Ken Kesey and the Grateful Dead

16 Feb

“It was the best of times, it was the worst of times.”1  Was the opening line of Charles Dickens book, “A Tale Of Two Cities,” which is about the chaos of the French Revolution at the turn of the 18th century. The same can be said of another revolution that took place over a century and a half later across the Atlantic Ocean in that period of time called the 1960’s.

Grateful Dead 95028

The revolution was multi-faceted, involving culture, politics, race and the arts, but each area had a leader. The leaders in culture and music were Ken Kesey and the Grateful Dead. They began what was to be called the Hippie movement through LSD and music. The link below is of The Tom Snyder show in New York City back in 1981 when Ken Kesey and the Grateful Dead were the guests on the show. Check it out.

Jerry Garcia #1016

dead 2014

  1.  “A Tale of Two Cities” by: Charles Dickens.

Tyler Bryant and the Shakedown

24 Jan


Tyler Bryant and the Shakedown Concert Review

By: Bob Gersztyn

All Photography Copyright: Bob Gersztyn


Tyler Bryant and the The Shakedown Rocked the house in Peter’s Room at the Roseland Theater, in Portland, Oregon, Tuesday, January 29, 2013. The stage was pitch black as the band came out, with Caleb Crosby standing on top of his drum kit, as guitarist Graham Whitford took his place on the left and bassist Noah Denny stood on the right side, while Tyler Bryant appeared front and center with his Fender Stratocaster.  Crosby’s drum gymnastics ended as he jumped off his kit to take his place behind the drums with the silence broken by the sound of screaming guitars, as the band dove into “Fool’s God,” the first song off Wild Child, Tyler Bryant & The Shakedown’s 2013 release on Carved Records.  The air raid siren sounding guitars soared into the stratosphere as the band dove into a total aural assault


“Hi Portland,” Bryant announced and added, “welcome to the show tonight,” as the sound of ringing guitar strings resonated on the Stratocaster that he held.

“You never really tried.” He urged.

“Come on, Come on, I don’t know much about Portland, but we hear that you like rock & roll music. Come on, Come on,”  he screamed at the audience as he dove into a guitar attack with driving drums.


The Drummer was very dominant, to say the least. Then Bryant picked up resonator guitar and  used a slide as he began a Southern Blues number with driving drums and greeted the audience. “We come from Nashville, Tennessee. We travel around the world, because we love playing rock & roll music. Then he talked about his dream as his guitar began to play louder and raunchier, while the bass guitar drove the beat.



I Already told this story once today, about how I met Graham Whitford in New York City and was told he would put me out of business, so I asked him to join my band. Then Whitford proceeded to shred his Gibson guitar, demonstrating his prowess on the ax. Drummer, Caleb Crosby got up from behind his kit and came forward with a large bass drum on a stand and played a drum solo on it. Tyler said that he was the only drummer he ever worked with, as Tyler sat behind the drums and played drums, as Crosby continued to play the bass drum, front and center stage. After a couple of minutes of loud and intense drum throbbing, Crosby set down the bass drum and with his drum sticks he jumped down off the stage into the audience who made room for him by creating a circle. He kneeled on the floor with the throng gathered around him, as he tapped out a beat on the floor. Then he brought the bass down and Tyler joined him on guitar as the crowd circled around and Graham Whitford and Noah Denny joined him on the edge of the stage. Tyler played guitar until the audience’s ears bled.


Tyler Bryant opened up for Jeff Beck at the Schnitzer, and they even played together. He explained how he broke a string on acoustic guitar that he was playing at the time, so he grabbed his Stratocastor and apologized to Beck, who just laughed. Then he introduced “Wild Child,” the title song off his latest album.


This is how the story goes. This iss just a poor boys dream. Drum and bass began with a driving rhythm. If you want it hard driving guitar. From guitar to bass to drums. Tyler played his guitar with a soul retching rhythm. If you want it you got to go out and get it.

Bound & Shackled, a bluesy number. Drummer stood up again and beat bass drum then Tyler delicately fingered his guitar as he sang, “you’re gonna die.” Tyler brought the house down.

