Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Meister's Monsters of Rock Cruise 2014 #7-Threesomes

The time is steadily winding down, now under 50 days or just over a month to go until we set sail on the Monsters of Rock Cruise 2014.  A little less than that for many of us who will be heading to Miami a few days earlier to partake in the warmth and sunshine that Miami offers after harsher winter weather than we've experienced the past few seasons.  The clock ticks down on every cruisers, veterans and newbies alike, personal countdown and if any are like me their co-workers have had it up to here with hearing all the cruise chatter that I spew forth.  This Monsters of Rock Cruise has basically ruined me for any other vacation and "lowered work productivity but certainly increased
daydreaming by 110%" (a phrase coined by a fellow cruiser friend of mine).  Facebook friends, that I have made from all over the world as a result of this cruise, statuses are afire with cruise related postings covering everything from packing, the days in Miami before the cruise, after the cruise, layouts of the ship, pics from years past, chatter about fave bands, advice for first timers to getting into "cruise shape".  The latter is certainly a big one, many are surely worried about getting into "cruise shape" and I know that I should be as well.  Normally being one of those "night before" style of luggage packers, let's face it most guys need only a plastic shopping bag with change of underwear, pair of shorts and a couple t-shirts (unless of course you're one more fortunate than I, still have your long hair and therefore require those style products) I caught the fever and dug the shorts out of the drawer.  OMG!!!  I knew that I had slipped in the healthy eating and gym attendances, but I didn't even notice that I had succeeded beyond my wildest dreams at packing on a staggering 20lbs!  Time to put a regiment into action and shed this winter blubber prior to cruise time.....who knows my future wife may be  Never-the-less the camaraderie on the MORC Facebook page is awesome to see and I'm proud to be a part of the community spawned by the greatest floating party vacation ever!

Let's go over a quick re-cap of some of the bands returning for their third Monsters of Rock voyage, this year aboard the MSC Divina at the end of March.

Tesla hails from California, came to attention with their debut album, Mechanical Resonance, in 1986 and have since issued several studio, live, acoustic and cover records during their career.  The band is currently comprised of vocalist Jeff Keith, guitarist Frank Hannon, drummer Troy Lucketta and bassist Brian Wheat all having been with the band since prior to that initial release.  Guitarist Dave Rude has been a
Jeff Keith-2013's Sail-away
member of Tesla since 2006, taking up Tommy Skeoch's former position.  There are rumors that Tesla is planning to release an album of all new material soon and the single "Taste My Pain" was issued on I-tunes in June of 2013.  Tesla is a band that I own all the albums for and enjoy them all, some more than others of course, but I have never considered myself a big fan and their music is rarely chosen to grace a playlist of mine.  That being said to see Tesla live is truly something to behold as they sound near note perfect identical to the recordings.  Tesla have, both years now, been awarded the coveted position
Snapped at 2013's Tesla sail-away
 of the sail-away concert as we set sail and head out into the wild blue yonder to start our cruise.  Usually most bands play two sets aboard the ship and I will say that both years now I have skipped their second set as it's acoustic, something I've never been a fan of, choosing the louder more aggressive sounds of electric performances for my style of poison.  This year I will make it a point to see their acoustic show.  I wonder if they'll be escorting us out to sea once again....thoughts on your pick for the sail away concert?

Cinderella is back for their third voyage....well almost their third.  Last year Tom Keifer, afflicted with illness (Strepthroat, maybe, I can't really remember) did not make the boat.  I was rather disappointed as Cinderella was a favorite of mine in my youth, the Long Cold Winter album being a staple in the soundtrack of my car and having seen them several times in their appearances in Toronto.  Not having seen them since my youth, I had only been able to catch parts of both of their performances during the premiere excursion in 2012 and was looking forward to a full show.  In a testament to the phrase "the show must go on", something magical took place in Cinderella's time slot.  Many of the other artists aboard all pitched in featuring a couple of surprise guests in what turned into an all star jam
Cinderella & Friends - MORC 2013
with a few Cinderella songs and some other great classic rock.  With John Corabi acting as a host Jeff Keith (Tesla), Spike (London Quireboys) and more, including cruise passenger Johnnie Dee (Doro/Britny Fox) all took turns on stage with the rest of Cinderella, Jeff LaBar, Eric Brittingham and Fred Coury as the back up band.  Cinderella formed initially in the early 80's, issuing four studio albums between 1986 and 1994 starting with Night Songs in 1986, Long Cold Winter in 1988, then embracing a more bluesy sound for Heartbreak Station in 1990.  Still Climbing was released in 1994 and would serve as their last studio album, due at least in part to the impending doom of the grunge era.  Not having seen a full Cinderella show since the early 90's they are fairly high on my hit list for this year's excursion.

