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Rod Morgenstein, Part Three- Winger and Robert Plant

Rod Morgenstein

Highlights from Part 1 and 2

In our previous two stories, we talked to Rod about his influences and his time at University of Miami in Florida in 1973, where 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 Dixie Dregs recorded their first album in 1975, The Great Spectacular, as a class project. The group was finally signed to Capricorn in 1977, and recorded several albums before they temporarily disbanded in 1983. The band has been nominated six times for a Grammy award.

Winger and Robert Plant

Rod joined Steve Morse’s new band and stayed for two albums before wanting a musical change. In 1987, Rod went to the NYC area, where he hails from, to look for work and his auditions for George Michael, Billy Idol, and Joe Lynn Turner. Rod met Kip Winger and the band in a studio by chance and hit it off. The band released their latest album 7, and currently on tour.
Rod also tells his story about why Robert Plant was looking for him in 1988.

Interview with Rod Morgenstein (Part 3)

Part 2 with Rod Morgenstein

Here are links to Rod


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A Personal Tribute to Gary Rossington of Lynyrd Skynyrd

Gary Rossington of Lynyrd Skynyrd

Legendary Guitarist Passes away at 71

Lynyrd Skynyrd and Me

I had a passion for music since an early age, at 14 I went to live with my brother Mike in Indiana. He introduced me to Pink Floyd, Bob Dylan REO Speedwagon and Lynyrd Skynyrd  When I heard him playing Skynyrd’s “Nuthin’ Fancy” album, the powerful rock, blues and country songs they offered, Lynyrd Skynyrd was the perfect band. With their variety of different music styles, three distinct guitar sounds, killer keyboards, a powerful rhythm section, and a vocalist who sang from the heart.

End of an Era

Gary was the last member to pass away from the original lineup, as most people reading this know that Lynyrd Skynyrd’s career was cut short by the plane crasjh in 1977. The band was suppose to headline Madison Square Garden with Ted Nugent, and the show was sold out, It is a sad day as the southern rock era took a serious hit. You are in God’s hands God Bless you Gary. THANK YOU

Tribute to Gary Rossington

Tribute to Gary by the band “Tuesday’s Gone”.                    Click on the YouTube link


Here are links to Gary



Gary Mallaber Part Two- Finding Van Morrison

Gary Mallaber

Drummer – Song Writer – Arranger – Producer – Engineer

Highlights From Part One

Gary Mallaber started his career in Buffalo, NY, playing drums with his band, Raven. The band was getting noticed in 1968 and moved to New York City.  They soon found themselves  jamming with Jimi Hendrix and met Eddie Kramer. They were opening for Led Zeppelin, Grand Funk Railroad, and others. George Harrison and Peter Asher were even interested in Raven, but the band fell apart.  Soon after, Gary was in search of Van Morrison.

Searching for Van Morrison and making Moondance

Gary arrived in the Village in NYC, and quickly found Van Morrison at a local music spot. He noticed there were no drums, and asked if he could bring his kit.Gary was in and was soon recording the album, Moondance with Van. We talk to Gary about the history of the album and what it means today. We chat about the tracks, his favorite songs, the mixing of the album, and how Van was open to band contributions; such as, Gary adding Vibraphone on Crazy Love, and helping Van to mix the album.

Interview with Gary Mallaber (Part 2)

Gary with AJ Croce” Operator”

Here are links to Gary


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John Scarpulla- Saxophonist Extraordinaire

John Scarpulla

Diana Ross, Billy Joel, and the last play at Shea

John is a well known and established saxophonist, best known for his work with Diana Ross and his association with Billy Joel, and being a part of the Movin’ Out musical. After Movin’ Out, he continued to work with Tony nominated Michael Cavanaugh, playing the music of Billy Joel and more with symphonies all over the world.
He has recorded and performed with many music icons, including: Willie Colon, Ruben Blades, Ricky Martin, Hall and Oates, Huey Lewis, Cyndi Lauper,  BB King, and Billy Joel, just for starters. Besides working with Diana Ross, he performs with quite a variety of bands, as well as working with Funk Filharmonik, and with the Billy Joel Tribute band, ”Big Shot” led by Mike DelGuidice. John’s versatility allows him to pursue many avenues of the music culture and many styles of music.
John has had many highlights throughout his career, including as musical director and co-musical director for the Long Island Music Hall of Fame Awards, since it’s inception since 2004. He was asked by Billy Joel to join his band for the historic “Last Play at Shea,” the last two concerts at Shea Stadium where the band was joined by such icons as Don Henley, John Mellencamp, Tony Bennett, Steven Tyler, Roger Daltry, and Garth Brooks. As if that were not enough, Sir Paul McCartney closed out the second show.

