CRO-MAGS ADDRESS PTSD WITH MUSIC VIDEO “BETWEEN WARS” A Conversation with Harley Flanagan and Michael Imperioli

In The Beginning, New Album Out Now

Watch the Music Video and Interview “Between Wars” Now @ Consequence of Sound.

CRO-MAGS kingpin Harley Flanagan is back with “Between Wars,” the gripping new music video from their latest opus In The Beginning, available everywhere now on Mission Two Entertainment. The track lends its name to Between Wars, the independent film starring Flanagan and The Sopranos star Michael Imperioli, due out later this year.

“This song was a lot of fun to work on as it gave me a chance to do something completely different,” says Flanagan about the instrumental track. “I recorded the song with just bass and drums, followed by all the arpeggiated guitar parts, and eventually I added the cellos and did Hungarian-style throat singing. I was inspired to add the cellos when I first heard Carlos “Lamont” Cooper playing in the NYC subway where he plays to make a living. Turns out he’s an ex-gangbanger from NJ who has had a hard life and although we have had very different experiences, we have a lot of things in common; PTSD will do that.”

Imperioli adds, “Harley’s involvement and performance in Between Wars is organic, natural and necessary. He fit into the role like a glove. The life experience he brings to the project is authentic and true and he made us all raise our games.”

Imperioli and Flanagan sat down with the movie’s director Tom Phillips to discuss the music video, the film, and the importance of music scores and soundtracks. Between Wars takes an intimate look at the struggle of re-entering civilian life post-combat. The film follows veteran Marine Franny Malloy (Shaun Paul Costello) as he struggles with integrating himself back home in NYC after returning from the war in Afghanistan. Battling PTSD and self-destructive behaviors, he finds his only hope in fellow Marine turned PTSD psychologist, Sarge, played by Michael Imperioli. Harley Flanagan plays McManus, an old school Bronx Irish gangster and general madman.

It’s been a few productive years for Flanagan lately, who after forming the CRO-MAGS in 1983, legally asserted his original rights to the band name last year in a well-publicized lawsuit. “In many ways, it is a new beginning and also a tribute to where it all began,” reflects the frontman on the band’s first album in 20 years, In The Beginning.

In The Beginning is available now on CD, cassette and limited edition vinyl.

“The founding band of hardcore punk” – ROLLING STONE

“A hybrid of ‘80s and ‘90s anthemic hardcore full of underlying anger” – BLABBERMOUTH

“Fast punk and thrashy breakdowns” – DECIBEL

“Hits like a ton of bricks” – PUNK NEWS

“This one’s gonna snap a few bones and blacken an eye” – NEW NOISE

“An absolutely ripping album” – BLUNT

“Fast-paced, raw, blazing and blistering” – CONSEQUENCE OF SOUND

“A two-stepping salute to four-chord classic hardcore” – METAL HAMMER

The Winsome Personality And Acting Talent Of Michael Everest DeMarco

Most people would agree that it would be difficult to think of a more competitive career to try to break into than being a Hollywood film star. And if you were not born into a performing arts family, and are young and inexperienced, your chances of making an impression would be slim indeed. Unless that is, you have the striking looks, winsome personality, and astonishing talent of rising star Michael Everest DeMarco of New Orleans.

Early Auditioning Experiences as a Teen Model

As a 13-year-old boy, DeMarco’s olive complexion and almost exotic appearance gave him enough photogenic appeal to land him extensive modeling work. This was his first exposure to an outer fringe of the theatrical industry, and Michael decided he enjoyed it and determined to excel. But good looks and poise alone would have seen him stuck in modeling, and DeMarco had aspirations for advancement, with an outgoing personality to match. DeMarco, however, was not the usual ambitious youngster, obsessing over dreams of future fame. His keen interest was, and remains, other people. With his open and frank manner and a surprisingly mature set of values and work ethic, DeMarco quickly came under the notice of talent scouts. His break into theatre began with the lead role as Joe Bonaparte in Clifford Odets play “Golden Boy.” DeMarco’s portrayal of Bonaparte’s emotionally intense character, an Italian American musician, was a triumph, and invitations to auditions soon increased.

After an impressive performance as Buckingham in the Shakespearean tragedy “King Richard III,” Michael Everest DeMarco, the boy from New Orleans, gained remarkable traction. What began to set DeMarco apart, however, was not just his undeniable abilities, but his passion for the Arts and his consistent desire to be mentored and to hone his craft still further. His willingness to be mentored, deferring to others, and taking time out to add to his acting skill set indicates DeMarco’s sense of humility. Engaging with people of all walks of life, being a student of human frailties and personalities, has helped him develop robust performances for many character types.

Training For Future Great Roles

The moment of Demarco’s pivot from theatre into film came as a result of a landmark performance as Bartolomeo Romagna in Maxwell Anderson’s famously dramatized poem “Winterset.” Although a challenging role, the audience and critics alike pronounced his rendition of Romagna as superb. From this point, DeMarco sought to strengthen his acting flexibility and prowess by training in both Classical and the Stanislavski methods, and by being instructed under such greats as Sal Dano, renowned principal of the Actors Studio workshops in Los Angeles. His first film roles came soon after, and DeMarco set his sights on Hollywood.

Michael Everest DeMarco’s attention has not been exclusively on personal advancement, however. His likable personality and growing fame have lately made an opening for him in philanthropic pursuits. It is becoming apparent to those who know him that DeMarco’s passion for acting is rivaled only by his enjoyment of making a difference to the lives of the underprivileged, championing worthy causes whenever possible.

DeMarco’s latest film appearances have included roles in “Over the Line” and “The Fine Stallion” as he continues to distinguish himself and turn admiring heads. As an up and coming talent, it would seem cliché to romanticize DeMarco’s potential legendary stardom, but that would be to overlook the incessant hard work and tenacity he has invested in this challenging career pathway. There is no doubt that DeMarco is deserving of Hollywood’s current attention, and as the mountain of his namesake, it is reasonable to expect that Michael Everest DeMarco’s pinnacle will peak above all peers.

Could Michael Keaton Really Return As Batman?

There’s been an unlikely-sounding rumor circulating around Hollywood in recent weeks, and if you hadn’t heard it before, you’ve just heard it in the title of this article Allegedly, Michael Keaton is in talks to return to the role of ‘Batman.’ Keaton is 68 years old. He hasn’t played Batman since “Batman Returns” in 1992. More importantly, someone else has the official job of being the DC Universe’s version of “Batman.” Could there be something behind this unexpected story, or is it nonsense? Let’s see if we can separate the fact from the fiction.

