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Headbangers – The Worldwide MegaBook of Heavy Metal Bands

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Updated.

The Metal Files

So back in 1995/1996 I was still married to my now ex-wife.  She was a voracious reader and during our brief marriage inspired me to do some reading.  Most of the time it was band/musician biographies.  Sometimes it was just catching up on John Saul books (all of which suck anymore).  One day I went to the library and was just thumbing through the reference books and came across “Headbangers – The Worldwide MegaBook of Heavy Metal Bands” by Mark Hale.  I cracked it open and just started freaking out.  This book had just about everyone in it that was a metal band.  It spans from the late 60s to about 1990 and does a wonderful job of cross-referencing bands, listing albums and catalog numbers.  There’s an index in the back of musicians, band names, countries of origin and record labels with catalog numbers.  It’s a pretty extensive hardcover book. …

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Written by The Metal Files

May 5, 2014 at 9:10 pm

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Headbangers – The Worldwide MegaBook of Heavy Metal Bands

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Back in 1995/1996 I was still married to my now ex-wife.  She was a voracious reader and during our brief marriage it inspired me to do some reading.  Most of the time it was band/musician biographies.  Sometimes it was just catching up on John Saul books (all of which suck anymore).  One day I went to the library and was just thumbing through the reference books and came across “Headbangers – The Worldwide MegaBook of Heavy Metal Bands” by Mark Hale.  I cracked it open and just started freaking out.  This book had just about everyone in it that was a metal band.  It spans from the late 60s to about 1990 and does a wonderful job of cross-referencing bands, listing albums and catalog numbers.  There’s an index in the back of musicians, band names, countries of origin and record labels with catalog numbers.  It’s a pretty extensive hardcover book.  This book blows away any of that Martin Popoff crap.

Hale gives descriptions of the bands and does his best not to inject bias.  It’s 540+ pages of heavy metal goodness.

My ex and I split up in late 1996 and by early 1997 I had started my own CD sales business.  I was mostly doing it by word of mouth between friends, eBay and had started an online music store, Acacia Music (defunct).  I checked the book out from the library several times and finally called the publisher to see if they still had any copies.  Luckily they did.  Having a business license and tax ID number, they sold me the book for $75.  One of the best investments that I have ever made.

The book has 2 editions.  The first edition had a run of 750 copies and the second run of the first edition had 250 copies.  That’s it!

Somewhere along the line I decided to get it signed by bands that were in it.  If I remember correctly the first signatures were by Warrell Dane/Jim Shepherd (Sanctuary) and Jon Schaffer (Purgatory 60 aka Iced Earth) when Nevermore and Iced Earth were touring together in 1999.

Over the years I’ve met a lot of bands who are in it and some of the encounters were pretty random.  I think in the coming months I’ll start writing about the signatures and how I obtained them.  Many of them had some good stories attached to them.  Typically I get the same reaction, “What the hell is this and where the hell did you get it?”

If you’re a fan of metal, especially the pre-1990 stuff, this book is a must have.  They typically don’t come cheaply but you can generally find some on Amazon.com.  Most of the copies there are ex-library copies.

Here’s the current list of signatures (updated 5/15/2018):