Thank you so much we are Tyler Bryant and Shakedown. The drummer went nuts and the bass player poured water on his kit as it splashed around. Thanks for coming out to see us. Let’s go out with a bang. It sounded like Billy Idol’s White Wedding. Whitford took center stage with his Gibson as the rest of the band backed him up. The show ended with a grand finale and an extended outro of feedback.


Tyler Bryant – Vocal & Guitar

Caleb Crosby – Drums

Graham Whitford – Guitar

Noah Denney – bass

Why I Didn’t Go To Woodstock

4 Jan


Why I Didn’t Go To Woodstock

By: Bob Gersztyn

By the summer

of 1969

Rock & roll

Came of age

And its fruition

Was fully manifested

To the world in general

As a valid art form

At the Woodstock

Music festival.

The reason for that of course

Was money.

If you can get

nearly half a million people

to endure a disaster that they created

Just for the sake of music

Then there is money to be made.

Since 1967

Freaks around the country

Had been creating

Their own entertainment industry

As the voice of their generation

And marketing it

Through music

On albums, radios and concerts

So, as money was generated

In new ways

So were new entrepreneurs.

Freaks in the US and

Western Europe

Began to create their own entertainment

Beginning with “Love Ins.”

From the first

Human Be In

Until Woodstock.

Since the title of this is

Why I didn’t go to Woodstock.

Let me tell you that

The reason why I didn’t go

Was because of a wedding.

Five months earlier

I had committed to

Being an usher

In a friend’s wedding

The same Saturday

As Woodstock

Before I even knew about it.

Some of my friends went

But I was committed

And besides

Rock & roll festivals

Were happening frequently

Since Monterey in “67.”

So, I’d make the next one

I figured

Just like the

Mt. Clemens Pop Festival

Or the Detroit

Rock & Roll Revival

Little did I know

It would be

As big as it was.

Which could be

Interpreted as a regret

However, without even realizing it

I replaced Woodstock

With something better.

I needed a date

For the wedding

And having exhausted my options

I drove to a

Former female co-workers house.

She wouldn’t go out with me

When we worked together

But I hadn’t seen her

For three years

And took a chance.

When she came to the door

She immediately recognized me

And said that she just

Dreamed about me.

So I asked her out

And she accepted.

That wedding date

Was the beginning of

A relationship

That turned into a

Love affair that

Resulted in marriage

On July 9, 1971.

So from August 11, 1969

Until we were

United in marriage

We attended concerts

And saw hundreds of artists

Including most of the acts

That played at Woodstock

But I wasn’t there.

And to this day

Don’t regret it.






Jack White Blunderbuss Review

29 Dec



Jack White Blunderbuss Review

By: Bob Gersztyn

I published this CD review of Jack White’s then new album Blunderbuss. which was released back in 2012, when Blues Revue/Blueswax was still in existence. According to Chip Eagle, who was the owner, publisher and editor in chief of the magazine, it was stolen from him by the guys that started “Blues Music Magazine,” so now I write for “Blues Rock Review,” instead. I like better than just covering the blues, because it can incorporate many rock groups whose roots are derived from blues, but are not necessarily considered a blues group, but are definitely a rock group, like “Led Zeppelin,” “U2” or even the “White Stripes.”

In 2008 Jack White starred in a documentary about 3 generations of rock guitarist’s with “Led Zeppelin’s” Jimmy Page and “U2’s” David (The Edge) Evans, as they explored the roots of classic riffs in “It Might Get Loud.” White’s inclusion in the film as a generation X guitar representative established his position in the guitar rock pantheon, however some hard core blues aficionados may balk at the suggestion that he should be associated with the blues.  However, his recent album Blunderbuss hit a bulls eye with this writer.  It’s an emotional rollercoaster that runs the gamut in musical exploration.

