Pav’s Brother, Milan Srnicek, To Play In Goal At Entertainers Game

The Entertainers Game next month will have an added, heart-felt feel to it with the announcement that Milan Srnicek, the brother of former Newcastle United goalkeeper, Pavel Srnicek, will take his brothers’ place between the sticks for the Newcastle Legends.

Pavel, who joined the Magpies during the early-90’s from Banik Ostrava, became a cult hero at St James Park, going on to make over 150 appearances for the club he fell in love with.

A Czech International, Pavel, who last year brought out under Mojo Risin’ Publishing ‘Pavel is a Geordie’ a matter of days before his untimely passing, would, without question, have played in goal on October 9 for the Newcastle Legends against a Manchester Select.

Now, his brother Milan, will share the goalkeeping duties with Pav’s friend and ‘keeper rival, Steve Harper, one of United’s longest serving player, himself a stalwart of some two decades with the Black & Whites.

Although not as experienced as his brother, Milan is scheduled to play the first half and will be replaced, by Harper, at the interval. He said: “I’m honoured and I greatly appreciate it!

“I’ve never been between the ‘sticks’ so I hope I will not disgrace the name Srnicek and I am extremely happy that I will be back among people who so loved my brother so much.

“I am taking the challenge very seriously and my brothers’ last club, Sparta Prague, have invited me to train with them. Dan Zidka is goalkeeping coach who worked with Pavel and will train me.”

Srnicek and Harper’s time with the Magpies overlapped during the halcyon days of the nineties with Harper joining from local non-league, Seaham Red Star, in 1993, as back-up to Pav – it would be some five years and five loan spells before he would make his first-team debut, coming on a half-time substitute against Wimbledon in 1998.

More out than in Harper is probably best placed to discuss Pav, and the Entertainers era, especially with his being back-up to that of Srnicek, Hislop and Given; but it was the former that struck a chord, with Harper and the Toon Army.

He added: “As someone who witnessed the Entertainers day in, day out, in the mid-90’s just prior to my breaking into the first team squad.

“I’m honoured to be asked to replace Pavel and to split the goalkeeping duties with his brother Milan.

“I can remember Milan regularly came to watch us training at Maiden Castle back in those days and hopefully he’ll have picked up some useful tips from his brother.”

Spoils Are Shared As The Alan Shearer Foundation Wins

It was one of those days at Kingston Park on Sunday afternoon as Alan Shearer’s Newcastle Legends took on Keith Gillespie’s Manchester Select in a game in aid of the Alan Shearer Foundation.

Shearer rolled back the years by playing the entire first half, as did the likes of Steve Harper, who pulled off some blinding saves, along with cameos for that of Beardsley, Sellars and Fox; even the Manchester lads chipped in with Lee Hendrie showing his youthfulness and running the show, as did Gillespie who put in a great shift of his own.

It would be the former Newcastle number nine who would open the scoring during the first half as well. Showing his usual predator instincts following a cross from the left by flying wing-back, Joh n Beresford – he celebrated in usual style with arm raised, celebrating with the 6,001 fans who turned out.

Hendrie and Ritchie were proving to be a nuisance up front as well for Manchester, testing the Magpies defence as often as possible but Harper was having none of it, even diving full length, across goal, to tip away a brilliantly struck free kick from Hendrie.

Referee Barry Sweeney even got in on the act when he waved away a ‘controversial’ decision towards the end of the first half after Tino Asprilla went down under a challenge in the box but it was waved away

Shearer snuck in at the back post following a cross from Alan Thompson but the shot was punched away from six yards out by Kevin Pilkington but, following a few substitutions by both sides the first half finished 1-0 to the Newcastle Legends.

Shearer and Ferdinand led the Magpies out for the second half but they remained on the bench, Ferdinand prowling the touchline and shouting directions with a smile.

