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Rod Morgenstein-Drummer

Rod Morgenstein- Drummer

Dixie Dregs and Grammy Nominee

Rod is a New York native, founding member, and drummer of the Dixie Dregs, a six-time Grammy nominee. Rod is a professor, teaching percussion at Berklee College of Music, in Boston, Massachusetts. Recently offering, Drum Set Warm-Ups, touted as the definitive text for developing and improving all aspects of drum-set playing.  He is also a columnist for Modern Drummer magazine.
The beginning of the Dregs started in 1973, when he attended the University of Miami in Florida. There he met Steve Morse, Andy West, and Allen Sloan, playing under the official Studio Music and curriculum title of, Rock Ensemble II.  At the university, The Dregs recorded their first album in 1975, The Great Spectacular, as a class project.
The Dregs had a rough time getting signed and were turned down and told their music was difficult to market because they were a jazz fusion band had no vocals, odd timing, and that their music combines rock, jazz, bluegrass, folk, and classical influences. The group was finally signed to Capricorn in 1977, and recorded several albums before they temporarily disbanded in 1983. Rod then joined Steve Morse’s new band and stayed for two albums before wanting a musical change to try something both new and challenging. The Dregs last reunion was a tour in 2018.

Winger and Other Projects

Rod moved back to New York City and began auditioning for jobs, one of them turned out to be a band that Kip Winger was forming. Two months later, Rod received a call from the band, and they were off to record their self-titled, debut album, Winger, in 1988.  It went double platinum. Winger followed up in 1990 with In the Heart of the Young. In 1993, they released the album, Pull, as grunge came in and changed the music scene. The band decided to take a break, but got back together in 2002, and have had sporadic reunions since, and continue to do so as time permits. Winger will be releasing a new album in 2021.
Rod’s other projects include the Rudess/Morgenstein Project, an instrumental progressive power-duo, featuring Rod and Dream Theater keyboardist extraordinaire, Jordan Rudess, with two albums to their credit. Rod is is involved with jam band, Jazz Is Dead, which features creative improvisations of the music by the Grateful Dead.  Another project is, Platypus, whose two recordings feature: John Myung (Dream Theater), Ty Tabor (King’s X), and Derek Sherinian (Planet X). The music is a mix of instrumental and vocal tunes that blend many different styles together. An offshoot of Platypus is The Jelly Jam, a power trio featuring Rod, Ty Tabor, and John Myung. Their debut release came out in 2001, and The Jelly Jam, ‘2’ was released in 2004.

Interview with Rod Morgenstein (Part 1)

Dixie Dregs “Patchwork”

Here are links to Rod

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Bruce Engler

Bruce Engler-Singer/Songwriter

Bruce Engler- Singer/Songwriter/Guitarist

A Passion for Blues and Rock

At an early age, Bruce was fascinated by guitars and built his own guitar when he was just seven years old, and he has been playing ever since. Bruce is a blues-based singer-songwriter, and his influences are: Eric Clapton, The Allman Brothers, and Jackson Browne to name a few. Bruce has played with many well-known musicians including, Wings’ drummer Steve Holley, bassist Paul Page from the Ian Hunter Band, and DownTown Mystic guitarist/vocalist, Robert Allen, and many more. Bruce has appeared onstage playing blues-rock music at New York City, Los Angeles, and San Diego venues for over three decades. Bruce’s songs have been featured on prime time TV shows in the U.S., as well as internationally. Bruce has also had a career in the audio side of the music world as an audio technician for music videos, movies, radio, and more. His song Goodbye was used in the television show, ZOO. His publishing company is called Twincliff Music.

New album- The Landing and other work

Bruce’s new album The Landing was released November 20th, but the first single was released earlier in 3020, titled, Not You and Me. The album is Bruce’s first new album in seven years.  His previous two releases are Go Back (featuring Steve Holley, Paul Page, and Robert Allen) released in 2012, and Hudson River Anthology, released in 2013. The single and video from the album, Somewhere In-Between, has received a lot of attention. The video was directed and shot by Netherlands based DP, Roeland Bentvelzen.  Music features Brett Engler on Drums, Dave Hedden on Percussion, and Angus McEachern on Bass Guitar.

Jamsphere Magazine had this comment

“Bruce Engler’s vocals are captivating all the way through and the songwriting writing is just brilliant.”Jamsphere Magazine, January, 2020

Video interview with Bruce Engler

Here are links to other things related to Bruce

Video of “Not You and Me”

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Jeff Kazee (Part 2 of 2)

Jeff Kazee- Part 2 of 2

Southside Johnny Bandleader

In Part one with Jeff, we discussed his influences and moving to the New Jersey area in 1993 and when he joined Rock/Soul band Southside Johnny and the Asbury Jukes. We also talked about meeting with guitarist G.E. Smith and saxaphonist Mark Rivera, and when G.E. took Roger Waters to a club in Long Island that Jeff was playing at. During the Covid Pandemic, Jeff created the Living Room Lounge where he was able to raise over $10,000 for the Fulfill NJ , to help folks in need.