The first song, is “Missing Pieces,” with White singing, “I was in the shower, so I could not tell my nose was bleeding…,” while he alternated between playing the electric guitar and Rhodes piano. “Sixteen Saltines” is a staccato excursion into psychedelic dissonance, emerging into “Freedom at 21,” an anthem about turning 21. “Love Interruption” is a theological journey into the multi-faceted complexion of morality, using a simple arrangement with White on acoustic guitar and vocals, with Emily Bowland on clarinet, Brooke Waggoner on piano and Ruby Amanfu for  backup vocals, singing, “I want love to change my friends to enemies…” “Blunderbuss” is the title song and employs Fats Kaplin on pedal steel guitar, Olivia Jean on drums, Bryn Davies on upright bass, along with Waggoner and Amanfu in their fore mentioned.

“Hypocritical Kiss” is a delicious excursion into the same territory that Bob Dylan explored in the mid 1960’s from its poetic imagery to the ethereal voice that is punctuated by hammering keyboards. The entire album is as keyboard dominated as it is guitar based, allowing White to explore more complex musical configurations that the simplicity of the White Stripes wouldn’t allow. Cut’s like “Weep Themselves to Sleep,” provide ample opportunity for keyboard guitar interplay. “I’m Shakin’” is one of the bluesier cuts, reaching back to an R&B bebop sound with the guitar dominating, as White sings –

“Samson was a mighty good man, strongest in his day

Then along came Delilah and clipped his wig.”

“Trash Tongue Talker” is a plaintiff whine with a two stepping Zydeco beat, punctuated by an interplay between piano and drum. “Hip (Eponymous) Poor boy” is an infectious honky tonk melody that continues the foot tapping beat with a driving tempo. “I Guess I Should Go To Sleep” is another opportunity for White to demonstrate his multi-instrumentalist genius for musical syncretism as he moves from one instrument to another including drums. Melodically the song is a takeoff of Huddie Ledbetter’s (Lead Belly) 1933 folk blues roots song “Goodnight Irene.”  “On and On and On” is a vocally rich blend of White with background singers, Ruby Amenfu, Karen Elson and Laura Matula. White’s infatuation with female performers become clear after a brief perusal of his roster, which reverses the normal male dominant configurations. “Take Me With You When You Go” is another vocal blend of harmonies creating a bed of sound for fiddles to complete with keyboards, until it all explodes into an orgasmic stew of sound that leaves one satisfied. Amen.



Ringo Starr Concert Review

21 Dec ringo-and-band-2

Ringo Starr and His All Star Band Gig Review

By: Bob Gersztyn


On Tuesday night, October 18, 2016 Ringo Starr and His “All Star Band” performed at Keller auditorium in downtown Portland, Oregon. It’s one of the most acoustically perfect venues in the city and has a capacity of  only 3,000 people, so it’s semi-intimate. Ringo Starr, whose real name is Richard Starkey, is an icon and one of the most famous drummers in the 65 year history of rock & roll, since Ike Turner’s Rocket 88 was released in 1951. The Beatles broke up nearly 50 years ago, but the impact of their decade long existence continues to impact music around the globe through the ripple effect of the albums they created and artists that they influenced.


I once heard an interview with Ringo where he said that he preferred to be part of a band, rather than be a solo artist, which is the reason why he came up with the idea of forming the “Allstars.” Over the past 25 years there have been a dozen different incarnations of the band, as the lineup periodically changed. The present lineup has been touring together for the past 5 years and includes representatives from hit bands, “Toto, “Mr. Mister, Journey, Santana, Kansas and Todd Rundgren. The set list was made up of Beatles and Ringo tunes along with a variety of radio hits from all the other artists in the band, who were all initially influenced by Ringo and his band mates the Beatles.


The concert began with 1964’s Beatles cover of Carl Perkins song, “Matchbox,” as Ringo took center stage and sang lead into the microphone as the band jammed behind him. “It Don’t Come Easy” followed, once again featuring Ringo on lead vocals singing his first solo hit record, with the band continuing to rock the house. As the night progressed everyone took turns introducing songs, beginning with Todd Rundgren introducing his hit, “I Saw The Light,” followed by keyboardist extraordinaire, Greg Rolie a founding member of Santana and the original lead singer of “Journey,” singing lead on “Evil Ways” while jamming on the organ as guitar phenomenon Steve Lukather the original lead guitarist, singer and composer for Toto, wailed on his axe.


