Thursday, April 27, 2017
Wilson Center Guitar Festival
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Interview with Songstress Extroardinaire, Sara Niemietz


The bubbly and beautiful singer-songwriter, Sara Niemietz, is such a fun woman to interview that she and I always have a great time when we conversate. Sara has had a busy year, with the release of her newest album, Push Play, that she has been promoting since the release of it in June. She has also completed a duet with  B.J. Thomas‘s upcoming record, as well as accompanying Richard Marx on his first Christmas release, Christmas Spirit, her second time to work with Richard.

Interview with Chuck Garric on playing with some of the greatest rock icons and starting his own band Beasto Blanco


The multi-talented Chuck Garric is a bass player, producer and family man. Chuck is a rocker who has played with Turd, The Druts, L.A. Guns, Dio, Eric Singer Project (ESP), and with Billy Bob Thornton, Cheap Trick, Ted Nugent, Don Felder and Journey for the Alice Cooper Christmas Pudding for several years.  Chuck has been Alice Cooper’s bass player since 2002 and is currently on tour.

And if that’s not enough to keep him busy, Chuck worked with a band out of Milwaukee called Jimmy at the Prom in producing some of their songs AND….has recently formed his own band called Beasto Blanco, which he talks about with us. With all of this on his plate, he still finds quality time to spend with family and friends.

Chuck took the time out of his busy schedule to talk with us about his successful career.

GGM:  When did you first start playing the bass and when did you realize you wanted to do it professionally?

Chuck:  I started playing music at an early age. But the bass guitar was something I picked up around 13. My friends on the next block had a band and needed a bass player. So I bought a cheap bass and learned how to play it. When I was done with high school. I was thinking about what’s next for me – I knew I wanted to play professionally. I loved playing the bass, so i went for it.

GGM:  Who were your early musical influences?

Chuck:  I loved Queen, AC/DC, KISS, Ted Nugent, Ozzy, Black Sabbath. The early punk movement was popular with some of my friends. They introduced me to Black Flag, 7 Seconds, and the Ramones. As far as bass players go, my influences are Cliff Williams, John Deacon, Bob Daisley, Gene Simmons and Dee Dee Ramone.

GGM:   What was your first big break?

Chuck:  I started off playing like everyone does. Garage bands, then moved up to playing clubs, recording demos etc. All of those experiences leads up to the time you get your first break. My break came when I was asked to play bass for Ronnie James DIO. Ronnie took me on tour with him on the Monsters of the Millennium European tour. It was one of the best times of my life!

GGM:   You’ve been playing and touring with Alice Cooper since 2002.  How were chosen to be in the band and what’s it like to be performing with such an amazing legend like Alice Cooper, and how has that influenced your musical career in terms of playing and writing?

Chuck:  I auditioned for the gig. Alice wasn’t there for the audition, but the rest of the band was. A few months went by, then Alice and the band called me to play for them! They had a Fox TV show to do. So the first time I meet Alice was on stage in front of millions! Performing with Alice is incredible, he is a true professional –always giving the audience 100%. Playing with Alice Cooper has really shaped my career and my bass playing. A lot has been learned from song writing to putting a show together.

GGM:  You’ve been credited with contributing to Alice Cooper’s albums “Eyes of Alice Cooper,” “Dirty Diamonds” and “Along Came a Spider.”  How is it working with the band on writing the lyrics and music…does everyone have input or is up to Alice Cooper?

Chuck:  We all worked together as a band for those records. Most of the lyrics come from Coop. He’s open to ideas musically and lyrically. He has a great way of turning ideas into his own — but it’s always a band effort.

GGM:  You’ve had the fortune of jamming with some of the greatest rock icons in history.  Can you tell us about one of your most memorable experiences?

Chuck:  I’ve been very fortunate and have jammed with many of my icons and musical influences. One of most memorable times was jamming with Ted Nugent and after the gig he grabbed me and I thought WTF, Ted’s going to kill me. He smiled and looked me in the eyes, and said, “Chuck, you have the sprit of the Buffalo in you.”  I took that as a good thing. I’ve used that saying a few times myself!

GGM:  You’ve also recently been working with Jimmy at the Prom producing some of their songs.  What do you see in their future?