Within five minutes of the restart there was a special substitution. Late last year former Magpies goalkeeper, Pavel Srnicek, sadly passed away, and his brother Milan, who had been training with Sparta Prague, made an appearance and he was immediately called into action making a couple of easy saves with chants of ‘Pavel is a Geordie’ soaring around the ground.

It wouldn’t be long before the Manchester Select levelled though, Keith Gillespie finishing well amidst a cacophony of boos. Bez (of the Happy Mondays) scuffed a shot as Hendrie still proved to be a thorn before Fox fired over the bar from the edge of the box.

After more substitutions Jamie McClen restored Newcastle’s lead after a shot from Beardsley rebounded back out but Manchester were soon level again with actor Ralf Little restoring parity in the latter stages, again to ‘boos’ from the Newcastle faithful.

As both sides hunted what would have been a late winner there was time for a disallowed goal, and Ruel Fox to show off some trickery on the edge of the bod but it was to finish level at 2-2 and the cup was shared.

Afterwards Newcastle manager Alan Shearer said: “The game was played in high spirits and in front of a great crowd which is just superb for the Foundation.

“Harps did really well and can still do a fantastic job as he proved and it was just right that we got Milan (Srnicek) involved, it was good for him and he got a fantastic reception.

“As for me, I didn’t think I’d last that long but it was good fun and it was a great finish from me as well.”

The game though was all about the Entertainers, and raising money for the Alan Shearer Foundation and Shearer added his thanks, not only to the fans, but to the lads for travelling.

He said: “I’d like to thank everyone for turning up , including Tino, who’s come from Colombia, and Les, who’s travelled up from London, lads have come from everywhere but I’d like to thank everyone for getting involved.”



Europeans Call For O’Connor

Sixteen-year-old junior national champion, Georgia O’Connor, who trains with Paul Lysaght and Tony Galliphant at the Durham University Boxing base at Hild & Bede, has been called up to represent England at next month’s European Championships in Turkey.

Returning to the scene she medalled last year is an achievement in itself for the three times Junior National champion and she’ll be looking to begin the new season in emphatic style.

Heading to Sheffield the day before the squad heads to Turkey, O’Connor, who is one of only a handful of athletes on the female excel programme, is progressing nicely at Durham having moved from Brandon at the end of last season.

Last week saw Georgia, alongside other top junior athletes around the country, attend a four-day junior and youth selection camp at Sheffield’s Institute of Sport where she achieved her goal saying: “I’ve had a fantastic camp alongside the best female boxers in the country.

“I’ve gained some valuable sparring experience with two of the elite boxers that were present and techniques from all the coaches down at GB.

“I’m feeling really excited to go to Turkey. After representing England in the Europeans last year and obtaining a bronze medal I’m hoping to do even better this year, my ultimate goal to bring back a gold medal.

“Me and my parents usually plan a holiday in the six weeks however this year I am having to forfeit again; I’ve also made other sacrifices as my training has got to be prioritised at this time so that I can be the best I can be.

“Flying out to different countries with my England teammates and coaches is one of the proudest feelings I have ever experienced, and I can’t wait to do it all again come September.

“I’d like to thank my coaches at Durham, Paul Lysaght and Tony Galliphant for all the extra training and coaching they have given me, and will continue to do so to make sure I perform at my best. I really appreciate everything they are doing, and I hope I make them proud.”

Durham were only too happy to answer the call from England Coach Amanda Coulson to put Georgia under their wing and, with a female section which includes the like of Jess Slaughter, Leanne Street and Chanel Wild, Paul Lysaght is delighted with the 16-year-old’s early progression.

He said: “She came to us a few months ago and we were delighted that we were able to help.

“Georgia is a nice, dedicated girl with a lovely attitude. Not only is she grounded and down-to-earth, she also helps the other girls in the gym.

“I’m personally committed to help her for the Euros and whether it’s speed, stamina, strength, running or even nutrition, we’re there for her.