First of all, we know that Robert Pattinson is Batman. The former “Twilight” star won the role last year after Ben Affleck’s short and uninspiring time in the Bat-suit, and he doesn’t make his debut as the character until his movie “The Batman” comes out next year. It’s public knowledge that he’s contracted to more than one appearance as the character, and fans are already openly speculating about whether the timeline of the on-screen universe could be twisted enough to allow Pattinson’s Batman to come up against Joaquin Phoenix’s gritty and compelling version of the Joker in a film for the mid-2020s. Pattinson is a young, strong man, and won’t be giving the role of a lifetime up any time soon unless his debut in the famous costume is a box office bomb. That seems unlikely.

This Michael Keaton film, if rumors are to be believed, won’t have anything to do with the Pattinson films and won’t pollute the existing DC Comics timeline. In fact, it won’t even be a standalone movie in its own right. Instead, Keaton’s big comeback would be for a cameo role in the upcoming film “The Flash,” starring Ezra Miller as title character Barry Allen. Those of you who hoped that the trend for superhero movies might have come to an end after the last “Avengers” film hit the big screen are in for a disappointment. There are plenty more to come, and “The Flash” is just one of them. According to insiders who claim to have seen the script and are familiar with the project, it calls for an appearance by a senior Batman, accompanied by Michelle Pfieffer, who will apparently reprise her role as Catwoman from “Batman Returns” alongside the star.

If the thought of bringing back Keaton for a throwaway performance upsets you, don’t lose hope just yet. Look away now if you don’t want to see a potential spoiler, but apparently, this new “Flash” film will create an alternative reality within the DC Comics universe, allowing Keaton’s Batman to exist independently of Pattinson’s. Keaton would then appear as Batman in a number of other DC Comics projects, and may eventually get a new film as the fabled Caped Crusader in his own right. At this point, all of this is little more than speculation, but the news has been reported in so many different publications that it would be rational to assume that there’s at least some fire to go with all the smoke. One publication that’s gone a step further than all the others is the Hollywood Reporter, which claims that Keaton’s Batman will be a mentor figure to other superheroes right across the DC Universe, not dissimilar to the role Nick Fury plays in Marvel films.

The idea of an older Bruce Wayne or Batman is a fascinating one, and one that we’ve never seen explored on the big screen before. Presumably, he’d be disinclined to put the Bat-suit on unless the situation becomes excessively grim, but the concept of a Batman who has spent an entire lifetime fighting crime and is now headed for retirement is an interesting one. We’re even more interested in the idea of him having some kind of late-life domestic bliss with Selina Kyle, who will presumably also have said goodbye to her days of wearing a latex catsuit. The idea opens up a series of possibilities that couldn’t be explored within an ordinary “Batman” movie, and it’s original. Originality doesn’t come along often in superhero films, and so when it does, it ought to be applauded.

The fact that there’s been so much buzz among fans about the possibility of seeing Keaton as Batman again should be enough to confirm to DC that the idea is worth pursuing. Part of the appeal will be down to nostalgia. With few exceptions, the older “Batman” films are more widely appreciated by the public than the newer “Dawn of Justice” era films. While we won’t pretend that online slots websites are a perfect measure for this, if you checked one, you’d see what we mean. You’re highly likely to find Crime online slots based on “Batman Begins,” and the old Adam West “Batman” series. You’re far less likely to see anything featuring Ben Affleck’s face. The companies who make those online slots know which incarnations of Batman are likely to tempt people into spending their money, and if they know it, movie producers know it as well.

Keaton’s relationship with Batman over the years has been complicated. It’s been said of the character that it either makes your career or destroys it. Christian Bale’s acting career reached the apex of Hollywood after his “Batman” appearances. Val Kilmer’s was utterly destroyed. George Clooney got away with it because he demonstrated that he had a sense of humor about the dire “Batman” film he made, and Keaton seemed to disappear for a while after 1992. For the rest of the 1990s, he complained that the movies had painted him into a corner and made him typecast. Within the past decade, though, he’s had a late-career resurgence and even felt comfortable performing a pastiche of both himself and the character in 2014’s Oscar-winning film “Birdman.” If he’s entered into talks about becoming Batman again, it’s a sign that he’s finally at peace with the role and his own past.

DC probably wanted to keep this information under wraps, and they’ll be annoyed that it’s leaked, so don’t expect confirmation about Keaton’s involvement from them any time soon. Until we get solid news, excited fans will be projecting the Bat sign into the sky and hoping Keaton answers it.

FASTEST GUITARIST ON THE PLANET MICHAEL ANGELO BATIO SET TO RELEASE NEW INSTRUMENTAL ALBUM MORE MACHINE THAN MAN ON JUNE 12th VIA RAT PAK RECORDS

Now Available for Pre-Order in Various Bundle Configurations www.ratpakrecords.com/michaelangelobatio

Shred guitar pioneer Michael Angelo Batio will release his 12th studio album More Machine Than Man on June 12th via Rat Pak Records. The album features 13 new studio tracks and is the highly anticipated follow up to 2013’s IntermezzoMore Machine Than Man is an all instrumental shred album from the Fastest Guitarist On The Planet that’s sure to resonate with past fans, as well as garner new fans along the way.  From the infectious guitar riffs from album openers “Laser Guided” and “The Badlands”, to the crushing bonus-track finale of “No Backup Plan” Michael has created something truly special and engaging. 

More Machine Than Man is available for pre-order in numerous bundle configurations here:  https://www.ratpakrecordsamerica.com/mcihaelangelobatio.

Mixed and Mastered by longtime Batio engineer Chris Wisco, the album also features guest performances by Chris Adler(Lamb of God), lending his drum skills on the tracks “More Machine Than Man” and “The Two Sirens”. Also appearing on the album is renowned bassist Victor Wooten who performs on “AVTD”, and guitar virtuoso Andrea Martongelli who guest solos on “The Countdown Is On”. 