When the number concluded Lukather  took the mike and testified to the fact that he now plays guitar because of Ringo’s influence and how great it was to now be friends with him and play in his band. All the band members praised Ringo, who finally ascended to the empty drum kit beside Gregg Bissonette, who played for everyone from David Lee Roth, Steve Vai and Joe Satriani to Toto, and held his drumsticks in the air as he humbly bowed. Lukather immediately began singing “Rosanna” with the rest of the band singing harmony and sounding as good as the original “Toto” recording.


It was a real treat to be able to see so many musical heavyweights combined in one band and led by a superheavyweight that they all respected. The repeating chorus of “Meet you all the way,” on “Rosanna” was followed by the wailing guitar of Lukather with Rundgren providing fills, while Richard Page the lead singer and bass guitarist of Mr. Mister accompanied him as woodwind, percussionist and vocalist Warren Ham brought his experience with Cher, Kansas, Donna Summer and AD into the mix as he sang and wailed on his saxophone. Ringo and Bissonette took the lead as they beat their drum kits in unison, with the rest of the band jamming behind them.  Lukather and Rundgren danced around playing guitars against each other, until the entire ensemble exploded into a crescendo of sound that faded into silence.


Richard Page took the microphone and also testified of his gratitude to be playing with Ringo and then urged the audience to see Ron Howard’s new documentary about the Beatles, he said that “it was great!”  Then he urged the crowd to sing with him as he  began singing “Kyrie Eleison” (Lord have mercy). with the band sounding perfect as they all broke into harmonious singing, repeating the chorus “Kyrie Eleison.” Todd Rundgren grabbed a couple of snare drums on a stand and drum sticks as he asked the audience if they wanted the Kung Pow Chicken or the peppered beef. After the audience’s mixed response he announced “they wanted the peppered beef,” and began singing “Bang The Drum All Day.” The song concluded to thunderous applause that nearly brought the house down.


Ringo began to talk as the applause quieted down and said, “that would be a really good job to have to get paid to play a drum all day long. That’s what I do!” he said in mock surprise as the band dove into another Beatles hit, “Boys,” off their 1963 album Please Please Me, with Ringo singing lead and the 3 guitarists, Rundgren, Lukather and Page forming a tight trio singing harmony together, center stage. Greg Rolie broke into a raging organ solo, until Rundgren played a amped rock guitar outro concluding the song.

Ringo got up from behind the drums and walked over to a piano, where he told the audience, “when I joined the Beatles I had some songs, but none of them were recorded, until this one,” as he played the piano introduction for “Don’t Pass Me By,” his first solo composition recorded on the White double album in 1968. After handing the piano over to Warren Ham, Ringo once again took center stage holding the microphone in his hand. He broke up the audience into 3 sections and had them competing against each other by flashing peace signs. He joked about the expectations of the audience and hoped that they didn’t come for Led Zeppelin, because if they did they were in the wrong venue. This was the introduction for “Yellow Submarine,” which included more peace sign flashing and singing along with stage banter providing the diving instructions.

At that point Ringo left the stage and the band broke into “Black Magic Woman” with Rolie providing the organ intro segueing into Lukather’s guitar, until Rolie began to sing Peter Greens Fleetwood Mac Composition, made famous by Santana, “I’ve got a black magic woman….).” All 3 guitarists danced across the stage, guitars wailing up a storm as everyone jammed in time behind them, with Ham accompanying Bissonette on hand drums to drive the beat and explode into a symphony of sound that once again ended in thunderous applause.

Ringo came running back out in a new wardrobe after wearing a T-shirt with vest and sports jacket, he was now wearing a T-shirt with a polka dot long sleeved shirt. He took center stage and entreated the audience, “what’s my name?” “Ringo!” The audience shouted “Ringo” in unison, but Ringo said that they needed to try again, because there were 4 people that didn’t participate, so the “Ringo” shout was repeated. This led into Ringo’s 1973 #1 radio hit “You’re Sixteen.” Once again Ringo ascended the stage to his drum kit. Richard Page put on an acoustic guitar and began singing his song “You Are Mine,” a country sounding number with Lukather getting a steel guitar sound out of his “LIII” Music Man guitar. Ringo sat on an amplified box and played it with his hands pounding between his legs.

