A Few Of My Favorite Places

It’s hard to believe how much a city can change in 10 years, but from the time that I lived in Seattle (’93-’99) till now; it’s a completely different city…especially the club scene.

Gone are most of the “original” clubs that hosted such acts as Pearl Jam, Alice in Chains, Nirvana, Soundgarden, and Mudhoney (long before they were popular).  Some buildings lay vacant while others have been turned in to something entirely different, like a quilt shop.

I was fortunate enough to have been able to play on the same stage as most of the original grunge bands that put Seattle on the music map.  A couple of my personal favs were the Off Ramp Cafe, and the Crocodile Cafe.  You may notice the word Cafe in there, see, the cool thing about these rock clubs is that they also had some killer food! (and usually till 3am).

The Croc (as we called it) was great for it’s sound quality and really just a fun place to be even if you weren’t there to see a band.  My bandmates and I often just went there to hang out and be a part of the scene.  One local music writer called it “the living room of the Seattle music scene”.

The Off Ramp was a classic Seattle club.  It’s been described as, “a little dirty, a little nasty, and a whole lotta fun”.  A total hole-in-the-wall club that saw the birth (and death) of many Seattle bands.

Both these places will always have special memories for me.  As I reflect on the time I spent there, I can still smell the food, taste the drink, and my ears still ring from the rockin sounds that came from all the great bands that played there.

Brian

Sick Puppies new vid


Hey guys, check out the new video and single from Sick Puppies.  Totally rockin tune from a rockin band!

Guys I’ve Rocked With, The Series Pt 4

There is always a special bond between a bass player and a drummer.  Something that syncs them together that can’t be explained.  One guy always knows what the other is going to do.  I’ve always shared this phenomenon with the best drummer I’ve ever rocked with, my brother in rock, and my best friend…Chris Villasenor.

Chris and I have known each other our whole lives and music has been one thing that we’ve always shared.  Villa has always been instrumental in pushing me to become better, challenging myself to be the best that I can be…and then do it better.  He is also an outstanding drummer in his own right.

When we first started out things weren’t easy for either of us.  Villa was a lefty trying to play a right handed set of drums (which he has since mastered) and I was a guitarist trying to become a bassist.  We spent many hours together jamming in his basement, watching MTV (back when they played videos), and just hanging out.  Perhaps that is what made us such a good rhythm section.

I can remember countless trips to Springfield, IL to the record store with Villa to grab the newest releases from our favorite bands.  When Metallica released …And Justice For All, we were there the first day; the Crue’s Dr. Feelgood, Extreme’s Pornograffitti, and so on and so on.  Not to mention all the concerts we rocked at together.  Villa was there when I moved to Seattle and helped get me goin’.  Although we never played in a band together while I lived there, he always supported me, encouraged me, and believed in me.

Chris still lives in the Seattle area with his family and is still rockin’.  Do yourself a favor and check out his band The Copper Kings!  Totally rockin’ band you can check out on itunes or live if you’re in the Seattle area.  Keep rockin’ Villa and know that you’ll always have a fan back home.

Brian

Guys I’ve Rocked With, The Series Pt 3

Once in an interview I was asked, who were your earliest influences?  After I gave the standard answers of all the famous musicians I said,  Darin Raffety.

Darin was a close high school friend and the first person who REALLY made me want to learn how to play the guitar.  Darin was the rhythm guitarist and frontman of The Basements, my first band, and was solid as solid comes.  He practically lived, breathed and ate music, still does, and could jam practically any song within 5 minutes of hearing it (although he was always partial to the Doobie Brothers – Long Train Runnin).  Once I started playing the bass; Darin made me a better player.  If I didn’t know how to play a particular part, he could show me.  One of the greatest assets of having Darin around was that he could also explain why it was to be played that way.  He was a true student of music.  Something that I’ve always admired about him.

One of the best stories that I remember about Raf was when he and I went to get new amps.  We headed to Missouri to St. Charles Guitar Exchange and both came home with these huge stack amps, big enough for any arena show.  It was ridiculous, there was absolutely no reason we needed this much power.  Raf had this white leather, 50th anniversary Marshall amp that he could only turn up to 2, otherwise it would’ve probably shattered the windows in your house.  I mean, I was rockin 2 bass cabinets with 8 speakers and he was blowin’ me away.  For a bunch of high school kids we had some serious gear (but that’s a different post).

Darin and I have been able to stay in touch via the social media outlets available to us today, but it’s been a long time since we rocked together.  He inspired me to play, to be good at it, to have fun, and to stick with it.  So here’s a huge rock on to my good friend, and brother in rock…Darin Raffety.

15…Make That 5 Influential Albums

A couple of weeks ago some Facebook friends of mine created a note on 15 albums that made a lasting impression.  So I played along and thought that it would be fun to share a few of them with you as well. (For the sake of space I’ve narrowed it down to 5…in no particular order)

First off I would have Prince – Purple Rain.  The very first time I saw this movie I knew that I wanted to be in a band and become a rock star.  I ran right out and bought the soundtrack and turned it up as loud as it could go and pretended that it was me in that club giving the opening sermon and jamming Let’s Go Crazy.  I would practice every spin move, every mic stand trick and even grab a lighter for when the title track came on.  To this day whenever I hear one of those tunes on the radio, the volume knob goes all the way to the right.

