‘MONSTERS OF ROCK’ Cruise Raises $48,000 For ‘RONNIE JAMES DIO Stand Up And Shout Cancer Fund’


Stand Up And Shout Cancer Fund president Wendy Dio, as well as several members of the Stand Up And Shout board of directors, joined some 40 recording artists and the 3500 passengers on the SRO cruise for specific Dio events like Rock ‘N Roll Bingo and Dine And Donate For Dio. For the latter, participants paid for a private cooking demonstration with rockers, including Lita Ford, Billy Sheehan, Tom Keifer (CINDERELLA), Rowan Robertson (DIO) and members of NIGHT RANGER, BLACK ‘N BLUE and LILLIAN AXE. In addition, guitars signed by the BLACK STAR RIDERS and EUROPE were auctioned live following the bands’ performances.

A special live auction featured signed Ronnie James Dio photos, rare memorabilia and three unique guitars, including a signed MOTÖRHEAD guitar and a Monsters Of Rock guitar, which had been signed by many of the bands on the cruise. The third guitar was built from the ground up by George Bisceglia, who builds guitars for Dave Meniketti, the singer, songwriter and lead guitarist for hard rock band Y&T. Meniketti was on hand for the auction, which was won by passenger Richard Wesson.

“I cannot thank Larry Morand, Mike London and the fantastic Monsters Of Rock cruise production staff, as well as the very generous passengers, who dug deep into their pockets during our wonderful five days at sea,” says Wendy Dio. “I want them all to know that every penny raised will go to cancer research so that one day we will find a cure for this terrible disease that takes so many of our loved one’s lives. Ronnie would be so proud.”

The Ronnie James Dio Stand Up And Shout Cancer Fund is a privately funded 501(c)(3) charity organization dedicated to cancer prevention, research and education and is committed to raising money and awareness in hope of one day finding a cure for this dreaded disease.

Ronnie James Dio, the world-renowned voice of DIO, RAINBOW, BLACK SABBATH and HEAVEN & HELL, died on May 16, 2010 of gastric cancer.



Singer Mike Howe, who fronted METAL CHURCH from 1988 until 1994, has officially rejoined the band.

In the summer of 2014, METAL CHURCH suddenly found themselves in need of a new singer. As fate would have it, guitarist Kurdt Vanderhoof was already in talks with Mike for another project that he was working on with SAXON drummer Nigel Glockler, so he decided to ask Mike to rejoin METAL CHURCH. Mike agreed, but true to form, didn’t want to make it official until he knew for sure that the integrity of the new material was there.

Says Mike: “I didn’t want to come back to METAL CHURCH just for nostalgia. It had to be for the right reasons. It had to be the best stuff we’ve ever written together or it just wouldn’t be worth it to anyone, especially the fans.”

Soon after, Kurdt and Mike began exchanging ideas and writing new material with the band. The end result sounds like “classic Mike Howe-era METAL CHURCH,” according to Vanderhoof. “It’s both heavy and melodic. Mike sounds the same as he did 20 years ago.

He adds: “This is going to be truly epic!!”

Drummer Jeff Plate comments: “Mike Howe is the ONLY singer for METAL CHURCH. He has a reputation of complete honor and respect. We can now take METAL CHURCH to the next level!”

Howe originally joined METAL CHURCH in the late ’80s and released three albums with the band: “The Human Factor” (1989), “Blessing In Disguise” (1991) and “Hanging In The Balance” (1994). Mike was also the face of popular music videos “Date With Poverty” and “Badlands” that aired during MTV‘s heyday.

METAL CHURCH is currently in the process of working on its new album, to be released later this year via Rat Pak Records.


Mike Howe (vocals)
Kurdt Vanderhoof (guitar)
Jeff Plate (drums)
Steve Unger (bass)
Rick VanZandt (guitar)



Welcome to the first edition of my new interview column for Bullspike Radio entitled The Scorpion’s Slate. Here I’ll be interviewing those who I frankly think kick ass. It could be virtually anyone from any field. First up however is not only someone I call a friend but also a guitar virtuoso who honestly doesn’t get enough credit for his talent and passion. Here’s my conversation with Ron Thal aka Bumblefoot:

JAY SCORPION: First off Bumble, thanks for being a part of the debut of The Scorpion’s Slate. Your new record Little Brother Is Watching came out several weeks ago, and it’s awesome. The video for the title track just came out, and that’s awesome. How’s the record been received so far?