Funk Filaharmonic, Tower of Power, and East 4th Horns

John took up the saxophone at an early age and later attended Berklee School of Music and studied with many teachers, including Joseph Viola. While  continuing his studies in Boston, he was hired by the Tommy Dorsey Orchestra. When John went back to New York City, he was soon auditioning for Funk Filharmonik and was hired. At the same time, he and John Wheeler started another horn section they called the “East 4th Horns,” and quickly became men-in-demand horn section. In 1996, John received a dream phone call from Emilio Castillo of Tower of Power. Shortly after John sent the demo, he was in the band and stayed through 1999.

Video interview with John Scarpulla

“Work To Do” Brent Carter and Friends with John Scarpulla

Here are links to other things related to John


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Militia Vox- A Woman With No Boundaries

Militia Vox

Solo Career, Bad Penny, and Dee Snider

Militia Vox is a multi-talented artist, producer, writer, actress, and more. She has proven to the music world she is one bad-ass woman.
She has recorded, toured, and performed with some of the best in the business, including: Cyndi Lauper, Dee Snider, John Petrucci, and many more. Militia’s two recent releases were recorded with the band, Bad Penny, featuring Danny Miranda of Blue Öyster Cult, duets with Rob Halford – “Push Comes to Shove,” and  Dee Snider – “Cry Little Girl.”
Beginning her music career at eight years young with classical piano, she quickly accelerated into becoming a regional and state award-winning concert pianist, and has starred in movies, tv shows, Off-Broadway stage, European tours, and national touring rock musicals, including: Dee Snider’s “Van Helsing’s Curse,” and Sandra Bernhard’s “Everything Bad and Beautiful.”
In 2000, M claimed her rightful place as a front woman at the legendary BITCH nightat Don Hill’s in Soho NYC (as seen in the documentary “The Bitch Movie” which premiered at Wacken Open Air in 2019.)  In 2005, her hard rock/groove metal band, Swear On Your Life emerged on the scene.  SOYL released one e.p. “BURN MY CROSSES” that was deemed “offensive” and was banned at several colleges duringits first week of release. The band toured the east coast, opening for Twisted Sister, Made Out of Babies and Bella Morte.Craving more creative freedom, Militia Vox officially went solo in 2013

Judas Priestess

Besides Militia’s solo career, she has the vocal duties for the world’s only All-Female Tribute to the Metal Gods, Judas Priest, a heavy metal phenomenon! Endorsed by the metal gods themselves!
The band religiously packs houses and events with frenzied fans all over the world.  They recently headlined House of Blues at Mandalay Bay on the world-famous Las Vegas Strip and played to a sold-out crowd at their 10 year anniversary show at the legendary Stone Pony in NJ.

Video interview with Militia Vox (Part 1)

Here are links to Militia


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Tommy Mandel Part 2

Tommy Mandel

Highlights from Part One; Bryan Adams and Ian Hunter

In part one with keyboardist Tommy Mandel, we talked about his career, but is best known for recording and playing with Bryan Adams from 1981 through 1998. Mandel studied songwriting with Paul Simon at NYU in 1969-70, in a class that included The Roches.Mandel was in the band, Stories, in the mid seventies and in 1978,  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.

Mark Knopfler, The Clash and a Disco Hit

In 1981, Mandel also was touring with the Dire Straits and recording the live Alchemy: Dire Straits Live, we talk about the improvising of Sultans of Swing and working with Mark Knopfler. Tommy’s first solo recording with the EP, Tommy Mandel on Songshop Records contained a minor hit in the Disco clubs. Tommy has released several solo recordings since, including in 1984, Music for Insomniacs and The Secrets of Marital Bliss. We discuss the making of The Clash album Rock The Cabah, auditioning for Steve Winwood and his current activities.

Video interview with Tommy Mandel (Part 2 of 2)

Video interview with Tommy Mandel (Part 1of 2)

Here are links to Tommy


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Rod Morgenstein- Dixie Dregs and Winger (Part 2)

Rod Morgenstein

Highlights From Part One

In Part One, we discussed how Rod met guitarist Steve Morse when he attended the University of Miami in Florida. Steve had everything that Rod was looking for, something different and not doing the standard 4/4 time signature. Rod and Steve eventually formed Dixie Dregs. We also talked about how the band had a rough time getting signed, being turned down, how their music was difficult to market because they were a jazz fusion band with 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. The band has been nominated six times for a Grammy award.

Dregs Success and Breakup

In Part Two, we discuss the ongoing success of the Dixie Dregs, Rod’s career highlights with the band, and funny moments. After the Dregs disbanded in 1983, Rod joined Steve Morse’s new band and stayed for two albums before wanting a musical change. Rod tells us how he came back to the NYC area to look for work and his auditions for George Michael, Billy Idol, Joe Lynn Turner, and others. He talks about being 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.

