Holy crap. If you want to see some incredible guitarists at tearing up a stage, go see ANGEL VIVALDI and his entourage on tour now. VIVALDI brings not only his incredible ability to make mincemeat out of his 7-string axe, he is also on tour with some fantastic musicians. It was a pretty laid back Sunday evening. I was waiting outside The Rail Club in Fort Worth, TX. Maestro had gotten me on the VIVALDI guest list to shoot pics (always a challenge at the Rail, where the lighting absolutely sucks).
As I’m waiting to go in, I run into Motown Robert (you would recognize him with his fluorescent green beard, which matches the string color on his six string bass by-the-way) with local band LITTLE GREEN MEN. I said, “Hey good to see you here”. He replied, “Yes, because we are going on in five minutes”. I like these guys, and even though it wasn’t posted on the bill that they were playing, I certainly wasn’t complaining. So the local Fort Worth guys busted things open.
First up on The Guitar Collective 2017 tour was famous guitarist ANDY JAMES. JAMES is a one man show from the United Kingdom, playing to a backing track his whole set. While it seems a bit odd, you get used to it pretty quickly. MICHAEL ANGELO BATIO does the same thing, but his style is a bit different. JAMES has played with famous artists such as Zakk Wylde and Vinnie Moore, so you know he can definitely hold his own. Perhaps not as well known in the States, JAMES does have his own signature guitar produced by ESP and known as the ESP LTD AJ-1. That’s impressive to me. Although a fantastic guitarist, he doesn’t have a huge stage presence and did lose my attention after a short while.
SCALE THE SUMMIT hit the stage next. Founded in 2004, this group from Houston, Texas was absolutely mesmerizing. Quite honestly I had never heard of them. Nothing but instrumental, they were totally entertaining and kept my attention almost every second they were on stage. Guitarist Chris Letchford heads the band. He’s an unassuming guitarist, trimmed beard, short hair and blazing fast on a headless guitar.
Their “adventure metal”, accompanied by a visual projection backdrop of colors or changing over landscape behind the stage (almost PINK FLOYD-like) is truly a trip as one listens and absorbs the vibes from their very clean rendition of original compositions. Charlie Engen is the skin pounder and he and Kilian Duarte on bass turn this into a killer band. I seriously think everyone should check them out. They truly have a unique sound.
And now the headliner. Interestingly, VIVALDI brought Engen and Duarte forward to play his incredible tunes. What quick studies these guys must be, and it’s impressive, because VIVALDI’s songs are so complex. I can tell you that every person on stage on this tour is a top notch musician. Jay Tarantino (ETHERIUS) has been with Angel for eight years, sharing four records and five tours and took the accompanying axe on stage. Tarantino is one hell of a guitarist in his own right. The duo took turns on stage with solos and dual rythm kickassery.
You would think that Engen and Duarte would be tired from already playing one full set already, but man they were getting after it all the way through the VIVALDI set as well. The highlight of the night was when James, Letchford, Tarantino and Vivaldi all jammed together on the last song of the set. They were lighting our butts on fire and just ripping the Rail to shreds. All of a sudden it was over leaving everyone gasping for air. Quite a night.
The Guitar Collective Tour began in Cleveland, Ohio on November 8. They will be heading to California after Texas and then to the Northeast ending up in Philadelphia on December 10. There are lots of venues along the way. If you get an opportunity, these guys are very definitely worth seeing and if it was like here in Fort Worth, they will make time to visit with the fans after the gigs. Make it a point brothers and sisters in rock, you won’t be disappointed. Salude’
LIVE IMAGES AND WORDS: MARK “\M/ETAL \M/ESSIAH” EHRLICH/M EHRLICH PHOTOGRAPHY