Monday, February 11, 2013

Meister's "Views of the Cruise" - Volume #7 - The Most Anticipated Return Of........

Hello and welcome to my blog series concerning anything and everything to do with The Monsters of Rock: The Lost Weekend cruise setting sail in March 2013 from Fort Lauderdale to Nassau, Bahamas, to Coco Cay and back to Fort Lauderdale.  I'm a veteran "Monsters Cruiser", having had the opportunity to take part in last year's inaugural Monsters of Rock: The Voyage cruise in 2012.  This year we sail the high seas for a whole extra day and that means the addition of more great bands for this year.....bigger and better!  As I go through these blogs each week leading up to the voyage I'm making my strongest attempt to cover at least a short piece on every band that's making the ship's's my seventh article about some old friends, at least that's how it feels!

RETURN OF..........

On last year's inaugural Monsters of Rock cruise I had the opportunity to experience some great bands.  Some I had seen live before, some that I had always wanted to see and some that were totally new to me.  Here are some of the acts from last year that are making a triumphant return to the MSC Poesia for Monsters of Rock: The Lost Weekend in March 2013.
First up is my biggest regret of the cruise last year!  Y&T were one of the major reasons that I had set out trekking solo from my Canadian homeland to board this rock and roll cruise and somehow I missed both of their shows......that will NOT happen this year!!  I had to console myself last cruise
with simply purchasing a Y&T Year of the Tiger tour shirt, cool as that was and although I do wear it proudly, it doesn't wash away the disappointment that I have for missing their shows.  It was not totally my fault however it was in the plans to catch their set on the Monday, the last night of sailing.  They were scheduled for two shows as were most bands and as soon as the schedule was released I poured over it laboriously, meticulously planning and mapping the performances that I would catch.  Y&T's first show was set for Sunday February 26th at 7pm on Castle Donnington Pool Deck Stage.  This conflicted with the only set that my fellow countrymen Helix would play aboard ship, even though I've seen Helix several times before and they do play regularly in my area I enjoy their music and decided to forgo Y&T to catch Helix, planning instead to attend Y&T's second performance aboard the MSC Poesia at 10:30pm on Monday February 27th (the last day night of sailing).  I was set with my home made map and schedule plan and satisfied that I would get to see most of the bands aboard ship, then it went horribly awry through no fault of anyone except Mother Nature.  A bad
 snowstorm and inclement weather trapped Lynch Mob and Stryper somewhere in the mid west I believe and they missed our departure time and were not aboard the MSC Poesia!  They were now driving across the country, sharing a tour bus (as the story went), hoping to catch up with the ship and board at our first port of Key West, Florida.  Due to this, Lynch Mob were unable to make their first show scheduled for 11:30pm Saturday February 25th and Y&T stepped in and filled the time slot.  This now put Y&T in conflict with Keel (whom was also highly anticipated by me) and I decided to wait, thinking
that Lynch Mob would just take Y&T's Sunday spot and still planning to catch Y&T as the last performance on the ship.  It was not to be as I found out after they had played that Y&T kept the Sunday and it was the Monday time slot that was filled by Lynch Mob......I had effectively missed both Y&T shows!  I'm now counting the days and whiling away the minutes until the schedule gets released and I can plan my shipboard adventures, I'll have two chances to catch Y&T again this year and come hell or high water I won't miss them this time, but as a backup just in case, I already have a ticket purchased to the recently announced show that they will be playing here in Toronto on March 26th after the cruise!  Until then it's Live At The Mystic played at full volume to get me ready!

