Posts Tagged ‘ZZ Top’

What a heck of a weekend we’ve had with Crossfyre up in Lapland, the northern hemisphere of Finland!  On tour with Crossfyre, we brought the flavor of southern rock and classic rock in general to the north, and boy, did the people up here LOVE IT!

The band gets ready for Friday night's gig in Levi.

The band gets ready for Friday night’s gig in Levi.

With a back-to-back set of gigs in Levi and Kuusamo respectively, we witnessed the good vibes catch on in droves both nights, with all manner of folk dancing the night away in front of the stage.  Indeed, we play adult-oriented rock, but that said, anyone from their twenties to their sixties seems to dig our sound, regardless of where we play.  That said, we really must be doing something right.

The restaurants and establishment walls at Hullu Poro were embellished with our gig adverts.

The restaurants and establishment walls at Hullu Poro were embellished with our gig adverts.

On Friday night, we pulled into Levi on the outskirts of Kittilä, after a near-20-hour drive from Helsinki.  Our newly revamped Crossmobile turned heads left and right, with its snazzy tape-job, sponosored by Mad Croc Energy Drinks.  It was a couple of years back that we wrote the theme song for Mad Croc’s motor racing division worldwide, and since that time, we’ve developed a great working relationship with the energy drink giant.

Crossfyre's official tour van, The Crossmobile!

Crossfyre’s official tour van, The Crossmobile!

The Hullu Poro Hotel and resort in Levi has to be seen to be believed.  It is honestly one of the coolest, most endearing places visually and atmosphere-wise, that there is to be seen and experienced in Finland.  As a trivia note, in January 2009, I won my second Eurostars European wrestling championship title from Bernard Vandamme of Belgium at Hullu Poro Arena in Levi, so that place carries a lot of significance to me personally.

Our gig venue in Levi at Hullu Poro.

Our gig venue in Levi at Hullu Poro.

Our Friday gig at Hully Poro was a capacity biker bash entitled WILD RIDE.  It’s an annual event, and this year, Crossfyre was the band of choice to play the happening.  Top-of-the-line hotel rooms, wickedly good food and high-class cuisine on the house and a tremendous atmosphere capped off this outing.  And I have to say: our cover of ZZ Top’s “Sharp Dressed Man” always gets every ass in the joint moving like an ant farm.  There’s just something to it that works every single time out.  That’s probably because the original itself is such a great song to begin with!

This chick told me "Good grief, you've got one foot in the grave already!"

This chick told me “Good grief, you’ve got one foot in the grave already!”

Our second gig last night in Kuusamo at Ravintola Veijo was stellar, also.  A real gritty bar in feel and vibe, Veijo is the kind of place rock bands want to play at.  With a population of around 16 000 people, Kuusamo doesn’t have a lot happening, so when something notable hits town, you better believe the town folk are going to show up!  And show up they did, a packed house at that!  Here, we got to see how another carefully chosen cover song, Golden Earring’s “Twilight Zone”, sank into people like a hot knife through butter.  Me personally, I want to see us cover that song on our next album after our current Iron Horse release, in support of which we have been touring all summer long.

Thanks to all the fine folks that came out to see us do what we do best this past Friday and Saturday in Northern Finland.  And ladies, hehee…I’m sorry: as a married man, I’m no longer on the playing field!  Just a good reminder, as we head out to our other northern gigs next weekend in Saariselkä at Santa’s Village and Ivalo respectively.  Tomorrow, I fly back to Helsinki out of Oulu, to perform my WWE wrestling commentaries for Eurosport television in Finnish, and then on Thursday I fly back up north to continue rocking the Arctic Circle!

The atmosphere at Veijo's pub in Kuusamo was off the charts!

The atmosphere at Veijo’s pub in Kuusamo was off the charts!

 

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Well, I’ve been back for a few days following our Crossfyre “Iron Horse” album release tour through Estonia, Poland and Germany, and I’m still recouping!  Erradic hours, irregular and short sleep, and 5,995 kilometers of road later, it tends to build up and wear on you.

But whose complaining?!  We had a great time, life on the road, like a band of gypsies, rocking and rolling.  Dreaming it and living it are two different things.  We got to take in some great experiences and meet some fantastic new people along the way.

