fourth of July. He was flattered – and excited – when they reached out to him and asked him to join them for the show.

“It was one of the greatest days of my life and that’s not an exaggeration,” Day said. “It was amazing and fun.”

When he’s not writing, recording or performing, Day is taking pictures. He loves photography, and “is a sucker” for snapping shots of landscapes. Having a creative outlet he is able to explore is important for him as an artist.

“I’m really not good at it, but it’s soothing,” he said. “When you have a camera, you see everything differently because you’re looking for something to take a picture of. It makes you more aware of the world around you. Somehow that augments the whole writing process because you see things a bit more objectively than you would in your own bubble or routine.”

He often takes photos while on tour, noting that he enjoyed capturing special moments during a few visits to Iceland last year. These experiences creep their way into his music.

“I love it because when I play songs I think about, ‘this is when I was on that beach and it was snowing,’” he said. “It comes through to the audience.”

And while some audiences have enjoyed his cover of the “Game of Thrones” theme song at solo shows, it’s not played every night.

“We do that because we think it’s funny,” said Day. “It’s an icebreaker. If it seems a little tense, we’ll play that and it changes the whole direction. I like to make people laugh.”

But fans at the Narrows are sure to experience his charming and witty banter, as well as his use of effects pedals and loop-sampling techniques, a style he typically turns to at solo gigs. The band is working on injecting it into performances, along with a cover of Elton John’s “Come Down in Time.”

“It’s a very underrated Elton John song,” Day said. “We’ve been having a lot of fun with that one, too.”

Meanwhile, Correia, a guitarist and piano player who spends half her time in Nashville and the rest in her hometown of Rochester, said she can’t wait to open for Day.

 “I’m super psyched,” said Correia, who has also opened for an array of notable musicians such as Natasha Bedingfield, Shawn Colvin, and Livingston Taylor. “I got to see him play in Nashville about a year and a half ago and I’m thrilled to be playing with someone who makes music similar to mine.”

The Narrows Center for the Arts is located at 16 Anawan Street in Fall River. Tickets can be purchased online at, by calling 508-324-1926, or in person at the box office from Wednesday through Saturday, 12 noon to 5 p.m. Tickets will also be available at the door on the day of show.

‘Reflections’ from Simon Fitzpatrick

Simon Fitzpatrick (Photo by Carla Huntington)
Simon Fitzpatrick (Photo by Carla Huntington)


Limelight Magazine recently caught up with bassist extraordinaire Simon Fitzpatrick of Carl Palmer’s ELP Legacy. The band just completed an extensive world tour, including a show at the Narrows Center for the Arts in Fall River, Mass., on May 5, 2013. Fitzpatrick, a graduate of the Institute of Contemporary Music Performance, also released a solo CD called Reflections to coincide with the tour. On August 3rd, he’ll be performing again with Carl Palmer’s ELP Legacy at the Susquehanna Bank Center in Camden, NJ, as part of YES’s first ever festival called YESTIVAL – a day-into-night musical adventure in full quadraphonic sound. Please enjoy our interview.

Limelight Magazine (LM): You just finished an extensive world tour with Carl Palmer’s ELP Legacy. How did the tour go overall?

Simon Fitzpatrick (SF): I thought the tour was a great success overall. It’s the longest tour the band has done to date, starting in Japan in February and ending in May in New York, and it was a real pleasure to perform all around the world.

LM: Were there any shows that stood out from the rest? Why?

SF: For me the two gigs we played on Cruise to the Edge were a real standout. It was an honour to perform in front of the greats of progressive rock like Yes, Steve Hackett and UK and also to have the chance to watch them perform. Sailing through the Caribbean for five days and making tropical island excursions to swim with dolphins was a plus too.

LM: This must have been asked many times but how did you get your current job as Carl Palmer’s bass player?

SF: Dave Marks, one of my former bass guitar tutors, is a previous member of the band. When former bassist Stuart Clayton left, Carl asked Dave for recommendations for a replacement and my name came out. Carl checked out some of my YouTube videos and the rest is history.

LM: According to your website, you also work with two London based acts: The Robbie Boyd Band and Elephant Gun.  Do you still work with them? Do you find it hard to bounce back and forth between all three bands?

It is difficult because there are inevitably going to be clashes. Fortunately, the other bands I work with are very flexible and able to use replacements when I’m not available. Being involved with different projects also gives me the chance to enjoy playing differing styles of music (in this case folk/pop and jazz/fusion) rather than being tied down to one genre.

