Lynyrd Skynyrd

All posts tagged Lynyrd Skynyrd

Styx Photo shoot with Ash Newellreo2013nugent2013July 9, 2013 — The April/May “The Midwest Rock ‘N Roll Express” tour with STYX, REO Speedwagon and Ted Nugent was successful in more ways than one. STYX and REO Speedwagon’s Rock to the Rescue charity organization not only raised thousands of dollars for local charities at each tour stop, but they also raised $108,000 which will go directly to the Boston One Fund, helping victims of the Boston marathon bombings.

Donations were collected along the 21-date trek when fans purchased a silent raffle ticket to win a guitar signed by all three acts.

“Like all Americans, we have watched the events in Boston and wondered what we could do to help. We know the fans of all three bands will once again rise with us to help our friends in Boston. We Are Boston!”STYX

“We feel such sadness for those innocent people in Boston who have suffered so much and are still suffering now. We think of those victims of senseless violence as we sign the guitar which is to be donated on their behalf each night. In our small way, we do what we do.”REO Speedwagon

“The Nugent band and family are surrounded by Americans who care deeply about each other and are dedicated to give all we got in times of need. We again face a tragedy that we can all help with, and are proud of this charitable heart and soul effort.” Ted Nugent

Spearheaded by Tommy Shaw’s daughter, Hannah Shaw, Rock to the Rescue is a 501(c)3 non-profit organization, whose mission is to build strong, healthy communities through the support of grassroots organizations across the country. As of last year, at every STYX tour date Rock to the Rescue partners with a local group to give back through community outreach, fundraising, and volunteer support.

Rock to the Rescue originally started in 2001 as a result of the 9/11 terrorist attacks and is the brainchild of STYX singer/guitarist Tommy Shaw and REO Speedwagon singer/keyboardist/guitarist Kevin Cronin. The two musicians brought together bands and artists such as Bad Company, Journey, Survivor, Kansas, Lynyrd Skynyrd and many others to be part of “Volunteers For America” concert events in Dallas and Atlanta that ultimately raised over $775,000 for victims of 9/11, as well as the Port Authority police department in New York City. For more info: and

[Originally Published 6/2010]

The first time I witnessed the phenomona that is Jonny Lang was 13 years ago at an outdoor amphitheatre in Hartford, CT. Jonny was a mere 16 years old, and already on his way to becoming the world’s next great guitar virtuoso. The year was 1997… now 5 albums, several tours, and a Grammy later, Jonny helps fill in the blanks of his life since then. Kid Jonny and I spoke about the Grammy’s, God, and a certain Idol he also worships.

AWAY-TEAM: First of all, congratulations on your new album “Live at the Ryman” which came out on April 20th. Great album, I’ve been listening to it quite a bit.

JONNY LANG: Aw man, thank you.

AWAY-TEAM: I really enjoy it. I’ve been a fan of yours for a while. But, I know you’ve been wanting to do a live album for a good while…why the Ryman Auditorium? What made you choose that as the venue for your first ever live album?

JONNY LANG: Well there’s a few reasons. Probably the main one just being, we had a good show that night, um. And we had been recording most of our shows leading up to that, and that happened to be the one that, ya know turned out to be the best out of the ones that we had recorded, so. But also just the fact that it’s the Ryman, it’s a historic venue, and it was such a great place to play, ya know, so I’m glad it turned out to be that particular show just because of that, ya know.

AWAY-TEAM: So uh, one of the things people really enjoy about your work, aside from your voice, is watching you play guitar, and just kinda watching a craftsman at work. Is there any chance we may get an accompanying DVD of this performance sometime down the road?

JONNY LANG: You know, there was no video shot at that show, but we are looking to do a live DVD thing in the near future here so… I’m not sure exactly when that would come out, but yeah that’s in the works.

AWAY-TEAM: Cool. I’ll keep my eye out for that… Your current tour, it’s called “Live By Request”, has somewhat of a unique format. Tell me about that.