BUMBLEFOOT: Thank you so much! So far so good with the album, video as well. Would like to do videos for more of the songs, and still need to do a full-blown tour, but so far I’m happy with how things are going, and greatly appreciate your support. Thank you!

JS: What were some of the inspirations for the songwriting on the record and how long did it take to complete?

BF: The inspiration came from living life, real experiences, pretty auto-biographical. “Clots” was written about doctor visits after they found a tumor. “Little Brother Is Watching” talks about how we’re all under each other’s watchful eye and the pressures it can cause. “Argentina” is a love/tragedy story about jumping into something without thinking it through, realizing that the parties involved both expected something different from the other, and how in the end the emotions turn dark, bitter, into hurting each other – it can be about any kind of relationship. “Don’t Know Who To Pray To Anymore” is about losing faith, and needing to make peace before you’re able to move forward. “Cuterebra” has some of my favorite lyrics – it compares the life-cycle of a parasitic fly to *gossip*, how seeds are planted, they grow beneath the skin and eventually surface, grow their wings and land on the next person. “Livin’ the Dream” is about touring, the transitions of bouncing between two sides of your life. “Higher” is about enjoying your life *now*, giving yourself good memories, and how certain songs can be the soundtrack to these moments. “Women Rule the World”, well, self-explanatory, haha. “Sleepwalking” is about being disassociated from your own actions, not facing what you need to. Eternity” is a ballad, about looking forward to waking up each morning with your ‘better half’. “Never Again”, a song about admitting to yourself it’s time to let go of what you need to. There’s varied inspirations that show up – David Bowie, Queen, George Harrison, Stevie Wonder, Iron Maiden, Manowar, the album is a collection of individual stories, each has its own character.

I had a few ideas for songs that were unfinished, waiting for the right home, but it was in December 2013 that the writing began, with the intentions of making a new album. It was the first time I wrote while on tour (w/GNR, March – June 2014). I’d wander the stairways of hotels with a phone writing words down, the writing continued on the Guitar Gods tour (Bumblefoot & Yngwie Malmsteen, June/July 2014), and finished July 2014. Recording began in May 2014, laying drum tracks between tours, and continued in July, all the way to January 2015. It started with drums, and 1-take reference tracks of bass, vocals, rhythm and lead guitar, as a guide for the drummer (Dennis Leeflang) to play to. The lead guitars were spontaneous, and as I began recording the actual lead guitars I realized that what I did in the reference tracks were the most honest and natural, many of the melodies on the album were spontaneous. This was the most comfortable I ever was, everything happened easily, it felt like a very direct connection from what I felt to what I recorded. In December, I threw a listening party for 100 fans at a venue in NYC, where I’d play each song, we’d talk about each song, and then I’d show everyone parts to sing together. Half the songs on the album have the crowd singing, chanting, stomping their feet, it was important to me to include people on the album. It’s not just my album, it’s their album too. I also wanted people to see the process of making the album, and watch how the songs develop, while recording the album we posted videos, they can be seen HERE.

JS: What’s your personal favorite song on Little Brother Is Watching?

BF: Hard to choose from your own songs. “Argentina” and “Don’t Know Who To Pray To Anymore”, very happy with how they both turned out, I feel like they said everything the exact way I pictured.

JS: Now for those living on Mars, you are also a part of a not so small band called Guns N’ Roses. How the hell have you been balancing a solo career and GNR for the better part of the last decade?

BF: It was difficult to do it all – GNR touring, solo recording and touring, producing & doing TV/film music, teaching & workshops, recording guest solos & doing guest performances, promoting a hot sauce line & designing custom guitar cases, volunteering for charities, and whatever else, gaaaahhh!! You juggle the best you can, and every once in while you’re forced to re-structure your life, as needed.

JS: For those who don’t know, how did you get that gig?

BF: It was Joe Satriani that recommended me to GNR, back in 2004. We hit the road in 2006 and toured pretty extensively thru 2014.

