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Ultimate Jam Night #68 Spotlights Bill Ward’s New Band, Pays Tribute To Nick Menza

By Jordan Salfity

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June 28th 2016, The Whisky-A-Go-Go, West Hollywood CA: The 68th edition of ‘Ultimate Jam Night’, a popular Los Angeles based event that is free to the public and creates a unique experience to see rock n’ roll all-stars jam in front of a live audience week after week, was held on Tuesday June 28th 2016. The first 55 weeks took place at The Lucky Strike in Hollywood before moving to the iconic Whisky-A-Go-Go on the Sunset Strip. I had wanted to attend one of these events for a long time, and finally got my chance on what was certainly an unforgettable night.

The night started at 8:55 PM with the first opener, Lauren Dair. Lauren is famous for her work in television shows, but actually wrote and recorded her first album at age 12. Lauren has toured for many years now and recently released her third album “Perfectly Flawed”. Her performance consisted of her on keyboards and vocals, Shae Padilla on guitar, and Taylor Reyes on drums. Her four-song set contained all material from her new EP, and musically reminded me of pop stars from the late ’90s and early 2000s such as Kelly Clarkson. She had a strong voice for being just 18 years old, and her lyrics were relatable as they dealt with relationships and overcoming struggles.

The next opener was a band called Fire, who mixed together elements of classic rock, alternative rock, soul, funk, and blues. They are a 4-piece band that reminded me of a wide array of influences, such as U2, Aerosmith, Incubus, The Rolling Stones, Jet, The Strokes, Wolfmother, The Red Hot Chili Pepers, and The White Strips. The music was groovy and their singer was incredibly animated. They brought up an electric violinist for their third song. They finished their set with a cover of “Fire” by Jimi Hendrix, complete with a saxophone player and an extended solo section of a guitar solo, bass solo, and a drum solo.

After the two 20-minute sets by the openers, the actual jam portion of the show started exactly at 10 PM. The jam was a massive 22-song set list, and began with a rendition of “Crazy Train” by the house band, with guest host Jesse Sinder (Dee Sinder’s son) on vocals. Jesse filled in for usual host Paulie Z who was in Nashville, and his vocal range is absolutely incredible. The perfectly done Randy Rhoads guitar solo was also a highlight of the night for me. The house band consisted of Matt Starr (Mr. Big), Mitch Perry (Lita Ford), Walter Ino (Survivor), and Ben White (Magnetico). The next two songs included Ira Black of Westfield Massacre and Sean Nichols on excellent adaptations of “Give It Away” by the Chili Peppers and “Mountain Song” by Jane’s Addiction.

Next were three songs by the late ’80s/early ’90s hard rock band Little Caesar, who really seemed to delight the crowd with their fist-pumping music and catchy choruses that reminded me a lot of bands like AC/DC, Cheap Trick, Cinderella, and Warrant. Following this great set, the house band returned with Cherokee Fortune to sing an extremely emotional version of “She Talks to Angels” by The Black Crowes.

Little Caesar [photo by Donna Balancia]

One of the most exciting sets of the night was a tribute to recently deceased ex-Megadeth drummer Nick Menza, by Tim Yeung (Morbid Angel), Doc Coyle (God Forbid), and a variety of guests such as the singer of The Iron Maidens and Conan on guitar from Exmortus. The covers of “Skin on My Teeth” and “Holy Wars” were so well done, and were only fueled by the fitting tribute to a fallen hero. Next was Tabitha, consisting of Stephen Perkins of Jane’s Addiction. The band is a trio, also consisting of two sisters, and they are currently looking for a singer. Their set consisted a cover of “Let There Be Rock” by AC/DC, an original instrumental, and a cover of “Lights Out” by UFO. Both covers had Matt Starr on vocals.Next was probably the moment that everyone was most excited for, a four-song set byDay of Errors, featuring Bill Ward of Black Sabbath fame. He was given a wonderful welcome and introduction. The band plays a brand of classic heavy metal with a hint of grunge in it. It has a doom element but also has a classic upbeat hard rock sound to it, reminding me a lot of Alice in Chains and later era Black Sabbath.

Bill Ward / Day Of Errors

One of the more interesting sets of the night was original material by members of SmashMouth, Don Felder, and Tim McGraw. They played two songs. This was followed by all-star lineups covering “Moonage Daydream” by David Bowie, “The Ocean” by Led Zeppelin, and a special rendition of “Starway to Heaven” by Led Zeppelin complete with strings, flutes, and 12-string guitars. Chas West sang these two Zeppelin tunes, which makes sense cause he has worked with John Bonham’s son Jason in the past. The night ended with a rendition of “Old Time Rock and Roll” by Bob Seger with Jess Snider on vocals.

Overall, for anyone who has not been to one of these Ultimate Jam Nights, it is truly a one of a kind experience. It is full of great chances for singing along to songs that you love, and it is a great way to introduce yourself to the new bands of famous musicians. I would highly recommend this experience to any music fan, and will definitely be returning to The Whisky on a Tuesday night in the near future.

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