Monday, April 15, 2019

Defects in Dispensaries

              More than a decade ago, a grower in Humboldt county, California, said, “as marijuana becomes legal, there’s this phenomenon where people just stop smoking.  Some wait so long, then go so overboard that they have more than they could ever smoke.  Take away the forbidden fruit factor, and after a while of having so much, it’s almost like they get bored with it and just try to make money.”

              The term “Walmart weed” has been tossed around more and more frequently.  Was it just a catchy phrase, or was there more behind it?  A group of undercover reporters went to dispensaries in five states looking for answers, only to uncover money making schemes becoming more common.

              A tad more than a decade ago, when dispensaries were only allowed in California, they were like the unicorns of the weed world: some magical thing found near a rainbow that only a fabled few were allowed into if they were lucky enough to be a resident of the state, have the right paperwork of a legit reason to need the help of a magical healing plant, and, of course, pay money to those that be.  If so honored to be able to go inside, it was an amazing array of things that blew most people’s minds.  Nowadays, as more and more states legalize marijuana, the quality has slipped in a few key areas.

              First, let’s take a flash back in history to a time known as Prohibition, when people tried to make alcohol illegal.  Not only did it fail miserably, resulting in gangsters being trusted more than the President – especially when Calvin Coolidge had denaturing formulas added to things containing alcohol, which resulted in tens of thousands of people dying – but there was a reason alcohol was made legal again.  Mostly, it had to do with money, as the country needed a source of cash to pull it out of the Depression, and now flash back to the present, after the economy took a dive, now weed’s legal.

              It’s not a coincidence.  Vices are a great source to tax.  Some even tax sugary sweets.

              There’s money to be made regardless, and in an industry where people don’t know as much as they like to pretend they know, it shouldn’t really be a surprise that there’s some shady stuff going on.  There’s flashy numbers on packaging to make people think that there’s big testing being done in fancy laboratories, and they get some great image in their mind, but how hard is it to print a label and stick it?

              Sure, there are ways to test the content.  That’s not a myth.  But how many are honest about it?

              How many really bother?  Of course, there are model dispensaries out there that try to follow the rules, but it only takes one bad apple to spoil the whole bunch.  One great sample could be sent to get the okay to label a whole batch of some hogwash, and who would be the wiser to know for sure?

              Packaging can hide a variety of sins, especially when it cannot be seen through.  From disappointing portions, like when opening a big bag of chips to find it’s mostly air, to quality issues, such as expecting the pretty sample you gazed at under the microscope, only to find some hogwash inside.  Even with medibles, when the picture makes it look huge, then you get half of a sniff of a bite instead.

              Pre-rolls are probably the biggest disappointment nowadays.  Some of the prices are truly getting outrageous, as one pre-roll came in at more than $100 in California last month, but what’s the quality?  The undercover reporters wanted to judge by what the real medical patient would likely be able to afford, which is probably not the $100 joint if they can barely afford chemotherapy, so they opted to try the lowest priced pre-rolls to judge the quality across the country…only to be disappointed.

              “I think I’d rather slurp stripper starfish,” one man said.  “It’s kind of a heavy cigar, leafy, dirt taste that makes you cough from the harshness, without giving you the buzz.  I may hack out a lung, but it’s not from some amazing quality, so much as a bonfire full of leaf smoke that chokes you out.”

              Without even hearing that comment, another guy takes two hits, puts it down and cries, “I can’t smoke this.  Where the hell did you get this, and how much of this would someone have to smoke to get any sort of a high?”  Others had the same reaction, trying a puff or two, and putting it down in disgust.

              Unfortunately, it was not just one kind from one dispensary in one state, but time after time, state after state, the pre-rolls were getting that reaction.  So, what are they putting into the pre-rolls?  More commonly, it does not even seem to be ground, so much as shake left over from trimmings.

              Thus, it’s not the quality buds.  It’s more leaf than anything.  Grind it up, and who can be sure?

              So, problem solved by just buying buds, right?  Wrong.  That has a whole different set of games.