Chuck:  Jimmy at the Prom is a band in Milwaukee that I got to know over the years. I met up with the guys and listened to three songs they tracked. After that meeting, Matt called and asked if I would help produce their next two songs. I jumped on the opportunity as producing is something I love to do! The guys are all amazing musicians and have really good songs. I worked on a few ideas at my home studio, then flew out to Milwaukee to finish the mixes. The band is very focused on writing and performing, and I look forward to working with them again. Keep your eyes out for Jimmy at the Prom!

GGM:  You’ve recently started a new band called Beasto Blanco.  How did that come about and what inspired the name Beasto Blanco?

Chuck:  I’ve always been a song writer and I found myself with a hand full of songs that I thought, if I started a band, these songs would be on the record! I contacted my good friend Chris Latham to play guitar. Chris knows how I write and we’ve worked together before so I knew the process would be positive. We started working with producer Tommy Henriksen and it didn’t take long before we all knew we were on to something killer! Tommy was able to get the sound that I was looking for and had me focused on the what songs fit this band. As for the name, we had a few names for the band, but it wasn’t until we could sit back and let the music speak to us. Then we were able to come up with a name. BEASTO BLANCO gave the music a heart beat, energy and style of its own.

GGM:  Not only do you tour with Alice Cooper and your own band Beasto Blanco, you also play with The Eric Singer Project and Billy Bob Thornton’s The Boxmaker.  With so many things on your plate, how do you prioritize your time with other commitments in your life, like family and friends?

Chuck:  Well, they all don’t tour at the same time, so that makes it a little easier. I like to stay busy and I love to work. Most of my friends are in the bands I play in so I spend time with them on stage or in the studio. I have an amazing family that always come first! My daughter is on her way to college next year and my wife and I have always set a good example for her. There is a lot of love, support and hard work in my family. I am surrounded by amazing, intelligent and talented women in my house and in my life. They keep me grounded — I keep them safe!

GGM:  Can you tell us a little about your gear?

Chuck:  For the Alice Cooper tours, I use Fender Basses: A 1972 P-bass, American Jazz bass and a 57 re-issue P-Bass. I use Hartke amps and cabinets, and a few Digitech pedals.

GGM:  Where do you see yourself in five years?

Chuck:  I will continue to be creative in the studio with Beasto Blanco and on tour with both bands!

GGM:  Obviously, we’re a magazine focusing on promoting female guitarists, so we have to mention your association with Orianthi.  You’ve had the fortune of playing with her on tour with Alice Cooper.  What has it been like working with Orianthi and do you feel she is treated differently than her male counterparts?

Chuck:  Orianthi has been a great addition to Alice Cooper. It’s not an easy job playing those guitar parts. Ryan Roxie, Tommy Henriksen and Ori have done a great job at making three guitars work live. Ori came into this camp with a solid work ethic and was determined to make the songs and her parts a priority. When you have that mind set, you are treated like a pro. Ori isn’t treated any differently than anyone else in the band. I feel sorry for Ori at times, she has become our little sister to five older brothers. We’ve all become very close so she’s very well protected, I think a little too much at times, but that’s how we roll. We’re a family out there!

GGM:  We believe there are some really great female guitarists out there today.  Do you have any favorites and do you feel there is any one female guitarist today that will rival any of the great male legends of rock? 

Chuck:  I grew up with the Runaways, Girls School, Poison Ivy from the Cramps. In my mind, there’s always room for talented musicians. It’s about how you approach what you do, what you have to offer. If Ori sticks to her guns as a blues rock guitar player, there is no doubt that she’ll be recognized as one of the best!

GGM:  Lastly, do you have any suggestions for aspiring female guitarists trying to make in today’s world of rock and roll?

Chuck:  Dionne Warwick once said, “I don’t give advice….. That’s because no one listens.”  But if asked, I give the same advice to anyone including my own daughter. Do what you love! Be honest and hard working! Don’t worry about what people think or say about you. Believe in what you are about! Practice, Practice, Practice.

GGM:  Where can our readers get a chance to catch a live show?

Chuck:  Right now I am on tour with Alice Cooper. Beasto Blanco dates to be posted soon.

GGM:  Thank you for taking the time to interview with us! We certainly enjoyed it! And, we hope to catch up with you while you are on tour.