“This is also a great benchmark for us as a club to have someone like Georgia here. We’re now just working through the programme between myself and Tony whilst adding some fun into the mix as well to keep her going.”

Any potential sponsors interested in Georgia’s progression can contact through here Facebook page ‘Georgia O’Connor – Boxing‘ or by emailing for information.

O’Connor Looks To Excel For England

Waterhouses junior, Georgia O’Connor, has followed up claiming her third national junior title by announcing being one of only seven females on England’s new excel programme, and will be competing in the upcoming season out of the Durham University campus.

O’Connor, 16, claimed the 70kg title back in April at Birtley to cap what has been a fantastic transfer from Taekwondo to Boxing a few years ago. She is now a three-time junior national in both combat sports.

“I’m very happy to be training at Durham University and I’m looking forward to representing them in upcoming fights and tournaments,” began Georgia.

“It’s a fantastic gym with such a friendly atmosphere, and I can honestly say it’s the best pace I’ve trained at in a long time.

“I’m hoping to be able to go and study there (at Durham University) once I have completed my A Levels, so it’s great to be associated with the university itself. The coaches, Paul Lysaght and Tony Galliphant, are working closely with my Head England Coach, Amanda Coulson, to aid my development as a boxer.”

As one of seven females, nationally, on the female excel programme, Georgia’s future is in hand and is she is looking forward to showing what she is capable of with the goal of reaching Tokyo in 2020. She’s seen what the current crop of fighters have achieved and, wishing that of Josh Kelly and Savannah Marshall from the region a golden Olympics this time around, begins preparing herself.

“I feel honoured to be one of the seven female boxers in the country on the female excel talent pathway,” she continued.

“It came about due to my continuing success throughout last season and I am very happy, and grateful, to be a part of it.

“Female boxing was not very common when I switched sports, however it has become increasingly popular over the years and I am delighted with the progress that has been made in general.”

Anybody interested in sponsoring Georgia can email Peter via; her progression can also be followed on social media with Facebook Georgia O’Connor – Boxing and on Twitter @geo_oconnor.

FEATURE: Someone’s Gotta Lie ‘Cos This Isn’t Wonderland

Sponsored by EGH Radio Rocks the home of unsigned rock music, 24/7 and the home of Anne’s Rock Show, Monday’s from 9pm

From a little County Durham former pit village of Shotton Colliery stems a musical murmuring that is causing a rather large Twister across the airwaves and beyond as Stevie Stoker and his rock cohorts continue to tear up the music scene.

Having recently celebrated his 25th birthday, band founder and lead singer, Stevie Stoker has suddenly found himself looking back on over a dozen years of musical madness for the band in which he started when at school in early 2004 has this year shared the same stage as Electric Six, Status Quo, and Bumblefoot (Ron Thal of Guns ‘n’ Roses fame).

All that has gone between then and now has never wavered Stevie’s spirits and, as an only child, has had the full backing of his parents, Steve and Shirley Stoker, as well as partner Rebecca Rawlinson. It’s the kind of support network you could only dream about but for the Stoker’s, life on the road is their son’s life, and they encourage it with open arms.

Since that original formation back at school, Stevie included, there has been some eighteen members go through the doors, but the music has remained very much the same, and that is what keeps their loyal band of followers pretty much onside, so much so that they’ll travel any and everywhere around the country to support the lads, irrespective of incarnation.

“You have to think though, we had a steady line-up for five of those years but, if you want to be in a band, be in this band, then you have to stay grounded for nobody gives you a leg up, you have to work yourselves in order to get somewhere and that’s what we’ve all done,” began Stevie.

“When we first began, back in 2004, we were already doing bits of our own material and then, when Someone’s Gotta Lie was released we knew that doing that (originals) was the way forward, knew what the tracks we did, and would do, sounded like, and things would be made going forward.

“Now, when I listen back to the first album, I love it. Some of those tracks actually rock. It was all different though when we first began, we were just 13-years-old and although we set little goals, nobody wanted to be the lead singer, so I did it myself.”