              First, there’s the sticky icky, and to the average person, it’s super exciting, because it’s sticky.  The question is what’s making it sticky?  What makes the crystals shimmer, and what’s that perfume?

              From sugar water spritzes to make it moist and shimmery, to perfume that leaves a nasty chemical aftertaste, there were buds that looked amazing and left people wondering when it’d kick in.  When everybody goes from super excited to questioningly glancing at each other, it kills the mood.  From funky tastes that left people wondering what they did to flush the weed, to twitches that made the lip curl from just general nastiness, there were not many willing to jump up and go get some more.

              It begs the question of why there’s not more organic weed being served in dispensaries, especially if they are there to help sick people.  What chemicals are used in the growing process, and what are the plants sucking up from the soil that might not be up to par?  What if a crop had mites, and the grower sprayed to try to save the plants, leaving all those chemicals there to be ingested by people?

              Molds are just nasty.  All it takes is someone not burping a jar, and boom.  How much moldy stuff is simply served up in other ways, such as topicals and even those yummy medibles we love?

              When it comes to medibles, even if a sample of a product has been tested, how does that ensure that the rest of the batch is up to par?  It’s very hard to get the exact same ratio of ingredients in every portion served – just ask the restaurants who get busted for their calorie counts being way off.  Food labels can be deceiving, so we put them to the group test by getting a variety of medibles with the exact same label potency, just to see if people reacted the same way to the same strengths advertised.

              Is it shocking to learn that there’s not a consistency across the board?  There were a few that actually did reach a similar balance between different users, but there were many with only fancy, misleading packaging that left people wondering if they had really eaten a medible at all.  Some had the taste of weed, and that’s it, while others just tasted like candy from a shelf at the grocery store.

              Gummies seemed to consistently be the most unreliable.  Some were labeled as super potent, only to be rather lame.  Of course, there were other let downs, from peanut butter fudge to chocolates.

              Is there a peanut butter cup crisis that someone forgot to mention?  Out of more than twenty random dispensaries in five states, not one had a peanut butter cup.  Some just sold out, none in stock.

              Just saying, as a heads up to the bakers out there, there is apparently a need for peanut butter cups.  Sure, there may be a few random people with peanut allergies, which is why it’s so much more common to find those low-fat gummies, but chocolate and peanut butter is a great combination.  That’s the one thing that was continuously sought and never found, to the disappointment of many, and the reason it was specifically searched for was because a decade ago, those were some of the best offered.

              A dispensary in Oakland had previously held the best medible ever found award by this same group of undisclosed, undercover investigators.  Of course, that was back when pre-rolls were actually buds, and most dispensaries had standards as to what they would accept to sell.  This same dispensary was now home to the joint that cost more than $100 (and yes, it was just a standard size, not a big’un), as well as now the most disappointing medible, an overpriced bag of lychee gummies that did not taste or smell like weed, and did not seem to have any noticeable effects amongst various testers.

              California, Washington, Michigan, and Oregon are all legal states now.  What that means for medical patients depends on the state, as some allow medical patients to buy more potent weed, putting a limit on the amount of THC sold to the general public, while other states simply give a discount to medical patients.  Of course, that discount can be as little as saving a dollar or nothing at all.

              Florida has not approved recreational, only medical, but it created monopolies.  Florida wins the longest wait award, as the dispensaries are allowed to deliver weed, and if patients don’t want to wait more than two hours on any given day, then they are told to pony up the extra cash to have it delivered.  They also win the “we only have top shelf available” award, as most dispensaries like to play that game.

              Oregon had the least amount of wait time per dispensary visit, followed by Washington and Michigan, with California coming in after.  Still, Florida takes top prize in the games that they play.  How does it take two hours of wait, when the order was either called in or placed online ahead of time, and the order is sitting right there in a bag, when all someone has to do is take the money already?

              There’s only a handful of monopolies that are running the dispensaries throughout the whole state, and they even try to brand their own product names without disclosing what strains are actually used.  Of course, out west, there seems to be some of that with product in the states there.  The same products are found throughout the state in each state, and it’s not the quality stuff people actually like.

              Yes, there’s individuals producing good stuff in the mix, just to be clear.  It just might cost a lot more than the lowest grade dirt crap that they pawn off on most people.  Then again, not always, as we did find some high-quality products at decent prices, with Plane Jane’s in Portland winning best medible.

              Laurie MaryJane’s Fudgy Brownie Bites were recommended by the bud tender at Plane Jane’s.  This Dope Cup Winner offers five brownies with an advertised 9 mg of THC each, a total of 45 mg THC for $23.  Though the label claims a 45-minute activation time, testers reported effects sooner than advertised, and many swore that one brownie was more potent than advertised, comparing it to the runner-up product, a 50 mg THC chocolate chip cookie purchased for $6 at a nearby dispensary.

              Some of the best displayed glasswork available for purchase was in Washington, believe it or not.  California comes in at a close second, depending on the location in the state.  Meanwhile, Michigan’s bringing its A-game at having some of the tastiest bud available at dispensaries like Dispo in Bay City, making a name for itself on the map with some decent product at decent prices with deals.

              Cheapest prices were found in Oregon, followed by Washington, California and Michigan, with Florida winning the highest prices award.  Of course, Florida is not recreational, so maybe that’s why they think they can get away with charging for an eighth what other states charge for an ounce?  Florida also wins the nastiest vape products award, with vape pens that instantly choked up all product testers.

              A local medical marijuana doctor in Florida was asked what is in the Florida vape pens that are making users cough so much.  He was quick to respond.  “Many are using oils that are not meant to be inhaled into the lungs, such as coconut oil, which coats the lungs and irritates, resulting in coughing.”

              So, doctors are aware that dispensaries are doing things they are not supposed to, often using chemicals they’re not supposed to, which results in not help but harm to trusting medical patients.  It is potentially making sick people more ill, all in the name of making a quick buck.  Just like in the other states that have legalized recreationally, dispensaries know there is a limited time before the bubble bursts, as when the laws get looser, more people get into the game, so try to scam as many as possible.

              Marijuana is blowing up into this magical cure-all for everything from glaucoma to weight.  This test of dispensary products was brought about by some of the testers visiting a store that sold CBD products.  The medical patients looked at something called a joint of CBD that was full of some sort of vivid purple material that the clerk said, “it’s more of a flavored tobacco than any sort of weed at all.”

              It begs the question, what is being passed off as weed these days?  Walmart weed is not just a phrase, but a reality.  That’s why some people have reported a resurgence of the underground market.

              It’s just like when eating food.  If you really want to know what’s in it, you’re best growing it and preparing it yourself.  However, when the market gets flooded, and the prices get driven ridiculously low, here’s some proof that more games can happen to make a buck, so caveat emptor: buyer beware.

Monday, March 25, 2019

Interview with Woody from Corrosion of Conformity

Corrosion of Conformity has been consistently rocking out for a couple decades.  Seeing them is always a good time, but when they are paired up with classics like The Obsessed, Crowbar and Mothership, that just makes for a darn good time.  The show at the Orpheum in Tampa was not as rowdy as the last show with Power Trip and Cannibal Corpse where I had my knee taken out by a rouge stage diver who took a running leap and flipped off the stage onto me and my friend – who wound up getting seven nasty infections in his eye from whatever that guy had on his shoe – but that’s ok by me.

                There was still quite the crowd packed in, enough people that once you got a good spot, you better plan on camping out there all night, as the wave of people would simply overcome your spot if you dared to move.  Yes, they still got rowdy and got the mosh pit crashing around like the waves of the ocean eroding the shoreline.  Ride the ebb and flow of people pushing around you.

                Mothership I had not seen in years, so it was a pleasant surprise to see them on the bill.  They rock with a stoner rock type of vibe that has a little more of a grungy, but not quite doomy, rock vibe.  Their melodies have always captured me, and they have a great groove if you’ve never seen them.

                The Obsessed is another band that has been around for years.  I think Woody said that C.O.C. first played with them in like 1984?  Or am I just thinking of that book?

                Either way, both bands have been around for quite a while, not only earning their dues, but schooling the younger generation on what it’s like to really rock out.  Of course, Crowbar must also be thrown into the mix.  I know both Pepper and Woody of C.O.C. have schooled me in music, as has Kirk Windstein, like when he was playing in Valium Knob, as opposed to with Pepper in Down.

                Years ago, I took a soldier to see C.O.C. when they were playing with Disturbed.  This was before they did that remake of Simon and Garfunkle.  Instead of watching most of Distrubed’s set, the soldier and I opted to chill on the C.O.C. bus and watch a video of Mike Gordon from Phish giving bass tips.

                Most people probably wouldn’t think of Phish and C.O.C. in the same setting, but Woody from C.O.C. always stressed that people in music should appreciate all genres, turning me onto Dwight Yokum.  Think back to when Galactic’s Stanton Moore had been drumming for C.O.C., and fans might see that the jam scene and the rock scene might be more connected than people realize at a glance.  Sure, there’s that NOLA connection between the two, but many were shocked when a jam band drummer took the stage in the rock scene – only to be even more shocked when he could rock out, too.

                Kirk Windstein and Jimmy Bowers had some interesting thoughts on Ween, as we have had conversations about them in the past, and Woody also had an appreciation of the band that seems to try a new genre with every album they produce.  It’s funny to sit back with guys from the rock genre to talk about jam bands with ease, but it’s not always the same to go to a hippie festival and try to talk about Slayer.  Then again, it really depends on the person that you're talking to...
            Without further ado, the man that I was talking to, Woody Weatherman, talked not only about music appreciation, but other topics of delight.  You should really watch it.  Just click play.

If you are a virgin to any of these bands, check them out.  Pop the cherry.  Discover new music.

Revitalizing Behind Scenes and Publishing Books

I know it may seem as if I have fallen off the face of the planet, but I didn’t. I did receive the many awesome comments, so thanks to those who enjoy reading my writing. While it looked as if I had been abducted by aliens, I was really busy writing and publishing book.

This month, four books have been published: Eerily Easy English, an English text book; Interviewing Rock Stars, a memoir of my time as a music journalist; Valley of Shadows, a fictional book that is outlandish; and Happy Haiku Horrors, a poetry book. Why so many? I was gearing up to go to a writing conference where I would be representing Johns Hopkins University in Portland, OR. 

On top of that, I have been working on a new housing project. Perhaps I was watching too much HGTV and got a little too inspired to try to get all dusty and grubby. Nothing like trying to teach yourself how to do drywall, abate mold, lay a million bricks, tear down walls and all that fun stuff. 

For any of those who know me, you know I’m trying to keep the budget as low as possible, which means scouring Craigslist, Let Go and all the other buying and selling apps to see what I can find for cheap or free. Like this weekend, for example, I wound up getting a few truck and trailer loads of paver bricks for free, which sounded amazing, until I started hefting those stupid things and making my body ache in places I didn’t even know I could get muscle cramps in. The fantasy is always better than reality, especially when you’re talking that kind of labor in the Florida sun; needless to say, I got a little red on my chest like a robin, but I’ve been making trails at the new place, so I guess it’s worth it. 

Yes, I have still been doing things behind the scenes, including music. I’ll post the latest in a little while. I know, I should have posted it by now, but as aforementioned, I’ve been a little busy. 

While you’re waiting, you can check out the new books on Amazon, Kindle or at There’s more where those came from, so check often for the latest releases from yours truly. Thanks again to everyone for the kind words of support, and be sure to check out the latest adventures of Thorisaz Views.

Wednesday, November 7, 2018

Monte Pittman and Sebastian Bach

                Monte Pittman has long been hailed as a guitar legend, teaching the likes of Guy Ritchie and Madonna how to play guitar, which landed him a spot as Madonna’s guitar player.  Working with Tommy Victor in Prong, led to the two of them working with Adam Lambert, before he was ever given a spot on television’s American Idol.  Pittman is one of those musicians with amazingly fast finger skills.

                Though he has worked with a number of entertainers, he also has his solo career, allowing him to spread his wings creatively.  Of course, having been around the world and knowing all sorts of talented musicians, he has cherry picked some of the best to work with for his solo gig.  The culmination of world class musicians creates a sound that doesn’t just fit into one specific genre, but depending on the song, he expands beyond one genre, hitting highs and lows, sprawling through various tempos, telling a musical story. 
Jon Dette is known in the scene as being a fast learner, subbing in for bands on a short moment’s notice, learning whole sets overnight to fill in when needed.  That in and of itself is a skill that not a lot of people have, and when you hear him pound on the drums, he has an intensity that not many drummers can even fathom reaching.  Working for bands like Slayer and Anthrax demands this intensity, and watching him, it is readily apparent why Monte would want to have him as a first pick on drums.

Eli Santana might be best known for Holy Grail and Huntress, but he has a band that is an anagram of his name called Alien Satan.  This long, dark-haired bass player may remind some people of a young Robert Trujillo, and it will be interesting to see where his career takes him, as he is also known for his acting skills.  Whether seeing him on screen or on stage, he brings a dark intensity that’s fabulous.

This powerhouse trio teamed up with Canadian rockers One Bad Son and Sebastian Bach, who formed his own super group for his solo mission after leaving Skid Row.  With Rob De Luca on bass, who is known for bands UFO, Spread Eagle and OF EARTH, this is another musician known as a fast learner, having to help out Helmet in a pinch, learning a ten-song set in four hours.  Guitarist Brent Woods, formerly of Young Gunns and Wildside, has been a force in music since the early 90’s, and he has teamed up with some incredible names in the industry, most notably working in the Vince Neil Project.

Drummer Bobby Jarzombek is best known for working in Halford and Riot, but he’s also worked with Fate’s Warning, Iced Earth, Juggernaut, and others.  It’s funny to watch him battle Jon Dette on stage when they do their drum solos, as Dette brings the intensity, while Jarzombek brings the flash.  Twirling sticks with the best of them, audience members stare in awe as Jarzombek does his tricks.

Opening for Monte Pittman and Sebastian Bach is a Canadian band called One Bad Son.  Their first album title was a throwback to the movie The Big Lewbowski, and the band took it upon themselves to make themselves known, showing up to radio stations, demanding that their song “Scarecrows” be played on air.  Drummer Kurt Dahl is an entertainment lawyer in Canada, so he’s probably a good one to have on tour in case of any legal issues that may come to light when these music legends meld minds.

Though Sarasota was not the original planned city for the end of tour, things have a way of working out for the best.  Originally, the show was slated for Tampa, but the original venue closed, providing an opportunity for Kelly Schaefer, formerly of Atheist and Neurotica, to promote the show at a new location:  The White Buffalo in Sarasota.  It didn’t take long for the show to sell out, and with Jon Dette having friends and family members in the area, he even got homemade cookies from his aunt.

Pittman was all excited about his latest merchandise addition:  panties.  Creating something for the ladies, he put the name of his new album “Between the Space” positioned cleverly on the undies.  Sitting down with Pittman to discuss more intimate topics for, Santana and Dette joined in on the fun interview, to give their perspective on what goes on behind closed doors.

In a couple days, the full interview will be found at, as well as on in a four-part segment from a couple different cameras.  Taken on “the bus that looks like Nightmare on Elmstreet,” in Pittman’s words, the green lighting cast an otherworldly glow, but it was not the brightest for the video camera.  Take a look below at a couple of clips from the guys and their thoughts on sex; on the second video with all three band members, at the end, they read excerpts from a few of my books.

The first time I met Monte was back in 2002, when I was interviewing Prong.  Specifically, I was interviewing Tommy Victor, and when he first told me that Monte played with Madonna, I thought they were joking.  Who would’ve thought that a guy playing a song like “Snap Your Fingers, Snap Your Neck” would’ve been teaching one of the world’s largest pop artists to play guitar, and who would’ve thought at that point that he would be on stage with her for the halftime show at the Super Bowl tearing it up?

From the first time I met Prong, to even this past time, both Tommy and Monte played the same joke.  Tommy used large coarse table salt, and Monte had the upgraded large blue crystals.  They whip out this massive plastic baggie, pretending that it’s meth, just to get a reaction from people.  Monte laughed and said he wanted the blue to look like it was the stuff from Breaking Bad, and it does get reactions of the few times I’ve seen the joke, but I can only imagine how other reactions would’ve been.

The very first Prong interview I did, they had been playing with Danzig, a band that Tommy would later play guitar in, while Monte toured with Madonna.  It had been in the early stages of my career, and I remember being asked what I wanted to do in regards to music.  Back then, I said that I had wanted to go on tour, and was questioned why; I said I kept hearing people talk about it, but I wanted to experience it for myself, just to see what it was really like, as hearing is one thing, but experience…

To my surprise, less than two weeks later, I was pulled on stage by Rob Zombie and offered a job on tour.  I got to tour the country with Ozzfest and experience the not so glamourous side of touring, like showering at random truck stops when lucky enough to be able to stop.  Or not being able to stop to shower for a few days, as the schedule is too tight to get from one side of the country to the other to stop.

Before I got that experience, I was able to interview another musician, the same one who wrapped up the evening: Sebastian Bach.  Not expecting him to even be there, as I was called by a sister newspaper to cover a local band in a battle of the bands in Detroit, the club owners asked me if I wanted to interview the guest announcer, who was Sebastian Bach of Skid Row.  There was no way to prepare myself, as I never would’ve guessed that it would happen, but it was the first time I was star struck (the only other time was Tom Petty, and I never expected it to happen either time).

For some reason, words failed me.  It was as if my brain and mouth had a disconnect.  No matter if my brain thought of things to say, my mouth would not process the commands to form the words.

He must’ve been in this scenario before, as he simply looked at me and asked, “how about if I just talk, and you just write?”  Having all I could I could do to nod, I picked up my pen and started doing dictation, as he talked about getting his start in Detroit.  Detailing how he had the “Youth Gone Wild” tour with Guns ‘N Roses, which was a major tour back in the day, he explained how they had sold out a show, and when he got off stage, with adrenaline flowing through his veins, a guy asked if he wanted a line, and he feebly warned him that the line was a bit speedy, which Sebastian ignored, snorting it up.

This resulted in him being legally dead for a few minutes.  The adrenaline of being on stage, combined with the speediness of the line, resulted in an overdose that he almost didn’t live through.  This was an early warning message from a major rock star about how the music scene could be.

Of course, let’s be honest: drugs are not only in the music scene.  Fast forward a decade and a half, and the country has found itself in a major epidemic.  Though it was not speed, it was actually on the opposite end of the spectrum of downers, we actually had to leave the concert a few songs early when we got word that a girl we knew had overdosed, and not that there was much we could do.

She was found dead.  We didn’t know the details yet.  We thought we would see her again.

It’s not that we wanted to leave.  We had another after show segment planned for Jack and Jill with Monte and Vicky, an adult film star who was at the Sarasota show, but we thought that our friend was simply being taken to a hospital.  We thought by leaving that we would be able to see her at least one last time.

Nope.  Dead on arrival.  No second chance for her.

While the glitz and the glam of the rock and roll lifestyle looks so amazing from the outside, there’s also the reality.  Sebastian Bach is 50 and still rocking songs that he produced in his 20's.  Even Monte Pittman, though he has toured with Madonna, Adam Lambert, Prong, and others, still hopes to have his music be the main focus of his career, as opposed for being known for playing someone else’s songs.

Not everyone who has a hit song is a millionaire.  That’s just reality.  There’s plenty of musicians that are still struggling in the scene, so be sure and try to support the musicians that you enjoy.

Wednesday, April 11, 2018

Vilest Breed emerges as a full band again

St. Patrick’s Day brought back Brian to the band Vilest Breed.  He had taken a hiatus from the band earlier in the year, simply walking away from music for a while.  Not that he had given up on music completely, as I heard him shred a few Taylor Swift covers in his living room while Josh sang, giving a whole new meaning to Taylor Swift when it’s sung by a guy. 

Sometimes, when it’s the same music over and over, you have to take a break to clear your head, and that’s exactly what Brian did.  However, when he returned, he did so with a vengeance.  Though the St. Patrick’s Day show might not have been the biggest event that Vilest Breed has ever played, it certainly sounded like one of the better performances that I’ve heard them in do in a long while.  There’s something about everyone in the band coming together, focusing in on the prize, and performing completely sober on one of the biggest drinking days of the year that gave it a little something extra.

It was certainly nice to not have to drive far, as Port Charlotte finally hosted a metal show at The Hive, located at 4095 Tamiami Trail in Port Charlotte.  It’s one of those clubs that when you walk up, you ask yourself if you’re in the right place, as there’s two parts to the bar.  Actually, you have to walk through the front club to get to the back club, which is where the metal show was hosted. 

Yes, there’s something nice about being able to play pool up front, but there’s something underground about having to maneuver to the back to find the hidden gem where local bands gathered to show off their skills.  The free show wasn’t all metal, as a rap group called 2099 started the show, followed by Casket Dancer, Born to Expire, Dav, Earthworm von Doom, Grasping at the Shadow, The Holloway, and Vilest Breed.  It’s nice to know there’s a local spot that supports the local artists in the area.
By the way, there's something completely awesome about violins in hardcore music.  I don't care what you say, you need to hear it.  I'll give props to the violins in metal any day.

While the music varied from act to act, there was a hardcore theme throughout most of it.  Nobody got completely naked like some people thought, but there was some skin that was flashed from the stage.  Certainly, there was moshing going on, and when people needed to take a breather, it was nice to be able to chillax near the water and look for gators lurking in the darkness of the depth below the dock.

As for Vilest Breed, they’re gearing up for another show in Friday night.  That’s going to be at Kelly’s up in Sarasota.  Bring your favorite moshing gear, and get ready to hear a little girl belt out some hardcore growls that will raise the hair on your arms and cause you to knock your head while holding up horns.

Portugal. The Man

People are just now getting to be up and arms about a band that I knew a decade ago was going to be huge.  That band is known as Portugal.The Man.  The very first album I heard back when I was studying for my Master's at Johns Hopkins University, which was sent to me by a publicist that has been in the business for a good while, and most of the things she handles has a pretty good vibe to me; her name is Heidi Ellen Robinson Fitzgerald, and she has handled everyone from Tom Petty to being instrumental when System of a Down first broke out on the scene.

When she would send me stuff, I would take a listen, as her taste in what she covered was similar to the stuff I found interesting.  So, when she sent over the first album of Portugal.The Man, I put it in, and I instantly downloaded it onto my iPod, which was the new big thing a little more than a decade ago.  For some reason, that album just spoke to me, as it was different; it stood out.

I had interviewed them for that first album, and I don't even know where that interview has disappeared to over the years.  I'm pretty sure it's in one of the first few issues of Thorisaz Views somewhere.  At the time, they were just starting out, so I had to ask them the typical standard questions about influence, as they didn't have big name things under their belt as of yet.

I remember hearing his adventures growing up in Alaska, being in an igloo with only a couple records to choose from, which molded his style of music to being a little different, a little more old school, with those more melodic beats, as opposed to some thrash or hardcore with dropping bass lines.  Sometimes, it's having that different influence that breaks the standard mold of what everyone else is doing.  When you don't have access to the same stuff, you're going to come up with different things, which is what this young kid did.

When I was finally able to cover the band in Michigan, I had been playing the album on repeat, and I was super excited to go to the all ages show.  However, I didn't realize exactly just how young the guys were.  Let's put it this way:  my friend turned to me at the show and said, "I feel as if I'm watching all my kids' friends and not getting paid."

We were the old chicks of the show, which may have been a little awkward back then, but it didn't stop me from having a good time enjoying the music.  There were so many guys on stage, I remember it was hard to take pictures, as I was constantly trying to dodge around other band members in attempt to get a money shot.    The night wound up being pretty cool actually, as we randomly found a hay ride in the middle of the city, and we had a guy wedge himself into the back of my Crossfire, which had just come out at that time, which was a pretty hilarious thing back then, too.

Fast forward to a few months ago, and Portugal.The Man breaks onto mainstream radio with a hit that is now being used in commercials on TV.  I can still hear that signature style that drew me in more than a decade ago, but there's a little more of a pop sound than he had before.  Either way, I still dig it, and if you haven't actually taken the time to listen to a full album, then you need to do yourself a favor and check it out, as it is a refreshing change to a lot of the other stuff that's out there.

This is not a band that is making music just to be the next big thing.  In my mind, they've been underestimated for more than a decade, and I'm extremely happy to see them finally get recognized for the talent they have.  These guys have grown into their sound, honed their skills and talents, and the result is just now being appreciated by the masses, just as I knew it would be a decade ago.

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Tuesday, April 10, 2018

Countdown to Fort Rock

The countdown to Fort Rock has officially begun, and this year promises to be different from previous years, not just because the Fort has skipped coasts to relocate from the west coast to the east coast of Florida, but also because there is a mix of new and old.  New headliners like Ozzy and Zakk Wylde promise to captivate the audience just as much as the old tried and true like Godsmack.  Some might wonder how a lil girl like me can be so sure of this, but then again, I did tour the country on Ozzfest in 2002, and while some time has passed, Ozzy is always a good time...and usually involving some sort of water shenanigans.

It's true that Ozzy has been known for pulling tricks on people involving water, such as dumping water into someone's boots when they weren't looking, but I've had my own encounter with the fireman's hose on Ozzfest.  Hopefully, they don't break too many cameras this year with the soaking.  Most people would probably be thrilled to be drenched in the steaming Sunshine State, as this time of year only starts to get warmer and warmer, to the point of clothes soaking and clinging to the body.

Some people get torn trying to decide between Fort Rock and Welcome to Rockville - and that's because the only two big rock shows are always held at the same time.  Why?  I have no clue.

Many would love to do both shows, but it's hard to teleport to be in two places at once.  One of these years, maybe the promoters will realize that Floridians are used to driving and are willing to drive, but not this year.  So, pick your poison whether you want to head to Jacksonville or Sunrise, FL.

For those in Fort Myers, Fort Rock was a given.  Everyone expected the sold out shows to continue, but alas, now we have to cross Alligator Alley to try to rock out, as nobody replaced the rock void with any other show yet.  Still, we are willing to drive, as the lineup is as great as ever.

Each year only seems to get better, as there's a variety of performers coming together in one place each year that makes people feel as if they couldn't possibly miss out.  Now that Ozzfest no longer graces Florida with its presence, it's great that Ozzy and Zakk are at least willing to grace the Fort Rock stages.  Highlights from past Fort Rock years included a lil mishap with lights during Seether on stage that left their new guitar player a little shaken up, sexy backup dancers from many bands, the Jager girls whooping it up, over the top costumes, music so loud you could feel it in your chest, and so much sweat from audience members that the pit becomes more like a slimefest.

For those who might have missed it, here's a few pictures to review, but if you have the chance, the real thing is always better.  Mark the calendars for the last weekend of the month, because this new location is not to be missed.  South Florida needs to judge which Fort rocks harder at Fort Rock:  Fort Myers or Fort Lauderdale?

For more by Marisa, pick up the June edition of Bad Diesel Magazine, or visit