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Satan Concert Reviews, San Antonio and Austin, TX, October 21-23

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Days 2-4 of Mitchfest with Kelz consisted of 3 straight shows with Satan in San Antonio and Austin and it’s just easier to satanALLIMG_6402combine the reviews all in one post.

We mess around Austin for a little bit before heading back to the house to rest up for Tuesday night’s show with Satan in San Antonio at The Korova.  We got there a little before Satan showed up and helped them load their personals from the van to Korova’s green room.  They looked pretty good after playing Houston the night before.  They recognized us from the Richmond show earlier in the year.  Satan was being backlined on this tour by the venue and/or the opening acts.  Seemed that there were a few compatibility issues with guitar heads to the effects that Ramsey/Tippins used but those quickly got fixed with the arrival of a couple of Marshall amps.

Austin based Firestarter ’82 opened the show and I stuck around for their set as their bassist is a good pal of mine.  She did a fine job as always.  Local thrashers, Aggravator, played next but we missed them as we were having a couple of drinks next door.

We get back right before Satan hits the stage and as expected, they delivered an awesome set to about 40-45 people.  The crowd size was quite unfortunate, especially for a city that often touts itself as the metal capital of the USA.  Things change I guess.  And it was a Tuesday night…but still.  How often are you going to get the chance to see Satan?  Satan played flawlessly as expected.  They were great when we saw them in Richmond this year and I expected no less this time.  They did not disappoint.  It really can’t be stated enough how great of a guitar duo Russ Tippins and Steve Ramsey are.  Ross’ vocals are stellar, especially for a 61 yr old man who can still belt out the falsetto with no problem.  Sean and Graeme held the bottom down as Satan rolled through a mostly similar set to earlier this year with only a few changes.  They were awesome and have become one of my favorite live bands.  Brian’s not a big talker between songs beyond introducing the next song and I’m fine with that.

It was also great seeing some old pals that I hadn’t seen in a while, namely Rob Doom, Jaime, Mando and of course Rodney who was the show promoter.  A new friend, Henri, came in from Holland just to see these shows with Satan and Militia.  Pretty cool!

Kelz and I left promptly after the show for the 75 minute drive back to Austin.  Of course it was full of conversation about the show and old times.

Satan Setlist The Korova, San Antonio, TX, USA 2014

Day 3 of this Mitchfest didn’t consist of much other than foraging around town for food and resting.  This night’s show consisted of Satan, local speed/thrash metal legends Militia and my band, Eternal Champion, opening up.  What a perfect bill of classic styled metal!  We had to be at the venue by 730 to load in and we were backlining all bands that night.  We did a quick rehearsal and then headed over to Beerland to load in.  We got everything set up and then grabbed a quick slice of pizza and a beer across the street to wash it down.  There was a good crowd rolling in after the doors opened at 9.  Lots of friends who work for one of my company’s clients came.  It was awesome seeing a bunch of non-metalhead friends show some support like that.
We hit the stage a little after 10PM and breezed steadily through our set.  Minus my bass being out of tune for the first verse of the first song (wtf?), the set seemed tight and was extremely fun.  The crowd was right up front with us and it was a blast.
Up next came one of my favorite bands, Militia, who have been here since the mid-80s and reemerged about 5 years ago.  Original drummer Phil Achee came to town from Alabama to play this show and it was great seeing/hearing him on the skins again.  It just felt right.  Mike Soliz’ vocals were on point and I’m still amazed every time I see and hear him on stage.  He’s a beast of a singer and one awesome guy.  I think they gained a lot of new fans that night.
And then Satan.  The crowd had thinned out a little but not that much and Satan rolled through the same set as the night before.  I enjoyed seeing and hearing Graeme playing through my bass rig.  He made it sound a lot better.  haha.  After finishing their main set and destroying everyone who was left for their set, the house lights came on and the music from the soundboard started playing.  The band was a little disappointed that they didn’t get to play their encore.  So was I.  But it was a great show.  I’ve not had that much fun playing a show in ages and getting to do that with 2 of my favorite bands made it even more special.

