Up Close And On Fire With S And K Ep 22 Lupe Guru and Black Dawn

Lupe Guru, Bucks County, PA

Catch these shape shifters of modern music as they bring their brand of riveting blues based progressive rock to the stage. Reaching international exposure with 2011 CD release “First Bite” featuring hit “Come To See Me Fall”. In addition to their original repertoire, they do justice to some of the best of rock/blues/jam music. Check the band out at lupegaru.comfor shows, music, live videos, more biographical information etc. and “Keep On Howling”.

Black Dawn Carleplace, NY, USA

Black Dawn has been performing live music of the metal / heavy rock genre in the Long Island / New York City area since 1996.  Black Dawn has consisted of the same four members for all eighteen years of live performances: Matt Kotten (Lead Guitar / Vocals), Tom Kelly (Rhythm Guitar), James Lane (Bass Guitar), Enzo DiPaolo (Drums).  Black Dawn’s most direct musical influences include Alice In Chains, Black Sabbath, Disturbed, Down, Fight, Godsmack, Korn, Life of Agony, Metallica, Mudvayne, Soil, Soundgarden, Staind, Stone Temple Pilots, Tool, Volbeat, and White Zombie.

Black Dawn’s discography consists of the EP “Black Dawn (1996), the live CD “Live at CBGB’s (1998), two full-length CD’s “Absence of Time” (1999) and “Age of Reason” (2004), and the EP “Until We Meet” (2014).  Selected tracks from all of these releases have been included in rotation on hundreds of various college / internet radio stations and podcasts worldwide.  All five tracks from  “Until We Meet” are currently available for free download on www.reverbnation.com/blackdawnband among other websites.

Black Dawn has performed / participated in numerous shows, festivals, competitions and conferences from New York City to Los Angeles and has opened for acts such as Kings X, Daisy Berkowitz, LA Guns, Biohazard, and Michale Graves (ex Misfits vocalist).  Black Dawn has performed in many famous venues in New York City including Webster Hall, CBGB’s, the Continental, and the Hard Rock Cafe.

Perhaps the best thing that could be said about Black Dawn is that, even after all this time, the band has no intention of slowing down.  The band is writing new songs all the time so creatively, there is still pleanty of gas left in the tank.  Still pleanty more shows to perform.

Basically, a band like Black Dawn is what you get when you combine four metal / rock musicians who are able to work together over the long term through thick and thin to continue to bring their act to the stage.


Up Close And On Fire With S And K Ep 20 Long Time Divided and Decadent Nation

Since our producer decided to do other things this week, decided we would do the show on our own w/o him. He had his hands tied up with the Brandolino Family Fire Benefit and his head up his ass with Insomnia Station getting the single EP out.
So, we are going to put out one more episode next week, then we are on vacation from sometime in July. Until then, ENJOY this episode.

Long Time Divided; Pittsburgh PA

Like the hometown of their inception, Long Time Divided is a band of blue-collar musicians, carving a name for themselves in the Pittsburgh music scene as one of the hardest working acts today. The wealth of musical knowledge that the members of the band bring to the group gives Long Time Divided a very polished hard rock sound.

Each person’s distinctive style blends almost seamlessly with the others: lead singer DJ Beckage’s grunge rock vocals weave through the harmonic crunch, hammered out by guitarists Paul Terry and Dean Toughlian.

Bassist Bob Beveridge and Drummer Jason Slick form the bedrock of the band; Bob bringing his soulful intensity to the bass in tandem with Jason’s almost robotic-like precision to the drums.

Long Time Divided has kept themselves grounded because they have never forgotten their roots and their fans who have elevated them.

Formed from five, they are Long Time Divided.

 Just have to listen in to see what songs were featured.

Decadent Nation, Columbia

Decadent Nation has been eviscerating stages for over a decade with their own, unique brand of modern blues-based rock. Having toured coast to coast, releasing multiple records to critical acclaim, DN socio-political rock is more relevant than ever.

Just have to listen in to see what songs were featured.