AC/DC – Simon Wright
Accept – Peter Baltes, Herman Frank, Wolf Hoffman, Udo Dirkschneider
Ace Frehley – Anton Fig
Aerosmith – Joey Kramer, Brad Whitford
Aftermath – Charlie Tsisolis, Steve Sacco, John Lovette, Ray Schmidt, Eric ? (not in the book)
Agony Column – Stuart Laurence
Alcatrazz – Graham Bonnet, Jimmy Waldo, Gary Shea
Alice Cooper – Alice Cooper
Amulance – Rick Baez, Bob Luman, Chuck Hamilton (not in the book)
Anthrax – Dan Spitz, Scott Ian, Joey Belladonna, Charlie Benante, Frank Bello
Armored Saint – Joey Vera, John Bush, Phil Sondoval, Gonzo Sandoval
Assalant – Mike Botello
At War – Paul Arnold, Shawn Helsel
Attacker – Mike Sabatini, Pat Marinello
Autograph – Steve Lynch, Randy Rand
Baron Steel – Joe Szabo, Al Ortiz
Battlezone – Paul Di’Anno
Bitch – Betsy
Black N Blue – Pete Holmes, Jaime St James, Patrick Young
Black Roses – Chuck Wright
Britny Fox – Johnny Dee
Bullet – Fitty
Bullet Boys – Marq Torien, Jimmy D’Anda
Celtic Frost – Tom G Warrior
Chastain – Leather Leone, David T. Chastain, Mike Skimmerhorn, David Harbour, Ken Mary
Cheap Trick – Tom Petersson, Robin Zander, Rick Nielsen
Cinderella – Tom Keifer
Cirith Ungol – Tim Baker, Robert Garven, Mike Flint, Greg Lindstrom, Jim Barraza (not in the book but verified inclusion based on other resources)
CJSS – Les Sharpe, Russell Jinkens
Damien Thorne – Ken Starr, Rick Browz (not in book but played on original demos)
Dark Angel – Gene Hoglan
Death Tripper – Jerry Blanco
Deceased – King Fowley
Deliverance – Glenn Rogers
Destruction – Schmier, Mike
Detente – Steve Hochheiser
Devastation – Rodney Dunsmore, Alex Dominguez, Louis Carrisalez
The Dictators – Handsome Dick Manitoba
DIO – Rowan Robertson, Craig Goldy, Vinny Appice
Dirty Looks – Paul Lidel
Dokken – Jeff Pilson, George Lynch
DRI – Felix Griffin, Josh Pappe
English Dogs – Graham Butt (one of the funniest inscriptions ever…you had to be there)
Enuff Z’Nuff – Chip Znuff, 3 non-original members
Exodus – Gary Holt, Tom Hunting
Faster Pussycat – Taime Down, Brent Muscat, 2 non-original members
Fates Warning – Frank Aresti, John Arch, Jim Matheos, Victor Arduini, Steve Zimmerman, Joe DiBiase
Ferrari – Oni Logan
Flotsam and Jetsam – Eric AK, Kelly David Smith, Ed Carlson, Michael Gilbert
Forbidden – Tim Calvert
Forte’ – Rev Jones (band not in the book)
Glacier – Mike Podrybau
Great White – Jack Russell
Grim Reaper – Steve Grimmett
Hawkwind – Nik Turner
Hellion – Ann Boleyn
Helstar – James Rivera, Larry Barragan
Hirax – Katon W. DePena
Hurricane – Kelley Hansen
Iced Earth/Purgatory 60 – John Schafer
Impaler – Bill Lindsey, Commander Court
Jag Panzer – Chris Cronk (also listed with Fates Warning), Harry Conklin, Joey Tafolla, Rikard Stjernquist, Mark Briody, John Tetley
Jet Red – Brad Lang
Juggernaut – Harlan Glenn, Eddie Katilus, Scott Womack
Keel – Scott Warren
King Diamond – Mikkey Dee, Hal Patino
Kingdom Come – James Kottak
Kreator – Ventor
Krokus – Marc Storace, Chris Von Rohr, Mandy Meier
LA Guns – Philip Lewis, Tracii Guns, Steve Riley
Lethal – Tom Mallicoat, Glen Cook, Dell Hull, Jerry Hartman (not in book but played on Programmed)
Liege Lord – Joe Comeau, Tony Truglio
Lizzy Borden – Alex Nelson (RIP), Lizzy Borden, Joey Scott Harges
Loudness – Minoru Niihara, Akira Takasaki, Masayoshi Yamashita, Masayuki Suzuki (not in the book)
Lydia Von Huston – Jennifer Batten
Manilla Road – Mark Shelton
Manowar – Ross the Boss
Medieval Steel – John Roth, Bobby Franklin, Jeff Boydston