Regarding the release, Michael comments, “This is the most “in your face” album I have ever recorded. I limited the use of keyboards so you can hear the detail and precision of the rhythm guitars. My goals were to write the best songs I could, keep the tracks as raw and natural as possible and make the grooves relentless! I’m borrowing a quote by NITRO singer Jim Gillette that I think describes this album perfectly – “If this album doesn’t rock your socks off, call the coroner ‘cause you must be dead!””
Photo credit: Marie Gregorio-Oviedo

With heavy rhythm riffs, blazing guitar solos and rock-solid grooves More Machine Than Man delivers all the power and punch that one would expect from this high-level player and is sure to be a favorite of shred lovers around the globe!

A video trailer for the new album can be seen here: https://youtu.be/V9Asp196d2o

The track listing for More Machine Than Man is: 

1.  Laser Guided

2.  The Badlands

3.   Put All Fear Aside

4.  More Machine Than Man

5.  Dreamin’ of 1986

6.  Beyond the Outer Limits

7.  The Two Sirens

8.  AVTD

9.  The Countdown is On

10. Rhythm Reprise (I Pray the Lord)

Bonus Tracks (CD & Digital versions)

11. 21st Century Beck

12. Charlie Went To Chicago

13. No Backup Plan

Michael Angelo Batio showcased his guitar techniques and innovations for the first time with his early instructional programs, as well as in his live performances, which are now considered “standard techniques” amongst guitarists worldwide. Michael not only invented but was the world’s first player of the double-guitar and was also voted one of the World’s Top 100 Guitarists Of All Time by Guitar World Magazine.  He also holds the YouTube record for his instructional video “Speed Kills”, the highest views for a guitarist coming in at over 21 million! 

Blu-Ray Review: “Mystify Michael Hutchence”

Directed By: Richard Lowenstein

Distributed By: Shout Factory

Runtime: 102 minutes

Film: 3 out of 5 stars

Special Features: 4 out of 5 stars

The fascinating new documentary “Mystify Michael Hutchence” comes to Blu-ray™ and DVD on March 31, 2020 via ShoutFactory.com and Amazon.com. The film takes an in-depth look into the life and tragic death of the lead singer of INXS. Written and directed by Richard Lowenstein (Dogs in Space) who was a close friend of the artist, “Mystify Michael Hutchence” is a powerfully intimate and insightful portrait of the internationally renowned INXS front man.

Right away I want to make potential viewers aware that “Mystify Michael Hutchence” is not a film specifically about the band INXS. Yes, obviously the group whose hits include “What You Need” “Never Tear Us Apart” and “New Sensation” do play a part in the story of Michael Huthence however, what “Mystify” does do is take a deeper and more personal look at the enigmatic front man. From his early years as a shy and somewhat introverted youth to, his involvement with the formation and success of INXS “Mystify” leaves no stone unturned. Though I found the did seemed t be a bit scattered and spotty at times there was still enough substance and detail to give the viewer a solid sense of what Hutchence was like throughout the various stages if is life. As the film begins to close in on the singer’s struggles and subsequent suicide you can’t help but feel some sense of internal grief and sadness.   

Over an hour of special features are included with the Blu-ray and DVD releases including extended interviews with the people closest to Michael prior to his death along with interviews of Hutchence himself discussing the formation of INXS, his growing up on film sets around Hong Kong and the use of INXS music in commercials. I found this portion of the release complimented the film nicely as each section provided even more depth to what was covered in the film.  

 “Mystify Michael Hutchence” is not just a film for INXS fans as Michaels story is a captivating one that keeps viewers attention throughout the films 102 minute run time. Despite the somewhat scattered presentation the film does give viewers plenty of footage and interviews some of which were previously unseen making for an interesting viewing experience.   

Interview with Actor Michael Pare’

I first saw Michael Pare’ when he appeared on television’s “The Greatest American Hero,” but it was his performance as Eddie Wilson in the film “Eddie and the Cruisers” that cemented him in my mind as an actor to watch.  While on his way to Nevada to shoot his latest project Mr. Pare’ took time out to talk to me about his latest film – “Once Upon a Time in Deadwood” – his aspirations to be a chef and how Rick Springfield almost ended up playing Eddie Wilson.  (I should also note that this interview is posting on his birthday so, from all of us at Media Mikes, HAPPY BIRTHDAY MICHAEL!”

 

MIKE SMITH:  You studied to be a chef.  Was that your original career goal?

 

MICHAEL PARE’:  Yes.  When I was in high school, my first job where I had to pay taxes, social security and everything was in a fast food restaurant.  Then I got on at a regular restaurant that served steaks and everything else.  I was pretty good at it and I liked the life.  So in my junior year I heard from a co-worker about the Culinary Institute of America.  I got a recommendation from my boss and I applied and got in.  At the time it was known as the best cooking school in the United States.  I attended for a year and was given an internship at Tavern on the Green in New York.  They eventually offered me a full-time, six days a week job.  So I moved to Manhattan, which is where I was discovered.

 

MS:  Do you ever give the Craft Services people on set any pointers?

 

MP:  (laughs) No, but there are a few directors I’ve cooked with.  Uwe Boll and I used to have a sauerbraten contest every time we worked.  Cooking is something that a lot of people share.  In all of the arts food becomes an important part of your life.

 

MS:  How did you get into acting?  What took you from the kitchen to the soundstage?

 

MP:  I got discovered by an agent.  There was a bar where my girlfriend waitressed at that was kind of a show business bar.  It was right across from where they broadcast the news for ABC. A lot of people in the business hung out there.  The agent noticed me and asked me if I was an actor or a dancer.  I told her I was in the restaurant business.  She kind of pursued it and talked me into taking a few classes.  I did and I liked it a lot.  My first classes were at Carnegie Hall.  I’d go to class during the day and work the night shift at the restaurant.  I studied for two years and then auditioned for ABC’s talent development program and I got it.  They brought me out to Hollywood and put me on “The Greatest American Hero.”

 

MS:  You made your feature film debut as Eddie Wilson in “Eddie and the Cruisers.”  How did you get the role?

MP:  Marty Davidson, the director, called my agent and asked me to come in and meet him.  That was it.  I met with him about four or five times.  Marty was a very artistic guy.  He put the cast together and we had two weeks of improve and then we shot it.  I did it on hiatus from “The Greatest American Hero.”

 

MS:  Is it true that Martin Davidson would threaten to replace you with Rick Springfield?

 

MP:  (laughs)  Yes, but he only had to do it once!

 

MS:  I like Rick Springfield (Ok, I’ve seen him in concert a dozen times so I REALLY like Rick Springfield) but I don’t think he would have been a good Eddie.

 

MP:  It would have been a different movie.

