The eleventh of January welcomed the return of the most rad thing to do on hump day night, Soundcheck Live at Lucky Strike. On parade every Wednesday, Soundcheck Live, at Hollywood & Highland, offers a rotating platform for artists of all musical divinations to give unique interpretations of the music that shaped them.
Produced by Soundcheck Live Founder and Musical Director Steve Ferlazzo, MD/keyboardist for Avril Lavigne, each edition is presented in three sections:
ACT I – Meet The Cast
A select bevy of slingers join the resident band (Ferlazzo, Glen Sobel, Steve Fekete, Carl Restivo, Derek Frank) for a riveting first act casting freshness on the classics.
ACT II – Guest Curated
A special headliner-directed set of songs. Their favorites. Their players. Their way. Their point of entry. You’re backseat driving, and your hands ain’t on the wheel but you’re heading out to the Highway and you got nothing to lose at all.
ACT III – All Together Now
Unrehearsed. Unexpected. Unbelievable. Unforgettable.
Launching last March, the inaugural event featured guitarists Orianthi, Nuno Bettencourt, and Doug Aldrich, drummer Brian Tichy, bassist Rudy Sarzo and the one-and-only Sebastian Bach. Hollywood’s cognoscenti were put on notice. Since its inception, this Wednesday night smackdown has been a veritable diagon alley of rock ‘n roll, with anyone and everyone from Dave Grohl to Jackson Browne taking part. The 41st edition, and its subsequent adjunct counterpart, brought out some heavy artillery, including Bettencourt, Steve Vai, Tom Morello, Richie Kotzen, Jerry Cantrell, and Gilby Clarke.
Creeping into the 11 o’clock hour on the 11th, Nuno kicked off ACT II with a rollicking 7-minute+ version of REO Speedwagon’s “Roll With the Changes.” From there, he delivered a sublime rendition of “Under Pressure” before revving, once again, for a spirited rendition of Lady Gaga’s “Applause,” roaring, gargantuan, with powerhouse vocals by rising star Gabbie Rae. Other barnburners included “Play With Me,” by his band Extreme, “Paradise by the Dashboard Light,” with guest vox by Heather E Lounsbury, Audioslave’s “Cochise,” with Richie Kotzen on the mic and mind-bending histrionics by the inimitable Tom Morello
The action then went next level with Steve Vai and Stu Hamm laying waste to David Lee Roth’s “Yankee Rose” (Vai played on the original studio recording) and a killer all-hands-on-deck all-star jam on the Hendrix masterpiece, “Voodoo Child (Slight Return).” Elevation. Levitation. Exultation.
The following week, during the Pre-NAMM edition, Jerry Cantrell sang Thin Lizzy’s “Jailbreak” before shredding Alice In Chains classics, “Man in a Box” and “Would.” It was epic. The most recent edition, the 42nd Street treatise, featured Tony MacAlpine, David Ellefson, from Megadeth, and Nita Strauss amping up the hot house.
And while you may be thinking to yourself, this is absurdly amazing, tickets must cost a boatload of bullion. Well, you’d be a dead-man-walking-on-a-short-plank, with a sea of wrong beneath. It’s absolutely free with an RSVP, though, at times, there’s a long wait to get in.
The. wait. is. worth. it.
The vibe is a one-of-a-kind blend of 80’s badassery and modern steam-punkery, seared rare with sizzling sonic cutlery. With riffs reigning down, denizens gorge on gobs of gluttonous gastropubbery, washed down with haughty hoppery and Reserve-grade Resveratrol. 4 out of 5 doctors agree, LSL is guaranteed to raise your LDL (Low Density Life) with High-Density Ripoprotein so strap on your crown and get ready to enter the upside down.
Come on shine your heavenly body tonight
Cause Soundcheck gonna make everything alright
You’ll be a Lucky Star
The luckiest by far
Photos by Andrew Phares