Satan Setlist Beerland, Austin, TX, USA 2014

Day 4.  We’re tired.  Lack of sleep, not eating properly etc was catching up to my old ass.  haha.  We went out and got some tacos and bounced around to a few places before getting the nod from Satan’s tour manager that they were ready to eat.  I had offered to take them to my favorite BBQ joint in town and we chowed down.  Two of them are vegetarians so their options were limited but they seemed satisfied.  The others loved the ribs, sausage and pork tenderloin.  I think they were happy to just get something that wasn’t pizza or from a fast food restaurant.  I have to admit that it was a bit surreal having a meal with those guys.  Yeah, they’re just people, I know that.  But they’re also people that I’ve been listening to since the early 80s.  It was fun.
This night’s show featured a totally different lineup consisting of Sweat Lodge, Ditch Witch and Natur, all bands that I’m not into in the least.  Not at all.  0%.  Although I think Natur could be a little more workable to me if their riffs went somewhere.  These bands also draw the “we dress like we’re 1975 hippies”.  I’m pretty sure most of them were born in the mid to late 80s.  Not my thing but whatever.
I stayed outside for the two openers and watched about half of Natur’s set.  I was strictly there for Satan.  As they were setting up, Kelz and I staked our spots right up front.  I wondered how many people there would be familiar with them but it seemed like a decent amount of people were.  A pit lasted throughout most of the set and Kelz and I were flung to the stage a few times each, but I didn’t mind.  It wasn’t a violent pit at all and reminded me of the 80s a bit.  Satan played through their set and were great again.  Two nights in a row they didn’t get to do their encore.  They also didn’t do their instrument as there was no where for Brian to stand during that song.  He had trouble getting to to the stage during the opening song as the crowd was packed up there.  Again, Satan destroyed another show.  After finally getting kicked out after closing, we were exhausted.  Completely.  Totally worth it.
This show marked the last night of MitchFest.  It was great seeing Kelz come to my city and hang out.  We had a blast and always look forward to the next gathering of Mitches.

Ragnarokkr Metal Apocalypse 2015 Update

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Plain and simple, this is the best true metal festival in the USA.  The list of bands so far for the 2015 festival is killer.  It’s already nearly sold out, so if you plan on going, get your tickets now.  This will be Warlord’s first ever USA show!  This also marks the return of my band, Eternal Champion, to Chicago to play the main stage this year.  Other highlights for me will be Attacker and High Spirits.  If you haven’t heard them yet, you’re doing yourself a real disservice.  Great straight up hard rock/metal.

ragna15

Satan Concert Review, Richmond, VA 04/15/2014

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What a whirlwind of shows I have been though in the last couple of weeks.  I’m tired.  So tired.  But it’s a good tired and my music fetish is being well served lately.

So ‘back in the day’ cerca 1984, my friend Daniel (Danile) bought Satan’s Court in the Act and shared it with Kelz, Petey and me and the rest is metal history.  I’ve loved this album since it first hit my ears.  Brian Ross’ vocals mixed with those awesome NWOBHM styled riffs made for a perfect album.  The 4 of us have always been close friends, played in bands together and never lost touch over the years.  We’re bound by metal, friendship, life events (good and bad) and have always been there for one another as needed.

Flash forward 30 years and the 4 of us still adore this album.  When Satan announced a small US tour, there was no way I was going to miss it.  I knew that I’d have to travel somewhere and luckily Richmond, VA was on the list…surprisingly so.  So we started planning the trip.  Kelz and Danile have kids and going out of town on a weeknight was going to be a little more difficult because of family and work obligations but they made it happen.  I’m sure there was some sort of bribery or Jedi mind tricks with their wives.  And that was that.  Another MitchFest was in the works, this time with all 4 of us.  I flew into Raleigh and stayed Monday night with Kelz and the fambly.   Always great hospitality at their house.  Tuesday morning we headed to Suffolk, VA to grab Danile and quickly headed up ti Petey’s house in Richmond.  Unfortunately the wife and kids were out on errands so I didn’t get to see them this time.  The car ride was as expected.  Mama jokes, old stories of our younger years, gushing about metal etc.  Before getting to Richmond, we decided to stop and grab a bite to eat at a BBQ place in Chester, VA.  I love the NC/VA style of pork  BBQ.  I can’t get it in Texas.  My sandwich was perfect, exactly what I needed.