JS: What’s been the craziest and/or most memorable moment of your GNR experience? Also, what’s your favorite GNR song to play live?

BF: I always liked playing “Shackler’s Revenge” from Chinese Democracy – I played a big role in that song with the fretless solos and backing vocals, enjoyed that. And of course the classics that everybody loves. Craziest and most memorable moments? Haha, that might take a while, a lot of unforgettable moments. I think playing the Bridge School Benefit in 2012 was one of my favorites – I do a lot of benefit shows on my own, it was nice to do one with GNR.

JS: Lastly, what’s your current touring schedule like?

BF: It just keeps building itself – just getting back from weeks in Southeast Asia, home for a few days and then head out to Bahrain, Cyprus, India for a few weeks, home for a few days and head out to do Rock N’ Roll Fantasy Camp in Toronto in early June, then Raleigh Music Academy in mid-June, and it keeps on going with lots of studio work in-between. I keep an update at www.bumblefoot.com and www.facebook.com/bumblefoot and www.twitter.com/bumblefoot so you’ll always know what I’m doing and where I’m doing it.



GET Little Brother Is Watching HERE


[A photo of BUMBLEFOOT and I]


STONE SOUR’s 3rd Covers EP Will Include Version Of VAN HALEN’s ‘Unchained’


STONE SOUR will release two more EPs of cover songs following the arrival of its first one, “Meanwhile In Burbank…”, on April 18 as a Record Store Day exclusive. STONE SOUR vocalist Corey Taylor revealed that the next two will be titled “Straight Out Of Burbank” and “No Sleep ‘Till Burbank” and will feature five songs each, including new versions of tracks from RAGE AGAINST THE MACHINE, MÖTLEY CRÜE, BAD BRAINS and the VIOLENT FEMMES.

“Meanwhile In Burbank…” contained songs originally done by BLACK SABBATH, JUDAS PRIEST, METALLICA, KISS and ALICE IN CHAINS.

Asked by the WGRD 97.9 FM radio station in Grand Rapids, Michigan how STONE SOUR went about choosing which songs to cover for the three EPs, Taylor responded: “It’s kind of cool, because this is something we’ve been threatening to do for a very long time. So when the opportunity afforded itself, we already had the list put together. We just kind of went around and said, ‘What do you wanna play?'”

He continued: “Our biggest thing was a) representing the bands who have inspired us to do what we do, and b) just to have fun with it. This wasn’t like days on end spent agonizing over vocal takes or anything like that. I mean, we did the majority of the music live at Roy‘s [Mayorga, drums] studio, and then, for two days, I would just sing my ass off. And all those vocals on the first one were done in two days. The one I just finished up, the vocals were all done in two days. I mean, it was just, like, ‘Hit it and get the vibe and get out. Don’t overthink it. Don’t sing it with the thought of, ‘Oh, we’re gonna Auto-Tune this later,” which is just such a copout. It was, ‘Capture the vibe and have fun with it.’ And that’s what we did. I think that’s why it pops off the album the way it does. We’ve gotten so many compliments from so many people about the spirit of it and the sound of it that it just feels good to know that we did these songs justice. And, yeah, I’m looking forward to seeing the reaction from people when we put the second one out.”

Asked if there were any songs that he was particularly looking forward to covering, Taylor said: “The one song that I’ve always wanted to cover was ‘Unchained’ by VAN HALEN. And that’s gonna be on the third [EP] that we put out. The music is already done. I haven’t sang it yet. I mean, that’s one of my all-time favorite songs, full stop, because it’s just got such a great vibe to it. And I love that band so much. I just feel like that song just kind of sumps up everything about that band that’s awesome. So when the time came, I was, like, ‘We’re definitely doing ‘Unchained’. Everybody can shut up. We’re definitely doing ‘Unchained’, and that’s the way it’s gonna be.’ So I’m looking forward to that one. That’s the one that a) I know I can sing, and b) I know that I’m just gonna have a ton of fun singing it.”