Morning scenery from the Super Rally grounds

Morning scenery from the Super Rally grounds

First of all, The Harley-Davidson 2014 Super Rally in Tallinn, Estonia (which I chronicled in and of itself earlier HERE) was off the charts.  15,000 bikers from all around Europe ventured to Estonia’s capital for some boozin’ and cruisin’ June 5-7.  We played the main stage at the Super Rally on Saturday evening, right after Mr. Bill Davidson, CEO of Harley-Davidson Motorcycles, raffled off a brand new bike to a lucky Finn in the audience, who was dumbfounded when his number got called.  All in all, the Super Rally was a sight to behold, but the food was somewhat overpriced for the serving sizes offered.  As an added bonus, I was able to hit the fantastic Sparta sports club in Tallinn the day after the show with a big fan of mine from many years back named Keio, getting in a blasting compete body workout before moving forward on our journey.

As Hulk Hogan would say, "Hangin' and bangin'" at Sparta gym

As Hulk Hogan would say, “Hangin’ and bangin'” at Sparta gym!

Driving through Latvia, we got to see some of the finest beaches that there are to be found in Europe.  Riga was ridiculously overpriced, and I wondered what industry fuels their economy to justify the extravagant prices that we saw everywhere.  Riga was also the place where we picked up our regular bassist Dan Rönnbacka, as Sami Salminen (of The Slidemobile) filled in on bass in Tallinn and left the day after the Super Rally to go back to Finland.

Lithuania was up next, with a stop in God knows what town, and a hotel right next to the railroad tracks.  Damn.  That was a bad move.  The Latvian two-star vs. Estonian four-star hotel were quite different from the other, let me assure you!  Pretty much everywhere we travelled in Latvia and Lithuania, we had to use bottled water, as purportedly the tap water is questionable to drink.

The stage at Alchemia in Bialystok, Poland

The stage at Alchemia in Bialystok, Poland

Poland was a blast!  Our first gig in Bialystok on June 10 saw girls dancing on tables and the audience shucking and jiving in front of the stage.  Small venue.  Alchemia by name, the place was very intimate with William Blake-like artwork and interior design.  There were even a few wrestling fans at the show, who came  out to see StarBuck, which was a nice thing.

The next stop was 5 Sztuk in Siedlce, a student town, of which 25% of the population account for students.  Once again, just the night prior, the people on hand were going bananas by the end of it all when our rendition of ZZ Top’s Sharp Dressed Man closed things off.  After the gig, we got invited to the local Gryf MC headquarters for a drink, as we presented a rebel Confederate flag for their clubhouse also.

Next up was the Alligator music club in Poznan, which was a big city and we found ourselves smack-dab in the center of the marketplace.  Let me say this about Poland: if you are a bachelor, then plan a trip there, as the women will be sure to catch your eye!  Alligator was a very cool club, with some of the niftiest interior design that I have seen so far in any club.  Very high-scale environment.

Getting the mood right at Alligator music bar (photo by Gozia Czek)

Getting the mood right at Alligator music bar (photo by Gozia Czek)

Our last gig in Poland was in the city of Szczecin at the Free Blues Club.  I know I keep sounding pretty high on Poland, but I have to expressly note that the stage sound at Free Blues Club was in the top five of any stage that I have performed on in the past 15-years.  It was pure pleasure to play the this place, as I could make every instrument out crystal clear and I didn’t have to push my voice at all.

Best stage sound around at Free Blues Club (photo by Ryszard Pakieser)

Best stage sound around at Free Blues Club (photo by Ryszard Pakieser)

Then it was off to Barnaby’s Blues Bar in Braunschweig, Germany.  Barnaby’s is like our home away from home, an establishment that we have now played about five times.  Local Radio Okerwelle DJ Florian Damm is always up for having us appear on his show for an hour-long interview every time we are in town the day of the show.  We rocked Barnaby’s in familiar fashion, leaving the folks screaming for more…were it not for the soccer game that was just starting 10-minutes after we finished our set.  It should be noted, that soccer takes precedence to anything and everything in Germany.  People would probably skip their grandparents’ funeral to watch the soccer championships!