 

MS:  Exactly.  Did you know while you were making the film that it was going to be regarded the way it is now?

 

MP:  No.  At that time I was still a young actor and didn’t know the potential of things.  I had only done two seasons of “The Greatest American Hero” and a movie of the week, so it was all like a dreamland.  I didn’t even think about marketing.  When I was back on “The Greatest American Hero” I was telling another actor about the film and he told me “you don’t have nothing without distribution.”  I had no idea what that meant.  I told him, “well, I shot it and they’re happy…that’s all I can say.”

 

MS:  Anyone ever ask you to sing “On the Dark Side” at karaoke?

 

MP:  (laughs)  If I do karaoke it’s Johnny Cash.

 

MS:  What drew you to your latest role in “Once Upon a Time in Deadwood?”

 

MP:  I’ve done a few westerns so when Jeff Miller (the film’s co-producer/co-writer) called me up and said he had an interesting project with this guy named Robert Bronzi I called up Danny Baldwin.  I knew he had worked with Robert and I asked him what he was like.  He said that Jeff and his team were very creative… very open minded.  So I said “ok.”  And then when I met Rene’ (director Rene’ Perez) he was surprised as he expected to meet someone who was a little more “beat up.”  I’m a pretty healthy guy.  That was it.  We shot in a little western town in central California up near the Sequoias.  We used blanks and squibs as opposed to all of the CGI stuff that is so popular now on low budget movies.  It was a great experience.  Nice cast.  Rene’ is very creative.  He’s the DP and the director.

 

MS:  Do you enjoy the genre’?  Do you have a favorite role-type?

 

MP:  I like all of them.  If you do it so long you play everything.  And you hope one of the roles will be successful, you know?

 

MS:  What are you working on now?

 

MP:  It’s called “Bridge of Doom” We’re shooting in Caliente’, Nevada.  It’s the military reaction to the Zombie Apocalypse.  When I heard that I was like, “great…we never hear about that part.  It’s always about the civilians out in the middle of nowhere.

Michael Biehn and “Aliens” coming to Omaha

The month of May is known for many things. Flowers. The first beginnings of summer. And, here in the Midwest, another great Classic Film Screening presented by Omaha film historian Bruce Crawford.

Over the years, Bruce has put together some amazing screenings, including “Jaws,” “The Godfather,” “Young Frankenstein” and many more. On May 24th Crawford will present a special screening of James Cameron’s sci-fi classic “Aliens,” with the film’s co-star, actor Michael Biehn, in attendance.

The screening will be held on Friday, May 24, 2019 at the beautiful Joslyn Art Museum, 2200 Dodge Street in Omaha. Mr. Biehn will address the audience prior to the film and will have a meet and greet autograph session with fans after the show.

Tickets go on sale Thursday, May 2nd for $24 each and can be purchased at the customer service counters of all Omaha-area Hy Vee food stores. Proceeds will benefit the Nebraska Kidney Association. Tickets are not sold by the Joslyn Art Museum. For more information  call (402) 932-7200 or (308) 830-2121 or click HERE.

Concert Review – Michael McDonald – Lawrence, Kansas

 

REVIEW AND PHOTOS BY DAN LYBARGER

 

Michael McDonald

The Lied Center, Lawrence, Kansas

August 12, 2018

 

If there is a way to age gracefully, it might be to simply admit you’re no longer young.

Throughout his 90-minute set at the Lied Center at the University of Kansas in Lawrence, Kan., on August 12, Michael McDonald made no attempt to pass himself off as anything other than a 66-year-old man.

When he introduced vocalist Drea Rheneé, the former Doobie Brothers singer and keyboardist praised her chops and that she relieved the crowd from the “middle-aged ugliness” of the rest of the band. He added, “You’ll notice I said ‘middle-aged.’ Who am I kidding?”

With a crowd that was primarily within throwing distance of that number, that wasn’t a problem. Part of the reason McDonald can still put on a good show is that he and his tunes were always for grownups. In both his solo work and his songs with his former band, McDonald has always sung about heartbreak that’s long removed from the teenage experience. In “Real Love” and “What a Fool Believes,” McDonald softly laments he or someone else has broken up and that it has happened many times before.

This may explain why the songs still sounded good last Sunday night and why people who aren’t trying to recapture their youth can listen to him without embarrassment. McDonald’s smooth as marshmallows delivery doesn’t deserve the label of “yacht rock,” because his roots are in St. Louis where the river vessels look a little different.

As he performed new tunes from last year’s Wide Open album like “Hail Mary” and “Just Strong Enough,” McDonald’s voice cracked just enough to prevent his band from slipping into easy listening. For the latter he even stood up from his piano stool for a few seconds, giving the song a feeling of vitality that wouldn’t occur if he were sitting like the audience.

It also helps that McDonald still has his vocal chops and nimble fingers. When he broke into familiar tunes like “Minute by Minute,” he’d begin them by adding jazzy touches to keep the arrangements from seeming too robotic.

He also avoided hogging the spotlight. He’d usually leave the showiest solos to guitarist Bernie Chiaravalle, sax player Mark Douthit and keyboardist Pat Coil. The three put just enough of a sting in the arrangements to keep the songs from being mellow enough to induce napping.

Rheneé had the unenviable task of replicating Patti LaBelle’s verses during the Burt Bacharach/Carole Bayer Sager hit “On My Own,” which may be most ironically titled duet ever. Fortunately, she easily kept up with LaBelle’s vocal gymnastics.

McDonald’s midwestern drawl is surprisingly clearer than his singing voice, but his stage banter was remarkably sincere. Having grown up in the St. Louis suburb, Ferguson, Mo., his later performance of Marvin Gaye’s “What’s Goin’ On” was expectedly moving, and he was clearly aware the issues Gaye lamented are sadly still with us.

Thankfully, so is McDonald, who helped open the Lied Center’s 25th anniversary on a high note.

Set list:

Yah Mo B There

Here To Love You

I Keep Forgettin’

Find It in Your Heart

Just Strong Enough

I Can Let Go Now

Sweet Freedom

On My Own

Hail Mary

Beautiful Child

Half Truth

Minute by Minute

What a Fool Believes

Encore

What’s Goin’ On

Taking It to the Streets

 

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MEET THE NEW GUY – Media Mikes welcomes writer Michael D. Smith

It is with great pride that we at Media Mikes are able to introduce you to our new film reviewer/writer:  Michael D. Smith.