Maryland USA born band KIX are returning for their third voyage again this year.  I was originally not a huge KIX fan, mediocre I guess you could say, only possessing the Blow My Fuse and Hot Wire albums.  All that changed in 2012 when I saw them play live for the first time as the vessel gracefully floated away from the port of Key West.  KIX were absolutely incredible live led by charismatic front man Steve Whiteman.  That performance had me searching for and acquiring their entire CD collection in preparation for 2013's shipboard shows which I'm happy to say only served to solidify my new found KIX mania.  KIX were formed in Hagerstown Maryland by guitarist Ronnie Younkins, guitarist Brian Forsythe and bassist Donnie Purnell in 1977.  By 1979 vocalist
"Girl Money" - MORC 2013
Steve Whiteman (one of the funniest and most charismatic front men I've seen) and drummer Jimmy Chalfant had signed on and the debut album, KIX, followed in 1981.  Four more albums, Cool Kids 1983, Midnite Dynamite 1985, Blow My Fuse 1988 and Hot Wire 1991 all came before the final release of $how Bu$ine$$ in 1995.  Some sources have cited plans for a new KIX record in 2014 and I for one eagerly look forward to that as well as the 2014 Cruise KIX live show.....hey guys, ever hear of a club up here in Toronto called The Rockpile.....would be a great place for a live KIX show!

Y&T out of California were one of the bands that I was most looking forward to seeing on the inaugural voyage of MORC as Black Tiger 1982 and Mean Streak 1983 were among the earliest hard rock/metal albums that I'd ever heard!  Sadly, in a conundrum of schedule change confusion and alcohol
Meniketti-Pool Deck 2013
consumption, I completely succeeded in missing them during that initial excursion.  Heart broken and having only the t-shirt I had purchased to show for it I sorely hoped that I'd get another chance to see Y&T live as at the time they hadn't played in Toronto in something like 26 years.  Luck was with me and they not only appeared in the ship's registry for 2013, but stopped in Toronto for a packed house in April (Y&T-Enjoy the Ride).  Y&T led by Dave Meniketti, the only original band member still with the outfit is simply mesmerizing and something to behold live.  The band  played for a whopping two and a half hours at the Toronto show (which unfortunately won't happen on ship
A drink with Dave Meniketti
 as everyone has shortened set lists)!  Y&T's extensive discography includes the latest release, 2010's Facemelter, along with eleven other solid rock efforts.  Y&T now consists of John Nyman on rhythm guitar, drummer Mike Vanderhule and Brad Lang on bass guitar and I eagerly await seeing them, not only on the 2014 cruise, but when they stop at The Rockpile in Toronto for two back to back performances in April as well.  Last year I had the opportunity to share a few drinks with Dave Meniketti and I hope this year that I'll be able to do the same and maybe even show him the Y&T logo that makes up a part of my tattoo.

Faster Pussycat could be considered the house band for The Rockpile Bar & Nightclub in Toronto as they have a habit of stopping in there for shows an average of three times a year!  Last year I started the partying early by heading to Edgewater Florida to catch their show at The No Name Saloon the same night I arrived in Florida from Toronto.  Faster Pussycat has had a bit of a revolving door of lineups since it's inception in the early 80's with Taime Downe being the sole original member in this 2014 incarnation.  At one point there were for a short time two versions of Faster Pussycat touring at the same time.  Faster Pussycat began in 1986 in California releasing the debut, Faster Pussycat, in 1987 with a line up of vocalist Taime Downe, guitarists Greg Steele and Brent Muscat, drummer Mark Michals and bassist Eric Stacy.  That album was followed up with Wake Me When It's Over in 1989 and Whipped! in 1992, the latter with Brett Bradshaw replacing Michals behind the
Faster Pussycat @ The No Name Saloon 2013
kit.  After that release Faster Pussycat disbanded in 1993.  2001 saw Downe, Muscat and Steele back together, releasing an album of industrial flavored remixes of classic Faster Pussycat songs, but before too long Steele had left and in 2005 Muscat was sidelined with oral cancer.  In 2006 while Taime Downe soldiered on with bandmates from his post Faster Pussycat outfit, The Newlydead's, guitarist Xristian Simon, bassist Danny Nordahl and drummer Chad Stewart, Brent Muscat also led a version of Faster Pussycat consisting of himself alongside Eric Stacey and Brett Bradshaw.  Muscat has since relinquished his claim to the Faster Pussycat moniker and now performs under Sin City Sinners.  Downe's version has added guitarist Ace Von Johnson and continues to tour.