Taylor told The Pulse Of Radio why he enjoys covering other artists’ songs. “The thing I love about playing covers is that it’s a chance to walk in the footsteps of your heroes,” he said. “It’s a chance to have fun. There’s a certain amount of relaxation that comes when you don’t have to worry about your song. This is someone else’s song, you know. This is where you can relax and just remember why you’re a music fan in the first place.”

On its last North American tour, STONE SOUR played a different cover every night, including songs that made the EP such as METALLICA‘s “Creeping Death”, KISS‘s “Love Gun” and JUDAS PRIEST‘s “Heading Out To The Highway”.

Taylor is currently on tour with his other band, SLIPKNOT, and did not indicate when the next two covers EPs will see the light of day.

NEAL SCHON To Release ‘Vortex’ Album In June


Mascot Label Group‘s Music Theories Recordings and Neal Schon have announced the release of “Vortex” on June 23. The 2-CD all-instrumental album utilizes rock as its foundation, while also embracing elements of jazz, classical and world music in an 18-track stunning, sonically explosive collection of original compositions. The release is dedicated to Schon‘s best friend and wife, who serves as his true inspiration every day (Both “Lady M” and “Triumph Of Love” were written for her, the latter of which he performed at their wedding on December 15, 2013.)

Says Schon: “This is an evolutionary album for me. I’ve always aspired to be a better player and push musical boundaries. And sure, I’ve sold 80 million records with JOURNEY, and I’m proud of that, but this album is really me — all based on my guitar, which is my ‘voice.’ It’s bold. There’s love, and there’s definitely fire and an element of danger. And the energy level is off the hook.”

That’s evident from the first, mysterious-sounding measures of “Miles Beyond”, the scalding tribute to jazz genius Miles Davis‘ pioneering fusion recordings that opens the album. The tune blends Schon‘s soaring leads, tectonic plates of grinding rhythm and brilliantly layered melodies within an arrangement that embraces Middle Eastern flourishes plus flashes of African drumming by Steve Smith. “Schon & Hammer Now” is a furious jam between the guitarist and his longtime friend and creative foil, Grammy-winning keyboardist Jan Hammer, whose many accomplishments include charter membership in the groundbreaking MAHAVISHNU ORCHESTRA. And the two match their brilliant technique and relentless invention throughout, sparring with the grace and speed of a young Mohammad Ali. Schon reveals, “Jan is all over this album. I wrote the material to give Jan room to stretch. There are not many three-minute ditties. It’s all huge, epic, bombastic…futuristic.” After hearing the completed album for the first time, Hammer made a succinct observation, “This is fucking amazing.”

“Airliner NS910” is further proof. It’s all speed and swagger, with Schon skywriting the song’s sweetly singing theme in the indelible vapor trail of the instantly recognizable operatic tones of his signature model Paul Reed Smith guitars. He reflects, “Since ‘Vortex’ is a two-record set, it’s both my ninth and tenth solo albums. That’s where the ‘NS910’ comes from.”

The music of “Vortex” originated in the hard drives that Schon is constantly filling with ideas for riffs, melodies and chord progressions at home. But they came to life at Berkeley’s Fantasy Studios, his preferred spot for recording since JOURNEY cut the 10-times-platinum number-one album “Escape” there in 1981. Schon states, “It’s my home away from home. I spend so much time there that they’ve given me my own locker.”

Schon produced and played bass on “Vortex”, too, and was joined in the studio by Smith and keyboardist Igor Len. Hammer and Len also appeared on Schon‘s seventh solo album, “The Calling”, which was followed by the blues-inspired hard rock album “So U”. He offers, “Igor and Jan complement each other, and me, beautifully.” And “Vortex”‘s “Eternal Love” is a testament to Len‘s creativity. The song, a richly emotional ballad, features Len alone on piano. The guitarist observes, “He sat down and played the tune spontaneously, and it was so gorgeous and deep that I had to have it on my album.” Schon offers his own reflective solo performance on “Vortex” with the sparsely arranged acoustic guitar meditation “Mom”, dedicated to his mother, Barbara Schon. He reveals, “Like most of the performances on this album, it wasn’t premeditated. I’d just pick up a guitar and tell my engineer Jesse Nichols to hit Pro Tools.”