Michael began his film critic path by writing movie reviews for his college newspaper for a couple years. After graduation, he wrote reviews for his hometown paper in Harrisonville, Missouri for six years before becoming the Arts & Entertainment editor and film critic at a publication in Overland Park, Kansas. a position he held for three years.

Our newest “Mike” – Michael D. Smith

In 2009 was offered an opportunity at KCMETROPOLIS.ORG where he predominately covered independent/art house films.   He will now cover them for Media Mikes as well as contributing commentary when the mood takes him.

Michael is a long-standing member of the Kansas City Film Critics Circle, the second oldest film critic group in America.

You can find his first review for Media Mikes, of the film “Mountain,” HERE

Guitarist Michael Landau Talks About His New Solo Album “Rock Bottom”

Michael Landau is world renowned session musician and producer who has worked with everyone from James Taylor and Michael Jackson to Pink Floyd and Miles Davis. Outside of his work as a session player Michael has released a hand full of solo albums and on February 23rd will release his newest solo album titled “Rock Bottom”. Media Mikes had the pleasure of speaking with Michael recently about the albums creation, his studio work and his touring plans for 2018.

Adam Lawton: Can you give us some details on your new solo album “Rock Bottom”?

Michael Landau: My last couple of albums had been instrumental albums. With this new one I reunited with my old pale David Frazee who I played with in Burning Water in the 90’s. We wrote a bunch of tunes and I got to rock again. I wanted to do vocal music again and put out something that had a little harder edge to it. We did this album to actual tape as I still have a tape machine in my studio. The album has a real nice creamy tape sound that’s just big and gooey.

AL: Are the songs that made it on the album all newly written songs or are there some that have been around for awhile?

ML: A few years ago I got together with my brother Teddy and Alan Hertz as I had some tunes I had written and we recorded those over the course of a couple days. It took me awhile to getting to finish those however once I reunited with David things came together pretty quickly and we also started to write new material.

AL: Can you tell us a little bit more about who you have playing on the album with you?

ML: The drummer is Alan Hertz who has toured with throughout the years. My brother Teddy who doesn’t really play professionally is a rock solid bass player. I love the way he plays as he has a really big tone. He actually co-wrote a couple of the songs on the album. David and I did those three or four records together in the 90’s and he is just a great vocalist and lyricist. He writes really interesting melodies and I am just a big fan of his. Also playing organ on the record is Larry Goldings. Any record I do I try and get him on there as he is one of my all time favorite musicians.

AL: When you are working with a group or on your own where do you traditionally start with your songwriting process?

ML: I play a lot every day. I don’t have a real practice regime or anything but I do play around the house quite a bit. Songs always start with some kind of riff. There was one song I wrote titled “Freedom” which is this sort of spooky ballad that I had lyrics for first. Mostly things start with toying around with riffs that come about when I am playing at home. From there I will edit them and move things around until everything comes together.

AL: Having done predominately instrumental albums over the last few years, what was it like delving back in to lyrical based music?

ML: David did most of the vocal on the record. I would say he wrote probably seventy percent of lyrics as well. There are one or two tunes that I sing but I don’t think I wrote the lyrics for those. It’s fun for sure as I enjoy singing if it’s a range I am comfortable with. Lyrics are fun for me to write even though I don’t write them that often.

AL: With you having done a lot of work/playing for other musicians how do you go about putting your personal touches on someone else’s material?

ML: One of the things I think I do well is backing up a vocalist. I try and contribute parts that will enhance the material while still being respectful of the tune. I kind of pride myself on being able to do that quite well. For a long time when I was doing sessions people would hire me as they had an idea of what I was about sonically so when you go in there you have to sort of fit in but push and add to things without taking anything away. Overtime with experience I learned that being able to edit myself made things quicker rather than having whoever I was working with at the time have to do it.

AL: The album is set for release in late February. What are your plans once it is out?

ML: The plan is certainly to get out there and play this material live. Europe is obviously easier for a musician like me to put together a tour over there. We actually have a nice four week run of shows set up over there in support of the album. We are looking at hitting Asia also this year along with some dates here in the States. After that I will be touring Europe with the Steve Gadd band right after my tour finishes’ so I will be over there for quite a bit. I have some more James Taylor duties to handle this year as well and those start in either April or May. There have been talks to end that tour by doing a couple shows with the Eagles so that should be really great.

For more info on Michael Landau you can visit his official site at www.mikelandau.com

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CD Review: Michael Schenker Fest “Live” Tokyo

Michael Schenker Fest “Live” Tokyo
Michael Schenker
inakustik
Tracks: 18

Our score: 3 out of 5 stars

Michael Schenker, one of music’s greatest rock guitarists has just released a new live album titled “Michael Schenker Fest “Live” Tokyo”. Recorded at Tokyo’s International Forum on August 24, 2016 via inakustik this historic concert features guest appearances from some of the greatest rock vocalists who have worked with Schenker over the years including M.S.G.’S Gary Barden, Graham Bonnet, and Robin McAuley of the McAuley Schenker Group.

For Michael Schenker fans not fortunate enough to have been able to attend the “Michael Schenker Fest” last year in Tokyo, Japan the latest live offering from the prolific guitarist has you covered. Together with inakustik the listen is instantly catapulted front and center for a barrage of riff-tastic goodness courtesy of Schenker and, a bevy special guests from Michael various groups. Tracks like “Attack of the Mad Axeman” featuring Gary Barden, “This Is My Heart” featuring Robin McAuley and probably my favorite track off the release “Doctor Doctor” which features Gary Barden, Graham Bonner and Robin McAuley all side by side with Schenker and his band.

Though I found the albums overall mix to be a touch thin the performances on each of the albums 18 tracks more than made up for any audio short comings as each performance was quite enjoyable. I also liked that the release is available in a variety of formats (CD, DVD, Blu-Ray) allowing you to have two different experiences with the same release. Long time Schenker fans will certainly want to pick this up for their collection.