Hanging with some fine folks on the Reeperbahn

Hanging with some fine folks on the Reeperbahn

Our last gig of the tour was in Hamburg, Germany, right on the infamous Reeperbahn.  The place was called Cowboy und Indianer, like cowboys and Indians, and it was frequented by folks who knew their rock and blues.  Older musicians, rock police if they chose to be, had filled the bar by the end of the night.  I saw people taking out their cell phones, calling their friends, like “get your ass here right away, you have GOT to see this band!”  People just kept filing in throughout the set to see what the commotion was all about.  Let me say this: we did something right that night.  To turn the heads of musicians with 40+ years of experience, you have got to have your shizzat together.  I am proud to say that our gig on Hamburg on June 15 was one of the finest performances that we have ever pulled off!

From Hamburg we drove straight through the night to catch my plane from Copenhagen back to Helsinki in time to make my WWE Eurosport broadcast on Monday night.  I didn’t get a wink of sleep after leaving Hamburg, and let me tell you, I was knackered right out of my boots on air that evening.

Next up, the Rockin’ by the River festival in Iisalmi, Finland on June 27, followed by a gig for Kolisewa MC in Karkkilaon June 28.  The Crossfyre Iron Horse keeps on rolling!

Rockin by the River

 

Just got back to the hotel here in Tallinn, Estonia, where tonight, we rocked the Harley-Davidson Super Rally with a healthy dose of Crossfyre southern goodness.  I have to say that this was a real highlight for our band, as bikers from all over Europe had converged on Tallinn to partake in the big bash, and since we play Texas Biker Blues (as we have come to coin it), Crossfyre was a perfect fit for the Super Rally!

Our band mugs with one of the Super Rally big wigs, Hanna Mursula, before the show.

Our band mugs with one of the Super Rally big wigs, Hanna Mursula, before the show.

The word was, that the Hell’s Angels were all in St. Petersburg, Russia for Harley Days 2014 this weekend, and therefore, no one from their club attended.  However, anyone and everyone else was on hand, from the Cannonball MC to the Diablos MC and tons of others from all across Europe.

Getting downright southern...up north! (photo by Marianne Saari)

Getting downright southern…up north! (photo by Marianne Saari)

Right before showtime, there was a pretty interesting and intense altercation right in front of the main stage where we were slated to play.  Some big biker dude from Russia knocked the shit out of some other dude with a huge punch, and no one came to save the day.  I was thinking a biker war was about to maybe break out, but nothing came of it, and we went on with firing up our gig.  Before we went on, Mr. Bill Davidson, CEO of Harley-Davidson motorcycles, raffled off a brand new hog.  I put my name in the hat, but to no avail.  The bike did, however, go to some bloke from Finland.

Striking a pose with Mr. Bill Davidson of Harley-Davidson motorcycles!

Striking a pose with Mr. Bill Davidson of Harley-Davidson motorcycles!

Our regular bassist Dan Ronnbacka was unable to make it to Tallinn, due to his work commitments back in Finland, so Sami Salminen from The Slidemobile filled in on this Super Rally gig as the four-stringer.  We tore through a 75-minute set, focusing mainly on our new “Iron Horse” album’s tunes, in addition to select covers from Bob Dylan, ZZ Top, The Rolling Stones, Credence Clearwater Revival and Stevie Ray Vaughn.  I worked up a good sweat, running around the huge stage, which happens to be the biggest of its kind in Europe, right in Tallinn.  Maybe this ain’t metal or hard rock, but I gave both Bruce Dickinson and David Lee Roth a run for their money with the way that I painted the bodylanguage storytelling of my vocal interpretation.

Lighting up the main stage at the Super Rally (photo by Hanna Mursula)

Lighting up the main stage at the Super Rally (photo by Hanna Mursula)

We even got placed in a top, four-star hotel by the event organizer, here in Tallinn.   I’ll be soaking away the sweat and grime tomorrow morning on the eighth floor in the sauna after a full-scale, no-holds-barred breakfast.  From here, we head out to Poland for a four-show jaunt, and then to Germany.

Bikers assembled from all over Europe for the bash.

Bikers assembled from all over Europe for the bash.