Y&T Home Page     Y&T Facebook Page

And speaking of Come Hell Or High Water, Keel was another reason that I was on this rockin' high seas adventure.  It was while surfing around on their website learning about and purchasing
The Streets Of Rock And Roll (whose release had somehow, even with the advent of the internet, escaped my powers of detection on it's initial release) that I noticed an icon in the bottom right hand corner of the home page.  "Join us on the Monsters of Rock Cruise" it beckoned....."CLICK".  It was all over from there on in as I went through the line up of bands that would be aboard this floating rock party, I must be on this or I'll regret it for the rest of my natural born days and I was not wrong!  Read about my adventures of last year in my Volume #1: "Views of the Cruise" - Volume #1 - The 2012 Recap.  I would put The Streets of Rock And Roll up as Keel's best record yet and I only hope that we will see more recordings in the future.  Keel did not disappoint by any means and actually over exceeded my expectations with their performance in the low ceilinged darkly lit Pigalle Lounge on the first night aboard ship.  While lingering after the
show enjoying yet another (and completely unnecessary by this point) adult beverage, I spotted Ron Keel sitting in the lounge and I sauntered over, trying to express my sentiments of "best show on the boat tonight" repeating it over and over in drunken mumblings!  It was this show that in the end incited me to skip Faster Pussycat (only because I've seen them a few times already and they do make their way to Toronto from time to time) and catch Keel's second performance as they closed out the Castle Donnington Pool Deck Stage on the last night aboard the MSC Poesia.  Keel went over the top for this second show playing full force and loving every minute of it with a highlight being when Ron Keel invited guests Brian Vollmer (Helix), Jamie St. James
(Black N' Blue), Oz Fox (Stryper) and Kyle Kreuger (Hair I Go Again) on stage for The Right To Rock.  At the end Ron announced that he would be by the merchandise stand and wanted to meet as many of us as possible (great, another prime chance for me to totally embarrass myself in front of one of my heroes), I bee-lined directly to the merchandise booth all the while my inside voice screaming "don't say anything stupid, don't say anything stupid.....again!"  I survived and got a picture with Ron and I guess you could say that Keel was sort of the anti-Y&T as I was able to catch both Keel sets, an action that I don't regret for one minute as they left me hungry for more!  I am anxiously awaiting this year's schedule so I can start planning my shows and times and try to fit in as many great bands as I can.  Last year, drunken navigation of the ship proved to slow me down a few times, so this year I have a new plan.  Certainly I can't cut down on the adult beverages, so I am already studying the ship's layout on line, which I'm sure I'll only forget any!

Keel Website     Ron Keel's Facebook Page

Black 'N Blue were a band that I was not overly familiar with (or more accurately not at all familiar with).  As I've mentioned previously in my little town north of Toronto, Canada we are sometimes not as exposed as we'd (or again more accurately "I") would like and I missed catching any of their videos on our MTV equivalent of MuchMusic (if they were even played, that is).  Being a KISS fan, I'd heard of Tommy Thayer and the name of the band that he had been in previous to KISS, so
always wanting to discover new music and bands I searched out some Black 'N Blue during my preparations for last years inaugural Monsters of Rock Cruise.  I started with purchasing a greatest hits package entitled The Ultimate Collection.  The songs here were a great listen with catchy riffs and melodies and I wondered why they had not  received more radio airplay and subsequent success back in the day.  In listening to the song Nasty Nasty I couldn't help but recognise the similarities to KISS's Domino and I'm also told (although I don't hear it myself) that the riff to KISS's Only You can be heard in the Nasty Nasty song.  I caught Black 'N Blue's performance in what Jamie St. James described as the "worst time slot on the boat" on the last day aboard ship.  They had the unfortunate time slot of 1:15pm while the ship was docked at port in Nassau, Bahamas and many of the cruisers were exploring the shore leave.  Black 'N Blue didn't let the sparse attendance stop them from a blistering set featuring many of the hits from my recently acquired compilation CD.  Their stage presence was
phenomenal and they sounded great, definitely a band that absolutely must be seen live to be fully appreciated!  That set in the hot Bahamian sun with a small audience transferred me from the casual fan status and landed me smack dab in the rabid fan category.  For a taste of their live show search out some videos from last year's cruise on you-tube or pick up the One Night Only live album.  So many bands, so little time and Black 'N Blue is another band that I have to work into the schedule, anything less would be unacceptable!

Jamie St. James Website     Black 'N Blue on Facebook

While I have mentioned that it's sometimes difficult to get music exposure up here north of Toronto, there are a few shinning instances where I have discovered a great band that many others are unfamiliar with.  Rhino Bucket is just such a band.  The iconic Mike Myers movie Wayne's World had the expected effect on my group of teenage friends and among reciting lines and scenes from the movie, we also loved the music and purchased the soundtrack.  One of my favourite songs on it was Ride With Yourself by Rhino Bucket.  Never did I see an album for sale in a store or heard anything else from the band at that time and simply assuming they were a one-time thing, forgot about them until I started to re-discover music as the "grunge" era faded away and bands began to reunite and play again.  I came across The Hardest Town CD from a few years ago by accident and purchased it right away.  What an absolutely killer album is about all I can say
as it left me speechless right from the opening track and is still a regular spin in my house and several songs can be found on my MP3 player.  I made a point to hit up their midnight set in the Pigalle Lounge and getting there early to ensure I was front and centre allowed me to be treated to the sound check or a pre-listen if you will to the show that was to follow.  They sounded great and very loud as a rock show should be while they rolled through some of my favourites like Hardest Town, Justified, Who's Got Mine, Ride With Yourself and I Was Told among others.  Now with the advent of the internet (who knew it could be used for more than porn?) I have been able to complete my Rhino Bucket collection, although some albums have been
purchased as downloads which I am rather adverse to.  Last year there was a decided lack of Rhino Bucket merchandise available aboard ship and I will be searching for some this year hoping that some of the CD library will be available.  Especially the new release Sunrise On Sunset Blvd.: Live At The Coconut Teaser which is a live recording from their 1990 show there with the original line up.  They are also working on a new studio album to be released in 2013.  I hope that I have done my part to help more folks aboard this year's cruise become familiar with Rhino Bucket and also Helix (see previous "Views of the Cruise" volume) so I don't have to endure another conversation such as this true story.......