Megadeth – Dave Mustaine, David Ellefson
Metal Blade Records – Brian Slagel
Metal Church – Craig Wells
Mindless Sinner – Christer Göransson, Magnus Danneblad, Jerker Edman, Christer Carlson, Tommy Viktorsson (Formerly Johansson)
Militia – Mike Soliz, Rob Willingham, Phil Achee, Tony Smith, Jesse Villegas
Motorhead – Lemmy Kilmister
MSG – Michael Schenker
Mystic Force – Keith Menser
Necrophagia – Killjoy
Nuclear Assault – Dan Lilker, John Connelly, Glenn Evans
Obituary – James Murphy
The Obsessed – Wino
Odin – Shawn, Jeff and Matt Duncan, Randy O., Aaron Samson
Omen – Kenny Powell, Steve Wittig
Ostrogoth – Mario “Grizzly” Pauvels
Overkill – Bobby Ellsworth, D.D. Verni
Ozzy – Tommy Aldridge
Pentagram – Bobby Liebling, Victor Griffin, Joe Hasselvander
Plasmatics – Greg Smith, T.C. Tolliver
Pretty Boy Floyd – Steve Summers, 2 non-original members
Q5 – Evan Sheeley, Rick Pierce, Jonathan Kay
Queensyche – Geoff Tate
Quiet Riot – Rudy Sarzo, Sean McNabb, Frankie Banali
Racer X – Juan Alderete (as “Jeff” in the book)
Rage – Peavy Wagner, Manni Schmidt, Chris Efthimiadis
Rainbow – Joe Lynn Turner
Randy California – Mark Andes
Rapid Tears – Brian Frank
Ratt – Stephen Pearcy
Raven – John Gallagher, Mark Gallagher, Joe Hasselvander
Riot – Don Van Stavern, Bobby Jarzombek, Rick Ventura
Rotting Corpse – John Perez, Mando Tovar
Rough Cutt – Matt Thorne, Chris Hager
Running Wild – Stefan Schwarzmann
S.A. Slayer – Bob Catlin, Art Villareal
Sabbat – Martin Walkyier, Andy Sneap, Simon Negus, Simon Jones
Sadus – Steve DiGiorgio
Saint Vitus – Dave Chandler, Mark Adams, Scott Reagers
Salty Dog – Michael Hannon
Sanctuary – Warrel Dane, Jim Sheppard
Satan – Brian Ross, Russ Tippins, Graeme English, Steve Ramsey, Sean Taylor
Satan’s Host – Patrick Evil (not in book but confirmed original)
Scorpions – Uli Roth, Francis Buchholz, Herman Rarebell
Screamer – Jim Dofka
Sentinel Beast – Michael Spencer
Sepultura – Paolo, Jr, Andreas Kisser
Skid Row – Sebastian Bach
Slauter Xstroyes – Paul Krathy
Slayer – Dave Lombardo
SOD – Billy Milano
Steel Prophet – Steve Kachinsky (Blackmoor in the book)
Syrus – Al Berlanga, Michael Vasquez, John Castilleja
Takashi – Danny Stanton
Ted Nugent – Derek St. Holmes
Tesla – Troy Lucketta, Tommy Skeoch, Brian Wheat, Frank Hannon, Jeff Keith
Testament – Chuck Billy, Alex Skolnick, Greg Christian, Eric Peterson
The Rods – Carl Canedy, David Feinstein, Garry Bordonaro
Thin Lizzy – John Sykes, Scott Gorham
Thrust – Ron Cooke
Triumph – Rik Emmett
Trouble – Ron Holtzman, Eric Wagner, Jeff “Oly” Olson
Turbin – Doug Morrison, Neil Turbin
Twisted Sister – AJ Pero
Tygers of Pan Tang – Robb Weir
Tyrant’s Reign – Phil Fouch, Ken Miller
UFO – Paul Chapman, Phil Mogg, Paul Raymond, Andy Chapman
Vatican – Vince vatican, Vic Grabouski, Brian McNasty
Vendetta (Chicago) – Klyph Black
Venom – Mantas, Abaddon, Demolition Man
Vinnie Moore – Vinnie Moore
War Cry – Rich Rozek
Warlock – Doro Pesch
Watchtower – Jason McMaster, Ron Jarzombek, Billy White, Rick Colaluca
Whitesnake – David Coverdale
White Lion – Greg D’Angelo
Wicked Angel – Joseph Valdez (book only lists the singer, validated here)
Winger – Kip Winger, Reb Beach, Rod Morgenstein
Wishbone Ash – Andy Powell
Wolfsbane – Blaze Bayley
Wyzard – John Alvarado, Buster Grant (as Gilbert Grant Guzman in the book)
Y&T – Dave Meniketti
Yngwie Malmsteen’s Rising Force – Yngwie Malmsteen, Anders Johansson, Jeff Scott Soto