Rush was a big influence on me, as I mentioned before, and probably the first Rush album I can remember listening to was Hold Your Fire.  The shear talent of those 3 guys was enough to make me a fan the first time I heard them.  Great musicians, great songwriting, and they’ve stood the test of times (They just released a new documentary feature, Beyond the Lighted Stage).  Hold Your Fire may not have been their most successful release, but for me it was an introduction to one of the greatest bands of my generation.

Guns and Roses – Appetite For Destruction changed the way bands started doing stuff.  GnR came with such a raw, in your face sound that nobody knew what hit ’em.  Appetite hit me my freshman year of high school, sank it’s teeth into me and wouldn’t let go.  The hair metal bands of the late 80’s rocked me all through high school and GnR, I would say, kicked the whole thing off.

After high school came the 90’s, in which I would say was probably my most influential period.  I knew I still wanted to be a rock star, but also figured that it probably wasn’t going to happen in the Midwest.  Then I heard Pearl Jam – Ten.  My bags were packed and I was headed for the pacific northwest.  Pearl Jam is the original grunge band for me and it was that album that drove me to pursue my dream to the fullest.

Probably though the one man who has influenced me more over the years than anyone else has been Billy Joel.  The Piano Man has provided me with more entertainment than anyone else I can think of.  His songwriting, lyrics and musicianship have moved me from the very first time I heard him play.  I have had the pleasure of seeing Billy live and can’t wait to get back there again.

So those are just a few albums that have stayed with me over the years. You may like/dislike or agree/disagree with some or all of them, but I’d love you hear from you and what albums have had a lasting impression on you.

Brian

Guys I’ve Rocked With, The Series Pt. 2

I thought I’d continue on in the Guys I’ve Rocked With (GIRW) series with another close friend of mine from high school.  A guitar man, who once willed to me in his senior will…nothing.  Reason being is that he always considered me and all or nothing kind of guy and since I can’t have it all; I get nothing.  Ladies and gentlemen, I give you Jim Manley.

Jim was always a close friend of my family, so I knew him long before we started jamming together.  Jim was with me in the infamous talent show, but our music relationship wouldn’t be strengthened till later when I joined the band, The Basements.

The Basements was comprised of a group of high school friends, myself, Jim, Darin Raffety, and Chris Villasenor.  We rehearsed in Chris’ basement (hence the name) and often our rehearsals were more like mini-shows, since you never really knew who was going to show up through the basement door.

Jim was lead guitar and fearless.  Constantly challenging himself with complex lead parts and solo’s.  And for that he made us all better.  However, Jim was also a bit sloppy.  Not in his playing, but with his gear.  I can’t tell you how many knots were in Jim’s guitar cables and how many broken strings lay strewn around his amp.  And he was notorious for never having any picks.  There is a classic recorded practice session where I think the rest of the band took up a collection to buy Jim some picks…to which he replied, “but I got pick money!”

Jim is still rockin today and continues to impress me.  He is a fine, fine guitar player, who also heads up his own video production company, Manley Media Productions, check em out!  Keep rockin’ Jimmy!  Woo! Top Jimmy, he’s the king!

Bands That Influenced Me

Let’s face it, if you’ve ever played an instrument or been in a band, you’ve probably been influenced by someone.  Someone who’s inspired you to play or someone you’ve aspired to be.  For me, it was all the above.  I just wanted to be a rock star!

Growing up I listened to all kinds of music, but rock music always attracted me the most.  Once I started playing, certain bands really jumped out at me.  Anything from their songs to their clothes to their hair or their talent had an influence on me.

Rush, was probably one of the biggest influences in my rock life.  They were never the most popular band, but I’ve also never heard 3 guys make so much music.  And Geddy Lee (bassist/singer/keyboards), is one of the most talented bassists I’ve ever seen.  If I ever wanted to be able to play like anyone, it would be him.

Motley Crue also had a definite influence to my rock life.  The Crue is the band that I think started the whole 80’s rock era.  Every band that ever came from the 80’s should personally go and thank The Crue.  I wanted to move to LA, grow my hair long, put on leather pants and party on the sunset strip!  If any band ever lived the lifestyle of a rock star it was the guys in Motley Crue.

Metallica came a little later in my life (Master of Puppets, I think), but I remember hearing them for the first time and just feeling the energy come through my radio.  Their sound was like no other I’d ever heard, so heavy, and fast and just distorted enough.  Also excellent musicians, anybody that can play that fast and be that together has major skills.  Metallica didn’t really change the way I did anything but they certainly opened me up to a whole new style.  I would say that they made me a more rounded musician.

One band that did change me in a major way was Pearl Jam.  I mean they made me load my truck up and move 2600 miles away from where I lived.  The whole Seattle scene was such a huge impact on my life.  To be able to say that I was a part of it is unbelievable to me.  Since I was too young to move to LA in the 80’s, I would probably say that living in Seattle during the grunge scene made up for that.  Just being able to rock in the same clubs and hang out in the same bars with these guys was an amazing experience that will last my lifetime.

These are just a few of the bands that made me want to play…or who I wanted to look or act like…or just who I thought made really good music.  Music has a way of impacting a persons life.  It speaks to us in ways that nothing else can; I know it did for me.  I’d love for you to share any bands that had (or still have) an influence in your life.  Leave me a comment and keep rockin!

Brian