LM: You graduated from the Institute of Contemporary Music as best overall bass player from both the diploma and the degree courses. When did you start playing the bass? What motivated you to play this instrument?

SF: After discovering metal as teenagers, my twin brother and I were inspired to learn the guitar, especially after watching bands like Megadeth, Fear Factory and Slipknot. We soon realised that to have a band, one of us was going to have to learn the bass and I was the one to really take to it and I haven’t looked back since. Sadly, I don’t think many people are drawn to the bass first but I think of it as my mission to change that!

LM: Who were your musical inspirations growing up? Who do you listen to now for inspiration?

SF: The music which I was first passionate about was the nu-metal wave from the early 2000’s. From there my tastes expanded to all forms of metal including the progressive form which took me to Dream Theater who were probably my biggest inspiration. I’d never heard anything like them before and it was a real eye opener about musical creativity, what could be achieved on a musical instrument and how far technical ability could be pushed. Very soon after I’d bought a six string bass and was absorbing as much as I could about what you could do with it. That feeling of being blown away after hearing some new music is harder to find these days but I listen to all kinds of music and try to be open to inspiration from anything. In terms of bass players my biggest influences have probably been Victor Wooten, Stu Hamm, Jaco Pastorius and John Myung. 

LM: You brought out the stick bass at the Howard Theatre in Washington D.C. Do you play the stick bass often? Did you use it on any other dates on the tour? 

SF: The Stick is a very new instrument to me and I am only starting to get to grips with it. Now that the tour is over I have some time to get properly acquainted with it and so hope to be able to use it more in the future. I used it on the last five or six gigs of the tour on our arrangement of “Carmina Burana.”

LM: You released a solo album called Reflections that coincided with the tour, containing many of your previous solo spots, some songs you haven’t performed live and some original pieces. How long did it take you to record the album? Why did you select the cover songs you did?

SF: Much of the album was recorded in the last couple of months before the tour started, although the content reflects my solo bass playing from the last couple of years. For my solo spots I try to select an epic piece (like “Bohemian Rhapsody” or “Stairway to Heaven”), which has enough content for me to be able to keep it interesting as an instrumental and which is well known enough for the majority of our audiences to be able to connect with it. Other pieces on the album are favourites of mine which I wanted to put my own spin on and some well known classical pieces which I felt could be brought out well on the bass.

LM: You received a standing ovation at the Narrows Center for the Arts for your cover of Yes’ “Roudabout.” How do you feel getting that type of response?

It really means a lot to me to get a reaction like that as it shows that all the hard work was worth it. One of my favourite things about playing in the US is how the crowds will really let you know how they feel – usually in a good way! British crowds are great too but they can be a little reserved and standing ovations are much less common.

LM: Are you possibly looking to follow up Reflections with another album?

SF: I’m constantly working on new solo arrangements, so when I feel I have enough material I’ll most likely put it together as a second album.

LM: Do you want to continue playing music as a career for the rest of your life or do you have other goals?

SF: Yes at the moment that is my intention but who knows what the future holds.

LM: Is there anything you’d like to add?

SF: It’s always a pleasure to visit the New England area so I look forward to returning to play some more music. Thanks!

(This story was taken from the summer 2013 issue of Limelight Magazine).


Orianthi shows what determination can do

Orianthi (Photo by Dave Stewart)
Orianthi (Photo by Dave Stewart)


Twenty-eight year old guitar goddess and singer-songwriter Orianthi has played alongside some of the biggest guitar legends of our time from Steve Vai to Carlos Santana and has become an idol in her own right.

From her music to her message, Orianthi has shown what passion and determination can do.

At six-years-old Orianthi began playing music in her home of Adelaide, Australia, with a view to someday become a recording artist in the United States. She received her first guitar soon after and began learning songs by Vai, Santana, and Jimi Hendrix. By the time she was 15, Orianthi began her career as a professional guitarist and caught the attention of both of her idols, Vai and Santana.

“The hardest thing is just keeping at it and not giving up,” she said. “You can travel the world and do it for a living if you really work your butt off.”

After playing with Carrie Underwood at the Grammy Awards in 2009, she gained the attention of Michael Jackson for the King of Pop’s ill-fated “This Is It” tour. Yet, the fall of 2009, brought her biggest success when her debut single “According to You” off of her second solo album Believe received major air time in the United States and worldwide.