Up Close and On Fire with S and K Ep 19 Jakesway and Soul Exchange



Jakesway were an original music project from Mehoopany, PA that self-released three albums with music that mixed rock, country and pop. The project was spearheaded by Gary Kashack, a veteran of several Scranton area cover bands until he and a handful of friends and collaborators started to go into SI Studios in Scranton with a goal to record and release the originals that Gary had been stockpiling over the past few years. Jakesway’s Reverbnation page gives as the project’s main influences Matchbox 20, Social Distortion, The Smithereens, and the GooGoo Dolls. With four such disparate influences, it’s not surprising that jakesway’s three albums all had cuts played not only on rock radio in Northeastern Pennsylvania but on pop and country stations as well. The project was put on hiatus a few years ago, and after recharging, Gary has adopted the stage name Gary Carl and recently released a solo country CD, Off The Grid, which may turn up on a future episode someday soon. For now, let’s highlight three tracks from their second album, the appropriately titled It May Get Loud – and this was definitely one release where we had trouble deciding on which three tracks to select because they were all too damn good.


Tracks: Unassuming Angels, You And Me, So Simple So True




Soul Exchange are a five-piece rock band from Stockholm, Sweden – a country more famous musically for giving us ABBA, a slew of notorious Black Metal bands like Dark Funeral, Marduk, and Dissection, and most recently the ever-popular and mysterious Ghost. Soul Exchange do list their fellow countrymen Ghost as both a favorite band and an influence, but outside of sharing a predilection for mixing pop songwriting with rock influence and some dark thematics, they don’t have much in common with Papa Emeritus and his Nameless Ghouls. The band – vocalist Daniel John, guitarists and brothers Hans and Thomas von Bell, drummer Benny White, bassist Patrik “Patte” Ekelöf, and lyricist Jens Joel Evaldsson  – likes to describe themselves as “The sound of a new world being born, and the louder sound of an old world being destroyed.” Their second album, Bloodbound, caught the attention of North Carolina-based independent label Mervilton Records, which has released the album worldwide, and it’s most certainly caught our attention here on the show.


Tracks: Left Behind, Torn To Pieces, Hangin’ On

Up Close And On Fire With S And K Ep 18 Jackson Vee and Danny Vash

Up Close And On Fire With S And K Ep 18 Jackson Vee and Danny Vash
By Spitfire and CJ M.

Jackson Vee is a bit of an institution around the Scranton/Wilkes-Barre area. Rarely a week goes by in the area where he isn’t at some velue with his acoustic guitar, putting on a one-man show where he’ll mix a seemingly random set list of covers and originals in near-marathon sets. The producer of our podcast, upon learning of Jackson’s being the featured artist of the week, recalled seeing him open for a newer national artist at a local terrestrial rock radio station’s secret acoustic gig, where he did a shortened half-hour version of the kind of sets he was already doing. When the next act needed a few extra minutes to get themselves together, Jackson filled in the time by doing a quick game of “stump the singer” with the audience, proceeded to come off with every suggestion thrown his way, from a quick (and note-perfect) snippet of Cher’s “Believe” to a then-ubiquitous TV advertising jingle (complete with the quickly mumbled disclaimer at the end of said commercial!). Jackson’s album “Sigrad’s Theory” is not an all-acoustic affair, however – Jackson instead does a primarily electric-guitar-heavy modern rock approach for his all-original long playing affair, showing off the songwriting talents that he had been developing since his school days as well as the multi-instrumental chops he refined while he studied music in college.


Featured songs: “Hide And Seek”, “Bury Yesterday”, “EnVy”. “Believe”.


Danny Vash and Nite Wolf are a three-piece power trio from the Albuquerque New Mexico in the south-west United States. Their hard-hitting sound is a combination of Danny Vash on lead guitar and vocals, Bill Weber on drums and Mike Alberts on bass. Together they grind out crunchy riffs, complex melodies and songs with a classic hard rock sound. Danny Vash writes all music and lyrics. Their First album “TAKIN’ CONTROL” was recorded and produced by Danny Vash and Mike Alberts at their studio in the Sandia mountains of New Mexico.