Chuck:  Anytime!


For more information on Chuck Garric, please visit his sites below.

Photo credits:  Beasto Blanco

Product Review: Ibanez Tube Screamer TS9 Overdrive Pedal


This month’s review is on the classic Ibanez Tube Screamer TS9 which has been reissued by Ibanez. I actually have an original, love the bright green color…I think everyone remembers the color!  The reissue looks the same, still Kermit the Frog green.

This pedal is very user friendly which makes it a great first pedal also. There are three knobs: drive, tone and level. The level controls the total output. It is perfect for getting that classic rock tone or gain. However, I don’t think it is great for metal, but it’s perfect for rock.

I think it sounds best with a tube amp and it is pretty tough! Great for rock, great used with an amp’s clean channel, and great as a boost for extra gain. Good deal for a pedal and it is pretty cute!

Ibanez TS9 Tube Screamer Reissue Distortion/Overdrive Pedal Features at a Glance:

  • Classic stompbox distortion and overdrive effect
  • Made in the same factory and with the same parts as the original TS9
  • Input impedance: 500 Kohms
  • Output impedance: 10 Kohms
  • Maximum Output: Level 0dBm
  • Maximum Gain: + 30dB
  • Equivaient Input Noise: -100dBm (IHF-A)
  • Power Supply: 9V battery or external 9V AC adapter
  • Dimensions: 4.9″ x 3″ x 2″
  • Weight: 1.3 lbs.

Retails for $99.99.

~ Katrina Johannson


Heart…and a Helping of Shawn Colvin: Musical Morsels at St. Pete Ribfest


The ribs and other kinds of food weren’t the only things cooking at Vinoy Park in St. Petersburg, Florida during the middle of a weekend event called Ribfest.

Phone Guitar: The New Air Guitar?


Way back in the late 20th century, if one didn’t have a guitar, that person could have at least pretended to play one. You know…”air guitar.”  But as the 21st century kicked in, and with it, technological breakthroughs like wireless Internet and smartphones, many applications, or “apps,” sprung up.  Among those apps were those that have to do with guitars.

Susanna Hoffs in ‘The Girl With the Guitar’ at Eddie’s Attic


Susanna Hoffs entered the quaint Atlanta venue known as Eddie’s Attic from the same door the full house of fans did Monday night and walked subtly to the stage and said, “Hello, this is our first show on the tour so I hope you will work with us…and while I do not have any stories to tell, you are welcome to ask questions while we tune up here…it’s our first stop on the tour.”  Then, she and her newly formed band began to take the crowd down memory lane with the sounds of the ’60s, and the twelve string accompaniment made the old hippies in the crowd think of The Byrds and Tom Petty, with a touch of George Harrison.  The crowd enjoyed medleys from The Bangles, a few cover songs, and new music just released on Susanna’s brand new CD “Someday” including “November Sun,” “Raining,” and “Picture Me.”

Susanna brought her Signature Rickenbacker to life while being accompanied by the quite notable lead and rhythm guitar playing of her new song writing partner, Andrew Brassell, a very talented musician whose picking style and subtle lead fills were reminiscent of George Harrison and created an obvious signature of his Nashville roots.

Susanna Hoff Signature Rickenbacker Model 350SH
Based on the model 350, this instrument has a combination of one HB-1 humbucking pickup and two vintage “crome-bar” single coil pickups. Checked binding, 24 frets, rosewood fingerboard and triangle inlays.

The show got underway a little after 8:30 PM and went  through until just after 10:00 PM with great hits from The Bangles including “Manic Monday” and a sneak up quick version of “Walk Like an Egyptian,” which once recognized by the crowd, had them erupt in applause and excitement for that familiar sound…”Ay Oh Whey Oh”!

In addition to Susanna’s crisp vocals, her five piece band was right on the money! From the groove laid down by drummer Jim Laspesa, or the unsung heroism of bassist Derrick Anderson, the style of percussionist John Calacci, and the magic riffs and licks coming from guitarist Andrew Brassell, this night had a little of everything for those looking back to simpler times, or for those who just wanted to rock and let go.