JONNY LANG: Well basically it’s just a um, we kinda had this idea that people could write in to the website, tell us which show they’re going to, and then request the songs they would like to hear for the night. Then we tally up the number of votes for whatever songs were requested and pick the top three or four or whatever, and then do those. Sometimes it ends up being some of the same songs we’ve been playing over the past few years, but sometimes people pick older songs, earlier back in the catalog and we’ll throw those in the set. So it’s just kind of a fun thing to switch it up a little, ya know.

AWAY-TEAM: Right. So you said that you kinda tally up the votes on that, so do you get to see all of the songs? Have you seen any really cool songs that anyone’s requested that may not particularly be your song, but you said “Wow, I’ve never really played that live before, it’d be pretty cool.”?

JONNY LANG: Yeah, I think people are just trying to be a little funny (laughs). They’ll put in a Lynyrd Skynyrd song like “Free Bird”

AWAY-TEAM: (laughs)

JONNY LANG: But uh, you know nothing really that out of the ordinary or strange. No Steely Dan requests or anything like that, so. (laughs)

AWAY-TEAM: How about, I know you used to play a little Jimi Hendrix when you first started out. Any of that coming back at all?

JONNY LANG: Ya know, not really. Um, yeah we used to do “Spanish Castle Magic”. No, we haven’t done that in a while, but that’s a good idea, we might do that one.

AWAY-TEAM: Yeah, I actually remember you playing that. The first time I ever saw you play, was back in 1997, it was at what was then the Meadows Music Theatre in Hartford, CT. You were about 16 at the time, and opening up for Aerosmith, and I remember saying to myself “Man, this kid’s only 16, and not only is he opening up for one of the greatest rock bands in the world, he’s actually giving ‘em a run for their money”. I was just blown away by your performance. What was it like back then, when you found out your first big tour was gonna be with those guys? Were you intimidated? Excited?

JONNY LANG: Man, just excited. And ya know they didn’t really give us a reason to be intimidated, they were all just so nice to us. Yeah, they were just really great guys, and it was just fun. It was a blast.

AWAY-TEAM:Speaking of young talent, your younger sister Jessica (Jesse Langseth) was actually a semi-finalist on Season 8 of American Idol. Has she been coming to you for advice or help? Or is she more of a “If I’m gonna do this, I’m gonna do it on my own” type of person?

JONNY LANG: You know, she’s really smart. And uh, she’s very street smart too, and socially very capable. So…she doesn’t need much help from big brother, but yeah we talk about stuff like that. But yeah she’s got her head screwed on pretty good, so.

AWAY-TEAM: Any chance we might see you working together in the future?

JONNY LANG: Oh yeah. There’s always a chance of that. Ya know, she’s um, she’s kinda I think taking a little bit of a break from the music thing at the moment. But, it’s her passion. It’s what she loves to do, so I’m sure she’ll be doing it for the rest of her life, on and off at least.

AWAY-TEAM: Hey, that’s great. She’s got the drive…..Now, back to tour mates, and collaborations. You’ve toured and collaborated with people from all genres of music. Ya know, from The Rolling Stones, to Buddy Guy, BB King, Sting, you’ve even played Crossroads with Eric Clapton. And actually most recently, you played on Cyndi Lauper’s new album. Is that correct?

JONNY LANG: Yeah. Yeah man, she made an incredible album. I haven’t heard the final, I guess, version of it, but. Yeah she recorded it in Memphis, and it’s basically, ya know older soul and blues tunes, and she recorded it old school, one take-no overdubs kind of thing. Man, she understands that music incredibly well, and is singing amazingly on it. So I’m really excited for that record. We’re actually doing some upcoming television shows for that record. (June 22nd and 24th, on The Howard Stern Show, and Regis and Kelly, respectively)

AWAY-TEAM: Yeah, I thought it was a really cool little twist for her music. That was pretty cool.

JONNY LANG: Yeah dude, she’s a deep, she’s a real deep person. A true artist, ya know.

AWAY-TEAM: Well if you could choose one person, from any genre, that you haven’t worked with, to do a collaboration with, who would it be?