Fellow Cruiser: "Are you familiar with Rhino Bucket?"
Meister: "Yes, I sure am."
Fellow Cruiser: "Who is "Duckman"?  Is he even from a band?
Meister: "Uhhh, that's Kaleb "Duckman" Duck, guitarist for Helix."
Fellow Cruiser: "He signed my guitar and I thought it was a joke!"

Rhino Bucket's guitarist, Bryan Forsythe is a double agent, playing for both Rhino Bucket and Kix.  He'll be a busy guy aboard ship this year again methinks

Rhino Bucket Website     Rhino Bucket on Facebook

KIX was our sail away from Key West performer and I have long been a mediocre KIX fan owning
Blow My Fuse and Hot Wire on CD, but never having delved further into their catalogue.  I'm proud to say that all that has changed and I have now searched out and purchased the entire KIX discography including the recently released Live In Baltimore.  This drive to complete my foray into the KIX library was a direct spawn of catching their live performance as the MSC Poesia floated away from the Key West docks.  They were simply captivating during this performance with extremely charismatic front man Steve Whiteman leading the way and
 regaling us with stories of shitting his pants on stage one night.  I did read somewhere that Poison actually copied a lot of Steve and KIX's stage moves!  One thing that I was a bit put-off about however was Steve's short rant about his unpleasant feelings towards fans stopping him for pictures and autographs during the cruise.  I got news for ya Stevie-boy.....I'll be looking for you with "sharpie" markers in hand and camera ready to sign my newly acquired KIX collection and pose for a photo!

KIX Website     KIX Facebook Page

While I would love to cover in depth each band that's returning for this year's drunken debauchery aboard the MSC Poesia, I simply don't have the time......but you can rest assured that I will be seeing as many of these great bands as I possibly can.  Watch out for my daily diary during the cruise to keep up on my exploits and concerts reviews, in the meantime here's a few quick words about the other awesome returning acts.
I've had the opportunity to see Cinderella on more than one occasion back in my younger concert going days and they always put on a great show when I went to see them.  I was a bit nervous about seeing them on last year's cruise as I had heard some things about Tom Keifer and his voice, including the talk after their first set aboard ship claiming that he had been inflicted with sea sickness and sounded horrible.  Whether this is true or not, I'm happy to report that I caught a good portion of their second show last year and he as well as the
rest of the band sounded amazing, just as they had in the years of my youth.  I just wish that Tom would venture north of the border and play a show in Toronto on his new, first ever solo tour.  In any event I'll be at one of their shows sporting my Night Songs record and I was even able to locate and dig out my Heartbreak Station concert tour book to bring along on this year's cruise in search of autographs.  I look forward to their set as being from Canada I certainly understand a Long Cold Winter.

Cinderella's Website     Cinderella on Facebook

This cruise was the first time I had been able to catch Tesla in a live setting.  They played the big sail away concert as the MSC Poesia drifted away from the pier of Fort Lauderdale and out to sea.  This was also my first time on a cruise ship and so I was feeling a little anxious as we left dock and didn't give them the full attention that they deserved, but I will say this for sure........they sound exactly like they do on the records!  This sentiment was echoed by Jason McMaster of Dangerous Toys when I interviewed him recently (Vol #2-Jason McMaster Interview).  I have always been a fan of Tesla, enjoying the hit songs and even purchasing the albums, but not spinning them too often for some reason.  I have been listening to the deeper cuts on their albums in
preparation for this year's adventure and I am determined to give them my full attention for at least one of their performances, preferably the electric (last year they played electric and an acoustic show).  Frank Hannon's new solo release Six String Soldiers has found it's way into my CD player a few times as well and I'll be planning to catch his solo performance aboard ship as well.  Also this year I have a new camera and a better understanding of it, so hopefully that will mean better pictures too!