Spain’s Vega: Going For a Latin Grammy


There’s a female guitar-playing singer-songwriter out of Spain whose real name is Mercedes Carpio.  She is best known by just her stage name…Vega.  Don’t confuse her with Suzanne Vega, of “Tom’s Diner” and “Luka” fame.  This Vega has a rocking album entitled “La Cuenta Atras,” which is Spanish for “The Countdown,” released back in September 2011.

When she finished her university studies with a major in advertising and public relations–attending classes during the day, then performing the bars at night when she would get a chance–Vega was selected to appear as a contestant on an “Idol”-type TV talent show in Spain entitled “Operación Triunfo” [“Operation: Triumph”] back in 2002. She didn’t make it to the championship round, but she did parlay that appearance into a successful gold-selling debut album more than a year after, entitled “India”, that garnered two chart-topping singles: the platinum-selling “Quiero Ser Tú” [“I Wanna Be Yours” roughly translated] and “Grita!” [“Shout!”].

Vega’s brand of Spanish pop-rock has drawn from such diverse influences as Frank Sinatra, the Belgian band K’s Choice, and veteran Spaniard rockers Los Planetas.  Yet she puts lots of work into her efforts by being actively involved in all aspects of her career.  Vega says that her greatest inspiration is “to live and read. To swallow up life without restrictions, fears nor caution. To talk about beauty and cruelty equally. I write songs that aspire to be the soundtrack of a moment in the lives of others, and many of the ones I have written… have already managed to do that.”

“La Cuenta Atras” is Vega’s 5th album, and was produced in Los Angeles by Argentina-born Sebastian Krys, an 8-time Latin Grammy-winning producer who has also worked with the likes of Gloria Estefan, Shakira, Ricky Martin, Black Eyed Peas and Will Smith.

Vega describes “La Cuenta Atras” as “an optimistic record,” one that she “had to make.”  Perhaps that is why “La Cuenta Atras” is also one of five albums nominated for Best Pop-Rock Album [Spanish: Mejor Disco Pop-Rock] in the Latin Grammy Awards [Los Premios Grammy Latino].  The awards will be handed out next Thursday, November 15, at the Mandalay Bay Events Center in Las Vegas.  Spanish-language US TV network Univision will be showing the Latin Grammys live starting at 8pm Eastern time.

In addition to being a musician, Vega also co-promotes one of Spain’s biggest music festivals, called “Festival de la Luz,” together with the event’s namesake, pioneering female Spaniard pop-rock singer Luz Casal.  Luz, Vega, and many other top acts from throughout Spain perform in this festival, which benefits anti-cancer causes.

You can find out more about the Latin Grammys by visiting  As for Vega, you can visit her website,, as well as like her on Facebook at, and follow her on Twitter @vegaoficial.  Vega’s social media sites are in Spanish, so it’s recommended that you use an online translator. Also, you can watch some of Vega’s videos on

Source:  Press Release

Fender Jaguar Celebrates 50th Anniversary


Press Release:  The Fender Jaguar electric guitar is 50 years old now. Unveiled in 1962, it was the last of the guitar maker’s four most famous electric guitars to be introduced, and, as it turned out, the last major six-string creation of the enigmatic genius whose name adorned it. And while it might not be as omnipresent as its big-brother electric guitars of the 1950s, the Telecaster and the Stratocaster, and its closest ancestor, 1958’s Jazzmaster guitar, make no mistake: The Jaguar is a survivor with a great history, and you have heard it.

Fender Jaguar Ad from 1962

From the Beach Boys and Jimi Hendrix in the ’60s all the way to Nirvana, the Red Hot Chili Peppers and the Smashing Pumpkins in the modern era, the sleekly chromed-out Jaguar has blazed its own unexpectedly successful trail through the history of rock music. Like some kind of “little guitar that could,” it has surprised nearly everyone by continually finding its own distinctive place with each successive generation of guitarists, from harmlessly sparkling old-school pop to subversive alt-indie cool and beyond.

“One of the reasons I really like Jaguars is they’re a little restrictive for me to play, and that’s a good thing,” said Johnny Marr, noted guitarist for the Smiths, Modest Mouse and the Pretenders to name only a few. “I have to work within the limitations of the guitar. So it gives me a really strong direction. I can’t get too ‘blues rock’ on it, as it’s too feminine to play power chords on it.”