JONNY LANG: Man… It’s a tie between James Taylor and Stevie Wonder I’d say. Those two, that would be just a dream come true.

AWAY-TEAM: Wow, that would make for a great project.

JONNY LANG: Yeah, they’re my favorites.

AWAY-TEAM: Now back in 2000, you tragically lost your bassist Doug Nelson, right around that same time you kinda found your faith. You were drinking heavily, and doing a little bit of drugs, and then thankfully found God. Was Doug’s death ultimately what set you on that path? Or when did you sort of hit “rock bottom” and decide it was time to turn things around?

JONNY LANG: Man, I really didn’t have a like “rock bottom” experience per se, I was loving the partying and stuff like that. So it was more that God just kinda stopped me in my tracks so to speak. But, yeah you know what, Doug’s death happened a while after I kinda, I guess started my relationship with God. It definitely affected my life, ya know he was a close friend, and a great guy, and when you lose somebody close to you it gives you a good healthy check on how important life is, and ya know, makes you realize what things are important, and what things you’re kinda just wasting your time with. But yeah, he was a great friend, and just a great guy.

AWAY-TEAM: The album “Turn Around”, which came out in 2006, earned you a Grammy for Best Gospel Album. That was actually your last studio album, so when can we expect some new JONNY LANG?

JONNY LANG: I’ve kinda started working on the next studio record, and it’s still in the trying to figure out where it’s going stage, I guess. Stylistically, I’m trying to figure it out. I’ve never written so many songs before, so there’s tons of songs to pick from, and uh. It’s weird, every album cycle is different, it’s a different experience, and this one is just kinda moving slow for some reason. Sometimes it happens right away, and sometimes it doesn’t, ya know. I guess the main goal is to come up with something that is, you don’t wanna compromise the quality of it just to get it out there, so I try to make a good record no matter how long it takes. (laughs)

AWAY-TEAM: That’s important. Now, you said that you were searching stylistically for what this new album’s gonna be like. Should we be looking for something closer to the Gospel on “Turn Around” or closer to your roots on “Lie to Me”?

JONNY LANG: Um, man, I really don’t know, actually. I think it’s gonna end up being more of a fusion of like soul music and um, I guess just it’ll be more about the songwriting. Ya know it might be more about the songs on this one, than the last one…if that makes sense.

AWAY-TEAM: So more stress on the lyrics, as opposed to the actual musical composition?

JONNY LANG: I think both. But I think, it may be a little bit more intricate, as far as the musical arrangement and the lyrics go, ya know. A little bit more of a crafted album, if that makes sense. So, at least for me, (laughs) take a little bit more time with it.

AWAY-TEAM: Well I’m certainly looking forward to it. I know you’ve done a little bit of acting in the past, as well. You were in “Blues Brothers 2000″, and an episode of “The Drew Carey Show”, that was all back in 1998. Can we expect to see…

JONNY LANG: (laughs) I don’t know if it was acting. It was more like just standing there trying to not look like an idiot. (laughing) But, yeah man. (laughs)

AWAY-TEAM: (laughing) So you might’ve just answered my question. So, no more acting in your future? Is that right?

JONNY LANG: Probably not. Man it terrifies the life out of me. I am not a natural born actor, for sure. It scares me. (laughs)

AWAY-TEAM: I mean you play in front of 20-30,000, and it’s like second nature, but I guess acting is just a whole different realm, huh?

JONNY LANG: I guess so man. I guess when you’re on a stage and you’re kinda far away from people, you feel like you’re kinda isolated in a weird way. It’s not as nerve-wracking for some reason in my mind.

AWAY-TEAM: Well, one more question…you now live in California, and your manager Greg Classen, like myself, is from Massachusetts. Who’s gonna win Game 7 tonight Celtics or Lakers?

JONNY LANG: (laughing) Oh boy…well, being a guy who’s from Minnesota, as far as sports go anyway, I don’t really have a team, although I do live in L.A. Ya know, I don’t know man, it’s such a good series, I would love to see Boston win. Just because, that particular L.A. team has had such a good record, so it’d be nice to see Boston win for a change.