	

Written by The Metal Files

April 12, 2010 at 8:17 pm

Dictators NYC Concert Review, San Antonio, TX, May 29, 2016

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Let’s face facts, I’m not really into much punk rock and I’m not into Manowar beyond their first album, Battle Hymns, but The Dictators have 2 folks that are in The Book that I wanted to have added: Handsome Dick Manitoba (HDM) and Ross the Boss.  Add to the fact that my pal, Dean Rispler, plays bass for them, I had to see them.

I had a ticket to their Friday show in Austin and sold it because I had forgotten that Chicago was the same night.  That show ended early enough and I ended up at the Dictators show anyhow.  To be honest, I just wasn’t feeling it Friday.  Not sure why.  I was pretty tired and left mid-set to go home.

Dean put me on the guestlist for the Sunday show at The Korova in San Antonio and I got there around 930PM.  I saw that a few friends were in the bar next door so I stopped in there for a little bit.  As it turned out, Ross the Boss was there and I asked if he’d sign The Book.  He laughed at the Manowar photo, signed it, gave me a guitar pick and took a picture with me.  Super nice guy.  I’m glad he didn’t ask me about Manowar. :)

Jeff from The Offenders and I headed back to Korova as Dallas’ Swingin’ Dicks were setting up.  I bought a Dictators shirt then went up front to watch the band.  Enjoyable set from this heavyish punk band.  The bassist had a gorgeous white ’76 Rickenbacker.

With the backline being shared by the Swingin’ Dicks and The Dictators, it was a quick 20 minute or so break between bands and the on came The Dictators.

The crowd may have gotten up to 100 folks, but just barely.  The band was solid, very solid.  I classify them more as a garage rock band than punk, but I don’t really know.  HDM is a character and the whole band gels together perfectly.  Dean’s bassplaying is superb.  The band is rounded out with JP “Thunderbolt” Patterson on drums and legendary producer, Daniel Rey, on second guitar.

It was quite an enjoyable show overall minus a few drunk shitheads.

After the show, I got to meet Dick and have him sign The Book.  I told him that prior to this week I had never listened to the band, but that after seeing them live this weekend, I was now a fan of the live show and looked forward to seeing them again.  “Nothing could make me happier than getting a new fan, man.  That means a lot.”  He signed The Book, I gave Dean a goodbye hug and headed home.

 

 

Foreigner Concert Review, Austin, TX, April 21, 2016

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Let’s briefly go back in time…

I guess it was on the “4” tour for Foreigner that my oldest brother, Mark, went to the show (Norfolk Scope 1981?).  He was a pretty big fan of the band and I think most people probably liked some of their stuff.  In the late 70s and early-to-mid-80s you couldn’t get away from them.  I liked them enough.  Urgent is a great song.  Beyond I Want To Know What Love Is, I pretty much like all of their hits.  And for many of us musicians, Jukebox Hero has a lot of meaning.

Flash forward to today.  Foreigner still tours…a lot.  But wait.  Who’s in the band?  Lou Gramm is long gone.  But Mick Jones is still on guitar, right?  Nope.  Who’s left from the original lineup?  No one.  NO ONE.  Mick has had some major health problems in recent years and can’t tour.  He did an acoustic TV appearance with the band a couple of months ago and looked pretty frail on that.  So what we had last night was the most solid Foreigner cover band you could ever see and I was aware of that fact when I bought the VIP/meet and greet pass.

I’ve got a few friends that call me crazy for doing that with bands, but there’s usually a mission behind it and that’s to get certain musicians in The Book.  With Foreigner, two of the guys were in 80s metal bands that I liked and actually have a little personal history with one of them.

Typically on these things it’s just a small group of folks but last night they had nearly 100 people buy the VIP.  It’s also usually known up front if personal autographs would be allowed.  Nothing noted during the purchase about that.  This was not a cheap purchase by any means.  We’re not talking KISS prices by any stretch of the imagination, but not chump change either.  I was there on a mission.  This one didn’t state either way so I went for it.  As they’re explaining the process, the girl mentioned “no personal autographs”.  Everything puckered up quickly.  She walked through the line to see if folks had questions and when she got to me, she got an earful.  Respectfully of course.   I showed her The Book and explained to her blah blah blah.  She leaned in to me and said, “I’ll do my best to make it happen.  Just hang tight and maybe drop back in line a little.”  OK.