Now Orianthi is saying “Welcome 2 My Nightmare” as she tours the United States with Alice Cooper and Marilyn Manson.

Since 2011, Orianthi has played guitar alongside Cooper while balancing her own solo career as a singer-songwriter. Performing to audiences of 5,000 to 6,000 people a night, Orianthi, Cooper, and Manson aim to shock and entertain and feed off of their audiences’ energy.

“Every night it’s like a big party on stage,” she said. “We’re just having a lot of fun out here.”

The shows incorporate shocking and dramatic props like guillotines and plenty of fake blood.

“Working with Alice is just so great because he is a really cool person apart from being an amazing performer,” Orianthi said. “I’ve learned a lot from being out on tour with him.”

Besides touring with Cooper, Orianthi has played sporadic solo concerts for her newest solo album Heaven in This Hell, which was released in March 2013. From August to October, she will perform solo shows for Heaven In This Hell before she rejoins Cooper on his tour. Next year, she said she plans to fit in a series of international shows in Australia, Japan, Singapore, and Hong Kong.

For Heaven In This Hell Orianthi went to Nashville to record with musician, songwriter, and producer Dave Stewart who was formerly part of the disbanded Eurythmics. After meeting him at a show two years ago and “jamming out” with him, she knew she wanted to mirror the same vibe of Stewart’s albums in her music. The collaboration, she said, happened really naturally.

Unlike her other albums, Heaven In This Hell is more hard rock oriented while combining riff-heavy songs with country and blues. Her song “Filthy Blues” and the title track “Heaven In This Hell” are a perfect example of this. Yet other tracks like “If You Were Here With Me” convey softness amidst the albums’ grittier overtones.

“It’s the kind of music I want to put out there,” Orianthi said of Heaven In This Hell. “It’s a record I’m really proud of.”

At this stage in her career, Orianthi has much to be proud of, as she has proved herself as a multi-faceted artist playing alongside musicians of several different genres from country to pop to hard rock. Next, she would like to expand her musical repertoire even further by combining heavy guitar with more electronic based musicians.

“I really like Lady Gaga’s voice. I think it would be really cool to do something with her or Usher and do something really different than what I’ve done before,” she said.

Amidst her worldwide success as a recording artist, Orianthi stays true to her message and hopes to continue to inspire both guys and girls to pick up guitars and follow their passions like she did.

“If you want to be a musician – you want your music heard out there, it’s just about putting yourself out there and taking risks and performing to as many people as you can.”

For more information about Orianthi, visit You can also find her on Facebook at

Ryan Montbleau’s music inspires proposals

Ryan Montbleau
Ryan Montbleau


Lots of musicians are given proposals, but not always quite like this.

Maybe the music has inspired men to get down on one knee at Ryan Montbleau’s shows. With his heartfelt lyrics setting the tone, Montbleau’s songs have created a backdrop to over six marriage proposals in the last ten years. Lyrics like “I want to fall in love…I want to learn to love everything” from his song “Chariot” make it easy to imagine why Montbleau’s music has brought couples together. Just last week Montbleau had two proposals at one show.

“They wanted us to be a part of that moment for them,” he said.

Thoughtful lyrics like those that stretch across the love song “Chariot” have wed Montbleau to a devoted following, a faithful fan base accumulated over his ten-year career as a professional artist. Montbleau writes with raw emotion and his honesty seems to draw people in.

“Maybe it’s the simplicity of it,” he added.

And yet the word simplicity – though perhaps offered out of modesty – is wide of the mark. Montbleau’s music is anything but simple.

Montbleau hails from Peabody, Mass. It was there, at the age of eight, he was given his first guitar.

Yet it wasn’t until he was studying at Villanova University in Pennsylvania that Montbleau began singing and playing guitar with a view to a musical career. The chemistry he makes with his audience may be different from what he did in the lab as a chemical engineering major, but then again there’s a reason the language of love is described in the terms of chemistry.

Each year Montbleau and his band of six Boston-based musicians average 160 to 200 shows. He has no plans to slow down. It seems for Montbleau, his earnest and drive has paid off.

“It’s been slow but constant growth and discovery,” Montbleau said. “It took some crazy drive.”

Montbleau is inspired by a melting pot of influences that translate into his music. His eight albums show a tremendous amount of range in genre and sound by combining a mix of reggae, blues, and folk into a smooth and soulful genre of its own. Perhaps because of the diversity of his sound and eclectic nature of his influences, Montbleau believes picking only one favorite song from his discography would be like asking a parent to pick a favorite child; but he confesses he often feels a strong attachment to whichever song is his newest creation.