AWAY-TEAM: I knew I liked you for a reason. (laughs)

JONNY LANG: (laughs) Yeah dude, I think I really like Boston a bit, because they’re more of like “street ballers”. They’re like more rough, ya know, rough around the edges. So I kinda like that, I like their style. But who knows man, it’s gonna be a good one. (Sadly, I was hoping for Jonny to get his wish. And we all know what happened. Dammit.)

AWAY-TEAM: Well, hey man, thank you so much for your time. It’s been a great honor to speak with you…

JONNY LANG: Aw, thanks man.

AWAY-TEAM: Unfortunately, this last time you came around, just recently you were here in Ft. Lauderdale, and I was unable to make it out to the show. but I’ll certainly be there next time you pass through Florida.

JONNY LANG: Yeah dude, if you come out man, come back and say hey.

AWAY-TEAM: I sure will…

JONNY LANG: Call Greg, or the label, or something, and come back and get hooked up man.

AWAY-TEAM: Hey, if you wanna beat up on someone on the links (Jonny had just finished up on the golf course when we spoke) too ya know I’m free there.

JONNY LANG: Oh dude, let’s do it. I need a golf partner man, nobody here plays golf, so I usually end up playing by myself. So that’d be cool man.

AWAY-TEAM: I don’t know if what I do is called golf, but I’ll sure try. (laughs)

JONNY LANG: (laughs) Cool man, that sounds good.

AWAY-TEAM: Well, hey man, thanks again, and like I said, next time you’re around I’ll definitely make it a point to get together with you. Hopefully we’ll be talking about another Grammy here.

JONNY LANG: (laughs) I hope so man. (laughs)

AWAY-TEAM: Alright brother, well good luck tonight with the show, and with the rest of your tour, and hopefully we’ll be talking soon.

JONNY LANG: Thank you man. Thank you. Take care.

AWAY-TEAM: Take it easy.


For more information on Jonny Lang, such as tour dates, to request a song for one of those dates, as well as to pick up his latest album visit

Special thanks go to Jonny Lang for so graciously giving me his time, Jonny’s manager Greg Classen for helping to coordinate things, and to Amanda Cagan at ABC PR for making this all possible.

Photos courtesy of Wayne Crans at Dead Bird Photography.

[Originally Published 5/20/2010]

Upon first glance, Taddy Porter looks like just another young rock band ready to take on the world. While that may be true, there’s much more to this quartet from Oklahoma; I had gotten all of thirty seconds deep into Taddy Porter’s debut offering when I realized this. In fact, I found it quite fitting that the band whose moniker is that of the “World’s Original Beer”, is about to serve the world it’s own original musical brew. Recently, I had the chance to speak with Taddy’s front man, the aptly-named Andy Brewer, about their odyssey from college parties, to haunted hotels, to the creation of a new musical genre.

AWAY-TEAM: First off, Congratulations on your self-titled debut album which comes out on June 29th.

ANDY BREWER: Yeah. Thanks.

AWAY-TEAM: You guys formed in Stillwater, Oklahoma…


AWAY-TEAM: How did you all get together?

ANDY BREWER: Uh, well actually, I was attending Oklahoma State University at the time, and uh, I happened to walk into a party one night and I heard live drumming going on at this party. And I didn’t immediately walk into the room with the drums at first, but after a few drinks I gathered enough gumption to walk into the room. And uh, I had been like playing, ya know, and writing my own songs at the time, and so I just walked into this room and my drummer now pointed at me and he goes “Do you play?”, and I was like “Yes I do” and I picked up one of the guitars that had been laying around the room and started playing one of the songs that I had written. We like meshed together real well at first, went together real well, ever since then we’ve been a band ever since.

AWAY-TEAM: Awesome. So your guys’ name, I’m sure you get this a lot, but uh, the world’s first beer? Is that correct?

ANDY BREWER: That’s correct, yeah.

AWAY-TEAM: How’d you come up with that name?

