Artist Spotlight: Steven Tyler

From time to time, I get asked questions in the realm of my favorite singers, bands, and genres of music. Those are great questions, but the problem is that I really have too many to name!

This is why you haven’t seen any top 5 or 10 lists on singers or bands from me. Honestly, if I had to choose, I would need at least a top 25 list. It’s really that hard for me to keep my mind together and to narrow down true standouts from all of my favorites. Compare it to choosing your favorite child…. sure, that’s a bit of a stretch with this category, but:
1. I don’t have any children yet.
2. Music is my passion, something that I truly admire in many aspects.

So, instead, I’m going to start doing a special Artist Spotlight at least once a month to showcase my favorite performers in the music industry. And what better way to start things off than to talk about one of rock and roll’s wildest party animals, Steven Tyler of Aerosmith.

When I started listening to Aerosmith, I was 12 or 13 at the time. My fascination for music was more casual because even though I was raised on classic rock, I didn’t have a singer truly trance or fascinate me quite yet. Behold, my first instance of this!

Now, a decade later, I can analyze my fascinations that really hooked me into one of my favorite vocalists of all time. The first thing to really point out is Steven Tyler’s energy. It’s like I said before: at the time, I had listened to a lot of quality classic rock bands, but this was the first instance of mine where the frontman truly separated himself in the best way possible.

Even with the studio recordings of Aerosmith, I could hear a difference in tone, style, and vocal flexibility compared to other singers, which really hooked me in. By the time I started listening to Aerosmith’s live material, I could see that identity that was forged in those recordings, but it was enhanced even more with Tyler’s passion and drive in concerts, especially in the band’s 70s heyday.

Imagine being a child and being exposed to the wildness of an Aerosmith concert…. I would be jealous of you because I have never been to an Aerosmith concert. The only way I was able to see their live footage at the time (I didn’t know about YouTube until around the beginning of 2007) was through a compilation videotape  known as Aerosmith: Video Scrapbook. This not only featured live performances, but also snippets of interviews and music videos that I hadn’t seen before. Why am I bringing this up? It was here that I learned about Steven Tyler’s character on and off the stage. I saw a Jekkyl and Hyde-like personality: calm, cool and collected offstage, and a wild vocal banshee onstage that moved around like a ferocious tornado.

By seeing this, it helped me learn that I shouldn’t try to be similar to everyone else, that there was no real ‘normal’ category to label yourself into. Otherwise, you’re just fooling yourself into being held back from your true passion in life. We all need that craziness,  that quirkiness, or even as simple as that personality to separate ourselves, otherwise we’d all just have the depth of a piece of paper.

Anyway, I’m getting offtrack right now, back to Steven Tyler. Vocalwise, what do I like about him?
Is it the Rolling Stones-ish influence on his delivery? Yes.
Is it the channeling of blues and r&b singers in his vocal prowess? Yes.
Is it the energetic live performances? Definitely.
And finally, does it all come together in the best way? Without a doubt.

All of these combined result in a pretty dynamic, hellishly crazy (but in a good way) frontman who could carry a performance all on his own if he wanted to! Steven Tyler goes down in my book as one of my favorite performers of all-time, but what about Aerosmith as a whole? That’s a tale for another day! Thank you all for reading, keep rocking out, and blast Rocks or Toys In The Attic for me, both really amazing albums!



Performance Log: One Hot Weekend in Ocean City, Maryland! (Part 3)

Oh wait, I’m not dreaming.

Ok then.

…………………..The End.

I’m just kidding!!! Don’t worry, let’s talk about the last show!

I’m going to skip ahead to actually arriving at our Saturday show at Johnny’s Pizza and Pub in Ocean City. We got out of our car and it was snowing! (It was almost April, try to figure that one out. We sure couldn’t!) Dusting aside, C.J. and I decided that we’d quickly load up and get everything inside the venue so that we didn’t have to deal with blustery conditions later in the night.

