by Mike Corrigan and Leah Sottile
Art imitates life. But art also imitates ... art. Take the case of Myles Kennedy, local rock singer, former lead singer of the Mayfield Four and current front man for Alter Bridge, the new band comprised of ex-Creed members. A couple of years ago, Kennedy nabbed a bit part in the film Rock Star, where he played an obsessive metal fan (named "Thor") who winds up being chosen as the new lead singer of his favorite band. Today, in a way, he is that guy, fronting a high-profile national act with a massive built-in fan base. And while there's no indication that Kennedy was ever a huge Creed fan, the fact is he has ascended -- in one step -- from the brink of obscurity to the bright lights of rock stardom.
Alter Bridge (performing at the Big Easy on Halloween night) is the new project led by former Creed guitarist Mark Tremonti and featuring Kennedy (on vocals) and the original Creed rhythm duo of Scott Phillips and Brian Marshall. Tremonti -- who was familiar with Kennedy's work with the Mayfield Four -- contacted the Spokane native a year ago about auditioning for the lead singer position in the band he was putting together following Creed's dissolution. Kennedy flew to Orlando for a try-out and ended up with the job. He says he and Tremonti clicked almost immediately.
"Mark is an extremely gifted songwriter," says Kennedy. "He initially sent me four songs to sing over, and I realized then where a lot of the melodies came from in Creed. Melody was always one of their strengths and was really compelling for a lot of people. When I came down, he had about half of the album written. Then he and I sat around his kitchen table for the next four or five months and pieced the rest together -- lyrics, melodies, arrangements. It was a really good experience for me because in Mayfield I did all the songwriting and it was kind of overwhelming after awhile. Mark really has a knack for it, and we worked really well together."
Alter Bridge is currently on tour supporting its debut album, One Day Remains (Wind-Up). "By the time we get to Spokane," says Kennedy, "we will have been on the road for over a month, so everything should be ironed out."
As Kennedy knows from personal experience (and as Mark Wahlberg's lead character in Rock Star eventually discovers), fame and fortune have a way of coming and going with little warning. Ultimately, it's a silly game. Yet it's a play that many find hard to resist.
"The irony is, I never wanted to be a singer," says Kennedy. "I just wanted to be a guitar player. The singer was the guy in the middle in the center of the stage and a lot of people pay attention to that guy. I always wanted to be the guy in hiding in the back, hanging out with the drummer. I guess I just played with a few too many bands who discovered that I could sing."
As most singers (the honest ones, anyway) will tell you, it can be a little scary out there in front of everyone with only a puny microphone for protection, and Kennedy agrees: "Yeah, I only play guitar on a few songs with Alter Bridge, and the rest of the time it's just me and the microphone and that's it."
Of course he can always fall back on the patented Roger Daltrey helicopter move -- whereby a singer spins the microphone by its cord so fast that it forms a shield-like barrier against incoming foreign objects.
"Exactly," Kennedy laughs. "You know I tried something like that at this one industry show we did. I don't know what I was thinking, but at the end of the song I decided to throw the mike up at the end of the song and I was going to catch it. I missed it by two inches. And there's nothing worse than when a microphone hits the stage when it's on -- it's just thunk. Nothing says 'I'm cool' like that move."
Sirens of the Sound -- In Homer's The Odyssey, the wandering hero Ulysses is intrigued by the legend of the Sirens, temptresses who lure sailing men to their deaths with the sheer, otherworldly beauty of their singing. Upon encountering them in the course of his voyage, Ulysses has his shipmates lash him -- with no hearing protection -- to the mast of their vessel, thus allowing him to experience those irresistibly lovely pipes and to fall under the Sirens' spell, all without that nasty death-by-drowning business.
This immortal tale has little or nothing to do with the intriguing Sirens of the Song tour featuring three female singer-songwriters from Seattle -- Camille Bloom, Carrie Clark and Sarah Severson -- coming soon (this weekend, in fact) to a coffeehouse near you. This trio will be performing acoustic, all-ages sets at the Shop on Friday night, at the Spike on Saturday afternoon and at Huckleberry's on Saturday evening.
Clark's soulful compositions blithely transverse the boundaries of pop, country and jazz. She is currently putting the finishing touches on her third independently produced album. Both Severson and Bloom grew up in Spokane, but each has a very different handle on the singer-songwriter-with-a-guitar vibe. Severson's approach is more introspective and haunting, while Bloom opts for a funky, more aggressively rhythmic sound.
Three women, three guitars, three gigs and almost no chance of death by drowning all add up to zero reasons why you shouldn't check out this live music happening.
Take it easy, Ulysses.
-- Mike Corrigan
Honored Funkmaster -- The grandfather of funk is an honored citizen. And I don't mean he's upstanding one, kissing babies or holding the keys to any city. I mean, if he were to sit down at any Shari's or Perkins or Village Inn across the country, he could order a funky chicken fried steak or a plate of bodacious biscuits and gravy from the "Honored Citizens" section of the menu -- where all the whitehairs get a little discount.
I'm talking about George Clinton, the supposed godfather of his genre and probably one of the strangest men over age 60 in the business of funk. Scratch that, he's probably the only man over age 60 in the funk biz. He may be 63, but that doesn't mean he's about to halt the lifestyle of touring and performing that he's led for the last 30 years.
And it also hardly means that he has white hair.
Clinton and his latest version of the P-Funk All-Stars jiggle through town next Thursday, stopping in Spokane for the first time since their sold-out show a few years back.
Selling out a Spokane crowd (funk? in Spokane?) isn't tough for this group. Aside from the music itself, actually seeing the group perform is reportedly worth the 30 bones. Clinton and P-Funk's show is a unique experience, with shows lasting four hours and 30 people bopping onstage at one time. It's not rare to see a guy in a wedding dress playing the bass, or Clinton chilling on a couch during the show while his band jams. The show is an experience in itself -- maybe that's what it takes to keep Clinton excited about performing.
After all, the Technicolor-haired senior citizen has been performing since 1955. No joke. That was the year that Clinton started an R & amp;B group -- the Parliaments -- out of the barbershop where he straightened hair in Kannapolis, N.C. Sounds wholesome, doesn't it? Well, that pretty much ended with the dawning of the 1960s. His smooth rhythm and blues took a new form with new influences by Clinton's favorite acid-rockers: Jimi Hendrix, Frank Zappa and Sly Stone. Parliament was formed, and Funkadelic arrived soon after. The bands had 40 R & amp;B singles, with three No. 1 hits and three platinum records, collectively. But by 1981, Clinton had folded both bands and started doing his own thing. Or thang.
He'd always been a little weird -- but this was when Clinton got seriously strange. Album names went from cute-weird names like Computer Games and Atomic Dog, to truly odd titles like Hey Man, Smell My Finger and The Awesome Power of a Fully Operational Mothership.
Throughout the '80s, Clinton collaborated with his former P-Funkers, including Bernie Worrell and Bootsy Collins. Parliament and Funkadelic became "the P-Funk All-Stars," and Clinton has toured and collaborated with them since the late '80s. Clinton and P-Funk were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1997.
Sure, he's getting up there in years, but all the kids still think Clinton is the funkiest guy around; he's collaborated with everyone from Outkast, Dr. Dre and Missy Snoop Dogg, to Digital Underground and Fishbone. Because even though he's ordering from the old people's part of the menu, Clinton's tunes are still funkalicious. -Leah Sottile
Publication date: 10/28/04