From then until now Stevie hasn’t looked back with anger or regret. Far from. He is very much aware that everything happens for a reason whether it’s playing outside of school as a child entering his teenage years, those early gigs at the band’s long-term home at ‘The Fleming’ in Shotton, right through to being a full-time, gigging band who are pretty much always on the road, whether it be here in their native north-east or further afield.

“That first, proper gig we did, was at a place called Breathless at Blackhall and we but mere kids then,” continued Stevie.

“It was an amazing gig though and still one of the biggest buzzes I’ve ever had. From that moment on we all knew wanted more, much more. The Fleming, until it was knocked down, was a family haunt and where my parents met so everything was done there so it was upsetting, the end of an era, when that place went.

“Everything that we have done though has continued to build up to where we want to be and we know that we can give a lot to both the music industry, and to the people. That’s how we want to be and will always look to connect with them. We have fans who follow us everywhere, people like Jemma Henderson and Joyce Barugh, so we’ll always look to give something back.”

Over the years their many members have included that of Louis Sera, Niall Whittaker and Johnny Kell, the latter whom, other than Stevie, has had the longest individual run in the band stretching over eight years.

By the time they played alongside, and as chief support to, Bumblefoot at the O2 Academy in April this year the quartet, which included Kyle Hughes, Edward Bell and Karl Scott, where coming to the end of that particular band incarnation.

That was a special night in its own right and since then, the new quartet consisting of Matt Whitaker, Jake Grimes and Joe Major, have continued to go from strength-to-strength.  Firstly, the new awesome foursome went onto play at Lechlade within two months of melding, Quo legend Francis Rossi saying afterwards that their “songs are great,” “Pink Floyd cover was great,” and that they “were loud,” – tribute indeed.

“Although the Bumblefoot gig was the best we’ve played together as a band and served a purpose from which a lot of good came out of it,” added Stevie.

“Now it’s all been about a fresh start, a clean slate with three, hardworking people who want this as much as I do. Famous Last Words was a closure piece for me, a closure and launching a new beginning and to be able to move forward – we want people to know that we are still about, to know what we are doing, and that we care about our fans.”

With a new, short-play EP due for release in early 2016 the only other thing that Twister promise is festivals, more gigs, a double tour date of which one will be of their own making, and a New Year’s Eve extravaganza at Bowburn Community Centre.

It will pretty much be the same as they have been before, on a ‘Feeding Frenzy.’

You can follow the progress of Twister on Facebook or Twitter @wearetwister.


FEATURE: All Roads Keep Leading Back ‘Home’ For Fordham

Born in Portsmouth on the south-west coast, and having emigrated from blighty to the west coast of America and now residing in California, you’d start to wonder what international soloist, Julia Fordham, has as connections to the north-east of England.

Ms Fordham’s mother still resides on Hayling Island, across the Langstone Harbour from Pompey, family heritage traces its way back to the heart of the north-east, with Tyneside values instilled in her, with Gateshead and Newcastle very much running through the family veins.

Now in her fifties the delightfully humorous, ever-smiling, blonde bombshell saw her early career, under the name of ‘Jules’ Fordham, be a backing singer for the likes of Mari Wilson (the Neasden Queen of Soul) and Kim Wilde during the eighties, going on to sign her own recording contract in the latter stages of the decade.

Working with stars of that calibre meant that the British-born star was able to make it on her and some seventeen albums later, Julia Fordham was released in 1988 and The Language of Love in 2014, are testament to the strength of character and test of time an artist is willing to endure for success.

Julia is now preparing for a trip back to the UK, and a 13 date tour in November where she’ll begin in Worthing, take in Gateshead’s Sage, and finish in Portsmouth, an intentional stopping point for her family showing that, although a million miles away, home is never far from her mind.

“My mother was born in Gateshead, Emily Street to be precise, and went to St Cuthbert’s School as well,” began Julia, who only recently found out her family heritage.