The intensely creative guitar giant has always had a seemingly innate ability to make glorious music. He began playing at age five and was inspired by soul vocalists like Aretha Franklin and Gladys Knight, and blues and jazz guitarists ranging from B.B. King, Albert King and Eric Clapton to Wes Montgomery. When Schon was just 15 years old, Carlos Santana invited him to join his band. Schon‘s recording debut was on the classic 1971 album “Santana III”. He played the solo on the LP’s hit single “Everybody’s Everything”. Recently Schon has been working with Carlos Santana on a new album, co-writing songs and playing key performances including homecoming SANTANA concerts in Guadalajara and Mexico City that included JOURNEY as the opening band.

Schon formed JOURNEY in 1973 and has led the band through its astonishing 42-year history. Along the way, JOURNEY has sold well over 80 million albums, amongst which the band’s “Greatest Hits” release was certified Diamond by the RIAA for sales in excess of 10 million copies. To date sales now exceed 15 million copies. Eight other JOURNEY album releases have been certified multi-platinum. Neal Schon co-wrote the timeless hit “Don’t Stop Believin'”, which now holds the title as the most digitally downloaded song in history. Seventeen additional JOURNEY singles were Top 40 hits. Schon has received multiple Grammy Award nominations for both his work with JOURNEY and his solo recordings, and JOURNEY has been nominated for the Rock And Roll Hall Of Fame.

Besides solo albums and tours and his historic work with JOURNEY, Schon has an extensive history of blue-ribbon collaborations. These include co-founding the supergroup BAD ENGLISH and forming bands with vocalists Paul Rodgers and Sammy Hagar. He released two collaboration albums with Jan Hammer, “Untold Passion” and “Here To Stay”, while also performing on releases from Michael Bolton, RETURN TO FOREVER‘s Lenny White and many others.

One thing he’s never done is considered resting on his laurels. Schon reflects, “I feel more aware and alive now than I’ve ever been. Part of that is the sobriety I’ve had for the last seven years. I’ve also evolved as a person and a player though understanding the value of being in the moment — letting things happen and not thinking too much. There’s an old blues saying: ‘If you’re thinkin’, you’re stinkin’. When you stop thinking and just play from the heart, you discover your own voice. That’s the real thing, and that’s what ‘Vortex’ is about for me.”

“Vortex” track listing:


01. Miles Beyond
02. Awakening
03. Cuban Fly Zone
04. El Matador
05. Eternal Love
06. In a Cloud
07. Irish Cream
08. Lady M (Our love Remains)
09. NS Vortex


01. Tortured Souls
02. Schon & Hammer Now
03. Airliner NS910
04. Unspoken Faith
05. Twilight – Spellbound
06. Triumph of Love
07. Mom
08. Talk to Me
09. White Light

DUFF MCKAGAN To Release ‘How To Be A Man’ EP


As he gears up for the May 12 release of his much-buzzed-about new book, “How To Be A Man (And Other Illusions)” (Da Capo Press), former GUNS N’ ROSES bassist Duff McKagan will issue a three-song companion EP, “How To Be A Man”. Due on the same day as the book, the disc features former GUNS N’ ROSES guitarist Izzy Stradlin, ALICE IN CHAINS vocalist/guitarist Jerry Cantrell, STONE SOUR drummer Roy Mayorga and drummer Taz Bentley. It will be available for pre-order beginning May 5.

“How To Be A Man (And Other Illusions)” is the follow-up to Duff‘s critically acclaimed New York Times bestselling memoir, “It’s So Easy (And Other Lies)”.

In “How To Be A Man”, McKagan shares the wisdom he gained on the path to superstardom — from his time with GUNS N’ ROSES and VELVET REVOLVER to getting sober after a life of hard living to achieving his personal American Dream of marrying a supermodel, raising a family and experiencing what it’s like to be winked at by Prince.

Among the book’s many highlights:

* McKagan discusses the need for communication in your relationships, especially when you want to see the BUZZCOCKS in Manchester and your lady has her sights set on DURAN DURAN in the tropics.

* Together with DEATH CAB FOR CUTIE‘s Ben Gibbard, he solves one of life’s most staggering math problems: if you’ve seen a million faces, is it truly possible to rock them ALL?