We get to Petey’s and are greeted by his awesome wife, Amy.  He gets home shortly after and after some adult conversation and life and things that matter, the roundtable of silliness begins again.  We’re perpetually 13 years old when we’re all together and it’s a great time.  Now it’s time to get ready for the show.

Satan are playing Strange Matter in Richmond which used to be Twisters and then later Nancy Raygun.  I’ve seen a handful of shows there since the mid-90s and always like the place.  It used to be a bit of a dump, but it had its charm.  It’s been cleaned up quite a bit and I’m glad that location is still doing shows.  Before going in, we park then grub at a pub on the next block.  Just a good time having a meal and a couple of beers with my best friends.

We walk back over to the venue, get our swag out of the car and go in.  I see my pal Tony “Dio” from NC who I’ve known since about 1997 when we met at a Judas Priest show in Norfolk.  I had just seen him the week before at Rangarokkr.  As we’re standing around jibber jabbering, I see John Gallagher from Raven walk in.  How cool is that?  I’ve never been a fan of the band but I did have lunch with him and his brother and their families in 2000 before their show at Jaxx in Springfield, VA.  Nicest guy.  I check out the merch table to hopefully get a Satan shirt, but no luck in my size.  The cool thing was seeing my band’s 7″ on the merch table.  Our label was managing the Satan tour so it was great to meet those guys.

The first band to go on is Salvacion, a band from NC which has the drummer for Volture.  They were OK.  I couldn’t quite gauge exactly what they were going for.  The did a very uncomfortable version of Dokken’s Unchain The Night.  I think I would have enjoyed them more if it wasn’t for the drummer.  I get into that a little bit more when I talk about Volture.

Next up was BAT which features Felix Griffin (DRI) on drums and Ryan Waste (Municipal Waste/Volture) on vocals/bass and Volture’s Nick Poulos on guitar.  They come on and run through a blistering set of thrash/speed metal songs that were all about 3 minutes long.  Old school style.  They were solid and Felix really ripped it up in single bass style on a 4 pc drumset.  I enjoyed it and would love to see them again.

Right after BAT played, I feel a hand on my shoulder and hear a voice say my name.  I turn around and it was a girl that I had dated briefly in 1991 and that I hadn’t seen since right around that time.  She had seen on Facebook that I was in town and just stopped in to say hello.  She couldn’t stay as her husband and kid were outside in the car.  I swear she was only there for about 3 minutes and even paid to get in.  I was floored by the gesture.  The more I thought about it, the more it made sense.  That’s the type of person she always was.  Very thoughtful.  It was a special moment for sure.  I’m still a bit “wow’d” by the whole thing.

Volture comes on next and I hadn’t really paid much attention to them in the past.  There’s just so much out there that I can’t keep up any more.  The members are a mishmash of members from Municipal Waste, Immortal Avenger, Twisted Tower Dire, BAT etc.  I really liked the vocals.  The guy has some great pipes and the guitarists are perfect.  But the drummer…I just can’t take it.  He was doing way too many Rikki Rokkett type moves instead of worrying about keeping good time.  I’m a drummer as well.  I’m hyper critical of other drummers that I see.  When he was just playing the beat and not doing dumb stick tricks, his timing was fine.  But when he’d go into circus mode, the timing would fluctuate, he wasn’t hitting the snare cleanly and it would drop out of the mix and he tended to keep time on his bass drum to where he’s hitting the bass and snare at the same time.  Sorry, it just annoyed me to no end.  Obviously his band has no issue with it, but I would for sure. :)  But again, overall they sounded killer.

And then…Satan…SATAN.  I never ever thought in my lifetime that I’d get to see them live.  Right as Volture ended we made our way to the front of the stage.  Danile and I were right on the barricade and Kelz and Petey were right behind us.  Satan opens up with Trial By Fire and Ross’ vocals are on point.  He skipped the first scream in the song and I though ‘uh oh, he can’t do it any more.’  And then there it was.  His patented high notes came on cue everywhere else in the song and the rest of the set.  I was completely in awe as to how well he still sings.  He sounded perfect.  They ran though a mix of songs from Court in the Act, Life Sentence, a couple of early demos and one from Into the Future of which Brian wasn’t the singer.  They added No Turning Back mid-set which was a nice surprise.  Of course we were hoping to hear the whole Court album but I have no complaints whatsoever about the set.  They were incredible.  Ramsey/Tippins are still a formidable guitar duo and the songs on their latest album prove that.  It was just such a powerful set.  Still blown away as to how good Ross’ vocals are.

