Way over 100 shows in 2012- a personal record!
I was a huge shred guitar fan back in my teens (and still am to some degree). Back in the 80s and early 90s, I bought almost every Shrapnel album that ever came out. One of the very best recordings I ever got from the label was Richie Kotzen’s debut. I was completely floored.
When it first came out, I’d just sit in disbelief that someone was that good and musical- it was technique galore, but not just for the sake of being show-off. With Stu Hamm on bass and Steve Smith on drums, I still regard his debut as one of the best instrumental guitar albums of all time. I think I still have it on both cassette and CD.
A few years later, I even bought a Poison album (Native Tongue) in a bargain bin because of him.
I was much more excited later on when he replaced Paul Gilbert in Mr. Big. Those were some great albums and I liked how his vocals were on par with Eric Martin’s – “Static” is one of my favorites. Good stuff.
Frankly, when I first saw him playing a telecaster-type guitar many years ago, I was kind of bummed since it probably meant that he was “leaving the fast lane”. I had no idea that he would become as skilled as a singer/songwriter as he is a shredder on the guitar. Maturity is a funny thing. His album, “Mother Head’s Family Reunion”, is one of my all-time favorites – a true classic. His voice and guitar playing on that album just does it for me. I have most of his albums and he’s been one of my favorites for a long time. In fact, over the course of his albums, I don’t think there’s a bad song in the bunch.
I didn’t actually see him play live until last December. He did two songs solo acoustic and they were great:
Richie has played the Potato quite a few times recently and I have missed every one of them. I kicked myself each time, so I made the trek tonight to check it out. My mistake for not planning ahead of time.
Funny thing- my friends and I went to a taping of That Metal Show a few weeks ago. Afterwards, we were enjoying some food and drinks at the Rainbow when Billy Sheehan comes walking up. Next thing you know, he’s joined by Mike Portnoy and Richie. They were at work recording their album earlier that day. They said they still don’t have a name for their band. They were cool enough to let me take a picture of my friend with them. So much talent at one table!
That was just a few weeks ago.
I figured I was due to catch one of these Potato shows before it was too late….
Anyway, I was craving a potato
I’ve never been to this Baked Potato before (only the one in Hollywood several times back in the day), so it was a new adventure for me. My buddy and I headed down on short notice. The little venue was already close to capacity when we arrived early, but we were able to grab two seats at the back of the bar. The bartender/ owner was very cool to talk to. He is so nice and knowledgeable about music- and he pours a hell of a drink. Our view ended up being obstructed when the band took stage, but just hearing the band play so close and crystal-clear was plenty good for me. Happy just to be there!
And mission accomplished. Richie and band delivered on so many levels.
The band came through with an incredible performance- they were tight, in the groove and the vocals and playing sounded fantastic. Some of the people at the bar were complaining….. about how good Richie was and how unfair it is to be able to be such a soulful singer and a remarkable shredder at the same time. That was pretty funny.
An hour literally seemed to pass by in about a minute.
I know of a few people that are absolute die-hards about seeing Richie play. One of my friends flies in from Northern California to catch his gigs on weeknights and has been known to return to work the next day. That’s true dedication. Susan rules!- she’s my concert hero!
I also heard many different accents and seemed to meet people from all over the world in this little space. That was pretty cool.
Sadly, we had to leave before the second set. I can only imagine how awesome the rest of the show was.
I think I’ll be making a return trip for the shows in September. This was so great.
I’m not sure at all about this picture- I guess you could say Richie had the room smoking:
RICHIE KOTZEN – GUITAR / VOCALS
DYLAN WILSON – BASS
MIKE BENNETT – DRUMS