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Russell Javors- Billy Joel Guitarist (Part 1)

Russell Javors- Guitarist

Liberty DeVitto & Billy Joel

Sometimes Rock ‘N’ Roll dreams come true, and in the case for guitarist Russell Javors, it happened with Billy Joel.
When Javors was a teenager, he sought out folks to be in a band to play his songs. When he heard his friend Liberty DeVitto playing-out one night in the popular band, New Rock Workshop at the club, My House, in Plainview, New York, he knew that he found his drummer. Soon they included friends Doug Stegmeyer on bass and Howard Emerson on lead guitar, and formed the band, Topper. Another band that was popular at My House was The Hassles, featuring Billy Joel. As time went on, the members of Topper did various gigs to make money, and Billy Joel went to LA to record his first three albums. Joel moved back to New York, and asked  Doug Stegmeyer, who toured on his last album, Streetlife Serenade, to find him a band. So Stegmeyer called DeVitto, and soon after, called Javors, Emerson, and saxophonist Richie Cannata. They recorded Joel’s next album,Turnstiles. Javors, DeVitto, Stegmeyer, and Cannata stayed with Joel on The Stranger, 52nd Street, Glass Houses, and Songs in the Attic. Javors played rhythm guitar with Joel until 1989.

The Lords of 52nd Street

In 2014, the original Billy Joel Band,  consisting of Javors, Cannata, and DeVitto (with Stegmeyer, posthumously), were inducted into the Long Island Music Hall of Fame. After the reunion, Javors, Cannata, and DeVitto officially formed The Lords of 52nd Street band. The group took the name from producer, Phil Ramone,who had named them that when he recorded with them. The trio set out to find other musicians, most notably singer and pianist David Clark of the Joel tribute band, Songs in the Attic

Interview with Russell Javors (Part 1 of 3)

“It’s Still Rock & Roll To Me”

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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”

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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

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Tommy Mandel

Tommy Mandel

Paul Simon to Bryan Adams

Tommy Mandel is a keyboardist who has played with many well-known musicians, but is best known for recording and playing with Bryan Adams from 1981 through 1998. He grew up in the New York City area and began studying music at the age of six. Mandel studied songwriting with Paul Simon at NYU in 1969-70, in a class that included The Roches.

Ian Hunter, Ellen Foley, and more

Mandel was involved with the band, Stories, in the mid seventies and in 1978, his friend Paul Jacobs helped him to go on tour with the National Lampoon Travelling Road Show. His career started taking off from there.  In 1979, he began recording Ellen Foley’s debut album and met Ian Hunter and Mick Ronson, playing on three albums with them from 1979 through 1981. Since then, Mandel has worked with David Johansen (aka Buster Pointdexter) of the NY Dolls, Dire Straits, John Waite, Little Steven Van Zandt, and more.

Solo Recordings

In 1981, Mandel released his first solo recording with the EP, Tommy Mandel on Songshop Records.  He has released several solo recordings since, including in 1984, Music for Insomniacs and The Secrets of Marital Bliss. He has also composed and recorded a song cycle based on the touring experience, entitled, Starlight, featuring the vocals and writing talents of Marianne Faithful, John Waite, Joe Cerisano, Fran Eckert, Jeff Southworth, and Pete Hewlett. In the nineties, Mandel compiled the following CD’s of his instrumental compositions:  Themes for Dreams (his favorite), Music for Insomniax II (sleepy synths),and recently, “Every Dog,” and The Enlightenment of Age, and most recently, Curio-City.

Video interview with Tommy Mandel (Part 1 of 2)

Bryan Adams”Run To You”

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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

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Glen Burtnik (Part 2 of 2)

Glen Burtnik

Beatlemania and The Weeklings

In Part One, we spoke with Glen about his influences and learning to play bass. We also talked about his major breakthrough playing in Beatlemania.  Glen has been a member of the legendary Asbury Park music scene, and has been involved in many projects throughout his career. At many times, Beatles related. In 2015, Glen and Bob Burger formed The Weeklings, and the band released three albums with critical praise. The band performs Beatles’ songs (and songs the Beatles wrote but did not record themselves), and their own originals.

Solo Career, Song Writing, and Styx

In 1986, Glen was signed to A&M Records and released his first album, Talking In Code.  Then, in 1987 he released his follow-up album, Heroes and Zeros, featuring the single, Follow You. It was during that time that he began working with Bob Burger.
After Glen left A&M Records, Dennis DeYoung asked him to audition for his band, Styx (after Tommy Shaw left to form Damn Yankees). Glen jumped at the chance, and was hired as the second guitarist and songwriter and helped them release their new record, Edge of the Century. He stayed with them through 1991.  Glen eventually returned to Styx in 1999, playing bass.
With Glen’s successful songwriting with Styx, he continued writing for other artists, most notably, his collaboration with Patty Smyth of Scandal.  They wrote Sometime Love Just Ain’t Enough, and Patty ended up doing the duet with Don Henley, and it went to the top of the charts, reaching number one.

Video interview with Glen Burtnik (Part 2)

Sometimes Love Ain’t Enough

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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

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