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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


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


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


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


Danny Miranda of Blue Oyster Cult

Danny Miranda

A Bassist Living the Dream

Danny Miranda, a bass player from Long Island, had his first major break when he auditioned for Blue Oyster Cult in 1995 (a story that Danny tells in the video interview below) after their temporary bassist, Greg Smith, had decided to work with Ritchie Blackmore’s Rainbow. It wasn’t as if he were going in cold for the audition, since he already knew BOC songs and had previously jammed with Eric Bloom in the past. Danny stayed with BOC until he auditioned for the We Will Rock You musical in 2004. When Brian May began to put together the Queen and Paul Rodgers Tour, Brian asked Danny to be part of it. Playing with Queen and Paul Rodgers was a Rock n’ Roll Fantasy for Danny and a dream come true. After the Queen and Paul Rodgers tours and album The Cosmos Rocks, he then went on to play with Meatloaf until 2017. Later in 2017, he then found himself rejoining BOC. Eric Bloom and Buck Dharma told Danny that BOC is his home and he is always welcomed. Blue Oyster Cult is working on a new album to be released soon, so stay tuned!

Video interview with Danny Miranda

Blue Oyster Cult “Godzilla”

Here are links to other things related to Danny Miranda


Ron Wikso- Drummer

Ron Wikso- Drummer

The Caribbean, Cher, and Gregg Rolie

Ron, a native Long Island, New Yorker, started playing drums at the age of seven, and attended Berklee College of Music in Boston at 17.  He is best known for working with CherForeignerDavid Lee Roth (Van Halen)The StormGregg Rolie (Santana/Journey), and many others. Ron is currently on tour with Steve Miller.
After a year at Berklee, Ron sailed the Caribbean playing on cruise ships and in St. Maarten for a few months. In 1982, he found himself headed out to sunny California, and tried to get any gigs he could. Before long, he was soon making connections in the music scene.
Ron’s first break came in 1989 with Cher, with whom he stayed until 1992. This is where he then began playing full time in Gregg Rolie’s band, The Storm. Ron and Gregg have remained great friends over the years, having recorded and toured together through 2019.

Studio Work and Steve Miller

When Ron is not out touring or doing session work for others, he offers services from his own home studio, including custom drum tracks, and coordinating/producing/mixing various projects for clients from all over the world. Another project Ron has, is with his significant other, Marcy Requist, called Circle of Comfort. The first album they did, released under Marcy’s name in 2016 is called, Covers of Comfort.
On August 19, 2021, Ron received a call saying that Steve Miller’s long-time drummer of 33 years, the great Gordy Knutson, had a last minute personal matter that meant he would be unavailable to perform at a show that was booked on the 21st, only two days later at the Jones Beach Amphitheater in New York. Ron was asked to play in Gordy’s place at that show, which he did, and shortly thereafter, Gordy decided to move on from the band and Ron was asked to join full time.

Interview with Ron Wikso (Part 1)

Ron with The Gregg Rolie Band

Here are links to Ron


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


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


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”

Here are links to Tommy