“Some songs really hit close to the bone,” he said. “When you write a song, it’s definitely yours for a little while before you let it out in the world.”

While his 2010 album Heavy On the Vine allowed for more exploration of sound, Montbleau’s most recent album – For Higher – was born of a rather different creative process. To record For Higher, Montbleau took his biggest leap of faith yet and moved to New Orleans to begin playing with a band he’d just met.

Montbleau began in New Orleans by contributing songs to Backatown, an album by trombone and trumpet player Trombone Shorty. It was in connection with that project that he caught the attention of producer Ben Ellman. Ellman, formerly a saxophonist for the New Orleans funk and jazz band Galactic, went on to produce For Higher, as well as Montbleau’s newest album, set to be released early next year.

After a full year of recording and touring, Montbleau is enjoying some time at home in Massachusetts. Currently living in Lawrence, he’s less than an hour drive from his hometown of Peabody.

“I love being home,” he said. “I definitely appreciate it now more than I used to.”

While home, Montbleau and his band will continue to play a full schedule of shows. After a June performance at Bonnaroo, he returns to join in the Lowell Summer Music Series at Boarding House Park on August 2.

“We’re psyched to do Boarding House Park,” Montbleau said. “It has a great stage and it’s kind of hometown for us.”

In the run-up to a busy summer, Montbleau is enjoying a change of pace, playing solo acoustic shows at more intimate venues here on the East Coast before plunging back into full band sets.

“I love being able to do both,” Montbleau said. “With a band people are partying, going crazy, and dancing and stuff — you can harness it.”

Harnessing the energy of his crowds isn’t going to be a problem for Montbleau. Making time during the show for those who want to get hitched, however, could be.  

“If it keeps happening I might start having to say no,” he said in jest.

Or maybe not. Either way, Montbleau’s performances are keeping audiences engaged.

To purchase tickets to Montebleau’s performance at the Lowell Summer Music Series, visit

(This story was taken from the summer 2013 issue of Limelight Magazine.) 

One man’s quest to make the electric guitar a classical instrument

Photo - Paul Bielatowicz
Paul Bielatowicz (Photo by Carla Huntington)


Paul Bielatowicz is best known for his virtuoso guitar work with some of the biggest names in progressive rock. He’s played, recorded and toured with the likes of Carl Palmer (Emerson, Lake & Palmer, Asia), Neal Morse (Spock’s Beard, Transatlantic), Mike Portnoy (Dream Theater), Paul Gilbert (Mr. Big), and Les Paul… to name just a few. Bielatowicz recently finished a three and a half month world tour with The Carl Palmer Band and has been taking a little time off in New Bedford, Mass., to work on his debut solo album Preludes & Etudes.

The concept of the album is simple – to present the electric guitar in its purest form, as a modern classical instrument.

“For as long as I can remember, ever since I was a small child, I’ve had a dream – to play the guitar with the skill and musicality of a classical virtuoso, while maintaining the purity of the instrument’s natural tone,” said  Bielatowicz. “I’ve done everything I can to make Preludes & Etudes the realization of that dream.”

The album is a collection of classical showpieces played almost exactly as the composers intended, but with one small difference – an electric guitar takes the place of violin, piano or whatever the original solo instrument might have been. The content ranges from breathtakingly virtuosic with some of classical music’s most challenging repertoire, to hauntingly beautiful with lyrical pieces such as Debussy’s “Clair de lune” – all played as you’ve never heard them before. 

Much of the album’s music was considered by many to be impossible on the guitar – pieces such as Chopin’s notorious “Op.10 Etudes,” which are a challenge for even the most consummate concert pianist, never mind a guitarist; Paganini’s infamous “5th Caprice,” Vivaldi’s “Four Seasons,” Rimsky-Korsakov’s “Flight of the Bumblebee,” J.S. Bach’s “Toccata & Fugue in D Minor,” the third movement of Beethoven’s “Moonlight Sonata”…these are just few of the 19 pieces that make this perhaps one of the most virtuosic guitar albums you’ll ever come across.

Preludes & Etudes is the result of three years’ blood, sweat and the occasional tear.

“I spent a month or so working on each piece – painstakingly arranging it and then practicing it until my fingers were raw,” said Bielatowicz. “To be honest, there were quite a few moments where I thought a number of pieces were just going to be impossible on guitar.” 

