A nearly three hour drive into the bay area for a gig on a Friday night - that's the kind of assignment you give yourself when you're a full time rock 'n' roll junky. However, my success had been so great the week before at RippleFest 2015 that a drive to the bay seemed like a small price for the dope my soul requires, and I was right. Dio Disciples brought it like they always do, and it's a good thing that I'm scrupulously (some would say neurotically) early to any event, as it meant I got to see a scorching hot set of rock from The Quart Of Blood Technique, who got the night off to a raging start.
Some of you will remember Billy Ray Valentine (Eddie Murphy) from the 1983 film, Trading Places, in which the comedian enthralled a jail cell audience with his mysterious kung fu "quart of blood technique", and I gotta think that it's the perfect name for this four piece. The Quart Of Blood Technique was formed in 2012, and they've released their first long player, The Greatest Kicks, and it's a solid sender from start to finish, but where this bunch really shines is on the stage.
Shaun Bivens formed the band after he had made some noise as a guitarist with black metal band, A Band Called Pain, and now he's the frontman and storyteller (while still playing some sharp guitar). I don't have any information on the other band members, but I will say that if Cheap Trick had come from Oakland instead of Rockford, they may have sounded something like The Quart Of Blood Technique. Big guitars, great melodies, a solid rhythm section, and a subtle sense of humor informs everything they play. Hooks galore seem to pop out of every nook and cranny, and I see a very bright future for these very hard working lads. They're off to a great start, they carry themselves with an exceptional air of professionalism, and they rock like crazy - please do check them out.
Dio Disciples were the main attraction, and as always, they completely shatter the myth that tribute bands can't be great bands. Tonight was special in that it was the debut of new co-lead vocalist Joe Retta (Heaven and Earth, The Sweet), and you'd never have guessed that it was his first gig. He came on like gangbusters and had the crowd in the palm of his hand from the minute they took the stage. He interacted tremendously well with vocal mainstay Oni Logan, and together they gave the crowd exactly what they came to see, hear, and feel.
If you've never been to a Dio Disciples show, I'll tell you this. It's a lot like going to the Church Of Ronnie James Dio, and there is never any question but that they are preaching to the converted. Every song is sung by not just the band, but half the crowd, and they sing it loud. This is a tribute done for all the right reasons, and they work as hard as a band as any.
Craig Goldy brings his excellent six string work to the table, and he has become the master of covering Blackmore, Iommi, and the guitarists who came before and after him in Dio. I had just seen him a month or so back with Black Knights Rising (another pseudo tribute band he's formed with Vinnie Appice and Elliott "Dean" Rubinson that takes on Rainbow, Deep Purple, Black Sabbath, and Dio), and the guy is getting better every time I see him. He plays just enough of the masters' notes to please the crowd, but he also brings a wicked bluesy vibrato to everything he plays that is uniquely his own, and he runs this band like a field commander storming across the desert riding a metallic panzer. While I was more than willing to accept a bit of rustiness from a band that hadn't been in a room together in a few months, Mr. Goldy was not, and on an occasion or two he shot some daggers towards the direction of a missed cue, or arrangement slip.
Oni Logan is a guy who has faced a lot of criticism at times in his career (deserved or undeserved is often not important in these matters - a reputation is a hell of a thing), but he's now been on fire for several years, and the whole world should celebrate that this great voice is back in the saddle with his partner George Lynch in the Lynch Mob. Logan told me just before the show that the new Lynch Mob album is ready for mastering, and a fall release on Frontiers Music srl. I first met Oni a while back at a NAMM show in Los Angeles, and he owned "When The Levee Breaks" at The Bonzo Bash. He's in fantastic voice, and he stalks the stage with the cool confidence that says he's back, and in it for the long haul. Watch this career, it's going straight up.
If you haven't seen Dio Disciples, definitely check them out when they are in your neck of the woods - no, it isn't Ronnie James Dio, but the man is smiling down upon it. These guys put on a great show, and it's always a great night of rock.
Special thanks to Craig Goldy and Oni Logan for their very gracious accommodations!