So we’re going through the backstage area of the awesome Moody Theater and I’m noticing that only 2-3 other people had something extra with them.  It was almost my turn to meet the band and she comes up to me and says, “It’s happening.  Do the picture then just hang out over there with Bill (another manager) until everyone goes through.”  I hugged her.

As I got up to the band to shake their hands, Jeff Pilson (Dokken et als) was first.  I mentioned I was a huge early Dokken fan and said, “Me too!”  When I spoke to Kelley Hansen (Hurricane), I mentioned our history. “What did I do?”  I mentioned him contacting me around 2001 when I was selling a promo only Hurricane picture disc that he apparently had never seen and didn’t own.  We had worked out a trade.  “That was you?!  I still have that thing and still haven’t seen another!”  A couple of quick photos and I was shuffled off to Bill who says, “Leave the book here and I’ll bring it to you after they sign it.”  ummm…What?  No, sir.  Sorry, that book doesn’t leave my sight.  Allison heard our exchange and said, “He’s fine, Bill.”

As I’m waiting for the last 20 or so folks to do their thing with the band, I see Joey Kramer from Aerosmith walk in with a small entourage.  HOLY SHIT.  Joey Kramer.  He lives locally and is out and about often but this was my first encounter.  He walks by me and I just say, “Hey Joey, how’s it going.  Got a moment to sign something?”  “Sure, man.  Whatcha got?”  I flip The Book open to the Aerosmith page, he asked my name and signed it.  I mentioned how much his playing blew me away the 3 or 4 times I had seen them since the 80s.  “Best American rock drum shuffle ever”, I said.  “Thanks, Sean.  Nice to meet you.”  To be honest, I got a little star struck.  I’ve met a lot of bands over the years, but for whatever reason, maybe the surprise of seeing him, got me all worked up for a moment.  That made the price of admission completely worth it.

After the crowd got through the line, Kelley came over and signed the book, shook my hand and moved on.  Pilson came over and we chatted for a few minutes.  Told him I saw Dokken/Aerosmith in 89.  He asked who was better and I said, “We were mainly there to see Dokken.”  He seems like a pretty laid back guy.

I ran my stuff back to my truck quickly and went back in.  I was front row, just off center.  The show started at 815PM and they were slated to only play 13 songs.  Just the hits and nothing more.  I’ll say this, they were fantastic.  Everyone in that band is a solid professional, it’s just unfortunate that no original members are still playing in the band.  I heard a lot of complaints around me about Jones not being there.  It was a sold out show, too.  As stated earlier, I knew what to expect going it, but it was all worth it.  That said, I’ll never go see them again, even if Jones was able to come back.

I do want to give a hand to Kelley Hansen’s vocals and performance.  That guy’s voice was perfect.  He does, however, look a lot like Steven Tyler these days and is copping his moves pretty hard.  Some of his between song banter was annoying but he was also playing to the older crowd that was there.  At 46, I was one of the youngest in attendance.  As he was introducing the band, he stated that Jeff Pilson was a founding member of Dokken.  Part of me wanted to yell, “What about Juan Croucier?!”  haha.  He also mentioned that one of the guitarists had been assaulted the night before in downtown Austin.   The drummer was a beast, but I could have done without the drum solo.  They were slated to do Long, Long Way From Home in the encore but it got nixed for a little love fest tribute to Prince.  They had a local high school choir doing backing vocals in I Want to Know What Love Is and ended it with Hot Blooded.

Overall an enjoyable night.

 

Written by The Metal Files

April 22, 2016 at 10:03 am

Frost and Fire Metal Fest Concert Review, Ventura, CA, October 17, 2015

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This past weekend I attended the Frost and Fire Metal Fest in Ventura, CA.  This fest could also have been called the “I can’t believe I’m hanging out with Cirith Ungol Fest.”

When this festival was announced several months ago, just based on the lineup and who put it on, I wanted to be there.  Jarvis Leatherby of Night Demon is the organizer and is a good friend of mine.  Night Demon stays with me every time they play Austin and I love those guys.  Shortly after the show announcement, it was updated to say that Tim Baker and Robert Garven would be at the fest to sign autographs.  Even more of a reason to go.  As the fest drew nearer, Mike Flint and Greg Lindstrom were also added to the meet and greet.  WHOA.  That’s a big deal, especially in the traditional metal realm.  So I bought my ticket and booked my flight promptly.