Bon Jovi and Early Elton Trio

In Part 2, we talk to Jeff about when he auditioned for Southside Johnny and met Jon Bon Jovi and Steve Van Zandt.  We then continue when Bon Jovi asked him help out on keyboards for the bands 2003 tour This Left Feels Right Live and the Have a Nice Day Tours from 2005 until 2006. Kazee also filled in for David Bryan on keyboards and vocals for night five of Bon Jovi’s 2010 London O2 Arena residency as Bryan was attending The Tony Awards in NYC.
In 2009, Jeff joined Fab Faux drummer Rich Pagano and Asbury Juke bassist John Conte in an ongoing side project performing music selected from Elton John‘s Trio Years (’70-’72), entitled Early Elton Trio.

Video interview with Jeff Kazee Part 2

Early Elton Trio-Take Me To The Pilot

Here are links to Jeff

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Kristin Rose Kelly

Kristin Rose Kelly

Chicago-Based Artist

Kristin is a self-taught, rock guitarist, singer, and songwriter, born and raised in the Chicago area. Kristin developed her style as soon as she had her hands on her first guitar at age 12, and has been playing and singing since. Kristin’s influences are Fleetwood Mac, Heart, Led Zeppelin, and Queen, to name a few. She has auditioned on American Idol and Nashville Star, but would rather play with her band any day. She had an Emmy nomination in 2011 for the intro theme to the Herman the Jester television show. Her debut album, Pantyhose, was released in 2017. Kristin says of the album’s title, her “female rock anthem,” meant to empower women and has been aired on Chicago’s Rock the Fox.  Pantyhose really shows Kristin’s talent on songs like “Rockin Muse” and “Hapi” to the acoustic ballad, “In Your Eyes.”  Touching on many views, her songs and lyrics naturally fall into place once she has the music. Kristin has supported the album by recently touring across the country and with southern Belk winner Eryn Shewell. Her other accolades include singing and writing for Al Krouse, opening for Dilana, and Isaiah Grass.

Video interview with Kristin

Kristin Playing Zeppelin

Here are links to Kristin

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The Outcrops

The Outcrops

MusicXplorer asks, who are The Outcrops?

Cassidy Rain and Bryan Schroeder are the founding members from Sussex County, New Jersey, both of whom are self-taught musicians. Cassidy is the lead-vocalist and plays rhythm guitar, while Bryan is the lead guitarist.

Prior to The Outcrops, Bryan was the drummer in two other bands. His father, a guitar player, was a big influence. Cassidy says she has always been singing, and took up guitar at the age of 14; playing a lot of open mic nights. In addition to her work in The Outcrops, Cassidy also plays in a female duo, Second Hand Smoke. Upon seeing the Allman Brothers Band, she was taken away and knew that their style was the inspiration she needed to hone in her own style.

The Outcrops formed in 2016. Their debut album, Peace of Mind, produced by Tim Carbone of Railroad Earth, is scheduled for release October 13, 2019. Their music is a flavor of rock ‘n’ roll, blues, old country, and jazz.  Their influences include: The Allman Brothers, Jerry Garcia, Eric Clapton, BB King, and Buddy Guy, to name a few. Citizen Band Radio will be hosting their album release party at Bernie’s Hillside Lounge in Chester, New Jersey. The show starts at 6:00 PM.

Soul in the music

When Jay Jannuzzi of Blue Raven Entertainment, contacted MusicXplorer about interviewing Cassidy and Bryan to promote the band and the release of the album, it was obvious he was really excited about them.  After meeting them and listening to their music, it was clear right away what he saw. They have a style of playing you don’t see everyday with new artists. Cassidy has such soul in her voice, and with Bryan’s skilled guitar playing, they are a great combination. With their songs Peace of Mind, Skeleton Key, and Lost Days, you get a true sense for what they are reaching.

Trailer video of the interview with Cassidy and Bryan of The Outcrops

Full Interview

Here are links to other items of interest related to The Outcrops

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Matt O’Ree

Matt O’Ree

King of the Blues Winner

Matt O’Ree is an American blues-rock guitarist, singer, and songwriter, born and raised in Holmdel, New Jersey. He formed the Matt O’Ree Band in 1994, releasing his debut album, 88 Miles in 1998. In 2006, he entered the Guitarmageddon contest, sponsored by Guitar Center and Guitar World Magazine, hosted by BB King and John Mayer. He won after competing against 4,000 other guitar players. O’Ree was the touring rhythm guitarist for Bon Jovi in the 2015 South East Asia Tour. In 2016, he was inducted into the NY/NJ Blues Hall of Fame.