Ted Poley in my humble opinion could easily be nick named "Mr. Cruise", there's just something about his charisma, persona and performances that this Monsters of Rock Cruise would just not be the same without.  As I mentioned in my Tesla paragraph and probably on many more occasions, I'm not a big fan of the acoustic performances, but there are
Poley-MORC 2013
some exceptions to every rule.  I caught Ted Poley's only set during the inaugural voyage in 2012 in the Bar dei Poeti lounge early on the Sunday morning while the majority of the cruisers were ashore exploring Nassau, Bahamas.  At that time I really only knew the Danger Danger song, "Naughty Naughty", but Ted and his guitarist Maz with the assistance of Gary Corbett (Cinderella/KISS) on keys absolutely won me over at that show.  For 2013 I was better prepared, catching Ted Poley's electric show at the Rockerz Gone Wild Pool Party prior to cruising and at least portions of both performances aboard ship.  In August he rolled into the Rockpile with the 80's Invasion Tour and I was there with about 30 other Canadian Cruisers for a countdown photo (The Story of the
Ted Poley in Toronto by Brain Ronald
Countdown Photo).  By a twist of fate and issues with the Canadian border patrol, something that we were treated to at Toronto's 80's Invasion Tour was Ted Poley drumming for his own band with a broken wrist!  Originally Ted was drumming (and sometimes vocalist) for Prophet and appears on their debut release, Prophet, in 1985 when he was approached and offered to front Danger Danger.  Finding himself out of the band after three albums (Danger Danger 1989, Screw It! 1991 and the third, Cockroach, which was not released until 2001) he performed in a variety of other projects including Bonemachine, Melodica and performing solo until re-joining Danger Danger in 2004 resulting in 2009's Revolve.

John Corabi became a household name when he filled the front man/vocalist shoes in Motley Crue left vacant by Vince Neil's departure.  Corabi was with the Crue for two releases in 1994, the full length Motley Crue, and an EP, Quarternary, both showcasing a departure from the band's traditional sound.
Corabi-MORC 2013
  The Crue recruited Corabi from The Scream, an L.A. based hard rock band that released their debut album, Let It Scream in 1991.  Following his short tenure in Motley Crue, John Corabi partnered up with former KISS guitarist Bruce Kulick to form the band Union who issued three albums, Union in 1998, Union Live in the Galaxy in 1999 and The Blue Room in 2000.  After being involved in several other projects including Brides of Destruction and MORC 2014 shipmates Ratt, John Corabi is concentrating on a solo career, touring behind the release of John Corabi: Unplugged in 2012 including a visit to Toronto in December 2013 (No Regrets-John Corabi Interview and Show Review).  John was not high on my bucket list of performers during the 2012 excursion of the Monsters of Rock Cruise, but I did catch a little of his set in the acoustic lounge, albeit it a drunken fog.  Again I was won over, made a point to catch his full set in 2013 and his stop in Toronto.  John Corabi's emotional performance is on my radar again in 2014....hhhhmmmm maybe I do like acoustic shows more than I'd like to admit.

Heavy Mellow is back aboard with their Spanish flamenco guitars.  They were aboard in 2012, but then sailing under the moniker of Flametal and now switched to Heavy Mellow, playing metal classics on Flamenco guitars for 2013.  I purchased Flametal's 2008 release, Master of the Aire, to explore their music in preparation for that 2012 cruise and I'm sorry to say it's not my flavor at all.  This is in no disrespect to the musicians or their obvious talents it's just not my personal preference or choice of poison.  I am however in the minority as they are quite popular amongst many of my cruise friends/fellow cruisers and I have taken some flak for saying different.  In any case I say that if you're unfamiliar with them, they definitely warrant checking out their set aboard the MSC Divina and let me know what you think.

And now in what could be considered a "saving the best for last" move is Keel.  I'm cheating a little here maybe as for the first two years we had the thrilling experience of the entire Keel band and this year Ron Keel is performing an acoustic solo gig while the rest of the band stays home.  In
MORC 2013
 addition to Keel last year, vocalist and namesake Ron Keel also squeezed in a solo acoustic gig which I unfortunately missed.  Even with holding fast to my dislike of acoustic performances this is one that I would not have wanted to miss for the world, especially after catching the full band's electric sets on the cruise and my awesome day with Keel (Meister's Right to Rock With Keel), but tragedy struck and this gig somehow slipped from my radar that day....probably over medicated with a plethora of adult beverages.  This will NOT happen this
Singing "Right to Rock" with Brian Jay
 year and I will definitely be in the crowd to support Ron, a talented singer, musician, all around great guy and I sincerely hope that he will play some selections off his new Metal Cowboy album (Meister's Metal Cowboy Review) alongside the Keel classics.  I'll be able to get my full band electric Keel "fix" in my first attendance at Baltimore's M3 Festival this year at the end of April..........until then we all have "The Right to Rock".

Those are the bands that are making their three-peat alongside The Meister on the Monsters of Rock Cruise 2014: Escape to Monster Island.

The Meister ("LIKE" The Meister on Facebook)

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