Featured Song Hard Life


Next week – Soul Exchange Meets Jakesway

Up Close And On Fire With S And K Ep 17 Durango Dogs And Iron Cowboy



Iron Cowboy do most of their shows in the Northeastern Pennsylvania area as a cover band doing a lot of country and Southern rock covers, but they also have made the effort to record a few CDs of original music. One DJ that heard one of their CDs described them as “a cleverly disguised rock band with a steel guitar” – which to most fans of traditional or outlaw country would come off as a remark not much different from Tom Petty’s famous dismissal of bro-country as “hair metal with cowboy hats”. Iron Cowboy, however, have taken that DJ’s description and accepted it as 100% accurate. Since the release of the album from which we are highlighting cuts tonight, 2011’s Tattoo Of You, the band has expanded their sound a little with the addition of a second vocalist in Cathy Paty, who has graced their most recent releases, including a one-off cover of The Eagles’ “Seven Bridges Road”. The tracks we are highlighting this week from Tattoo Of You don’t have Ms. Paty or the pedal steel, but the idea of a rock band disguised as country still seems to fit – or could they be a country band disguised as rock? You decide as we listen to the following songs from Tattoo Of You: “I’m Thinking ‘Cause I’m Drinkin’”, “Please Believe Me”, and “Dead Man Walkin’”.




Durango Dogs are a hard rock band from San Francisco, California with an interesting history as to how their debut release, Raw Doggin’ Love, came to be. Band leader, singer, guitarist, and songwriter Eric Durango had taken his then-lineup of the group into the studio in April of 2014 with only three hours of time to cut as many songs as possible, only getting five tracks finished. Eric spent much of that summer adding overdubs to the existing songs, and then mixing and mastering them, only to declare the results nothing more than an expensively produced demo. He went back into the studio a year later with local legend Ed Jones, and together the two recorded ten songs, including new takes on the songs from the original demo, with both gentlemen taking on multiple instrumental duties. After the songs were recorded and mixed, the perfectionist part of Eric Durango’s personality decided that all of the guitar parts needed to be rerecorded from top to bottom – which they did… twice. Surprisingly, the finished album sounds more like a full band slogging it out in the studio in a couple of takes apiece, yet still sounds like a lot of time and energy went into it. Go figure! Representing the Raw Doggin’ Love album are the tracks “Devil Dog”, “Leviathan”, and “Yoga Pants Woman”.


Episode 16 – Fall of Man and Harpo – CD Review



Harpo have been in existence since 1974, initially as a cover band back in the days when you could play bars up and down the East Coast and into Canada and make a decent living doing it. (Yeah, there was a time when that was possible.) Their Facebook page’s biography displays a litany of all the trials and tribulations the band has gone through over the past 44 years going on 45 – personnel changes, car accidents that sidelined their singer for over a year, breakups, reunions, and a few independently released albums. Chances are, if you lived in Pennsyvania, you’re familiar with the name even though you may have never heard a single note of the music. When the band was originally making records in the Eighties, they would have fit in very well with the string of hair bands that dominated MTV back in the day – but no major label ever picked them up. This week we highlight cuts from their album Harpo Live: Go Heavy Or Go Home, originally released in 1997 and reissued over a decade later by the Italian label Time Warp Records (supposedly a grey-market “bootleg” label if Discogs.com is correct). Songs like “Chain Reaction”, “Tuff Love”, and “Tumblin’ Down” give good indication of how radio-ready Harpo was determined to make their music throughout their long career.


Highlighted Tracks: Tuff Love, Too Much Is Just Enough, Hearts Cold.




Fall Of Man are a relatively new band from Los Angeles, CA. They formed in the early 2000’s and first rehearsed as an instrumental trio while they seeked out a frontman for their band. Enter, ironically, a frontwoman in Erica Barile, who had been  hanging out with the band at their rehearsals since day one (she was friends with most of the band at the time), then started filling in at band practice while they searched for a permanent singer. Not long afterward, she ended up being the defacto vocalist. Imagine Evanesence without the piano, the ego, and the penchant for mopey goth ballads, or even Flyleaf without the preaching, and you’ll have a decent idea of what Fall of Man sounds like. Or better yet, you could listen to the highlighted tracks we present from their most recent release, the 2016 EP Hallways And Doors. The band is presently working on their third full length album.