I got to LAX around 5PM and got my rental car pretty quickly.  There were major traffic snarls north of LA (shocker, right?), so I decided to kill some time in Hollywood at The Rainbow, which makes some of my favorite pizza ever.  I’m there pre-rockstar hour but just wanted to relax a little before heading to Ventura.  Chrissy comes on for her shift and recognized me from past visits.  “The Texas guy” she calls me.  My drinks and pizza got comped because of whatever, so score!  I get my car from the valet and make my way up to Ventura.  Traffic was still a little heavy but not too bad.

I get to the hotel, drop my bag and walk over to an Irish pub where my friend Rodney is hanging out with some of his friends from Mexico and Spain, one of which I knew already from Ragnarokkr 2014.  We’re all hanging out, drinking beers and such and are joined by a British guy named Tom Draper who played guitar for Angel Witch from 2013-2015.  Great guy.  After that we walked to the beach for a late night stroll.  It was a perfect night out there.  Great meeting Ieltxu from Spain, Xole and Sarai from Mexico and seeing my good pal, Mauricio from Mexico.

Rodney and I were sharing a room at the hotel.  It had some issues.  No shower curtain, water wouldn’t shut off in the tub spigot, toilet took about 4 tried for anything to go down.  We let the plumber take care of the shower issues and he said the pipes were all slow, so no help on the toilet.  Way to save water, California!  We headed out to Salzer’s Record store on the other side of Ventura.  I was carrying a slight headache and the incense in that shop were killing me so I hung outside on the bench in the cool air and just relaxed with a sugar free Red Bull.  The weather was perfect. After the record store we meet up with some of Rodney’s friends from Belgium and walk back into town to eat at a BBQ place.  It was alright.  Definitely not Texas style. but it hit the spot.  I was pretty tired from traveling still and went back to the hotel to catch a quick nap.  Doors were at 4PM with the first band, Wolfcross, on at 5PM and I didn’t want to miss any of the action.

After a 25 minute or so nap, I throw on my clothes, grab The Book, and walk the 3 blocks to the venue, Bombay Bar and Grill.  Upon walking in, I’m given my will-call ticket, a raffle ticket, 2 compilation CDs and march myself to the outdoor vending area to find Andrew Bansal from Metal Assault working the merch for Night Demon and official Frost and Fire shirts.  Andrew is an awesome guy and works with Night Demon when they’re on the road.  The kid loves metal and works hard at it.

Most of the bands had some merch out and it was great seeing some of the folks that I knew already.  I was especially pleased to meet the Davis brothers from Ashbury.  Great guys.

And then like clockwork, Wolfcross comes on promptly at 5PM.  Here’s the breakdown and my opinions of each band in order of performance and some backstory that I have with a few of them.  Bands alternated stages and no two bands played simultaneously.