After the show, most people leave and we stick around to meet the Satan guys.  Success!   They all come out after a little break and sign swag, take pictures with us nerds etc.  It was especially nice to be sitting between Sean Taylor and John Gallagher listening to them talk about gifts they’ve sent to each others kids and some “back in the day” kinds of things.

It’s been a week since the show and I am still buzzing about it.  Really a once in a lifetime show.  Even more, I got to spend some quality time with my three best friends.  That was as important as the show.  It’s really nice knowing that even if we don’t see each other that often these days, we can always pick up right where we left off.  Love those guys.

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Ragnarokkr Metal Apocalypse 2014 in Review

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Holy crap!  What an incredible weekend I just had in Chicago April 3-6 at the Ragnarokkr Metal Apocalypse 2014 fest.  I was planning to attend the show this year but then my band, Eternal Champion, got added to the bill, so that made it a double bonus.  Having Riot V, Grim Reaper and Picture on the bill was enough to get me out of town.  My best friend of 30+ years, Kelz, got the OK from his wife and we started making plans to meet up there.

I got there Thursday afternoon and was greeted at the hotel by Bob B, one of the festival organizers, and David B who had just traveled from Australia for the fest.  They were waiting on some other folks who were on their way in before we headed off to go get some food.  I checked in, freshened up a little, met the rest of the group and off we went in a few different vehicles to grub.  I took Jeremy and Jamie from Heaven and Hell Records with me and also my buddy Dustin who’s drumming for Night Demon now.  I’ve known him for about 3 or 4 years from when his former band, New Liberty, would come through Austin.  I was pretty excited to see him and to share the bill with his band.  Good kid, good drummer.

We went to a place called Marcello’s Father and Son Pizza.  I ordered calamari and a small pizza with Italian beef and green peppers on it…and no, not Chicago style.  I’m a thin crust guy.  I did try a piece of Dustin’s Chicago style and it was good, just not my thing.  Mine was great as was the squid.  Plus they had Peroni on tap.  mmmmmmmmm…Peroni.  We left dinner and went to a cool little bar called The Mutiny.  There were a few venders set up there selling shirts, patches, records, books and CDs.  I kind of went overboard on patches.  I need a new vest to put them on.  My night there was great.  I got introduced to one of Bob’s friends, Mike and his girl Dahlia.  Such awesome folks.  Mike’s got ties to the San Antonio area and it was great getting to know the two of them a bit.  Classic metal was being played the whole night and it was quite incredible having 30+ people singing Running Wild and Warlock songs in unison.  The bar itself was great.  Just an old dive bar that loves metal and punk.  The guys from Riot V showed up later and we all partied down.  Don Van Stavern and I talked for quite a while as we have a lot of Texans in common.  Mike Flynt was hanging with us for a bit, such a super nice guy.  It was getting late and the long day was wearing on me, so I gathered my group and we headed back to the hotel.  Everyone was a bit wiped out plus we needed our strength for the opening of the fest.

One of my favorite things about The Mutiny was meeting the group of guys from Mexico.  Many of them didn’t speak English and it felt good to be able to speak Spanish with those guys.  I think they appreciated as well.

Friday morning came too early and I needed to pick up Kelz at the airport.  Mitchfest!  We went to the hotel, got him situated then went into downtown to get some food.  We ended up at Portillo’s and got the Italian beef sandwich.  I’m pretty sure they put crack in that thing.  It was tasty.  We went back to the hotel after that and chilled out for a little bit.  Now remember, we’ve known each other for over 30 years, so there’s always a ton of smack talk between us.  Tons of abuse.  Mama jokes galore.  At the hotel, we got our gear together for the night.  Him with CD covers galore and me with The Book.  I had purchased a canvas shoulder bag to carry that in and to house whatever swag I bought.

This fest has 2 stages and I’ll run through the main stage bands first.