Highlighted Tracks: Hallways And Doors, Lullaby, Breathe



Up Close and On Fire – Ep 15 – Glim Dropper, Graces Downfall, Dammit!, Eric Gibson – CD Review



Usually putting together a band with a minimum of three or four members is a daunting task. You’ll get your fair share of the following tropes: players who only want to do cover gigs on the weekends; players who have had it with covers and only want to do originals; players who are willing to fill in for a while, but leave when they feel the money or the music isn’t good enough; players who can’t even play. Philadelphia-based band Glim Dropper elected to eliminate those headaches by taking advantage of modern musical technology and performing and recording as a two-piece unit of Dan Kauffman on lead vocals, guitar, keyboards, bass, and loops, and Rob Schnell on drums, samples, and backing vocals. The pair creates a full organic band sound that they call “forward thinging retro rock and roll” – meaning that while they’re utilizing familiar classic and alternative rock sounds and feels in their music, they’re not a couple of luddites who’d prefer to record and release their music on shellac 78’s or Edison cylinders! Their well-written and produced album Last Days Of Analog harks back to the days before being a producer meant you took a band’s recorded performance and chopped, cut, and pasted the thing into a platable mess intended to be overplayed on corporate terrestrial radio.


Highlighted songs: Last Days Of Analog, Make It, Happy Now


Very recently, NEPA-based band Graces Downfall called it a collective career after 12 years and three albums, with the various members spinning off into two different cover band units. Their breakup this past February left a small void in the otherwise vibrant Wilkes-Barre/Scranton original music scene, but there’s no denying the impact that Graces Downfall had on that very same scene. Their third and final album Change. Adjust. Continue, which was funded mostly by a crowdfunding campaign in 2014, ends their discography on a creative high note with their trademark blend of heavy riffs, stready rhythms, and anthemic vocal melodies.

Highlighted songs: Letter To Lainey, Jesus Crutch, Strumpets


Of course the producer forgot to include:

Dammit! has been playing the San Francisco Bay area (and beyond!)
music scene for over 10 years. Originating from the basement of
guitar thrasher John Gillette, the goal was to start a band that had the
sound of Metallica and the heart of Alice in Chains; a mixture of Punk,
Rock/Metal and Grunge; and John Gillette did just that.

Featuring Darker and Darker

Eric Gibson is an Austin, TX recording artist who writes, performs and produces his own unique brand of Alternative music. Eric was born in Richmond, VA, and raised in the mean streets of Gainesville, FL. He has been playing guitar, a variety of stringed instruments and keyboard since the early 90’s. He has performed music, theatrical poetry readings, and performance art in venues all over Florida, DC, and Virginia.

Featuring Ocean Rolling

Here’s today’s episode

Effort Never Dies – Gets It’s First Review

By Jeff Bonomo of the band Ostrich Hat

well, I jotted down some stuff during my 1st listen then revised with my second. Here are my initial thoughts. I like the intro guitar and the spoken word. I feel it sets a somber yet hopeful tone. (if that makes sense… LOL) I can see the “Whoa-Ohs” in the chorus being a great sing along live. Its a decent hook there. VERY nice guitar solo! Lyrics are good and don’t come across as too trite or hokey especially when its a self empowerment/ bettering my self through hard work kind of song. I would have liked to hear more harmonies in the vocals (My personal taste) but I do like the melody. The drums have a very BIG 80s rock sound to them which works for the song. I didnt expect that sound and I was actually happy to hear a kind of “throwback” sound when it kicked in. With that said, and I’m Not sure if they are triggers / programmed or what but there are some minor issues with the “groove.” It kind of slips here and there. Nothing that is killing the song for me and most people will overlook it or not even notice it. Although there is nothing overly daring in the song structure I think its a decent straight forward mid tempo rock tune with a good Anthem-like sing along chorus.


Listen to it yourself, and tell me what you think

Click here to listen

Up Close and On Fire – Ep 14 – Friar’s Point and Black Dawn – CD Review

Another episode Kickazz is MIA only 9 more days kids. This week we put blues, metal and hard rock all in the same episode

Continue reading Up Close and On Fire – Ep 14 – Friar’s Point and Black Dawn – CD Review