Track Listing:
CD 1
1.) Intro: Searching For Freedom
2.) Into the Arena
3.) Attack of the Mad Axeman
4.) Victim of Illusion
5.) Cry for the Nations
6.) Let Sleeping Dogs Lie
7.) Armed and Ready
8.) Coast to Coast
9.) Assault Attack
10.) Desert Song
11.) Dancer

CD 2
1.) Captain Nemo
2.) This Is My Heart
3.) Save Yourself
4.) Love Is Not a Game
5.) Shoot Shoot
6.) Rock Bottom
7.) Doctor Doctor

 

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Michael Madsen talks about “The Hateful Eight” and the possibility of a “Vega Brothers” movie

Michael Madsen is the rare actor who can give the “bad guy” enough of a heart that moviegoers often root for him instead of the hero. In films like “Reservoir Dogs,” “The Getaway” and “Kill Bill, Volumes 1 and 2,” Madsen is the bad ass that the audience loves. Not that he’s always bad. He’s shown a softer side in many films, among them “Free Willy” and “Wyatt Earp.”

I spoke with Mr. Madsen about, among other things, his seemingly busy schedule, his dislike of the Internet Movie Database, the upcoming Quentin Tarantino film “The Hateful Eight” and whether or not a “Vega Brothers” film is still a possibility.

Mike Smith: I see you’re slated to play Vegas gambling mogul Ted Binion in an upcoming film. How did that come about?
Michael Madsen: The film is going to be produced by Robert Evans and directed by his son, Josh. Ted was part of the family that owned the Binion Casinos. He wound up getting hooked on drugs and ended up with a dancer and….well, they went a little crazy. He would go out and bury silver in the desert. The film is based on the book “Death in the Desert” and we shot it earlier this year in Las Vegas.

MS: You always seem to play the tough guy. Even in an early film, like “The Natural.” Your character, Bump, was a hard ass. Do you ever just want to do an out and out comedy?
MM: I’ve done a little bit. I did “My Bosses Daugher” with Ashton Kutcher…that was pretty funny. And I did a picture called “Lumberjack Man,” which hasn’t come out yet, where I play a kind of bumbling, Peter Sellers-type detective. I think it’s pretty damn funny. My comic genius hasn’t revealed itself yet (laughs).

MS: If you look at the Internet Movie Database it looks like you’re constantly working. When do you find the time to take a breath?
MM: If you look at the IMDB you would think that I was some sort of robotic machine. But the reality is that the IMDB is very, very unreliable. I would go so far as to say that they are irresponsible. There are a lot of things on there that are supposedly in pre-production and aren’t. A lot of things that are supposedly going to be released. They also mention films in which I only appear for ten minutes. I mean, in reality, no human being can make fifteen motion pictures in one year. So a lot of those are, I would say, questionable. I mean, the films that we’re talking about right now are the films I’ve legitimately done and are going to come out.

MS: I understand your frustration with IMDB. I have a few credits on there and one of them is that I hosted my own Canadian talk show back in the 1980s. I keep telling them it’s not me but they won’t listen.
MM: I’ve contacted them many times. I’ve said, “guys, it’s ME. It’s Michael. I’m telling you right now that that movie never happened, that movie was never finished, this is never going to come out…whatever the situation. And they tell me “well, it’s a public page.” And I don’t understand that. It’s kind of bewhildering…kind of irresponsible. It’s sad, you know, that they would put out information like that if it’s not true.

MS: Well, I think if they’re given the correct information they’re not only doing a disservice to their readers but to the people they’re talking about.
MM: Yeah. Then when I talk to someone like you asking me about the (25) pictures I’m in (laughs)…I have to defend myself and say no. I’d hate to think that some people were thinking about making an interesting film and they were thinking of Michael Madsen so they go to the IMDB and go “Holy Shit!” They’re not going to call me. It’s almost interfering with my work, them putting all of this stuff in there.

MS: You’ve voiced a few video games. Is there a difference in the acting process you use as opposed to films?
MM: Well, first off you don’t have to shave and you can show up in your pajamas. I would imagine Martin Sheen probably has a recording studio in his house. If I was him I sure would. Video games and voiceovers aren’t easy. You do have to be at the top of your game. You have to record each line several times. It does take four or five recording sessions, each of them lasting five or six hours, but in the end, some of the games are pretty interesting. People like them. I enjoy them. I really do.

MS: What can you tell us about “The Hateful Eight?”
MM: I’m a cowboy…a cow puncher. It’s a western that takes place on a mountain in the snow just after the Civil War.

MS: Since we’re speaking about Quentin, has he ever discussed with you the possibility of a Vega Brothers movie?
MM: We’ve talked about it many times. I think that over time the story would have had to change. I recently met John. Believe it or not, I had never met him. I met him at the Cannes Film Festival last year. I was there with Quentin and they did a screening of “Pulp Fiction” on the Majestic Beach, outdoors. It was pretty exciting…a great evening. And I met John. And I tell you, when the two of us were standing there next to Quentin…I think in that moment it might have become more of a reality. I think the Vega Brothers might be more of a reality. But that would be a question for the man. That would be a question for Quentin.

Witness Zakk Wylde, Yngwie Malmsteen, Michael Schenker and More on the 2016 Axes & Anchors Cruise

Learn from Your Favorite Musicians on the High Seas!

Featuring More than 40 Blazing Performances

Tons of FREE Guitar Workshops with Guitar Heroes

Personal Meet & Greets

Gear Demos and Tutorials

On-Board Parties and Exotic Beach Stops

+ More Bands Confirming Soon!

Book Your Cabins Now at www.AxesAndAnchors.com

In an age where heavy metal music cruises with high-profile line-ups are becoming a dime a dozen, it’s about time that true guitar pros, gearheads, theorists and hobbyists have a voyage of their own. Imagine a cruise exclusively planned for guitarists and instrumentalists, featuring performances and personal lessons from some of the greatest guitar gods on the planet.

Wake up – you are not dreaming! Prepare to learn from the masters on what fans have dubbed the “shredders cruise”: the 5-day/4-night AXES & ANCHORS cruise aboard the Carnival Victory, departing from Miami, FL on February 20, stopping in Key West, FL and Nassau, Bahamas, and docking back in Miami on February 24.

Witness blazing performances and take lessons directly from world-class rock and metal guitarists including ZAKK WYLDE (Ozzy Osbourne, Black Label Society), YNGWIE MALMSTEEN, MICHAEL SCHENKER (Scorpions, UFO, MSG), ALEX SKOLNICK (Testament, Trans-Siberian Orchestra), TRACII GUNS (Guns N’ Roses, LA Guns), DARIO LORINA (Black Label Society, Lizzy Borden), and more, all while sailing the high seas and visiting exotic locales.

Passengers can look forward to more than 40 performances, about a dozen free guitar workshops, as well as games and mingling with guitar gods, and more. In addition, the cruise plans on featuring gear demos and displays from some of today’s premier guitar and gear manufacturers.

