World Class Rock

Midlife Rocker

Sister Sparrow and the Dirty Birds: Soaring From The Start

Sister Sparrow and the Dirty Birds: Soaring From The Start

Led by an explosive redhead with a voice to be reckoned with, a soul-filled rock band is flying high. By Steve Houk OK, let’s get all the bird references out of the way right at the beginning. I mean, with a band called Sister Sparrow and the Dirty Birds, you gotta have some, right? So let’s make it fun for a sec, a cool modern folk tale of sorts. So the...

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Suzanne Vega – The Square Root of Wonderful

Suzanne Vega – The Square Root of Wonderful

A luminous folk/rock mainstay brings a lifelong project to its final stage. By Steve Houk She really wanted to be a dancer. Lucky for all those who think Suzanne Vega is one of the most brilliant musical voices of our time that she realized hoofing it just wasn’t for her. “I was going to be a dancer, all my training is in dance,” the soft spoken...

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The Krickets: Swamp Folk With Heart

The Krickets: Swamp Folk With Heart

Sheer talent, a love of home and some Muscle Shoals magic make beautiful music for The Krickets. By Steve Houk During just about any evening down on the Florida panhandle, if you listen closely, along with the sounds of lapping waves or a distant boat horn…you can hear it. Amidst the Gulf Coast’s swaying cypress trees and blowing palms, amidst the...

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The Heart of Rock and Roll

The Heart of Rock and Roll

Three recent Rock & Roll HOF inductees bring their rockin’ A-game to a sizzling summer triple bill. By Steve Houk If there was anything to come away with from last weekend’s Heart/Joan Jett & The Blackhearts/Cheap Trick triple bill out at Jiffy Lube Live (other than they raised the damn beer prices again), it’s that the heart of rock and...

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Mary Gauthier: Songwriting Sage

Mary Gauthier: Songwriting Sage

A gifted songwriter sees her unexpected career take yet another positive and surprising turn. By Steve Houk   Who knew? I mean, who knew that Mary Gauthier, whose early life reads like a bad luck hardship tale — left in an orphanage shortly after birth, foster family, addiction, DWI, jail and so on — and who didn’t even write a song until she...

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Streisand: A Powerful Sentimental Journey

Streisand: A Powerful Sentimental Journey

One of music’s most legendary artists brings along power and poise and a room full of memories. By Steve Houk If you flip through the record album synapses of your life, a rare few of them spark and then spring out at you as unforgettable early moments in your growth, both as a person, and a music fan. For me, a 55 year-old on the edge of the boomers,...

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GUIDING MARAH BACK HOME

GUIDING MARAH BACK HOME

A beloved and extraordinary rock band finds that a second life can be even better than the first. By Steve Houk You know that old saying, “you never know what you got until its gone”? Or something like that? Well, whatever that saying is could easily refer to the exceptional Pennsylvania-borne band Marah who, after 20-plus years of grinding it out,...

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Graham Nash:  The Roads Taken

Graham Nash: The Roads Taken

A two-time Rock and Roll Hall of Famer takes us down yet another extraordinary path. By Steve Houk “Where are we going?” Those four simple yet provocative words, set on top of a soft, pulsating yet haunting beat, begin Graham Nash‘s exceptional and most recent album, This Path Tonight. And like the bulk of Nash’s music since the early...

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Nils Lofgren: Stellar Everywhere

Nils Lofgren: Stellar Everywhere

A legendary solo artist and sideman keeps making beautiful music no matter where he straps on his guitar. By Steve Houk So just for a minute, imagine you’re Nils Lofgren. Pretty darn cool thing to imagine, actually. But imagine sitting there, carefully mapping out your next few months, planning shows to follow the release of your new live record, you have it...

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Gary Louris: Still Standing Tall

Gary Louris: Still Standing Tall

An Americana legend makes it to the other side by coming home to his beloved band. By Steve Houk For a supremely talented guy like Gary Louris, writing music seems effortless. The consistent magnificence of Louris’ work over the many decades that he has been the front man and driving force behind alt-rock legends The Jayhawks is evident on every record the...