O’Ree has released four studio albums and two live albums, with his latest album, Brotherhood, released in 2016. The album features contributions from Bruce Springsteen, David Bryan (Bon Jovi), Steve Cropper (Booker T & the MG’s), and John Popper (Blues Traveler), to name a few. The band includes his wife and singer, Eryn Shewell.

David Bryan and Bon Jovi

In 2013, O’Ree met David Bryan, and have been friends since. Bryan helped O’Ree with his career by introducing him to Jon Bon Jovi and getting him an audition to be the guitarist in the Bon Jovi band to help support their album, Burning Bridges.
After the South East Asia Tour in 2015, O’Ree did a homecoming show with his band at the The Stone Pony in Asbury Park, New Jersey to a sold-out crowd. The show included David Bryan, where they performed Bon Jovi’s song, Wanted Dead or Alive, as well the song co-written by O’Ree and Bryan, My Everything is You; and their new single, the recorded version of “Black Boots,” featuring  Bruce Springsteen.  Also in 2015, O’Ree and Bryan performed with blues legend, Buddy Guy at B.B. Kings Club, with backing singer, Eryn Shewell.

Video interview with Matt O’Ree

Matt at the King of the Blues Show

Here are links to Matt

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Stevie Ray Vaughan

Stevie Ray Vaughan

A legend in his own time

With this being the 30th anniversary we lost Stevie Ray Vaughan, we who love his music should celebrate and reflect on his accomplishments to the music world.
His career lasted only seven short years, but what a legacy he has left us. If you had a chance to see him, you are lucky. I last saw Stevie at Old Orchard Beach in Maine when the Stray Cats opened up August 6, 1989. I was near the stage and not far from him — it was another jaw-dropping experience. I made an attempt to see him with Jeff Beck at Madison Square Garden, to no avail.

Double Trouble and David Bowie

Throughout the early to mid 1970’s, Stevie was in various bands and in 1978, he formed his band, Double Trouble, with bassist Jackie Newhouse and drummer Chris Layton completing the band. The band became a staple at an Austin, Texas club, the Rome Inn. After Newhouse’s departure in 1980, Stevie asked bassist Tommy Shannon to join and he didn’t hesitate. The band was known as Double Trouble, but they were most commonly known as Stevie Ray Vaughan and Double Trouble.

In 1982, record producer Jerry Wexler helped the band to get a slot at the Montreux Jazz Festival. The next night, Double Trouble was at a gig at the Montreux Casino, and among the attendees was Jackson Browne, who even got up and jammed. Browne told the band they could use his studio to record for free. While recording, Stevie received a call from David Bowie,  and asked if he would be interested in playing on his next studio album, Let’s Dance. The record was a hit and started to make Stevie a name. As David Bowie was planning Let’s Dance tour, Stevie did not want to agree to David’s terms and went back to Texas.

Texas Flood and the beginning of a legacy

The recordings used from Jackson Browne’s studio, turned in to their first album, Texas Flood, including radio favorites, “Love Struck Baby” and “Pride and Joy.”  In 1984, Double Trouble recorded their follow up-album, Couldn’t Stand the Weather, the title track of the same name was a hit on MTV and solidified the band as a concert draw. The band began to play bigger venues on their own and even  headlined a sold-out performance at Carnegie Hall in New York City. In 1985, Double Trouble’s third album, Soul to Soul, was released and by this time, their live performances were in demand and resulted in the 1986 release, Live Alive, recorded in Austin at the Austin Opera House, and the Dallas Starfes in Dallas. Stevie also admitted himself to rehab for substance and alcohol addiction.

In Step and another day music died

The divorce of Stevie and his wife Lenny in 1987 prevented him from releasing any new material. Finally, in 1989, the much anticipated fourth album, In Step, was released. Stevie was concerned that now being sober would have an effect on his playing, he was right. In Step was a smash hit with such radio favorites as, Crossfire, Tight Rope, and The House is a Rocking’. In Step was the most commercially successful release to date and won a Grammy Award. The band continued to support the album through 1990.

Stevie Ray Vaughan and Double Trouble were invited to open for Eric Clapton at the Alpine Valley Music Theatre in East Troy, Wisconsin for two sold-out shows, August 26 and 27, 1990. Unfortunately, this show would be Vaughan’s last, as the helicopter carrying Stevie and some of Eric Clapton’s crew crashed into a nearby ski hill shortly after takeoff, killing everyone on board.

Stevie’s last show August 27, 1990 (audio only)

Stevie playing Hendrix’ “Little Wing”

 

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