MetalUSAfer was the “secret opener” at on the main stage at 5:30.  They weren’t my thing.  I think one or some of the guys from this band are in High Spirits who I haven’t checked out yet.

Chicago’s legendary Amulance came on next and just rocked the place.  While I felt that they should have been on later, the fest apparently has a “policy” of putting locals on early, no matter how big they were.  They were awesome and just super nice guys.  Singer Rick Baez made it a point to sign stuff for everyone after the show and wanted pics with the fans for himself.  Super cool.  Guitarist Bob and bassist Chuck were all super cool.

Night Demon is a SoCal 3 piece that now features my buddy Dustin on drums.  Awesome guys and they played a great set.  I recommend them!

Diamond Rexx was up next and I’ve always loved their album Land of the Damned, even if it was a bit cheesy.  They came on with their original lineup and played a mix of old and newer stuff.  They did alright.  I got to meet the guitarist and bassist who both signed The Book.  The singer didn’t stick around after their set unfortunately.  Oh well.

Canada’s Axxion came on next and their mulleted singer delivered soaring vocals over top of great riffs and drumming.  While they were trying a little too hard to be an 80s retro metal band, they did a good job at it and I’d like to see them again.

The Skull features original Trouble members Eric Wagner, Ron Holzner, Jeff Olson along with Lothar Kellar and Matt Goldsborough who was recently in Pentagram.  They were there to play their new new demos which sounded fine.  I had walked out for a minute to get some air when all of a Sudden I hear Trouble’s The Tempter being played live.  I think I may have knocked over a few people trying to get back in there.  The also played Assassin and End of my Daze.  They sounded great and seeing Matt on guitar was a nice bonus.  I had met him when Pentagram last came to town and he’s a cool guy.  Catching up after their set was great.

Picture came up next and played a damn solid set.  I’m not a huge fan but it was great to see some Euro legends on the stage and for their 2 original members to sign The Book.

Finally came Riot V, the version of the band touring after Mark Reale’s death (RIP).  I’ll just say this.  They ruled.  While having Bobby Jarzombek on drums would have been cooler, the touring drummer did a fine job and Mike Flynt did a wonderful job on guitar.  The new singer is no slouch either.  They were the perfect ending to an awesome night on the main stage.

As far as the second stage bands on the first night, none of them really stood out but I did stop in briefly to see NC’s Dogbane and Dark Design.  I can’t say I’m much of a fan but they were both solid.  To be honest I didn’t see any of the other bands on the second stage as the main stage that night was so ass kickingly good.

After Riot V, we went back to the hotel to pass out and to get some energy stored up for the next days sightseeing and festivities.  We bounced around Chicago a little bit but I didn’t want to get too crazy that day as my band, Eternal Champion, was slated to play at 8PM on the second stage.

I started on the main stage again with Salt Lake City’s Visigoth who just got up there and slayed the crowd.  The singer had trouble talking but was able to power through vocally.  The whole band was killer.  Can’t wait to see them again.

Austin-based Witches Mark came on next and played a solid set.  They’re goods pals of my band and it was cool to have another Texas band representing at the festival.

Because we had to play, I didn’t see Axemaster or Crowhaven but did pop in to see Black Death Resurrected, which was just OK.  I was never a fan.  I did meet Sickie Spacek after the show but didn’t have the book with me that night.

I also missed Argus as I was getting my gear situated after we played.  However, I did catch Mexico’s Voltax and those kids are kick ass!  High energy power metal and a singer with pipes of gold.  Amazing seeing him hit those insane high notes.

Steve Grimmett’s Grim Reaper closed out the night on the main stage and feature Nick Bowcott on guitar for the first time in about 25 years.  They played an incredible set and I’m so glad that I got to see them live finally and to meet Steve and Nick.  Steve’s voice sound great.

Now on to the second stage.  To be honest, I didn’t much pay attention to anything going on as I was getting mentally and physically psyched up for our slot.  One of the show promoters kept telling me about the hype surrounding us and that a lot of folks were excited to see us.  That being said, Midnight Hellion came on right before us and played an enjoyable set.