World-renowned guitarist and AXES & ANCHORS performer ALEX SKOLNICK states, “For generations now, the guitar has remained a source of creativity and symbol of coolness, defying strange musical trends, poor economic forecasts and more, all the while providing a sonic backdrop to good times and bad. I consider it a great honor to be joining Yngwie, Zakk and many other great players as part of AXES & ANCHORS, the very first cruise built around the guitar.” 

Tickets for the cruise start at the competitive rate of just $899 per person (based on double occupancy), and include all accommodations, meals, concerts, open workshops, games, photo ops and more. Since the ship holds a limited number of passengers, early booking is highly encouraged.  Sail less-expensively and get more heavy metal bang for your buck on the AXES & ANCHORS cruise! Tickets are on sale now at www.AxesAndAnchors.com, and monthly payment plans are available

“This cruise will surely appeal to guitar players who want to take their skills to the next level in this really fun, unique, and immersive setting,” said Ann Squire, co-owner of AXES & ANCHORS“Passengers will get to meet their idols and learn from them in between stops at exotic beaches and on-board parties. All of the performers are bringing full bands, and we will be adding some iconic bands to our lineup as well, but as our name implies, the focus now is on guitar-dominated rock.

Squire is also thrilled to have fans experience the unique “pool stage” featured on the AXES & ANCHORS cruise. “The pool stage is unique because it was designed as a pool “theatre”.  Most stages built on a pool deck are the typical raised stage and then a large flat area in front for standing or sitting that goes back but on the same level.  This stage is raised with a flat area in front but has tiered levels as it goes back. The different tiers allow for much better viewing for those not as close to the front of the stage.  You don’t have to be concerned about the guy in front who is 7 feet tall when you’re only 5’3”.”

Stay tuned for more artist announcements, various upcoming contests in addition to more workshops and activities (both music and non-music related), and more!

Follow AXES & ANCHORS at:

Website: www.axesandanchors.com

Facebook Page:  https://www.facebook.com/AxesCruise

Facebook Group:  https://www.facebook.com/groups/AxesCruise/

Twitter: @axescruise

 

Peter and Michael Spierig talk about directing “Predestination”

Peter and Michael Spierig, also know as The Spierig Brothers, are known for directing horror/sci-fi genre films like “Undead” and “Daybreakers”. Their most recent film, “Predestination”, based on the science fiction short story “—All You Zombies—” by Robert A. Heinlein stars Ethan Hawke and Sarah Snook (also interviewed here). Media Mikes had a chance to chat with the directing duo about their latest film and what we can expect.

Eric Schmitt: What was it you felt about the Robert A. Heinlein story “-All You Zombies-” would translate well into a film?
Peter Spierig: I’ve read the short story several times, read it first many years ago, and it stuck with me. I’ve never read a time travel story quite like that. You have to remember that it was written in 1958, so it’s still very original and different. Michael read it too and he had the same reaction.
Michael Spierig: My first reaction was “I don’t get it.” I read it again, still didn’t get it. Then I read it again and said “there it is, I get it!” [Laughter] What we loved about it is that it’s a completely original and new spin on the time travel story. It’s old and in the grand scheme of things it would make for a really good mind bender with heart and soul in it. We liked the idea of doing a genre that’s been done before and putting a different spin on it.

ES: With Daybreakers, you took the vampire genre and made it grandiose as far as how widespread it was. A very “maximum” take on vampirism. Then you go to Time Travel and it seems like a very minimalist approach to the subject. Was that by design?
MS: Yes! (Laughs) Peter and I wanted to test ourselves and see if we could do a more low tech approach to science fiction. The assumption today is that science fiction is all robots and space ships, and we kind of liked the idea of trying to tell a more intimate story of fate and identity without having to make it so grandiose. We really wanted to do an actor’s piece. We said when we first started that we wanted to dumb down the special effects where when people see it, they don’t even know there are special effects. A transgender character in a time travel movie seemed so out there, I think it’s so interesting, that it didn’t warrant massive battle sequences. It was a story about a person looking for their identity, and we just loved that. It was a bit of an experiment for us to do this, a more intimate film.

ES: Did you feel that there would be certain challenges in explaining the story’s revelations without the audience feeling rushed?
PS & MS: YES!!!
PS: It’s a very tricky thing; as a filmmaker, there’s no revelations for you when you’re cutting the film because you know it so intimately. So to place the beats in the film, it’s very tricky. So that’s where you rely on showing other people and testing. Do people get enough information at this point? Do we need to add more? What we discovered was that some people get it, some were ahead of the story, others don’t get it at all. I guess there’s a nice balance in the middle, but it’s very tricky to find that (middle). We hope that there are people who don’t get it, who are intrigued enough to go back and watch it again.
MS: I like how there will be people who are ahead of the game, ahead of the story. So we threw in a few jokes to kind of say “Okay, those of you who are ahead of us, here you go!” (This response had to be heavily edited to keep from spoiling some of the film’s reveals!)

ES: There’s definitely a point in the film having to do with the bar, where a light just goes on in your head and you have a complete “Oh shit!” moment. Even with Sarah, it took me a little while to realize that this man, well, it really isn’t a man. How did you go about casting Sarah for the role of John?
MS: We went back and forth on whether we should even attempt it – one actor playing both parts. We talked about casting two separate people, and got very serious about it. But then we thought “God, it would be so good if we could pull off an actor playing both of these roles. It would make the characters more interesting and I think you would care about the characters more.” We started auditioning people, and we saw every actress in Australia. People started touting this actress called Sarah Snook. She had done that Ryan Kwanten film “Not Suitable for Children,” so we had known of her. She came in and auditioned and really just blew us away. We did several auditions with her, actually; an initial audition, one in make-up, a test shot of her acting both female and male. This is also when we rely on our FX artist, Steven Boyle, who’s been with us since we did short films. I showed Steve Sarah’s audition videos and asked him “Can we really do this? Can we turn her into a man? Can we pull this off?” Steve looked at us and said “Yes I can do it. I promise we can do it.”
PS: With that being said, we wanted it to be a blend of male and female. We didn’t want it to be to masculine so you couldn’t see the feminine side. It’s a delicate balance, because if we put Sarah under a tremendous amount of make-up, it would have either looked silly or taken away from the performance.