ANDY BREWER: Well uh, we were looking for names, like trying to come up with cool names. None of them which went over very well, we came up with some horrible names like “Honey Drip” and umm “Red Giants” and “Scissortail” (laughing). Just many, many of these really bad names, but uh, me and Doug (drummer Doug Jones) were at a bar just kind of going over names, and I went up to the bar and looked at the import fridge and I was going through them by price, because I was broke, I’m pretty much still broke (laughs), but uh I saw one that was $8.50 a bottle and I was just blown away that one beer could cost $8.50. So I went from price, over to the name and it was Taddy Porter, and it sounded like somebody’s name to me, and how it came about was the brand name was Tadcaster and the nickname given to it was Taddy Porter. And uh, thinking about it, it was like you know how like Lynyrd Skynyrd sounds like someone’s name, and just thinking about these bands where it’s two names that sound like a first name and a last name. And it sounded kind of like a sophisticated beer, so I was like, what we played was like kind of like a southern jam, ya know, and I don’t know I just kinda felt like it had matched what we were playing. So that’s how it happened.

AWAY-TEAM: Right. After hearing the album, it’s funny you mention Lynyrd Skynyrd because I kind of get a little bit of that sound with you, but uh, I’ve heard it and I absolutely love it. It has a pretty unique sound for a young rock band in this day and age, which in my opinion kicks ass, but… is your sound more of a product of your musical influences, or not wanting to be just another cookie-cutter rock band?

ANDY BREWER: See, it’s a mixture of those. Because, ya know growing up we uh, I had been listening to my father’s rock n’ roll music and I loved it. I knew at an early age that I could mimic older rock singers like Paul Rodgers and Lynyrd Skynyrd and stuff like that. So when it came to making our own music, that just sort of came naturally. And ya know, I mean I love all the rock bands they’re all great, but I just didn’t want to be another one of those bands where they’re like “OK, well Taddy Porter, they sound like this band…” that’s like what’s on the radio right now. I didn’t want to be one of those bands, because then you know you get like lumped into a category and that’s as far as you go. So whenever it came to us making our sound, we felt it should be an eclectic mix of modern rock and classic rock. Some bands have started doing that like Wolfmother and The Black Keys seem to be like playing an older style of music, but they’re playing it right now with their own modern spin on it, and that’s kind of like what we want to do.

AWAY-TEAM: I’m glad you said that because you’ve enlightened me a little bit, because I’ve kinda had a hard time describing your music; other than just blues mixed in with good ole’ southern rock n’ roll. For our readers out there who aren’t familiar with your music, how would you describe your music?

ANDY BREWER: Umm, I can’t say hard rock, and I can’t say classic rock, we kinda came up with a little idea, we call it “Swagger Rock”. It’s kind of like a cool, like I didn’t want to call it “Jam Rock” or like “Guitar Rock” or something like that. So I would just say it’s kinda like a southern jam rock, yeah I don’t even know how to explain it really, but “Swagger Rock” is usually the term I use when people ask.

AWAY-TEAM: Well there you go, you just coined it here…“Swagger Rock” (laughs)

ANDY BREWER: (laughs)

AWAY-TEAM: How was it working with Skidd Mills, who also produced your former tour-mates Saving Abel, how’d that work out?

ANDY BREWER: He’s great man. He uh, we have the same manager as Saving Abel, and that’s how we got hooked up with Skidd. When ever we went in there we weren’t really familiar with working with a producer and things of that nature, it’s kind of funny because the first like co-write experience we went in and we wrote “Shake Me”, that was the first song, we were in there for eight hours and we wrote and tracked all of “Shake Me”, and it was weird to me that it could happen so fast, to write that type of song so fast. But uh, Skidd is great, he’s got a great ear, he knows what he’s doing, he’s been doing it for years, and uh, he’s just a great guy.

AWAY-TEAM: Now, that single, “Shake Me” has sort of become a staple around Citifield in New York. Tell me about that.

