Friday, November 29, 2013

A Celebration of His Life in Music 

Ronnie Montrose was one of the first hard rock guitar heroes. Before he formed his own band he played guitar on sessions by people such as Van Morrison, Edgar Winter and Herbie Hancock. Critics described his band, Montrose as part Jeff Beck, part Led Zeppelin, and three-fourths nitroglycerin.  One of the things I admired about Ronnie Montrose was that he always followed his heart. Always looking for a way to take his music to the next level. In 1979 he founded his next band Gamma, a group whose three albums were ahead of their time were an explosion of guitar and synthesizer pyrotechnics anchored by a bluesy edge. Between and beyond these band forays,  Ronnie Montrose the player devoted himself to exploring instrumental guitar music on landmark albums like 'Open Fire' and 'The Speed of Sound'. 

On March 3, 2012, rock music lost one of it's true legends. In the wake of Ronnie Montrose' s untimely passing an all-star group of his friends got together to put on a show that celebrated Ronnie Montrose's contributions to rock music and to honor the Father of American Hard Rock. ‘Concert for Ronnie Montrose – A Celebration of His Life In Music’ brings together Ronnie’s band mates in Montrose (Sammy Hagar, Denny Carmassi and Bill Church featuring Joe Satriani) and Gamma (Davey Pattison, Denny Carmassi and Glenn Letsch with Marc Bonilla). Together they performed a career-surveying set of classic cuts Ronnie Montrose wrote or performed with his bands, as a sideman (such as the Edgar Winter hit ‘Frankenstein’) or solo.  Additionally, Ronnie’s colleagues and people he mentored and produced over the 40 years of his career are featured as well, Neal Schon (Journey), Ricky Phillips (Styx), Steve Smith (ex-Journey), Ed Roth, Jimmy Paxson (Stevie Nicks), Jeff Watson (ex-Night Ranger), Tesla, Eric Singer and Tommy Thayer (Kiss), Eric Martin (Mr. Big), and more. 

Sammy Hagar, bassist Bill ‘Electric’ Church and drummer Denny Carmassi took the stage with Hagar’s Chickenfoot bandmate Joe Satriani subbing in on guitar, and delivered a powerful, well-received set that featured Montrose staples like ‘Space Station No. 5,’ ‘Bad Motor Scooter’ and of course, ‘Rock Candy.’ 

Sharing memories of the band’s early days and running through the group’s classic tracks with his old bandmates stirred “a lot of memories up here,” as Hagar put it from the stage. The quartet of players shared a sweaty embrace after performing ‘Connection’ by the Rolling Stones (covered on Montrose’s second album) with smiles all around. Journey guitarist Neal Schon said the sold-out Regency Center came “unglued” during the evening of music, which he opened, sharing the stage with Styx bassist and former Bad English bandmate Ricky Phillips, Montrose keyboardist Ed Roth and Schon’s former Journey bandmate Steve Smith on drums. This line-up performed two of Ronnie’s signature tracks from the 1978 ‘Open Fire’ release, including the title track.

It was an evening to celebrate the talents of one of the Bay Area’s own, rather than mourn. Tesla lead singer Jeff Keith might have summarized it best when he said “We’re here to share the love. This is the live DVD that captured that event.

‘Concert for Ronnie Montrose – A Celebration of His Life In Music’ 

Track Listing:
1. Overture 2. Open Fire 3. Town Without Pity 4. I Don't Want It 5. Little Suzi 6. One Thing On My Mind 7. Free Ride 8. Frankenstein 9. Thunder And Lightning 10. Razor King 11. No Tears 12. Ready For Action 13. Fight To The Finish 14. Voyager 15. Lighthouse 16. One And A Half 17. Rock The Nation 18. Space Station No. 5

1. Good Rockin' Tonight 2. Rock Candy 3. Oh No You Don't 4. Connection 5. Paper Money 6. Wild Night

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