Life is good, indeed!  Here’s one for the road…

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My southern blues rock band Crossfyre played the gigantic Rock Legends Cruise out on the Atlantic Ocean waters this past December 2011, alongside such notable names as ZZ Top, George Thorogood and The Destroyers, Johnny Winter, Steppenwolf, Blackfoot and many others.

Film producer Oskari Pastila was aboard with us, and he filmed a four-part video documentary series for Finnish pop culture and music media www.basso.fi on our Crossfyre expedition.

Here is a sneak peak at the documentary in trailer form:

http://vimeo.com/42126143

Well, the enormous Rock Legends Cruise is now history and here I sit in Lake Worth, Florida at our Crossfyre guitarist Jay Jay’s place reminiscing on the events of this past weekend aboard The Liberty Of The Seas.  Simply to be a part of rock and roll history aboard that festival at sea was monumental and a true honor for us, representing the only European act on the whole bill.

ZZ Top playing aboard the Rock Legends Cruise

I got a chance to catch some golden oldies like Steppenwolf, George Thorogood and The Destroyers, Foghat, Blackfoot, Johnny Winter and my most anticipated Rock Legends act, ZZ Top.  Indeed, it was ZZ Top that blasted through a set which left everyone cheering and hollering, including hits like Legs, Gimme All Your Lovin’, Party on the Patio and Sharp Dressed Man.  Foghat proved to be in fine form still, as was Blackfoot.  Truly, some bands age like fine wine, and perhaps this is nowhere as true as in the blues and southern rock genres.  Considering an act like ZZ Top still includes all three original members after four decades of action speaks volumes.

Me and a couple of fans at the VIP lounge

Our definite hilite of the event from a personal standpoint with Crossfyre was playing outside on the main deck of the ship on Saturday, December 3 before a capacity audience that was introduced to our band for the first time.  I dare say we delivered in spades, winning over all kinds of new fans and even fellow musicians and technicians.  I swear I even saw Blackfoot vocalist Mike Estes actually rocking out behind the stage as we played our third and final gig at Studio B aboard the ship on Sunday, December 4th.  Of all of the audiences that I have played live in front of, this American crowd responded the best to my verbatim and banter, which simply goes to prove that I am a North American prodigy, born and bred in this culture, which in turn makes my approach resonate optimally with this kind of audience.  I have to say that I had an absolute blast performing for the fine folks on hand aboard the Rock Legends Cruise.  Thanks to everyone who made it happen and we hope to see y’all again!

Crossfyre playing at Studio B aboard the Rock Legends Cruise

This week I will be playing the largest southern rock and blues festival in history, the Rock Legends Cruise, December 1 – 5 between Fort Lauderdale, Florida and The Bahamas with my band Crossfyre.  It stands to mention that we are the ONLY band out of Europe on that float and gig, which speaks volumes.

The Liberty of the Seas from Royal Caribbean is one of the biggest, fastest and most luxurious passenger vessels in service today, served by a crew of 1300 on 18 decks. With a gross tonnage of 160,000, it can truly be said that the rock-themed benefit voyage will be a “heavy” experience for both bands and fans. The ship, almost as long as four football fields, cruises at 21.6 knots, is scheduled for port stops in the Bahamas that include Coco Cay and Nassau.

The main attraction of the cruise is, of course, multiple performances by the Rock Legends bands aboard, in four different on-board venues. The ship also features on-board surfing thanks to its FlowRider wave generator, an ice skating rink, a boxing ring, a full-sized volleyball/basketball court, catelevered whirlpools and range of gourmet restaurants.  The ship offers no fewer than four performance venues for Rock Legends Cruise bands: The Deck, The Platinum Theater, Studio B and The Sphinx.

The bands aboard this huge festival cruise read: ZZ Top, George Thorogood and the Destroyers, John Kay and Steppenwolf, The Marshall Tucker Band, Dickey Betts & Great Southern, Foghat, Molly Hatchet, Johnny Winter, The Edgar Winter Band, The Outlaws, Artimus Pyle, Blackfoot, Pat Travers, Devon Allman’s Honeytribe, SwampDaWamp, The Chris Hicks Band, Preacher Stone, Ryan Balthrop, Whiskey Myers, and us – Crossfyre.

I would call this nothing short of LEGENDARY!