Interview with Rod Morgenstein (Part Two)

Dixie Dregs “Freefall”

Here are links to Rod


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Gary Mallaber- Drummer for AJ Croce

Gary Mallaber

Drummer – Song Writer – Arranger – Producer – Engineer

Raven and Van Morrison

Gary Mallaber started his career in Buffalo, NY, playing drums with his band, Raven, and in 1969 opened for Led Zeppelin, Grand Funk Railroad, and others. Soon after, the band broke up and he was in search of Van Morrison.  He found him in the Village in NYC, and soon recorded the album, Moondance. With the success of Moondance, his career took a major turn where he became an in-demand session drummer in Los Angeles.
Gary has recorded with many artists, but the folks that sent chills up his arm and knew there was something special were Steve Miller,  Eddie Money, and Van Morrison.

Steve Miller, Eddie Money, and More

After the success of The Joker, Steve connected with Gary about recreating more of that magic with bassist, Lonnie Turner. Together with Lonnie , they recorded what became Fly Like an Eagle and Book of Dreams. Gary stayed with Steve through the 1980’s. While he was recording with Steve Miller, he was asked to play for the up-and-coming Eddie Money.  Once he met Eddie, he knew it was going to be great. The hits they recorded on the first release were, Two Tickets to Paradise and Baby Hold On.
For further reading on the artists he has played and recorded with, check out: Peter Frampton, Poco, Paul Williams, Jimmy White, and Kermit the Frog. Some of the other artists Gary has recorded with include: Joan Armatrading, The Beach Boys, John Lennon, Gene Clark, David Cassidy, Bonnie Raitt, Tom Rush, Bob Seger, Barbra Streisand, Warren Zevon, and Hughes/Thrall — the list goes on.

Interview with Gary Mallaber (Part 1)

Gary with A.J. Croce “Operator”

Here are links to Gary


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Russell Javors- Billy Joel Guitarist (Part 2)

Russell Javors- Guitarist- Part 2

Liberty DeVitto & Billy Joel

In Part One with Russell, we talked about the early days on Long Island when he met Liberty DeVitto playing at My House, in Plainview, New York. They formed a band, Topper, that included friends Doug Stegmeyer on bass and Howard Emerson on lead guitar. Another band that was popular at My House was The Hassles, featuring  Billy Joel. When Billy went to LA to record his first few albums, he had decided he wanted a band from 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 Part Two, we talk to Russell about the highlights and funny moments when he was in the original Billy Joel Band  The 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 2 of 2)

“The Lord’s of 52nd Street Promo”

Here are links to Russell



Sebastian LaBar and Jaron Gulino of Tantric

Sebastian LaBar and Jaron Gulino of TANTRIC

MACH22, Slash, and Jeff LaBar

Guitarist, Sebastian LaBar and bassist, Jaron Gulino, of Tantric, talk with MusicXplorer about when they first met in 2014, when they were both in Philadelphia-based band, MACH22, through their current gig in Tantric.
Sebastian started playing guitar when he was a teen and was influenced by his father, Jeff LaBar (guitarist of band Cinderella), Angus Young, and all guitarists that have played with Ozzy, including Zack, Randy Rhoads, Jake E. Lee, and Tony Iommi. Jaron started playing bass when he was a teen because he thought the instrument was pretty cool, and a bassist is always in demand due to the lack of them.
Sebastian and Jaron joined the band, MACH22 in 2014, fronted by Lamont Caldwell on vocals. Soon after, they recorded the debut album, Sweet Talk Intervention, engineered by Ronnie Honeycutt, and produced by Sebastian’s father Jeff LaBar, of Cinderella. The band produced two more recordings, the EP Like My Chances (2015) and the EP Working Off The Clock (2017) before Sebastian and Jaron joined Tantric.

Tantric and Muddfest

Jaron had been doing gigs and holding down a day job, but gave up the desk job when he joined Tantric in 2017. He had been doing some gigs that involved drummer, Troy Patrick Farrell. Troy asked if he would be interested in helping him with Tantric, and he immediately jumped on the opportunity. Soon after, Tantric needed a guitarist when Tommy Gibbons left.  Jaron immediately thought of Sebastian. He was a great fit and joined in late 2017, and have been playing together ever since. The band often shares tours with Saving Abel, Puddle of Mudd, Trapt, and Saliva, especially during Muddfest, a summer tour headlined by Puddle of Mudd.


Interview with Sebastian and Jaron

Tantric- Letting Go

Here are links to Sebastian Jaron