  • Wolfcross – Quality traditional metal power trio.  I enjoyed their set although there seemed to be some sound issues.  Not their fault.  Hope to catch them again sometime.  Cool cover of Roky Erickson’s Two Headed Dog, too.
  • Helion Prime – Probably my least favorite band of the festival.  They played a solid set but their riffs and vocal melodies just didn’t catch my ear.  Maybe a little too much on the prog side for my tastes.  They got a good response from the crowd that ventured to the back room to catch their set.
  • Blade Killer – One of the best surprises of the fest for me.  Their set was powerful and their singer can wail with the best of ’em.  They’ve got the riffs and both guitarists can play quality solos.  I really hope they can do a tour or end up at some of the other US fests.  I wanted a shirt as well but they didn’t have my size, but I did buy their CD EP.  Certainly looking forward to hearing more from them and to seeing them live again.
  • Gygax – I was really looking for to catching this band, primarily because I’ve known their guitarist, Armand, for several years.  His old band, New Liberty, played Austin a few times during SxSW in years past and I became friends with him and Dustin (Night Demon drummer) through that.  Gygax also features the vocalist/bassist from Gyspyhawk who I had seen a time or 2 in Austin.  Essentially, Gygax is Thin Lizzy worship with Dungeons and Dragons lyrics.  Their set was killer and they have a full length coming out soon.  Unfortunately I didn’t get a shirt although Armand told me they brought a few to sell that went pretty quickly.
  • Steel Prophet – Neil Turbin (Anthrax, Turbin, et als) had signed on with Steel Prophet just recently.  The guitarist I played with for several years in Austin, Doug Morrison (from Ventura), was in the band Turbin with Neil when he first moved to LA after his exit from Anthrax.  I had never seen Steel Prophet before and although I had owned a couple of their CDs over the years, I was more familiar with them for their work on several cover albums over the years.  Steven Kachinsky Blackmoor was the only original member left in the band.  He signed the book prior to the first band going on.  Nice guy.  Their set was solid and Neil sounded good but apparently they didn’t get many rehearsals prior to the show as Neil had to use a lyric sheet for the set.  No surprise and it didn’t detract from their performance.  The only negative of their set for me was their cover of Queen’s Bohemian Rhapsody, a song I don’t like at all.  Beyond that it was a good set.  I caught up with Neil afterwards and had him sign The Book and my Fistful of Metal CD cover.  Their crowd size suffered a bit because the Cirith Ungol meet and greet was happening at the same time.
  • BAT – I’d seen BAT before and knew what to expect.  It was a solid set of power thrash that features Ryan Waste from Municipal Waste, Felix Griffin from DRI on drums and Nick Poulos on guitar.  He’s a shredder.  I loved their set and it was good to hang out with Ryan and Felix before and after the show.  I heard a few people complain that BAT “didn’t fit” the show, but I think otherwise.  They had a great response.
  • Savage Master – I first caught Savage Master earlier this year in Chicago at Ragnarokkr 2015.  I think their Frost and Fire performance was a lot better.  I didn’t think that Stacey Savage was comfortable in Chicago but she certainly seemed that way in Ventura.  Their set was really good and it was great seeing the crowd sing along to some of their songs.  Hopefully I’ll catch them again this week in Austin.
  • Visigoth – I first became aware of them when my now ex-band, Eternal Champion, played with them at Ragnarokker 2014 in Chicago.  Singer Jake Rogers was sick that night but still put on a hell of a performance.  Visigoth has exploded since then getting signed by Metal Blade and doing some touring and getting scheduled for some of the Euro fests in 2016.  That’s awesome for them because they are great guys who have worked very hard.  Jake is an incredible front man and one of the best out there right now.  Most of the crowd was singing along to every song and Jake’s in your face style of stage prowling works perfectly for him.  Their set was filled with 4 songs from their album The Revenant King and three others.  Just totally badass metal.  I think they won over a few folks weren’t too familiar with them as well.
  • Ashbury – They is not a metal band but seemingly fit perfectly in this fest.  Singer/acoustic guitarist, Rob Davis, and I connected recently on Facebook and it was great to meet and talk to him and his brother before and after the show.  The front room packed out when they started their set and everyone there loved them.  Everyone was singing along and it was just an incredible set.  They played the entire Endless Skies album and closed with Tull’s Cross-Eyed Mary.  I can’t recommend the album or seeing them live enough.  They’re playing Ragnarokkr 2016.  Just absolutely incredible.  I bought one of their shirts prior to the show and had both of the brothers sign my CD.  Great guys.
  • Night Demon – This band puts 100% effort into every show they play.  They’re fronted by Jarvis Leatherby who is organizer of the fest.  They hit the stage and just went balls out as they always do.  The band is so incredibly tight and should be for all of the touring that they do.  Brent and Dustin rule.  New tour with Holy Grail starts soon!  Night Demon rocked it as always.  They’re one of those bands that I don’t get tired of seeing.  Saturday made my fifth time since April of last year!
  • Manilla Road – This is the tough one for me.  Manilla Road is a band that I should love but have never really gotten into.  I’ve owned Crystal Logic and Mystification but they never latched on like I feel they should have.  I’ve seen them twice now and they put on a great show.  Mark Shelton is an unheralded guitarist and a hell of a nice guy.  I played with them in in 2013 when I was in Eternal Champion.  The crowd loved them and they were the perfect headliner for this festival.  They’re playing Austin again soon and I’m planning on being there.

See all setlists here.