“Gran is also from Newcastle before moving over to Fleetwood and when we talk to each, there is always a hint of Geordie slipping into conversation on the phone.

“I was here two years ago as well (for the 25th Anniversary of the Porcelain Tour) so when I knew of this tour I wanted to get Gateshead in immediately. I love it here and always take in some of the sights when I come back. With mum now living on Hayling Island I’ve intentionally finished the tour there, for her.”

Often likened to Canadian singer-songwriter, and her own inspiration in Joni Mitchell, Julia has seen her career move constantly upwards since that debut album was granted platinum status and made the Billboard 200 chart; her second album, Porcelain, in 1988, was afforded a gold certification by the British Phonoraphic Industry (her only album to make the top 100 in America).

Her success on stage has seen Julia gain spots on BBC1’s Wogan chat show (April 1988) and BBC Radio 2’S Richard Madeley on Sunday show (July 2013), the latter coming a week after singer Michael Ball played her single ‘Skipping under the Rainbow’ on his own Sunday night radio show.

“Going on Madeley’s show was such a wonderful thing for me and it put me back into the spotlight,” continued an ever-beaming Julia.

“It was wonderful to be able to do that, and do something that I love; it’s because of that I will certainly be looking at making some radio appearances this time around as well, although I will be rehearsing from November 5.

“It’s been 28 years now since the first album so I’m thinking of something for the thirtieth anniversary (in 2018) but this is certainly a fickle business which we call show business but I have a very loyal and dedicated fan base and it still surprises me that they come out as much as they do – it’s nothing short of miraculous though that I can do what I have done without being with a major record label.

“It’s not tiring, and it’s not glamorous though, it’s just something that I love doing and really enjoy; coming back to Britain (she toured in 2014 on her Porcelain Tour taking in the Cadogan Hall in London, The Sage in Gateshead, and the Epstein Theatre in Liverpool, before closing at the Tivoli Theatre in Wimborne).

“I love touring the country as it’s so beautiful, it’s stunning.”

The key aspect of her upcoming tour is that it is ‘Julia Fordham – Live by Request’ and that her ever-adoring fans have been given the opportunity to, by her choosing to do something different, perform what they want to hear so they were invited to choose their favourites as she’ll “play all the hits, and throw in some surprises.”

