Archive for Mark Pickeral

America’s Best Kept Secret: Hannah Wicklund and the Steppin Stones

Posted in Music, Rock, Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on March 21, 2018 by 80smetalman

As most of you already know, I’ve come to America these past two weeks for not the happiest of reasons. However, in between my mother’s memorial service, the scattering of her ashes into the ocean and my getting stuck into cleaning her house, (she was a heavy smoker), there have been other more happier events like the wine tasting day my sister and her husband took me to. I also got to hook up with my old friend and true metal fan, Frank Formica, at a karaoke night. He even sang “Battle Hyms” by Manowar for me. So, it hasn’t been all gloom for me while I’ve been here, something I’ve been really grateful for.

Having some wine

On one of these more happier occasions, while at my sister and her husband’s house, they told me about this new lady blues guitarist whom they happened to see at some fair in New Jersey not long ago. The guitarists’ name was Hannah Wicklund and my brother in law, Mark Pickeral, who is a pretty good guitarist himself, was so blown away by this lady that he bought two of her albums. I believe this self titled one is her fourth album. But before I get into what a great album “Hannah Wicklund and the Steppin Stones” is, I have to say that when they showed me concert footage of Hannah, I was just as blown away. The album is excellent, it’s going to move into my top 15 for sure, but she is even more kick ass live. I hope that one day I have the opportunity of seeing her do so.

Hannah Wicklund has been called a combination of Jimi Hendrix and Janis Joplin. I can see the comparison here because she has the power vocals of Janis and she can play guitar like Jimi. When I listen to her blues based guitar rock, I am reminded of other greats in this genre like Rory Gallagher, Robin Trower, Pat Travers, Kenny Wayne Shepherd and even  Eric Clapton. Her guitar playing can hold its own with any of these mentioned but none of them come close to her in her vocal ability. My God, can she sing! What we have here is a great singer who can shred brilliantly. For me, what’s not there to like?

The hardest thing I find to do when listening to “Hannah Wicklund & the Steppin Stones” is to pick a favourite track. Every time I think I might have chosen, another comes along and vies for the title. This is down to the fact that there are ten great songs on the album. Her vocals come through straight away on the opener, “Bomb Through the Breeze” and her sheer power is stamped on “Ghost.” Then she changes up on “Looking Glass.” My vote, possibly, for best guitar solo comes on “On the Road.” Then just when you think you got her pegged, she surprises you with a near ballad like closer, “Shadow Boxes and Porcelain Faces.” But on every song, Hannah’s vocal and guitar skills shine through.

Track Listing:

  1. Bomb Through the Breeze
  2. Ghost
  3. Looking Glass
  4. Mama Said
  5. On the Road
  6. Crushin
  7. Strawberry Moon
  8. Too Close to You
  9. Meet You Again
  10. Shadow Boxes and Porcelain Faces

Hannah Wicklund

Hannah Wicklund- lead vocals, guitar

I can’t find his name anywhere- bass

Luke Mitchell- drums

Note: Luke is also Hannah’s brother who fronts his own band, The High Divers.

One song wasn’t enough to do Hannah justice here so that’s why you are getting three. Hopefully, you will find as I do that Hannah Wicklund kicks ass and she is destined for great things.

Next post, I’ll decided that when I get back to the UK next week.

To get Rock and Roll Children, go to: https://crreadac.cf/current/ebooks-free-download-rock-and-roll-children-fb2-by-michael-d-lefevre.html

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Why Dura Silex Should Be Signed

Posted in Heavy Metal, Music, Rock, television, Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on July 13, 2014 by 80smetalman

Not long ago, I obtained possession of a demo CD from a band named Dura Silex. Before, I go on any further, I’d like to just say that I was hoping for a group photo from the band but since I haven’t received one, I thought I would post about them anyway. The reason is that after my first listen to their demo CD, I was so blown away that I promised myself that I would do a post listing my reasons why they should have a record deal in the same way I felt that Black Emerald should have had one when I saw them at Bloodstock last year.

Black Emerald

Black Emerald

First a little background: Dura Silex, which is Latin for hard rock, come from Southern New Jersey and at the moment comprise just two members, guitarist Mark Pickeral and lead singer Marie Christina. If her name sounds vaguely familiar, that is because she attended Rock and Roll Fantasy camp and got to perform along side the likes of Howard Leese (Heart), Kip Winger (Winger) and Rudy Sarzo (Quiet Riot, Whitesnake). The demo was recorded at Mark Pickeral’s home studio and he programs the bass and drums for it.

Now if you were counting on Dura Silex and Black Emerald together on a joint tour, it probably wouldn’t work. While Black Emerald are more your straight forward metal band and they’re very good at it, Dura Silex has a sound that favours a hard blues rock sort of vibe. First, since I have already mentioned her, let’s start with the vocals of Marie Christina. Her opera background comes through with the very first track and it is beautiful to hear. It is so good and unique that it’s hard to compare her to any other vocalist, though that’s not a bad thing. The closest I would say is Liv Christine of Leave’s Eyes. Christina’s operatic voice really shines through the most on the second track, “Ego Maniac.” However, the opera training does not compromise her power to go total rock and roll. The result is one part that makes Dura Silex, great vocals.

Liv Christine and Leaves Eyes

Liv Christine and Leaves Eyes

Now onto guitarist Mark Pickeral. I have to confess here, I may appear a little biased here because Mark is my brother in law but related or not, he definitely knows how to bend a six string. I have heard previous offerings from him in the past but on this demo he really goes to town. It is his playing that has led me to conclude that Dura Silex play a hard blues rock sound. His efforts remind me of Pat Travers or Rory Gallagher but at the same time, his playing style is unique. The end result is the combined playing style of Mark and the vocals of Marie make a great team. You only have to listen to the demo to be converted.

Rory Gallagher

  Rory Gallagher

Pat Travers

Pat Travers

 Track Listing:

1. Louder Than Lies

2. Ego Maniac

3. Thief of Hearts

4. For the Love

5. Roaming

6. Walk Through Fire

7. Through to You

8. Last Laugh

9. Waiting

10. Dream Walker

11. Down on My Luck

While it has been said that these aren’t the best tracks Dura Silex have laid down, (they’re saving their best for a more professional demo) the ones here would make up an album that would make any artist proud. “Louder Than Lies” is a great opener and “Down on My Luck” is a fantastic closer. In between, there are nine songs that really rock. The ones which really stick out for me are “Thief of Hearts,” “Through to You,” “Last Laugh” and “Waiting.” If these tracks should appear on line and I will let you know if it does, then have a listen to them. You should be in agreement with me that any record label who passes on them is just plain stupid.

Next post: American Pop, Soundtrack

To buy Rock And Roll Children, go to http://www.strategicpublishinggroup.com/title/RockAndRollChildren.html

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