While studying at a music college, Bielatowicz set himself a strict 10-hour per day practice routine, a schedule he would return to during the making of this album.

“There were periods in most months when I’d lock myself away for entire weeks at a time – that was the only way I was ever going to manage to get this material under my fingers, to a standard where it as ready to perform and record,” he said. “I wanted to present the electric guitar as a serious classical instrument, in my opinion that’s never really been done before.”  

“I approached the recording process in the same way a classical musician would – trying to get the purest tone from my instrument and capturing each performance so that the listener feels like they’re right there in the room with me,” he continued. “What you hear is just a guitar, a cable and an old valve amp. No microchips, distortion pedals or effects were allowed anywhere near the album and I used as little gain on the amp as possible to maintain the purity of the guitar’s natural tone, giving the listener as honest a performance as possible. Preludes & Etudes is all about the playing and the natural tone of the instrument.  It’s is a celebration of the electric guitar in its purest form, and an attempt to raise its perception to that of a classical instrument.”

Although the majority of the album is a solo effort, with Bielatowicz being credited with all the accompanying orchestral arrangements and piano parts, he did call upon a couple of very talented friends to make contributions.  Fellow Carl Palmer Band member Simon Fitzpatrick makes an appearance on four tracks, his virtuoso solo bass accompaniments complimenting Bielatowicz’s guitar parts so perfectly that there are points where it’s difficult to say which instrument is taking the lead. Moreover, the album has been mixed and mastered by Rich Mouser – a household name in progressive rock circles. His decades of studio experience and love of traditional analogue equipment have been put to great use in producing crystal clear mixes that allow the music to breath, putting the listener right at the center of the performance.

Bielatowicz decided not to work with a record company for this album, opting instead to produce and fund it himself.

“The music industry is going through a very exciting transition at the moment,” he said. “The demise of the major label system has given smaller independent artists much more freedom and the chance to make a career for themselves. The result is a massive variety of fresh, original and exciting music.”

To help fund production and manufacturing costs, Bielatowicz is launching a pre-sale campaign, offering supporters incentives such as signed copies of the album, limited edition merchandise items, signature guitar picks and even the opportunity to have their names listed in the credits as “Executive Producer”.  To make a donation, visit

For more details about Bielatowicz and his Preludes & Etudes album, visit

This story was taken from the summer 2013 issue of Limelight Magazine).

Carl Palmer to perform ELP classics at Narrows

Carl Palmer (Photo by Michael Inns)
Carl Palmer (Photo by Michael Inns)


Renowned rock drummer Carl Palmer makes music with drumsticks and creates artwork with them, too. He’ll be showing off both talents at the Narrow’s Center for the Arts in Fall River, Mass., this Sunday, May 5th, as he and his band will celebrate the music of Emerson, Lake and Palmer (ELP) during a two-hour performance.

The show is part of his extensive world tour, “Twist of the Wrist,” also the name of his fine art collection, which features a series of visual images constructed by capturing the rhythm of drum performances through photographs.

The images, crafted in conjunction with California’s Scene Four Art Studios, combine motion, color and LED lights. He uses what he calls “special drumsticks” that emit four colors: blue, green, yellow and red, while playing drums in a dark room. The scene is photographed and then printed on canvas. Each print is signed and numbered.

“I don’t paint with paint; I paint with light,” he said. “I’m extremely proud of it.”

His art will be showcased, as well as available for purchase, during the performance at the Narrows. A meet and greet will follow for anyone who has purchased a ticket to the show.

“I like to give the fans an opportunity to not only meet myself and the band, but to give autographs,” Palmer said. “It does take a bit of time, but I enjoy doing it. It’s a nice payback to fans for supporting us and they get to meet (guitarist) Paul (Bielatowicz) and (bassist) Simon (Fitzpatrick), who are great musicians. And they can purchase my new DVD “Decade” and get it signed by the band.”

“Decade” pays homage to the fact that Palmer began playing ELP hits as a power trio, replacing keyboards with electric guitar, more than a decade ago in 2001. The DVD captures a multi-camera video shoot recorded at Pittsburgh’s MusikFest in 2011 and features Bielatowicz, who has been performing with Palmer since 2006, and Fitzpatrick, who came on board about three years ago.

Palmer is grateful for the enthusiasm they bring to the band and is happy they help deliver his fresh take on ELP to fans of all ages.