Ringo got back on the drum kit and pounded out the introduction to “Africa,” and I don’t think that the original lineup of Toto could have done a better rendition of the tune, with Lukather singing lead and Ham wailing on his alto sax. Greg Rolie provided mesmerizing organ runs and then took the lead and began the organ intro to “Oya Coma Va,” as the band began playing behind him, with Lukather wailing on guitar. He is an amazing guitarist. Ringo took over as the band dove into “I Want To Be Your Man, featuring both drummers playing in loud driving unison as everyone jammed and Todd Rundgren ran up and down the stage playing guitar. By the time that Rundgren caught his breath the band began “Love Is The Answer,” a song with a utopian message by his band of the same name, that he wrote and recorded and was later made a hit as a cover in 1979, by England Dan and John Ford Coley the audience was melded into one. Richard Page took over lead vocals, as he continued to thump on the bass guitar, with Steve Lukather continuing to amaze this writer with his prowess. the entire band was so tight that it brought tears to my eyes. The song broke into an extended jam interplay between Lukather’s guitar and the rest of the band. Then Lukather sang lead on “Hold The Line” and continued to blow everyone’s mind with his guitar virtuosity.

When the song ended Ringo descended  from his drum kit and embraced Lukather, saying how much he loved and appreciated him as he once again took center stage and began to point at people in the audience, until he stopped at a guy who was waving and said, “What, you want me to stop the show to say hello to you?” in an slightly miffed voice and then said, okay, as he came down off the stage and went up to the guy and hugged him. When Ringo got back on stage another person from the audience jumped on stage and handed him some contraband that he said that he hasn’t used in about 30 years, as “Photograph” began, with Lukather and Rundgren donning acoustic guitars as Ham’s sax alternated with Ringo’s voice.

Ringo explained that “Act Naturally” was first recorded by Buck Owens in 1963, while the Beatles recorded it on their Help album in 1965 and then he and Owens recorded it together in the 1970’s and now “I’m doing it in my 90’s,” which drew laughter from the audience. When the band began playing “With A Little Help From My Friends, it was obvious that Ringo was thoroughly enjoying himself. How could he not with a packed house full of adoring fans. Ringo said goodnight, as he walked off stage with the band  beginning “Give Peace A Chance.”  Ringo ran on stage and then back a few times, while the band played, until the song concluded and all six musicians stepped forward and took a bow.


Vote For Ty Curtis

26 Nov



Ty Curtis’s new album Blame Me is up for album of the year on Blues Rock Review. He is an amazing singer songwriter blues/rock guitarist in the vein of Paul Butterfield’s Blues band during Mike Bloomfield’s tenure or the James Gang with Glenn Schwartz or Joe Walsh. Click on the link below and vote for him.



John Mayall Concert Review

17 Nov

John Mayall Concert Review


By: Bob Gersztyn


On Monday, November 7, 2016 John Mayall played at one of the best venues in Portland, Oregon, the Aladdin Theater. The capacity is only a little over 700, but there isn’t a bad seat in the house and the acoustics are perfect.  When I walked in the entrance John Mayall was standing behind a table signing autographs and CD’s that people purchased along with greeting people, so I said hello before heading to my seat in the balcony. I always sit in the front row of the balcony to get an unobstructed view, if I arrive early enough, which happened tonight.


The opening act was Austin, Texas based singer/songwriter, Bill Carter who performed with an acoustic guitar for a 40 minute set prior to Mayall coming on at 9:00 PM. Carter is the author of a number of hit songs including one recorded by Mayall and Stevie Ray Vaughan’s #1 hit Crossfire, that he penned with “Double Trouble,” Stevie’s rhythm section. He joked with the audience between numbers as he sang songs about drugs, alcohol, bugs and “Willie The Pimp. He was accompanied by Scott McDonald on a semi-surrealistic sounding “Gretsch Electromatic Hollowbody.”