ANDY BREWER: Yeah, it’s uh, my father is a pitching coach in the Mets organization, and like every summer when I was growing up, I would go out where my dad was and work at the stadium, just to spend a little time with my dad. It was 2006, I think, and I went down there and I got to meet Mike Pelfrey and he was making his way up through the minor league system, and I got to know him, he got to know me, and so with the big league guys pretty much everyone’s got intro music…


ANDY BREWER: …and as he was going to pick his, he was hanging around my dad, and Mike Pelfrey was trying to figure things out, and John Maine, who’s another starting pitcher for the Mets said “Well how ’bout you use Brew’s son’s music”, Brew’s what they call my dad ‘cuz his last name’s Brewer. So he listened to it and was like “Yeah, man. I want that song”, so he picked “Shake Me”. It’s crazy to think that whenever he goes out to pitch or hit, “Shake Me” gets played all throughout Citifield. I haven’t had the chance to make it out yet to hear that, but I mean, it sounds so huge in those giant baseball stadiums. I gotta make it to a game sometime when he’s pitching to hear that, it’ll probably give me goosebumps, being the singer and what-not.

AWAY-TEAM: Hell of an audience to have that played for. (laughs)

ANDY BREWER: That’s for sure!

AWAY-TEAM: You guys have got a few big shows coming up, I see you’re playing “Rock on the Range”, with alot of other great bands. Who do you most look forward to sharing the bill with there?

ANDY BREWER: Uh, man I can’t uh, Limp Bizkit probably. I just wanna see that guy play, it’s been such a while since they’ve been touring and I just want to see the production. I heard they would breakdance on stage, and I think that would just be a sight to see. But uh, Chevelle, I’d like to see Chevelle, I think they’re playing it, and the Deftones, I’ve seen them a couple times and they’ve always been amazing live. But all the bands are great.

AWAY-TEAM: You also were on the “Class of ’09” tour with Saving Abel, Red, and Pop Evil. Any good stories from the road there?

ANDY BREWER: Man, we had a lot of good times, we had a chance to be on the road with them during Thanksgiving, and we were at, I wanna say it was, shit I don’t remember, but the hotel was supposed to be haunted and so it was funny because some of the guys in Saving Abel are superstitious, so they were like “I can’t stay here” (laughs) because they freaked out about it and I was like “C’mon guys, nothing’s gonna happen to you” But, we got to know Saving Abel and Red pretty well, and us being the opening band, they were very welcoming to us. We partied, we learned, we learned how to be professional, and how to work because ya know they had like tour managers and everything and they have a set schedule and if you’re not on that schedule you’re gonna get bitched at. So we learned that when your on a schedule, you have to be prompt, you can’t just go wander off and do whatever, you have to be ready for what’s going on. So we learned how to be professional, and it was very easy for us to have a great time because they’re all just great guys.

AWAY-TEAM: A couple of the songs on your album, weren’t originally on there. How did the addition of those come about?

ANDY BREWER: When ever we started to put together everything, we went to Nashville and we were doing some co-writes, and we were also writing more and more of our own songs. And as the time came about we started writing more with Skidd and some of these writers, and alot of the songs we did with the co-writers we didn’t even use, but some of them we did add to the album.

AWAY-TEAM: Well I’ll tell you what Andy, you guys put together a hell of an album, and I wish you the best of luck, thank you for your time; I know it’s only a matter of time before you guys are household names.

ANDY BREWER: I hope so! (laughs)

AWAY-TEAM: Keep at it man, best of luck to you, and I look forward to seeing you come to Florida sometime in the near future.

ANDY BREWER: Hell yeah, man, I’m looking forward to it too. The south is always the best.

AWAY-TEAM: Right on, man. Well hey, next time your in town, I hope to meet you and talk some more.

ANDY BREWER: Yeah man, I got your phone number I’ll give you a call.

AWAY-TEAM: Sounds good. Thanks bro. Take it easy.

ANDY BREWER: Take it easy. Bye.

Be sure to pick up Taddy Porter’s self-titled debut album, when it hits shelves June 29th (you may have to look in the new “Swagger Rock” section). This album is very highly recommended. For more info on tour dates and where to pick up the album head over to

Special thanks to Andy Brewer for so graciously giving me his time, and to Julie Lichtenstein at SKH Music for making it all happen.