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LAKE STREET DIVE: SERENDIPITY BREEDS SUCCESS

LAKE STREET DIVE: SERENDIPITY BREEDS SUCCESS

One of music’s hottest acts combines superior talent and a tight bond to make a red hot band. By Steve Houk It could have all happened so differently. Four strangers, four kids really, all attending Boston’s prestigious New England Conservatory of Music in the early 2000’s, all with separate yet equally passionate dreams of musical success. They...

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Peter Wolf: Finding The Cure

Peter Wolf: Finding The Cure

Almost 50 years in, one of rock and roll’s coolest still finds a deep connection to his audience. By Steve Houk It’s been almost 40 years ago now since my high school buddy Ted Riegel used to crank up “Musta Got Lost” from the J. Geils Band‘s seminal 1976 live record Blow Your Face Out on a cassette player in our locker room before our...

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Justin Hayward: These Days, Neither Moody or Blue

Justin Hayward: These Days, Neither Moody or Blue

A rock legend carries on his timeless legacy while also finding powerful new subjects to write about. By Steve Houk Of all the miraculous, timeless music Justin Hayward has created – from the wondrous songs he wrote as a member of prog rock legends The Moody Blues as well as his strong solo work – there’s a song he recently wrote and debuted on his...

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Delbert McClinton: Undefeated

Delbert McClinton: Undefeated

A music veteran perseveres into his 70’s by combining great music and a strong constitution. By Steve Houk One of the true bonafide survivors of the insanity that often is the music business, Delbert McClinton is still out there at 75, playing his familiar yet unique blend of rock and blues that’s been keeping him going for over 50 years. When I called...

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Belinda Carlisle:  A Go-Go Keeps Go-Going

Belinda Carlisle: A Go-Go Keeps Go-Going

The front lady for a seminal 80’s band has kept her own star shining for decades. By Steve Houk They are an integral part of the time capsule of the 80’s. They were the first, and to date still only, all female rock band to both write their own songs and play their own instruments while also topping the Billboard charts. And when you think great...

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Joe Satriani: Leading By Example

Joe Satriani: Leading By Example

A rock guitar master not only plays amazing riffs, he’s taught other rock greats how to play them. By Steve Houk When you watch Joe Satriani play guitar, at times you think you’re watching someone who could have invented guitar playing. The guitar virtuoso’s flair, style, technique are effortless, even at his most frenetic. He is almost second to...

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DAVE MASON: A LIVING LEGACY ROLLS ON

DAVE MASON: A LIVING LEGACY ROLLS ON

Dave Mason’s legendary rock career is one of many legacies keeping him rolling. By Steve Houk When I spoke with Rock and Roll Hall of Famer Dave Mason recently, I told him off the top that I used a few lines from his 1977 song “Takin’ The Time To Find” as my senior high school yearbook quote, oh 38 years or so ago. “I’m...

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THE BLACK LILIES: DEEP ROOTS AND FULL BLOSSOMS

THE BLACK LILIES: DEEP ROOTS AND FULL BLOSSOMS

An alt-country band on the rise uses their roots and resiliency to keep moving forward. By Steve Houk The ground is fertile in Tennessee. A plethora of different kinds of vegetables thrive and grow lush in the rich Tennessee earth, and a myriad of flowers bloom plentifully. But the flora is not the only thing that blossoms in Tennessee. Music is an indigenous and...

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SUSAN TEDESCHI: MAMA’S FAMILY

SUSAN TEDESCHI: MAMA’S FAMILY

The leading lady of one of music’s hottest bands is one proud mama. By Steve Houk As if the music they make isn’t good enough, there also exists a tight, cohesive and some might say unique family vibe within the Tedeschi Trucks Band, a vibe that some other bands might even envy. Of course there’s a literal family thing afoot, what with the...

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JACKIE GREENE: A DEDICATED MAN

JACKIE GREENE: A DEDICATED MAN

Dedication and depth are cornerstones of a respected rock and roller’s success. By Steve Houk On one hand, Jackie Greene is clearly one of rock and roll’s most sought-after players, having done stints with many rock greats. The list is impressive: he was a temporary member of the Black Crowes, an occasional part of Bob Weir’s and Phil Lesh’s...

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