Alone among Fender’s four main electric guitars, the Jaguar was a child of the 1960s rather than the 1950s. When it was introduced in 1962, the Jaguar was intended by its creator, Leo Fender, as his company’s top-of-the-line model. But things haven’t always been easy for Leo Fender’s cool cat. Extinction has threatened the Jaguar on several occasions over the past half century. In the end, though, there’s just no keeping a great guitar down.

Here in its 50th anniversary year, the Fender Jaguar is back in style and looking way hotter than any 50-year-old has a right to. The Jag’s rock ‘n’ roll cred is equaled only by its irresistible retro-chic allure. This distinctive instrument’s anniversary comes at a time when popular culture has fallen in love with the Mad Men era–the early-’60s glory days of crisply tailored suits, extra-dry martinis and sleek European sports cars.

Very much a product of that same zeitgeist, the Fender Jaguar in fact takes its name from the undisputed apotheosis of Euro automotive design. The Jaguar E-Type was introduced in 1961 and was immediately praised as “the most beautiful car ever made” by none other than Enzo Ferrari. Fender’s Jaguar made its debut the very next year. It is one of the last instruments that Leo designed for Fender before selling the company to CBS in the mid ’60s.

Introduced at a retail price of $375.50–about 25 bucks more than the Jazzmaster, which was Fender’s next-most-expensive guitar–the Jaguar was featured in an ad that hailed it as “the ultimate in design and precision.” A stylish black-and-white photo paired Fender’s new top-of-the-line beauty with its automotive namesake. The ad was the handiwork of real life “Mad Man” Robert Perine, who created Fender’s youthfully eye-catching late-’50s/early-’60s ad campaigns.

Fender’s big plans for the Jaguar may have paid off right from the start had it not been for a momentous event that changed the course of musical history. The 1963-’64 ascendancy of the Beatles and the advent of the British Invasion touched off a mad clamor for guitars made by Gretsch(R) and Rickenbacker(R), the two main brands played by the Beatles and their Brit brethren.

For the most part, though, the Jaguar remained something of a cult guitar in the ’60s and ’70s, as the Gretsches and Rickenbackers of the British Invasion gave way to the Stratocaster, Telecaster and Les Paul guitars of psychedelia, blues rock, glam and metal. Consequently, Fender dropped the Jaguar from its line in 1975.

But it was soon to be revived in a dramatic way. The punk rock revolution of 1976-’77 brought a radical new aesthetic to electric guitar playing. Nascent punk guitarists looked for instruments that were cheap and free of the taint of old-school rock. Pawnshop Jaguar and Jazzmaster guitars fit the bill perfectly. Leo’s two uptown girls became the new queens of the downtown scene.

Favored by guitarists in punk and post-punk acts including Sonic Youth, My Bloody Valentine and assorted others, the Jaguar rode a new wave of popularity. And that wave crested when the Jaguar was adopted by the most famous figure in recent rock, Nirvana’s Kurt Cobain, whose emotionally charged shifts from crystalline introspection to full-distortion mayhem propelled the trio to the forefront and put grunge on the map. What Jimi Hendrix was to the Stratocaster, Kurt Cobain was to the Jaguar. He inspired legions of players to pick up a Jag.

Kurt Cobain photo courtesy Charles Peterson, (c) 1992

The honor roll of modern rock guitarists who have played Jaguar guitars also includes Frank Black (Pixies), Wayne Coyne (Flaming Lips), Graham Coxon (Blur) and a great many others.

The Jaguar returned to Fender’s product line by the mid 1980s and has been going strong ever since. Cobain and Marr have been honored with their own signature model Jaguar guitars, and guitarists can now choose from a full line of beautifully appointed Jaguar guitars with a wide range of features and prices. Meanwhile, the market for vintage Jaguar guitars continues to thrive.

Johnny Marr With Signature Jaguar. Photo Courtesy Carl Lyttle.

“I think they’re absolutely beautiful,” said Marr. “I love all the chrome. I love the shape of it; this kind of early-’60s idea of ‘space age’ paired with a classic sort of ‘Fender’ thing.”

So raise a martini glass to the Jaguar and its 50-year sojourn in our midst–a guitar with style, an impeccable pedigree and a fascinating history.