Tesla's Website     Tesla on Facebook     

I know that some folks have the opinion that Christian rock is not proper rock, which is just silly.  I am not one of those people and have never been opposed to Christian rock and I quite enjoy bands like Barnabas and White Cross.  However for some reason I never got the exposure to the biggest name in Christian rock of Stryper.  In preparations for last year's cruise I had searched out a live greatest hits package entitled 7 Weeks Live In America and I felt ready to catch their set.  Alas this was not to be with the schedule changes when they couldn't make the ship due to inclement weather.  When they were able to catch up and board in Key West the schedule had been adjusted and I entered the auditorium too late and missed the show entirely.  I've been getting into the Stryper catalogue, anxiously awaiting their new record Second Coming set to drop in late March 2013 and will make a point to catch them this year and hopefully Michael Sweet (vocalist/guitarist) as well when he does double agent duty with Harnell/Sweet.

Stryper's Website     Stryper on Facebook   

I stumbled into the Zebra Lounge last year, late for Bang Tango's show and because it was a low stage and I'm a short guy who got stuck at the back I couldn't see them perform.  But I heard them and they sounded good, so a little frustrated with my vantage point I moved on after a couple of songs, planning to catch them on their next set, which somehow got lost in the shuffle and I missed it as well!  There's no way I can miss seeing Bang Tango this year as I'm looking forward to the Rockerz Gone Wild Pool Party on March 14th before we cruise.  Even if you're not cruising, you can purchase tickets to this show through PayPal for this packed bill.  And once again, if all else fails, I already purchased my tickets to see their show here in Toronto on March 23rd a couple of days after the cruise.

Bang Tango on Facebook

Faster Pussycat is a band that has had great exposure here in Canada and I've seen them many times from opening for KISS on 1990's Hot In The Shade tour to three times here in Toronto last year.
On the ship I was able to catch a few songs as I wandered through one of their sets in my adult beverage induced haze, including my favourite Faster Pussycat song, Jack The Bastard.  After hearing that they would be playing a gig in Florida on the 13th of March, I decided to start my cruise vacation early and head out from Toronto a couple of days prior to embarkation.  I have now learned that the show is unconfirmed and I suspect cancelled for reasons unknown.  Oh well, spring break on the beach instead, I'm sure I'll find something to do!  In continuing their show of love for Toronto, Faster Pussycat will be visiting here on March 31st with an awesome local band, Diemonds supporting.

Faster Pussycat's Website     Faster Pussycat on Facebook

Having XYZ's self titled début album, which I think was one of those rare gems that you some times find in a discount bin, and several of the songs finding a home on my MP3 player I had hoped to catch them last year.  Unfortunately it wasn't to be, but I'm glad they're back for round #2 so I have another chance to check out their live performance.  Now, I know I have some "cruise friends" that would look down on me for missing them last year and would absolutely shoot me if I let it happen again, so as a self preservation technique I'd better make sure to catch one of their sets!  Lead vocalist Terry Ilous has also joined Great White, providing the voice on their latest effort, Elation, so he will be another double agent aboard the cruise.

XYZ's Website     XYZ on Facebook

John Corabi was another highly anticipated event for me on last year's voyage and while I did catch
his entire first set, I was partying with some new found friends and don't fully remember the show.  As well, due to my condition it appears after flipping through my digital photos that I was also unable to work the flash and take a steady clear picture!  So many things to rectify from last year and so many new things to screw up for this trip, pray for the best and if you're going to be following along with my planned daily blog diary, I hope it will be!  John's new acoustic CD, Unplugged, is an awesome offering and I look forward to hearing some of the songs along with selections from his Motley Crue, The Scream and Union (with Bruce Kulick of KISS) days.

John's Website     John's Facebook Page

Ted Poley had a morning time slot last year at 11:30am in the small and intimate Bar Dei Poeti.
Unfortunately Ted's only show was this performance that took place while the MSC Poesia was in dock at Key West and many of the cruisers had taken shore leave to explore.  Ted along with
guitarist Maz, guest Gary Corbett from Cinderella on keys and a drummer put on a great set and Ted even joked about stage fright as he likened the venue to playing for us in our living room as we lounged back in the comfy arm chairs.  They played some of Ted's solo compositions and also included Danger Danger's Naughty Naughty, which sounded well with the acoustic treatment.  Ted Poley is one of the acts on the packed roster for the Rockerz Gone Wild Pool Party taking place on March 14th in Fort Lauderdale two days before we set sail.