After we got ourselves situated with the equipment and with helping Johnny with his drum kit, I took some time to look over our surroundings as we were setting up. The place looked really nice; it was an intimate space with a long corridor and had plenty of seating available! Since we were busy setting up the sound and the instruments, we didn’t have time to eat, so we started our set immediately.

Everything was flowing seamlessly; we were playing song after song without faltering or losing our energy. We even had a couple of guys try to challenge us by throwing songs up for requests out of the blue. When we played all of the ones they offered, I still remember the look of disbelief on one of their faces. I can imagine his thoughts were: “Wow, they’re rolling with everything we have!” It seemed like they were trying to heckle us at first, but after talking to them, we learned that they were really nice guys and just wanted to have a little bit of fun with us, and I can respect that.

Now for a few song highlights!

Someone in the crowd wanted to hear “Stand By Me”, so we played it and that seemed to turn a lot of heads toward us. Don’t get me wrong, we had the attention of most of the patrons, but that addition glued nearly everyone’s eyes toward us, and that felt great!

The next one…… wow, I didn’t even think we would do this one. So, C.J. started playing the theme to the 1960′s Batman show, and I decided to follow him along with it, because we love to improvise with each other. The energy in that song was wild because we turned that song into a faster, Ramones-ish version of the song and it was a blast! I may not have seen it coming, but I’m glad that he added it in.

To sum everything up, it was one of the best shows that I have ever played with Los Swamp Monsters. While we were wrapping everything up, Johnny (the owner) talked highly of us and even gave us a complimentary pizza to have at our condo (Thanks again, Johnny!!).

To anyone traveling to Ocean City, Maryland, if you haven’t been to Johnny’s Pizza yet, go visit there! The food is great, they have an awesome drink selection and top-tier staff. We’ll be playing another show down there next week on April 30th, so if you can stop by, we’d love to have you!!

Thank you everyone for reading this three part journal into the weekend of Ocean City shows. It was a fun few days and I’m glad that I can talk about them through here. Have a great day everyone and I’ll be back next week with a new entry. Rock and Roll!!!!!

Performance Log: One Hot Weekend in Ocean City! (Part 2)

Here’s Part 2!

But first, a minor correction from the last post.

The condo that we stayed at wasn’t in Wilmington, DW, it was in Milford, DW.

On we go!

So, by the time that CJ and I got out of the House of Rock, it was after 1am and we had a little near an hour’s worth of driving time to get to the condo that we had provided for us. We hightailed it out, but we were both feeling the wear and tear of being up without rest for a good while. When I felt myself drifting off, I started talking to C.J. about the show, future plans, and cracking a few jokes between each other along the way. Before I knew it, I was wide awake and I’m pretty sure that this helped CJ since he was driving.

It was 2:19am or so when we arrived at the complex in Milford, but we couldn’t find the location. It turns out that both my phone GPS and CJ’s GPS entered the wrong house number for the place, so even though we arrived, we had no idea where to go. Imagine the relief on my face when I saw that we were only a block or so off from where we needed to be. After we pulled up, I looked on the instructions that were provided for us. There was a spare key that he kept hid in the area (he had a radio show that night and didn’t show up until later on), so we followed the guidelines and looked in the area that he said, BUT IT WASN’T THERE!!!!


Our process went like this: Look here, nothing. Search there, nothing. Two nervous breakdowns here, still nothing.

With the temperature falling to the low 20s, we dreaded the idea of having to sleep in the car until Johnny pulled up. So, we each took breaks and went to the car when it got cold, with each of us looking in separate places. We tried this twice, but came up empty.

When my hope was at its lowest point, CJ shouted “Found the little sucker!” (It was nearly 3am from two to three weeks ago, I don’t remember exact words!) I was ecstatic inside but I let out a very breathy, emotionless “Yesssss”.

Before I knew it, we were in the house and I was on the couch and ready to sleep. I was still in disbelief that we took this long to find a key, but at this point, I was happy to get some sleep.

As I drifted off, I was relaxing and looking forward to what the next day would provide. What did it give? I’ll tell you in the conclusion of this saga! Have a great night, everyone!