ES: Did anyone mention on set that when she was made up as John that she looked like a young Leonardo DiCaprio?
MS & PS: Oh Yeah! Everyone!
PS: We all said it! It’s Leonardo DiCaprio and Jodie Foster’s love child. We also got a lot of Edward Furlong as well.

ES: Since you guys have worked with Ethan in the past, was he immediately at forefront of your minds when casting for Predestination?
PS: We didn’t really have an actor in mind until we finished the script. When we finished we said “You know who would like this material? Ethan.” It’s along the lines of what his genre tastes are, so we sent it to him. I think within one or two days, he said “Just tell me where and when – I’m in.”
MS: The thing he also asked us was what part he was playing. We told that we were still trying to figure that out and we’d get back to him.
PS: The amazing thing about Ethan is that he’s brave in a sense that he completely trusted us with the casting. He didn’t know who Sarah was initially, but he had faith that we were making the right decision. He’s fearless and he likes taking risks. We’ll forever be indebted to him for having the courage to say “Yes” to us.

ES: One of the things I noticed watching the film was that Ethan and Sarah had a very “organic” relationship in the bar scenes. From your perspectives, how did that develop over the course of filming?
MS: We had a lot of rehearsal time with them talking about the scenes. Our rehearsal time is not primarily about lines, it’s about why the scene has to exist in the movie. They spent a lot of time together working on their (respective) character’s mannerisms and that sort of thing. Sarah and Ethan are both incredibly intelligent, and I think they connected on that level. They’re both really smart actors and they ask the right questions. They wanted their collaboration to be very much intertwined.
PS: We spent a lot of time on the bar dialogue. There isn’t a single line that isn’t essential to the movie. Some of the lines have double meanings, even the joke that Ethan tells is critical to the film. We’re huge fans of the Science Fiction genre, so we really wanted to do this film with meaning.

 

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Grammy Winner, Michael W. Smith talks about new album “The Spirit of Christmas”

Photographer: Cameron Powell

A few weeks ago I got a weird text. It said “do you want to do an interview next week?” When I replied “with?” I got back “you. Michael Smith.” I was excited. Someone wanted to interview ME! Actually I was told that I would be the interviewer and the subject would be Christian singer Michael W. Smith. I was even more excited!

A winner of (3) Grammy awards, as well as (40) Dove awards, Michael W. Smith has enjoyed success not only on the Gospel/Contemporary chart but in the mainstream as well. This month he has released his fourth album devoted to Christmas, entitled “The Spirit of Christmas.” The album, on which Smith duets with such singers as Vince Gill, Michael McDonald and Bono, consists of both long time favorites (“Silent Night,” “What Child is This”) and new originals.

As he readied to embark on a short tour to support the album Smith kindly took some time out to speak with Media Mikes.

Mike Smith: This is your fourth Christmas-themed album. What is it about the music that makes you want to revisit it?
Michael W. Smith: You know this is the music I grew up with. All the way back to when my sister and I used to pull out the Christmas LPs and play them for four months straight! When I hear those songs they just take me back to my childhood. Especially the first part of this record, for sure.

MS: This album consists of duets. There are a few performers on it that your fans might surely expect, like Vince Gill and Amy Grant. But then you’ve also got Bono and Michael McDonald. How were you able to get them on board?
MWS: Well first let me tell you that I’m still pinching myself that it happened, you know? We had these people picked out from day one…before we even recorded one song. We had the whole record sequenced. We had a plan and we had a wish list of who we wanted to invite. And everybody said yes. I’ve known Michael for about 10 years and I’ve known Bono for 12 years. These guys get asked to do stuff all the time, so the thought that they said “yes” is still pretty miraculous to me and I’m very, very grateful.

MS: Is there anyone out there that you’d like to sing with that you haven’t so far? Do you have a wish list?
MWS: I grew up being a huge Barbra Streisand fan, you know. I’ve always loved her voice…I’ve loved her movies…”Funny Girl,” “Funny Lady.” Recently she’s kept a low profile though I know she has a new album out. (NOTE: Ironically, Barbra Streisand’s latest album, “Partners,” is also a duets album). I would love to record with her.

MS: Do you have a favorite song on this new record?
MWS: Oh, man…that’s so hard to pick. I mean, if I had to pick…gosh, it’s hard to pick! Wow. “Almost There,” which is an original song that I did with Amy (Grant). There’s something really special about it. I love…I think it’s one of my favorite songs that I have written….”All is Well,” that Carrie (Underwood) does. And the one song that I get choked up on is “Peace,” which is the one I do with Michael McDonald. And Michael actually co-wrote that song, so I’m sure that’s one of the reasons he wanted to jump in and be a part of it.

MS: When you’re writing songs, do you sit down and write about a certain theme, like Christmas? Or do you later go back and realize that a certain song is right for the project you’re doing at the time?
MWS: Definitely the latter, because I never know what I’m going to write. Obviously if I’m working on a Christmas record I’m going to be a little more intentional. I’m going to be thinking about textures…how a bell sound will go with a piano sound…something that might inspire me to be a bit festive. A bit “holiday-ish,” you know? On “Almost There” I knew I wanted it to be a little haunting. I mean when you’re on that 12 hour drive to the beach how many times do you ask mom and dad “oh my gosh, are we almost there?” My friend, Wes King, came up with the idea which was why not imagine Mary riding on that donkey. She’s pregnant and she can’t find any place and she’s wondering how long it’s going to take…you wonder if she ever said to Joseph, “are we almost there?” And that was the premise for the lyric.

MS: Are you going to tour at all to support the album?
MWS: Oh yeah! The Christmas tour started the Saturday night after Thanksgiving and we’ll be doing about fifteen shows around the country.

MS: What else do you have coming up?
MWS: I know it sounds a bit insane but I actually released three records this year. I did an exclusive record for Cracker Barrel called “Hymns.” That came out early in the year. Then the pop/worship record, “Sovereign,” came out in May. And now, of course, the “Christmas” album has just been released so it’s been a pretty busy year. After the “Christmas” tour we’re going to tour with “Sovereign” all over…South Africa…Asia…Europe. That will all happen in 2015.

MICHAEL W. SMITH’s Upcoming Tour Dates

December 18, 2014 Spokane, Washington
December 19, 2014 Portland, Oregon
December 20, 2014 Seattle, Washington
December 21, 2014 Abbottsford, British Columbia
January 11, 2015 Nashville, Tennessee

For more information go to www.michaelwsmith.com