Ted's Website     Ted on Facebook

I'm excited to be joining my fellow countrymen Helix once again aboard this year's voyage.  Last year during one of my pit stops at the buffet to re fuel, I was sporting an aged Helix shirt in preparation for their one and only show that night.  I was the only one seated at my chosen buffet table when someone approached, asking if the other seats were spoken for.  I replied no without even looking up from my heaping plate of sustenance and it was only when my new lunch partner asked where I had acquired my Helix wear that I realized that it was Brian Vollmer, lead vocalist for Helix!  This year's cruise will be the first time that I am able to see new guitarist John Claus, who just recently replaced Brent "The Doctor" Doerner.  For more Helix see last week's article: Vol #6-My Fellow Countrymen, I'll Lend You My Ears

Helix Website     Helix on Facebook

To catch up on your cruise reading check out the previous volumes of Meister's "Views of the Cruise" with the links below:
Volume #1

Volume #2

Volume #3
Volume #4

Volume #5

Volume #6

*****The Monsters of Rock: The Lost Weekend Cruise is now sold out, but you still may be able to find a cabin on this rock & roll party boat through Facebook's find a cabin mate page.  Check it out and join me aboard the MSC Poesia in March 2013*****

*****There has been an adjustment to the ship's registry!  I have heard rumours that Arcade (featuring Stephen Pearcy of Ratt and Fred Coury of Cinderella) has been removed from the roster!  While I have not personally seen any confirmation from the Monsters of Rock organisation, their band photo has been removed from the official Monsters of Rock website.  I was looking forward to seeing them and they were a band that I had not been exposed to prior to seeing them on the cruise roster and featured them in Volume #4 even!*****

*****If you can't join us on the voyage, but still want to catch some of the bands live in Fort Lauderdale and surrounding areas as cruise bands roll into town and play gigs before and after the voyage.  Here's a few that I know about so far:
March 12th - L.A. Guns rocks Club L.A. in Destin
March 13th - Faster Pussycat is playing in Cape Coral at the Dixie Roadhouse. THIS SHOW IS UNCONFIRMED AS YET AND I SUSPECT CANCELLED FOR REASONS UNKNOWN (It was my plan to attend this show, but we'll have to wait and see if it's a "go" or not)
March 13th - L.A. Guns will be at Dirty Harry's in Daytona for Daytona Bikeweek.
March 14th - Faster Pussycat plays Club L.A. in Destin as support for Jack Russell's Great White
March 15th - L.A. Guns takes the stage at Jake's Tavern in Sarasota
March 15th - Bang Tango is at The State Theatre in St. Petersburg
March 15th - Queensryche plays The Ritz Ybor in Tampa.
March 15th - Frank Hannon (of Tesla) at Brewster's Roc Bar in Jacksonville.  FASTER PUSSYCAT HAS BEEN ADDED TO THIS SHOW!
March 22nd - sees Bang Tango in Jacksonville at Brewster's Pit & Pub
March 22nd - has Queensryche playing H.O.B. in Lake Buena Vista Florida.*****
........And the most exciting pool party.......
March 14th - has a packed bill for the Rockerz Gone "Wild" Pool Party at the Days Inn Bahia Cabana along with L.A. Guns, Bang Tango, Ted Poley, Glitter Boys, Pretty Little Suicide and recently announced Liberty Lush (who are currently touring with L.A. Guns).  Tickets are still available for the pool party with this link: Rockerz Gone Wild Pool Party. Big John, Brett's right hand man from The Rock of Love will be on hand autographing 8x10 photos for $10.00 each with every dollar of proceeds going to The Wounded Warrior Project.  This pool party keeps getting better and better with L.A. Guns now raffling away an autographed guitar and CD for $20.00 a ticket with only 50 tickets being sold!
........And the Official Monsters of Rock pre- party has been announced......
March 15th - The official Monsters of Rock pre-party has been announced to take place at Exit 66 and features Enuff Z' Nuff and JSRG (3/4 of the original Vixen-see Volume #3 above for details)
........For those in the Toronto area.....
March 7th - Queensryche will be at The Phoenix Nightclub in Toronto
March 23rd - Bang Tango is rocking the Rockpile Bar & Nightclub in Etobicoke
March 23rd - Y&T comes to the Rockpile Bar & Nightclub in Etobickoe
March 31st - The Rockpile is yet again invaded by Faster Pussycat with incredible local act Diemonds as support.

*****Watch for next week's "Views of the Cruise" as I explore the music of some of the brilliant new additions to the ship's registry for this year's voyage aboard the MSC Poesia in Volume #8*****

The Meister

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