I can’t say how much I loved being there and how well-organized this was.  It was obvious that Jarvis and his crew worked hard to make this happen.  Jarvis was in constant motion the whole day making sure everything was running smoothly and that everyone was having a good time.  I don’t know how he had the energy to even get on stage and do what he does after a day like that.  I was fortunate that he pulled me aside at one point to meet Tim Baker from Cirith Ungol one on one for a few minutes.  Tim was as nice and laid back as anyone could be.  He surprised me with a King of the Dead patch.  “This is my last one.”  A gift from the gods!  Jarvis also got me one on one with Robert Garven and Mike Flint to sign The Book.  During the actual meet and greet, I got Tim and Greg Lindstrom to also sign it.  Tim handed me a Cirith Ungol backstage patch during the signing.  Another gift!  I got to spend some time later in the evening with Flint.  What a nice guy.  All of them were.  Apparently this was the first time the 4 of them had been together in about 20 years.  How cool is that?  Let’s hope for a reunion show at next year’s fest!

I met so many great people that night.  One guy named Hector that I know from Instagram recognized me and said, “Aren’t you in Eternal Champion?”  I said, “I was” and he said he was on my friends list on Instagram.  Great to meet him.  He also mentioned the Sword and Steel book that has a poem of mine in it.  That was a pretty cool moment.  We spoke several times throughout the night.  Also met another guy that I met through Instagram and Facebook, Ernesto.  Awesome guy.  One of the younger metalheads that loves the older true metal style.  The evening was filled with those types.

I also met Oliver Weinsheimer, the organizer for the popular Keep It True Festival.  Extra special was getting to hang out with my good pal, Jeff Black, from Gatekeeper.  What an awesome guy.

This festival was the perfect Size, especially for the venue.  not to mention that Ventura is a beautiful city.  I hadn’t been through there since 1997.  At the end of the night when everyone was getting shuffled out by the bar staff, many of us stood out front for some final goodbyes, pictures, hugs etc.  I really love the camaraderie at these fests.  Little to no bullshit although there apparently were 2 fights during Manilla Road and those folks got ejected.  There was also a drunk ass that was talking shit to some friends, but we made sure he took the right decision to walk away.  From there it was back to the hotel.  My feet and knees were killing me and I just wanted to lay down.  It didn’t long to fall asleep once I got settled in.  What a great fucking night!

Rodney had an early flight and left before I did.  I chilled out for a bit, took a shower, packed my bags then drove up to Serra Cross Hill to take in the view of Ventura from up there.  It was gorgeous.  I put some Paganini on and just chilled out up there for about 20 minutes.  I kind of wanted to go to the Observatory and get a closer picture of the Hollywood sign.  Prior to that, I had been talking to my friend, Jill, from Austin who was also in LA on a little vacation with her roommate.  Jill’s boyfriend, Gary, who is a close friend of mine, was also in town on tour with his band, Mala Suerte, so we decided to all meet up in Hollywood at Pinches Tacos on Sunset.  That was a lot of fun and the food was great.

After lunch I drove to the Observatory which was jam-packed.  I didn’t stop and took some time to get back out.  Beautiful drive through there, though.  At that point I just headed back to the car rental place and got a notification that my flight was being delayed an hour.  Once I got into the airport, I found a bar and shared a table with an older ex-Air Force guy who had spent time in Texas, Seattle and Arizona while still in the military.  He liked metal and we got on some good conversations about MSG, Loudness and he brought up TKO.  “Ever heard of them?”  Haha.  Hell yes.  I nerded out with him for quite a while.  After leaving the bar I went to my gate to get in line to board and some other guy came up to me asking me about my vest and just started showing me pictures from a funeral he attended over the weekend.  Apparently he’s good friends with the Dark Angel and Bloodcum guys.  While he was nice, he was also annoying.  I was pretty tired by this point of the evening and then the next thing I know he’s standing next to me with his phone in his hand and says, “I got the drummer for Bloodcum on the phone.  Want to say hi?”  I said not really but he insisted.  It was obvious with the Bloodcum guy was annoyed by the whole scenario as well.  “Sorry man, I’m not sure why he thought we should talk to each other.”  I said it was no problem, we exchanged a quick pleasantry and that was that.  At least I thought so.  Two minutes later the dude is back and said, “hey, save me a seat if you can and we’ll talk metal for the whole flight.”  I told him my plan was to go to sleep the minute I hit the plane and that I was done talking for the day.  Fortunately I boarded way earlier than him and my row got filled quickly.

Again, what a wonderful weekend.  Thank, Jarvis, for putting this one!  Can’t wait to see what’s in store for next year!