John Mayall and his band comprised of Greg Rzab on bass and Jay Davenport behind the drums took the stage promptly at 9:00 PM. John bowed as he came out and greeted the crowd as he stepped behind his double set of Roland keyboards that produced a variety of sounds throughout the night ranging from “Rag Time”  and “Classical” piano to a jazz band xylophone and organ. He opened the show with “The Bear,” from my favorite album of his, 1968’s “Blues From Laurel Canyon.”


The night was filled with a dozen numbers that the band relentlessly jammed on. In between each song there would be joking between John and Rzab about age differences. Like when John introduced “Walking On Sunset” from Blues From Laurel Canyon and Rzab commented that he was only 9 years old when the album  was released. Through the night Mayall jumped from one instrument to another and sometimes combined them as he sang and exuded an astonishing seamless boundless energy for an “Octogenarian.”


When he played “That’s All Right” by Jimmy Rogers, he clarified that he was referring to Muddy Waters guitarist harmonica player and not Jimmie Rogers the Country singer. “Nothing To Do With Love” began with a piano intro that John jammed on until Rzab’s bass overtook him as he thumped the beat that Davenport accompanied until he exploded the beat as the trio jammed together segueing into John becoming dominant again as he banged it out on the keyboards. “Streamline” was recorded back in 1967 when Peter Green was the lead guitarist of the “Bluesbreakers” and John jammed on the Roland’s organ mode to prove that he is still an incredible showman.


Mayall donned his guitar for “Moving Out” and then began playing keyboards as bass and drums joined in until I felt the vibrations of the beat pulsating through my body. Davenport was a locomotive on drums and played with an intensity that drove the rhythm as relentlessly as Niagra Falls, while John  began to delicately attack the keys as he played with seeming boundless energy. When the song ended Mayall introduced “Ridin’ On The L&N,” a tune written by Lionel Hampton that he explosively banged out on keyboard as Rzab and Davenport joined in on the sonic celebration.


Mayall once again returned to his “Blues From Laurel Canyon” album with “Long Gone Midnight,” a jazzy number that had John replacing the guitar solo with xylophone sounds from his Roland. When he introduced “Nature’s Disappearing,” from his 1970 album, USA Union, he made the comment that “it was nice to know that there were no children in the audience so I can say ‘shit,'” as he pulled the guitar strap over his shoulder. The song began with bass and drums dominating until Mayall turned up the guitar volume and began to solo, while alternating with singing, until Rzab & Davenport once again join in as the multi layered jam reached its zenith.


The band followed up with “The Tears Came Rolling Down,” off Mayall’s 1976 self titled album. This was a song that stretched his voice and stamina as he wailed, “when my baby left me,” with an intensity that was mirrored by the exuberance of his keyboards in the style of a concert pianist hammering out the blues.” The final selection of his set was “California” from 1969’s live recording at the Fillmore East, Turning Point. Throughout the concert Rzab continued to  joke with Mayall about how he was only a child when a particular album was released, which drew attention to the phenomenon of John’s ability to maintain the level of performing intensity that he does at the age of 82. John asked the crowd “did everyone have a good time?”  “Yeah!!” the crowd answered as John played keyboards with one hand and his mouth harp with the other. The trio served up a jazzy rendition with Davenport working the skins from a machine gun staccato approach to a delicate minimalist one on the cymbals and drum rims by the numbers conclusion.


At the conclusion of Mayall’s dynamite show, John said goodnight and the band left the stage, only to be brought back by a screaming and stomping crowd to do one final song. “Room To Move” off the Turning Point album is one of the most familiar of Mayall’s compositions featuring his harmonica and scat singing. John’s entire performance lasted a total of 100 minutes and he was on his feet moving from one end of the stage to the other throughout the show. The only rest that he had was when he would lean back on a stool behind the keyboards. It was a great show by a great showman and blues legend.