“They give me the satisfaction to be able to push this music to the future using different instruments – where Emerson, Lake and Palmer left off, I’ve just carried on,” said Palmer. “People can hear this through a new format, which is using guitars instead of keyboards and techniques that are available to us today. They give me that chance to push this music far along down the line.”

Palmer, best known as a founding member of ELP, as well as ASIA, has been performing for more than 40 years, taking on new projects such as the power trio and artwork to keep things interesting and fresh. He doesn’t plan on slowing down anytime soon.

Even a serious bout with E Coli, which sidelined him for more than two months and caused the cancellation of ASIA’s 2012 UK tour, can’t hold him back. It was the first time one of his tours had to be cancelled in his professional career.

“I love to play,” said Palmer. “I have no reason to stop or retire. People only retire when they don’t like what they do and I love what I do. I’m in a very fortunate position to have a job that I’ve loved all my life. Why stop working? I’m still improving and that’s more encouragement to keep going. I’ve been blessed by God and I’m still in good health. I’m very happy.”

Currently, Palmer has been on tour with his ELP Legacy since February. The tour kicked off in Japan before Palmer and his crew hopped aboard a Caribbean-bound cruise ship during the last week of March for Cruise to the Edge, which featured ELP Legacy, YES, Steve Hackett, and UK.

“We really enjoyed doing that,” Palmer said. “I played inside in the main room and then decided I wanted to play outside on the top deck. Unfortunately, it was rather windy when we started – winds were up to 35 miles an hour – but we played a good 45-minutes and had a great time. I was able to display my art aboard the ship.”

After the cruise, Palmer toured South America before beginning his North American leg earlier this month. So far, it’s been smooth sailing.

“It’s been going very well,” he said. “All in all, it’s been tremendous.”

The Narrows Center for the Arts is located at 16 Anawan Street in Fall River. Tickets can be purchased online at, by calling 508-324-1926 or in person at the box office Wednesday through Saturday, noon to 5 p.m. Tickets will also be available at the door on the day of the show.

Charlie Farren to release new solo CD

Photo - Charlie Farren 2013 Promo


After nearly five years since his last solo CD, singer/songwriter/guitarist Charlie Farren is releasing a new studio record, Tuesday.

The title and track by the same name serve as a tribute to the late Brad Delp of BOSTON. When Farren first heard Delp’s song “Tuesday,” it left a lasting impression on him.

“I loved it immediately,” Farren said. “It reminded me of ‘Yesterday’ by The Beatles.”

The first time he heard a demo of the song he was in Delp’s car after judging a songwriting contest for Rock 101 (WGIR-FM). Years passed and Delp’s song was never released. However, inspiration struck recently when Farren heard the song “Yesterday” while driving in his car.

Farren called Delp’s family members and asked them to send him a demo of “Tuesday,” and for permission to record a cover of the song for his newest record.

“They were very, very supportive and enthusiastic,” Farren said, adding, “[Delp] was a fantastic guy and an incredible singer.”

Local DJ Lisa Garvey who wrote a review of the song said, “I honestly think ‘Tuesday’ could be the new ‘Yesterday.’”

Due to Farren’s background in hard rock with his band FARRENHEIT!, his other songs on the album have a similar influence mixed with a “jazzier and more eclectic” sound, he said.

At the moment Farren is also working on around 30 or 40 songs, which he said is a regular creative process for him.

“Everyday I pick up the guitar,” Farren said. “Most of the time I’m not just playing it, I’m writing my songs.”

For Tuesday, Farren recorded the acoustic guitar and vocals at his studio, The FMansion. Then the tracks were finished at producer Anthony J. Resta’s studio, Studio Bopnique, where cello and ambient guitars were added. Farren sang all the vocals, with the exception of the songs “That Kind of Girl” and “Middle of My Heart,” where his daughter Veronica Farren joins him on backup vocals.

While some of the songs on his album will not lend themselves to full solo performance, Farren said, half are songs he will incorporate into his set list. Farren has four upcoming shows in New England in April, including an intimate CD release party on April 5th at The Center for the Arts in Natick, Mass.

“It’s been a blast to get back into music,” he said. “I’m psyched to be performing solo again.”

Tomorrow, March 29, Farren is playing a show at Purple Pit Jazz Club in Concord, N.H. where he said he might preview some of his new songs.

“I’ll probably be previewing the ones I feel strongly about,” Farren said.

As for the rest of his newest tracks, fans can attend his CD release party and show The Center for the Arts in Natick. Tickets are available on venue’s website.

For more information about Farren, visit his website at