Next up was Eternal Champion.  Us.  This was only our third show since our inception in December 2012.  My local pal loaned us a sword.  During Midnight Hellion’s set, I could see a lot of people filing in presumably to get a spot in there to see us.  We get on stage, set up, tune up, get introduced and blasted through our 30 minute set like a hot knife through butter.  I think because of the adrenaline rush and the reactions from the crowd, I don’t really remember much about the set we played other than it was too fast.  Not surprising really, as we don’t rehearse as much as I’d like since some of us don’t live nearby.  But we make it work.  The crowd went nuts between every song and at the end.  It was sheer madness and some of the most fun I’ve had playing live.

I didn’t really catch anyone else on the second stage.

I just want to say that this little festival is the perfect size as far as the venue and crowd size go.  The promoters treated us like gold and I hope we’re able to come back next year and play the main stage.  I met some awesome people in Chicago and look forward to going back to just hang out.  Also, Leather Leone of Chastain fame was an MC for the show and I got to speak with her several times over those 2 days.  She was awesome.  Very sweet and funny.

Great times!

Eternal Champion on Bandcamp

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We’ve FINALLY got our 2 songs on Bandcamp for purchase.  They’ve been remastered and sound a little different (read: better) than the version on our recent cassette release.  Only $0.99 each.  Our 7″ of this recording should be out by the end of summer.

We’ve posted our debut show on YouTube and if you’re on Facebook, follow us there, too.

Eternal Champion

Eternal Champion

Written by The Metal Files

July 15, 2013 at 9:53 am

Power Trip – Manifest Decimation (2013) Album Review

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ptripHaving seen Power Trip several times since FUNFUNFUN fest 2010, I had always wanted a full length album from them.  Thanks to Southern Lord Records, I got my wish.

Power Trip take me back to quality mid-to-late 80s thrash…Nuclear Assault, Devastation, a little Slayer…and thankfully, I don’t hear any Pantera (Panterrible) influence.  A lot of folks mention the DRI crossover punk/hardcore thing, but I never really listened to any of that so I cannot say for sure.  I may hear a little Cro Mags, though.  And I do like the Cro Mags.  This young band from Dallas does it right.  It’s high quality thrash and unlike many of the screamo shit mall hot topic metal bands out there today, these guys play guitar solos.  You heard me.  GUITAR SOLOS!  Good ones, too.

I bought this CD (yes, a CD) last week and have spun it at least 10 times now.  I absolutely love it.  If you’re into classic thrash, I highly recommend this band.  There are a lot of newer retro thrash bands out there, but I think Power Trip is a cut above them all.

While I like Riley’s singing style, I think they could have been produced a little better.  They are washed in the mix too much for my tastes.  But it’s not much of a detraction from the overall vibe and sound of this album.  I also don’t think there are any songs worth skipping on here.  It works perfectly beginning to end.  The album runs through quickly and can easily be played through twice.

9/10 – Enjoy!

Manilla Road, Eternal Champion, Chaos In Tejas 2013

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IMG_1951I’m in a new band called Eternal Champion and last night we got to open for the mighty and legendary and extremely underrated Manilla Road during this year’s Chaos in Tejas.  Because of some recent band changes, we had a couple of replacement guys fill in on guitar and drums and the show was incredible…all 3 songs of it!  We got a great response, sold all of our shirts and have been getting positive feedback all day.  We also released a 2 song cassette that sold out in about a week.  There’s a forthcoming 7″ as well.  It was easily my favorite show that I have ever played and after 25+ years of being in bands as I’m finally playing the music I’ve always wanted to play:  true epic metal.  We were also the perfect opener for Manilla Road.  Pics and videos from the show coming soon.

Then Manilla Road.  After we finished playing, Mark Shelton from Manilla Road showed up and got showered with attention from hardcore fans.  I’m a fan of Crystal Logic and especially Mystification.  Our singer is a fanatic though.  This is his favorite band…EVER.  It was great watching them meet.   Because of major lack of sleep over the weekend and having to get up early this morning, I could only stay for 3 songs.  They sounded incredible.  Mark’s guitar playing is great and I really feel like they should have been so much bigger.  I got to meet him for a minute and he signed The Book.  Another huge signature for my collection.

In between us and Manilla Road were Satan’s Satyrs and Speedwolf.  I like Speedwolf.  It’s good Motorhead worship.