FEATURE: Jammin In The Toon

A long history with the north-east, and one of its flagship bands, The Longsands, brings Bruce Foxton and From the Jam back to Newcastle early next month.
Consisting of Bruce Foxton, Russell Hastings, Mike Randon and Andy Fairclough, the quartet have seen From the Jam go from strength-to-strength over the past decade which has included hit albums ‘Back in the Room’ and ‘Smash the Clock’ will come to rock out the O2 Academy on their ‘A & B Sides Tour.’
Now, having been promoted by Steve Wraith in Newcastle for what is a fifth successive year, and The Longsands having been their chief support on their tour in 2009/10, their ongoing success has often been accredited to an incredible, and increasing fan-base.
“The success was made possible by you the public getting involved, for which we can’t thank you enough,” began Bruce.
Russell and I are incredibly proud to be in the charts. It is a great achievement all round; it’s just simply good music that is ageless and timeless.”
Tracks have included down the years which will be belted out on the night include: “‘Just Who Is The 5 O’clock Hero’, ‘Carnation’, ‘Aunties and Uncles’ and ‘Life from A Window,’” continued Bruce.  
“The band are also looking forward to playing ‘The Dreams of Children’, the B side to ‘Going Underground’ that was originally intended to be an A side, were it not for a mix up at the pressing plant,” 
With a tour that starts in Birmingham on September 30 at The Institute, takes in Newcastle’s O2 Academy on October 2 where they’ll be supported by The Longsands and Charlie Campbell, through places like Manchester and Edinburgh, Nottingham and Sheffield, Leeds, London and Southampton before finishing in Exeter in mid-December.
In guitarist/vocalist Russell Hastings it’s been a surreal journey alongside someone, Bruce, who is more like a twin brother than a colleague, the pair often finishing each other’s sentences, knowing what the other is going to do next, even holidaying together, well except for next year, at present at least.  
The band have actually recently returned from a tour down under as well, jet lag is often a factor with the bigger bands and something they have to get used to quickly – they’ll go back next year, the same with a return to Newcastle, after all it’s the Jam’s 40th Anniversary. 
“Yeah, we’ve been on tour in Australia for a couple weeks, we performed nine shows taking in places like the Gold Coast, Melbourne, Sydney, Perth,” began Russell.
“The majority of the shows were sold out as well which was amazing and somewhere like Sydney, that’s just incredible really.”
Performing tracks of the last two albums, as well as the old favourites keeps the fans wanting more and, as Bruce imitated, it’s because of them that The Jam name celebrates its fortieth in 2017.
“The two albums have been really successful indeed,” continued Russell.
“We’re fortunate that people are continually raving about the music and wanting to hear us play. When I began playing myself I was only about 12 and have been in bands since I was about 14 so I’ve always played, always known music.
“I’ve played with some great guys as well, Mark (Brzezicki) and Rick (Buckler) being two of them (both former members of From the Jam). Mark is a great guy and friend of mine and we just had a really great time with it all.
“Bruce though, well I think it’s about 11 years or so we’ve known each other. We have many things in common and often go on holiday together, share a lot and often found speaking for each other for we know what the other is like.
“I actually with From the Jam because of Rick though as he wanted some help and we just went from there and the fans love it, as do we.”
Coming to Newcastle though, on October 2, is something which the band are looking forward to and, performing their A & B sides, with a few surprises, will certainly one not to miss for music fans alike.
“Newcastle is certainly a favourite venue of mine and I love going there and seeing the people,” Russell continued.  
“They’re always up for it from the word go. It can be quite daunting being in the dressing room hearing them but once we start, it’s great. I love the place and it’s a really vibrant city – we can’t wait.
“It’s not just those A’s and B’s which we’ll be playing though as this give us a chance to put on some surprises as well on the night.
“We’ve got a lot of ammunition to work with and get the crowd going so we’ll aim to start off with a big bang and just keep it going.”

Blues Legends Visit Stockton

Fast closing on their fortieth anniversary, London Blues legends, Nine Below Zero, are heading to the north-east this weekend to take on the sights and sounds of The Arc.

Formed by Dennis Greaves back in the heady days of the late seventies only three members of the early line-up remains, Greaves being flanked by Mark Feltham, who talked him into reforming the band after a brief hiatus in the mid-eighties, and Mickey Burkey.

The band you see now though are an incredible eight piece, compared to the quartet that hit the London club scene back then and it was during the inaugural years they were known as Stan’s Blues Band, playing mainly at the Thomas A’Beckett Pub on the Old Kent Road before being managed by Mickey Modem and persuaded to change their name “to something sharper,” Greaves going with Nine Below Zero after a tune penned by American blue soloist, Sonny Boy Williamson.

Successful outings, and the subsequent name change, proved beneficial, being picked up first by A&M Records, releasing their first album in 1980 entitled Live at the Marquee; twenty-odd albums later and they are still going strong, especially after playing in and around the old London suburbs saw sessions with The Kinks, The Who, even going on to headline at the Hammersmith Odeon alongside respected bluesman, Alexis Komer.

“I thought we were the only people playing blues, but when we got on the circuit I discovered there were other bands out there”, Greaves remembers. “There was Red Beans and Rice, The Blues Band, The Little Roosters, The Inmates, Dr Feel Good – it was quite a big thing.”


They persevered, took the capital by storm, made sound-waves that continue aplenty today.

That is, in part, down to the incredible fan base they’ve garnered down the years and, having moved with the times themselves, moulded into the Blues band that appears today.