* He spills the beans on some of his fellow rock stars (“Gene Simmons is a kick-ass dancer,” “Perry Farrell is an NFL historian and aficionado”).

* Travelers will benefit from his plethora of globe-trotting tips, including what shots to get for malaria, how to pack lightly (“hair conditioner makes for good shaving cream, so no need to bring both”) and, of course, “don’t smoke crack on a leased private jet — the smell gets into everything.”

* McKagan, who still uses a Blackberry (“because loyalty is important”), stresses the importance of not being a dick (and don’t be a pussy, either). Oh, and get a dog.

* He recalls the Rock And Roll Hall Of Fame induction ceremony and reuniting with GUNS N’ ROSES frontman Axl Rose for a handful of South American dates.

* He runs down the list of albums that every man should listen to (from ABBA‘s “Gold” to ZZ TOP‘s “Tres Hombres”), the books they should read (Stephen Ambrose‘s “Undaunted Courage” and Dexter Filkins“The Forever War” are particular favorites) and what they should tell the first dude who shows up at the door to date daddy’s little girl (“you pull him aside and tell him, ‘everything that you do or try with my daughter tonight, I will do to you when you get back to my home'”).

* Of course, no advice book would be complete without tackling the age-old question: when given the choice of taking a private jet to a yacht to hang out with Steven Tyler for a trip to San Juan Islands or going home to stain your deck, what do you do? (Remember, “those boards in the backyard are not going to stain themselves”).

Speaking to TotalRock Radio last year about the upcoming book, McKagan said: “I had a column for the Seattle Weekly for five years, and there was one column that was called ‘How To Be A Man’, and it was kind of tongue in cheek; it was really tongue in cheek. And I got a book deal from that column. It’s a how-to guide of things I’ve learned about life — being a dad, being a husband and being in a rock band. And it’s, like, a city guide in it, but a very tongue-in-cheek city guide; like, how I see cities. It’s got all kinds of stuff. And other stories. And hopefully it’s gonna be a funny book.”

McKagan‘s wisdom has been sought out on everything from financial planning and relationships to surviving the summer festival circuit and escaping a military coup. Expanding on his popular weekly columns in Seattle Weekly, Playboy.com and ESPN.com, McKagan equips readers with the knowledge they need to rock fatherhood, manage their money, and remain a good dude in spite of it all.

Fans can meet Duff during the following book-signing events:

May 11 – Ridgewood, NJ – Bookends
May 12 – New York City – The Strand Bookstore
May 13 – Long Island – Book Revue
May 15 – Hollywood, FL – Hard Rock Casino
May 16 – Ledyard, CT – Foxwoods
May 17 – Seattle – Neptune
May 22 – Los Angeles – Book Soup


New RONNIE JAMES DIO Tribute Album ‘A Light In The Black’ Due In May


Massacre Records will release the two-CD album “A Light In The Black – A Tribute To Ronnie James Dio” on May 22.

The label states in a press release: “Ronnie James Dio was a hero and inspiration to many musicians, such as Lars Ulrich (METALLICA), Doro Pesch and Axel Rudi Pell, and rumor has it that he’s the main reason why every metal head worldwide is familiar with the sign of the horns. Now it’s time for us to pay tribute to him as well: 12 of our bands covered Ronnie James Dio songs to honor this exceptional musician!”

“A Light In The Black – A Tribute To Ronnie James Dio” will contain 20 songs by 12 different bands, including CRYSTAL BALL, MESSENGER, GUN BARREL, GLORYFUL, THE ORDER, METAL INQUISITOR, CIRCLE OF SILENCE, BURDEN OF GRIEF, LOVE.MIGHT.KILL, REBELLION, IRON FATE and WIZARD.

The stunning artwork for “A Light In The Black – A Tribute To Ronnie James Dio” was created by Jan Yrlund (Darkgrove.net), who is also a huge Ronnie James Dio fan himself.

“I decided to go for an old-school type of hand-painted look, like the classic DIO covers, but I still wanted to keep it original,” he explained. “You’ll find many hints and details that refer to well-known DIO themes: The mountain has two peaks as if they were devil’s horns, and, of course, the DIO mascot Murray is featured too, merging from the fire.”