Performance Log: One Hot Weekend in Ocean City, Maryland! (Part 1)

Hey everyone!

Sorry that I haven’t posted anything in a couple of weeks, I went through a ton of writer’s block and I decided that I needed to step away for a while.

But now that I’m here, it’s time to talk about a trip of mine that happened a couple of weeks back on the weekend of March 27th through the 29th.

It all started with a message from my friend and fellow bandmate from Los Swamp Monsters, C.J. Benoit. He mentioned that the page had a message that presented a gig opportunity for us at the House of Rock .

When he mentioned that it was in Ocean City, I got excited! Even before I decided to become a musician as a child, I had always wanted to perform a real show in Ocean City, and with that chance coming, it was really hard to pass this offer up. So, I said yes.

My head was swelling with anticipation, and by the time Friday arrived, I was psyched beyond relief!

I know what you’re thinking: “Marshall, how can you be psyched over a long road trip involving just one show?”

FEAR NOT! For I have the answer right now!

Through the help of a family friend, C.J. also had us booked to play over at Johnny’s Pizza and Pub. At first, I didn’t know what to think because I hadn’t been through that part of Ocean City in a while, but then when I saw the logo of the place, it made me really happy. Johnny’s Pizza was one of those places that I always wanted to visit since I was a kid, but I never had the chance. I had heard a lot of great things, so the fact that I was able to go there for a performance was an added bonus.

So, we pretty much played a rock and roll version of Tetris when we loaded the car up, but somehow everything fit JUST enough, and we were off! It was smooth sailing for the most part, but when we ran into traffic jams from hell, we decided to go straight to the first venue because we were afraid that we’d be cutting it too close if we stopped at the condo that we had arranged in Wilmington, DW.

When we arrived at the place, I almost had to do a double take. My GPS put us in a strip area that had me thinking that we were going to be stranded at a farmer’s market. All that we saw was a liquor store and a pizza place jointed next to it. The thing that was a little suspicious though was the purple alleyway. I thought to myself: “There is no way that THIS is the place!” But to my surprise, after CJ called the guy that offered us the show, he confirmed my wild assumption.

I was afraid to look on the inside, but I was about to be floored.

The Ocean City House of Rock had an amazing atmosphere! There were rock mementos everywhere and the stage reminded me of a 1980′s arena rock atmosphere! The drums had an amazing design on them and the stage was very sizable. The environment had me excited after my moment of doubt a little while ago.

So…. friendly staff, wild environment, awesome touches, it sounds like the recipe for a great build up for the show, right? Well…. overall you would be right.

However, we ended up getting delayed for a little while because the venue had trouble with its lighting rig, so that ended up delaying ourselves from performing on that stage for at least 15 to 30 minutes.

Once we did get up there though, it was pretty smooth sailing! C.J. and I complemented each other well in our song choices, and the set turned a lot of heads in the audience to our direction. What I DIDN’T expect though was for someone to leap on the drum kit, and when the owner of the place climbed up and started accompanying our songs midway through the set, I felt a mixture of hilarity, adrenaline, and confusion.

I can honestly say that this has never happened to me before in terms of a full-fledged performance, but it was a welcome change of pace! Once the mixed emotions kicked away, we were all jamming out and having a great time. By the time the set was finished, I felt really satisfied with how we did. It was a great welcome to Ocean City and I couldn’t wait to do the next show!

But even with that momentum that was given to us on that night, let’s just say that not everything went as smooth as I thought it would. While we were watching the headliner perform, two things happened unexpectedly:
1. The guitarist’s amp went out on him. (Ok, not a big deal, shouldn’t be that big of a problem, and it wasn’t.)
2, There was a bar fight (PROBLEM.)

Problem #2 resulted in having the authorities come by and force the show to end early, which was a shame, because the night was right and felt really good! Aside from the few snags that happened, the first show was fantastic!

I’ll talk about the next show tomorrow, so stay tuned and keep rocking out! But if you hear sirens, you may be rocking out a little TOO much……. Have a great day everyone!