“We went to Woolworth School and the Thomas A’Beckett club backed onto that,” Greaves continued.

“It had a lot of music and boxing shows on and we managed to get a residency with them (in those formative years). We were paid £25 for each night that we did, usually a Tuesday, but there’s been many highlights since then.

“I was asked recently what the highlights have been and you can look at the twelve nights with Eric Clapton at the Albert Hall, playing with ZZ Top, the Kinks, the Who, appearing on the South Bank Show and the Old Grey Whistle Test and The Young Ones, there’s been many a highlight.

“Then we kind of went our own way a bit. Mark (Feltham) went off and did some amazing session work for seven years and I went Los Angeles with The Truth – all I did was eat Mexican food and write songs, getting lost in the band, getting ensconced into reading and writing music.

“Then Mark called me up and said we should all get back together, which we did, so it’s his fault.

“It’s different now though, a lot different and we’ve doubled the size of the band to cope with that, now taking around an RnB extravaganza. It’s something we’ve always wanted to do and felt as though the time was right with the extra material we have.”

With an impressive back catalogue Greaves, Feltham, Burkey et al take pride in working in an ever-changing music industry and, knowing that some of the roots, that club feel, has been lost in transition, aim to keep the sounds going.

He added: “We’re just about the music and getting that club intimacy right, but we can also float in our own little ocean and be able to deliver; so long as we can do that then the fans will be there. As for the new album (13 Shades of Blue) and coming back north, we love Stockton and the venue is great, has a fantastic vibe about it.

“We’ve always done something in the area as we love what it’s about so it’s a privilege to be able to do these and we certainly think they love their RnB as well.

“As for the album, it’s dedicated to those Blues singers who have slipped under the radar and is the versatile colour and styles of the Blues.”


FEATURE: Global Rock Star Returns To Tyneside

Last year rock legend, Ron ‘Bumblefoot’ Thal, appeared at Newcastle’s O2 Academy where he was ably supported by Twister; the former Guns N’ Roses guitarist appearing onstage wearing a Newcastle United jersey, playing ‘Local Hero.’

Twister’s then drummer, Kyle Hughes, made that much an impression that he parted ways (on good terms it needs saying) with the band, becoming a session drummer working with Aurora Dawn and the Screamin Skulls whilst keeping in touch with, and having occasional dates with destiny, with Ron – it is a friendship that sees the duo re-unite in Newcastle as part of a mini-tour.

Ron has played music since his school days and now, forty years on, he’s still touring, as a soloist and with his own band, Art of Anarchy, playing with some of the biggest names on the planet (he’s just finished a tour with the ‘Platinum Rock All-Stars,’ with Carmine Appice (drums), Rudy Sarzo (bass), Geoff Downes (keys), Gene Cornish (guitar) and vocalist Phil Naro), as well as nine years with ‘the most dangerous band in the world.’

“I started playing very young and if you go by my first original song demos and gigs at the age of seven, it’s nearly forty years,” began Ron.

“The more things change, the more they stay the same. I’ve found that the roads to get from point A to point B have changed due to technology and business economy, but points A and B haven’t changed. It’s still about giving people something a real piece of yourself and giving people an experience that juices up their spirit.

“In those first gigs forty years ago, I’d cut up pieces of paper into home-made confetti and give out cups of it to the audience to throw in the air at the end of the show. Thirty years later and I’m standing on a stage in an arena with ‘confetti cannons’ spraying confetti it high in the air, colours raining down on a cheering audience of tens of thousands. And I think to myself, ‘Man, I’m glad I didn’t have to cut up all THAT confetti before the show.’”

The more things change, the more they stay the same, words which relate to all within an ever changing music industry, whether locally, nationally or internationally.

The same can be said of ‘that’ band, relationships Axl Rose, Dizzy Reed, Richard Fortus et al had en masse, Ron joining guitar greats with Guns like Tracii Guns, Robin Finck, Tommy Stinson, Buckethead, and DJ Ashba.