About Fender Musical Instruments Corporation

Fender Musical Instruments Corporation (FMIC) is a leading, global musical instruments company whose comprehensive portfolio of brands includes Fender(R), Squier(R), Guild(R), Tacoma(R), Gretsch(R), Jackson(R), Charvel(R), EVH(R), SWR(R) and Groove Tubes(R), among others. Fender(R) instruments include the Telecaster(R), Stratocaster(R), Precision Bass(R) and Jazz Bass(R) guitars. For more information, visit

In 2007, FMIC acquired KMC Music, one of the largest independent U.S.

distributors of musical instruments and accessories. In 2011, KMC Music and Musicorp united their sales and catalog divisions as KMCMusicorp, creating a leading wholesaler of musical instruments, accessories and lighting equipment. KMCMusicorp produces and/or distributes Ovation(R),Takamine(R) and Hamer(R) guitars; Latin Percussion(R), Gretsch(R) Drums, Gibraltar(R) Hardware, Toca(R) Percussion, Sabian(R) cymbals and Genz Benz(R) amplifiers and more. For more information, visit

Press Release
Cover Photo:  Fender 50th Anniversary Jaguar

Latina Rockera Eljuri on Her Inspiration to be Strong


Latina Rockera Eljuri is making big waves in the US, South America and Mexico with her blend of Latin Rock, Reggae and World Rhythyms.  Eljuri, whose full name is Cecilia Villar Eljuri (her mother named her after Cecilia, the Saint of Music), is busy touring with her band promoting her new album “Fuerte” which means “strong” in English, and just introduced her new music video “Derecho” which can be seen below.  Her mother must have known what an inspiration Eljuri was going to be for naming her after the Saint of Music as she sings of being strong in the face of adversity on her new album.

Album Review–Heart Does it With Class in ‘Fanatic’


There’s always a certain something to what a band like Heart does on record, as well as in concert.  And that something has to do with “class.”  The rock-driven classiness that Ann & Nancy Wilson have delivered for just over a third of a century [has it been that long already?] continues on their 14th studio album, “Fanatic.”

Ben Mink, who co-produced Feist’s fun 2007 hit and iPod jingle “1234” is at the helm for “Fanatic,” as he was for Heart’s 2010 album “Red Velvet Car,” not only producing but also co-writing and contributing guitar licks to it as well.

First, there’s the title track, which, in true Heart fashion, definitely rocks.  You just can’t say enough about how Ann’s unmistakable voice always blends so well with the music.  And it’s not often that you hear lyrics like “hearts getting stupid,” which kind of adds a certain element of spice, fun or whatever you want to call it, to what the song “Fanatic” is about–not just the romantic kind of love, but the global kind.

You also have “Dear Old America,” which Ann described in the “Kicking and Dreaming” autobiography as a song that’s about her struggles growing up in a military family.  It’s quite an epic, with a beat that somewhat suggests marching, and even has producer Mink throwing in some string arrangements to kind of punctuate it.

Mink’s string setup also plays a part in the hard-rocking “Mashallah!,” while “59 Crunch” delivers a faster-paced style as Ann & Nancy get to take turns on the vocals.  “A Million Miles,” though, is loaded with keyboard and synth sounds that leave you thinking whether Heart have gone techno, but it’s not that bad, either.

And what Heart album would be complete without it showing its soft side? “Fanatic” does just that with songs like “Walkin’ Good,” in which Nancy sings lead, joined by guest Sarah MacLachlan, and enhanced with a flute moment from Ann.  Also showing a soft side with a hint of guitar power is “Rock Deep,” in which Ann pays a vocal tribute to Vancouver, the fine Canadian west coast city that, if my knowledge of Heart history is any indication, has been like a second home to Ann & Nancy.

It wouldn’t surprise me that “Fanatic” creatively follows on the success of “Red Velvet Car,” perhaps even more so.  About a week ago, “Fanatic” entered the Billboard 200 album charts at number 24.  Granted, it’s not as high a debut as “Red Velvet Car” [debuted at number 10 back in 2010], but it’s still proof of how strong, and how classy, Heart continue to be.

“Fanatic,” of course, is available wherever albums are sold, ranging from brick-and-mortar retailers to Amazon and iTunes.  And don’t forget that you have until Dec. 3 to vote Heart [and GGM’s other recommendation, Joan Jett] into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame at