Welcome to the musical meandering insights of Aaron Joy. Here you'll find 600 reviews of CDs & DVDs of rock & metal in all its variations, mainstream & indie. What they all share is that the album or band is unique in some way & not every submission was reviewed. Please share these reviews or link to them if you like what you read. Reviews are no longer being posted here but feel free to e-mail Aaron & post comments. (Formerly the Roman Midnight Music Blog) (last update 5/23/2017)


I was recently asked if I'd be interested in potentially hosting a show on a new little online radio station streaming out of Florida, as an acquaintance thought I'd be a perfect addition with my expansive knowledge of music & love of rock & metal. I was flattered but after some thought I turned down the opportunity to pursue it further.

For 2 years I was hosting weekly podcasts & had partially ended them out of burnout & dwindling interest in my part to put the time in, further I felt I'd hit some incredible unrepeatable highs & could go no farther. But, more importantly, I'd was unemployed since May with no certaintly if I'd be able to do a weekly committment or not. I also wanted to explore video work, like ustream, which I'd not tried. Well, I tried that for a few weeks but found that it just wasn't my thing, let alone my instincts were correct that I really didn't want the weekly committment at this time. What'da know, in September I found myself employed again.

But, instead of just passing on the opportunity I wanted to go the extra step & share with you this little station for your listening interest ... & give you a little background context that makes it interesting, let alone the reason why I was asked to be a part of it.

The streaming station is called WRN 23 Internet Radio, or the Warlock Radio Network

Having spent some time listening to it's broadcast I can honestly say they played all the rock & metal that so many of us like. Over an hour I heard everything from live AC/DC to Meatloaf to Whitesnake & I believe even a few bootleg recordings came up. It's all the stuff I review here.

The station, based in Cocoa, Florida, was started by members of a biker 'gang' - the word I use in the positive Fonzie sense not the Angels negative sense, & anyways, my dad used to drive a bike - in May 2012. The Warlock Chapter of bikers has its roots going back to 1967 & the aircraft carrier U.S.S. Shangri-La out on an 8 month deployment. 13 young sailors started thinking about life after the Navy, with the answer coming as a shared interest in biking. The Warlocks was the result, which each of the 13 forming a chapter in his hometown. Sadly, the excitement of this new endeavor passed once the restraints of the Navy fell away, but one fellow kept the dream alive & started the first Warlock Chapter in the Orlando area. Today, Warlocks can found in the United States, England & Germany. The Melbourne branch was started in 1982 in the Melbourne area. In 1986 the Wheels & Gunner group was formed, later joining the Warlocks in 1989. Since early in their respective lives the Florida bikers have been involved with toy runs - since become the largest in the state - a prison run, a biker bash - that has donated at least $130,000 to Big Brothers & Big Sisters - a benefit for the Red Cross & 9-11 victims, plus giving $10,000 in donations to the Shiners Children Hospital of Tampa. Fonzie would be proud & I'd encourage you to check out their non mobile, less regionally oriented, artistic efforts. No refueling required.

As for what they have that might link Manhattan to Cocoa. Well, the invite came from bassist-cum-biker Tim Starace, formerly of Hotshot with singer Mike Pont. You may not recognize any of these names ... but the history of these two men is intertwined by association with Mr. Big's iconic bassist Billy Sheehan & hair rockers Danger Danger, White Lion, L.A. Guns & Motley Crue. It's a true 6 degrees game, something I love doing!

Once upon a time there was a bassist who played with an early line-up of White Lion named Bruno Ravel. He would find himself in New York based band Talas alongside a changing roster that would come to include future Megadeth/Savatage guitarist Al Pitrelli, vocalist Phil Naro, future Megadeth/Y&T drummer Jimmy DeGrasso & guitarist Johnny Angel - who'd later work with Ratt frontman Stephan Pearcy in ARCADE - & future Asia guitarist Mitch Perry. At this time, Talas was really just a group of young bucks showing off on stage. The fame of the band reached back before any of them to the early 70's & not due so much to its music but by to its finger flying founding bassist Billy Sheehan. Sheehan would go on to work with UFO, Michael Schenker, Mr. Big & David Lee Roth alongside Steve Vai, handing over his role to Ravel. Making a long & intersting story extremely short, after some controversy, Sheehan pulled the plug on Talas.

It was 1983 & Ravel grabbed Naro & formed Hotshot with drummer Steve West, guitarist Joey Sykes & keyboardist Bobby Guy. A week before their first show Naro was out of the game & in came singer Mike Pont. For about 2 years Hotshot hit the region playing the latest in New Wave, such as Duran Duran & Billy Idol. To note, their roadie was Kelly Nichels who'd go on to play bass with a pre-Guns'N'Roses L.A. Guns.

But, after a trip back from California, Pont had been bitten by the Sunset Strip bug & the glam world of Ratt & Motley Crue & wanted to play something different than what the band was doing. Hotshot collapsed in his wake, but soon Pont, Ravel & West reunited, now with keyboardist Kasey Smith & Ravel's ex-Talas bandmate Al Pitrelli, rechristening themselves Danger Danger. After recording some demos that can be found on their out of print 2003 release Rare Cuts, featuring some of Al's earliest recordings, Pont left again to California, to be replaced with Ted Poley who would become the face everyone would come to associate with Danger Danger.

Al soon followed out the door, calling his old friend up & back across the country. What happened next was Danger Danger found themselves with a record deal & a modest little bubble of success, while Al & Pont dug the Hotshot name of the garbage with bassist Teddy Cook & drummer Kurt Fairchild joining. The set list was heavy with Pont/Pitrelli originals that brought in the glam sound of L.A.. Mountain guitarist Leslie West would even join in the sessions for their demo recordings. Hotshot mach II begin to attract attention, but the attention moved in an unexpected way. Bassist Cook was invited into DIO while Al joined Alice Cooper.

Thus was born Hotshot mach III, bringing things up to Warlock Radio. The Pont/Pitrelli Hotshot was a more glam oriented affair with Al's trademarkable melodic guitar, some keyboards & backing vocals. It many ways it fit perfectly in the mold that was being projected by the charts. Whereas mach III was a much heavier affair, now sans any backing vocals & keyboards, with new guitarist Spike Francis & bassist Timmy Starace. Some more demos would be recorded & unintentionally create an interesting comparison of just how much creative room Pont gave his bandmates in molding the sound of HOTSHOT.

As luck would have it, the demos were given to famed Motley Crue bassist/songwriter Nikki Sixx ... leading to him leaving a message on Pont's answering machine offering to manage the band. The quartet flew to L.A. to do 2 shows & a private showcase for Sixx & bandmate Tommy Lee. Sixx even publicly mentioned in an interview his intention of working with the boys. But, luck reared its head again in a not so positive way, as Motley Cure was having their own troubles that took the form of kicking out frontman Vince Neil. The work of replacing him took priority over a little NYC band & the big dream suddenly ended.

About 15 years later Pont released the demos that caught Sixx’s ears ... on an album aptly called The Bomb. For a major Pitrelli fan as myself (& his biographer) its a pot of gold snippet of history, let alone a pondering of what could have been. The album even opens with Sixx’s original answering machine message wanting to talk business. For those looking for Pitrelli’s earliest recordings The Bomb is as near a musical holy grail as one will probably ever get, particularly when examined alongside Danger Danger's Rare Cuts as an unintentional companion release.

Now, years later Tim Starace has traded 4 strings for 4 gears, giving to the community through his biker organizations in a way that almost exceeds anything he could have done with music. Where Fairchild & Francis have faded off to I don't know. As for Pont, after a few one-off gigs with his Danger Danger bandmates in later years, he works as a DJ & photographer. He's also told me he has some new music in the works, or maybe some old music yet to be shared. But, he says it has a great guest list. I await patiently any news he would like to share.

To find out more about Hotshot & get their album The Bomb visit www.hotshotrocks.com. Danger Danger's Rare Cuts is out of print & it'll take a search on Amazon or another record site to find remaining copies.

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