He joined as an experienced guitarist following recommendation by virtuoso performer Joe Satriani, officially to fill Buckethead’s previously vacated slot, making his ‘debut’ at the Hammerstein Ballroom, NYC, in May 2006.

Staying until 2014, Thal was involved with the Chinese Democracy album in 2008 and the video release of Appetite for Democracy 3D, along with numerous high profile tours, also partaking several solo projects before announcing in late 2014 that he would be leaving to focus on his solo career.

It was a solo career that had seen ‘The Adventures of Bumblefoot’ released in 1995, re-release as a 15-year anniversary issue in 2010, garner lots of reviews, and had Thal on the newcomer lists in many magazines.

He added: “That album got a good reception when first released in the mid-’90s, making ‘Best Newcomer’ lists in guitar mags, lots of positive reviews.

“The good thing about the re-release is that I had a transcription book of the album that I was able to release, 200 pages of extreme detail of every track played on every song, including music notation, tablature notation, including fingers used and picking details.

“I did all the transcribing and type-setting myself, it was 12 months of work. Early next year will be the 20th Anniversary of the follow-up album “Hermit”, which I’ve re-mixed and re-mastered this past Summer.”

It adds to what has been a rollercoaster ride that’s not only seen solo performances and a spell with Axl, but also release Art of Anarchy onto an unsuspecting, ultimately pleasing world, a band set up with John Moyer (Disturbed) with Jon and Vince Votta.

Five years on and they’re as strong as ever, and on the verge of releasing their second studio album after their self-titled album, ‘Art of Anarchy’ was released last year. The new album will be done with former Creed vocalist, Scott Stapp providing extra kick.

“Art of Anarchy was born out of a long-time friendship with Jon & Vince as I used to produce their bands in the late ’90s and we remained friends throughout.

“In 2011 they wanted to record ‘the album they always wanted to make’ ad we started doing that. Over time it grew wings and became something more, it became a real band, and despite many challenges it’s made it to the recording of its 2nd album and the beginning of live shows.

“Things have definitely fallen into place now though and you can hear the personalities of the band members in each song.

“Scott’s distinct vocals, Moyer’s grooves, the Votta’s metal sound, and I bring in some eccentricity. Put us all together and it balances into songs that wouldn’t happen the way they do with anyone else.

“We’ve all been busy with our own touring but it’s getting there, we plan to have the full-length album out in March 2017.  Our first single and video “The Madness” from the upcoming album was released October 7.”

Be Forever Mine Released At Independent

Sunderland certainly have something new and exciting to shout about as Indie Rock band, Social Room, successfully released their new single, Be Forever Mine, at Independent Sunderland at the weekend.

The six-piece, fronted by vocalist Matty Smith and consisting of Alex Gunn (bassist), Adam Potts (guitar), Simon Bewick (guitar) and Chris Leonard (keys), with the injured drummer, Sticks, being ably replaced by Tim Harker.

With support coming from Teesside band, Plastic, Independent was filling nicely by the time Social Room took centre stage, and what a performance they gave with debut single SR7 as much received as latest hit, Be Forever Mine was.

Not only did first and last go down well but others, One More Round, Great Escape and a very rousing rendition of Underworld’s Born Slippy added to what can only be described as exhilarating, thunderous, a classic show for the ages, was put out by Sunderland’s finest sextet.

The crowd were with the lads from the off and, as their set progressed, the vocal support increased peaking with football-esque chants of Social Room, chants the band not only played to, but increased their tempo of.

Looking towards an exciting new year these indie diamonds are certainly a one to watch with Be Forever Mine putting the band onto a new spectrum; if you’ve not seen them live then see them, if you have seen them then you certainly need to go back.

Social Room and Be Forever Mine were certainly not Born Slippy and if you want One More Round then Let Me See You Work It.