As Joe Bonamassa approaches his 26th year as a professional musician, he continues to blaze a remarkably versatile artistic trail, and amass an authentic, innovative and soulful body of work. Bonamassa’s career began onstage opening for B.B. King in 1989, when he was only 12 years old. Today, he is hailed worldwide as one of the greatest guitar players of his generation, and is an ever-evolving singer-songwriter who has released 15 solo albums in the last 13 years, all on his own label, J&R Adventures. Bonamassa’s tour schedule consistently hovers at around 200 shows worldwide each year, and a heaping handful of markedly diverse side projects keep him thinking outside the box and flexing every musical muscle he’s got. He founded and oversees the non-profit Keeping The Blues Alive Foundation to promote the heritage of the blues to the next generation, fund music scholarships, and supplement the loss of music education in public schools. There’s a case to be made that Joe Bonamassa, like another star who shared the same initials, is the hardest working man in show business.
Mark Boling is a jazz guitarist, teacher, composer, and author. A veteran sideman with pianist Donald Brown, Boling played in Knoxville-based bands and recorded with Brown on three records for the French label Space Time Records. Boling also enjoyed a rewarding collaboration with drummer Keith Brown and bassist Rusty Holloway in the Boling, Brown, & Holloway trio. Boling has released three recordings as a leader (Trio Life, 2012; Tune Me, 2004; Evidence, 2000). In addition, he has performed with the Knoxville Jazz Orchestra, the Knoxville Symphony Orchestra, and a number of acclaimed jazz musicians, including Gregory Tardy, Zim Ngqawana, Bill Scarlett, Vance Thompson, Jack Coker, and Jerry Coker. He is the author of Creative Comping Concepts for Jazz Guitar (Mel Bay), The Jazz Theory Workbook (Advance Music),Elements of the Jazz Language software (CPP/Belwin), and Curriculum for Aural Training software. Boling was a senior artist-in-residence at the Banff Center International Jazz Workshop, a visiting artist at the Brubeck Institute, and a teacher at Berklee College of Music’s summer guitar program. He received a Bachelor of Music degree from the Berklee College of Music in Boston (1981) and a Masters in Music Theory from the University of Tennessee (1984). Today, Mark Boling is an associate professor of music at the University of Tennessee and serves as coordinator of the jazz studies program.
Steve Smith’s drumming, while always decidedly modern, can best be described as a style that embodies the history of U.S. music. His original love of rudimental parade drumming is evident in his intricate solos. Likewise, his command of jazz, from New Orleans music, swing, bebop, avant-garde to fusion, is applied with his powerful rock drumming sensibilities and allows him to push the boundaries of all styles to new heights. His musical focus is committed to the exploration of improvised music incorporating styles as diverse as Blues, Jazz, R&B, Funk, Cajun and South Indian Carnatic. Originally drawn to the drums by hearing marching bands in parades as a child in his native Massachusetts, Smith began studying the drums at age nine, in 1963. After high school, Smith studied music at the Berklee College of Music in Boston from 1972-76. There he received valuable instruction from such renowned teachers as Gary Chaffee and Alan Dawson. In 1974 Smith’s professional career began in full, at 19 years old, with his tenure in the Lin Biviano Big Band, which he toured and recorded with for the next two years. At that same time he also performed with bebopper Buddy DeFranco and was a member of free-jazz group The Fringe featuring George Garzone. In 1976, Smith began his association with jazz/fusion by joining violinist Jean-Luc Ponty’s group and recording the 1977 landmark fusion album Enigmatic Ocean, which also featured guitarist Allan Holdsworth. It was while touring with rocker Ronnie Montrose a year later that Smith was asked to join the popular rock band Journey which brought his playing to the attention of a rock audience. With Journey, Smith toured around the world and recorded numerous successful albums including the immensely popular Escape (Columbia 1981) and Frontiers (Columbia 1983), both of which garnered the band many Top 40 hits and worldwide sales of over 80 million albums. In 1985 Smith left Journey to pursue his original passion, jazz, and to continue his developing career as a session player. Over the past 30+ years, Smith has played on many hits with such diverse artists as Bryan Adams, Mariah Carey, Zucchero, Claudio Baglioni, Andrea Bocelli, Y&T, Dweezil Zappa, Ray Price, Corrado Rustici and Savage Garden. Smith began leading his own fusion band Steve Smith and Vital Information while still a member of Journey, the group recorded their first album in 1983. Vital Information’s release, Where We Come From, was voted Best Contemporary Jazz Recording Of 1998 by the Association For Independent Music. The band’s 2007 Hudson Music release, Vitalization, has gathered critical acclaim around the world. The album features Steve’s interest and abilities with rhythms from India including the South Indian rhythmic vocal art-form: Konnakol. Vital Information’s 2012 release, LIVE! One Great Night, is the first in a series of new recordings to be released to celebrate the group’s 30th Anniversary. Steve is also the bandleader of Steve Smith’s Jazz Legacy, a group carrying on the tradition of many of the great drummer-led jazz bands; communicating with music lovers of all generations, striving for excellence and playing non-compromising, burning, straight-ahead jazz. In 2008 Jazz Legacy released two albums: Live On Tour Vol. 1 and Live On Tour Vol. 2. Steve also tours with a group that is made of up members of both Vital Information and Jazz Legacy. This band is called Steve Smith and Vital Information NYC Edition and plays the music of both groups. Smith has also maintained an extensive touring and recording career, appearing with many jazz luminaries such as Mike Mainieri’s group Steps Ahead. This band, which included virtuosos such as Michael Brecker, Richard Bona and Mike Stern, was one of the most successful electric jazz groups and Smith contributed greatly to their tight, energetic sound for seven years (1986-1993 and again from 2005-present). Other high profile jazz touring and/or recording gigs that have filled the drummer’s schedule include such artists as Ahmad Jamal, Michael Manring, Stanley Clarke, Randy Brecker, Zakir Hussain, George Brooks’ Summit and the Buddy Rich Big Band, with whom he has performed in many tribute concerts to the late drumming idol. He also rejoined Journey in 1996 to record the reunion album Trial By Fire (Columbia 1996). Smith’s calendar often includes many drum clinics in which he is able to display his phenomenal techniques and concepts to drumming students around the world. In 1998, Smith produced and played on 16 electric jazz albums for the Tone Center label with a revolving cast of talented players including Dave Liebman, Frank Gambale, Stu Hamm, Tom Coster, Larry Coryell, Jerry Goodman, Howard Levy, Steve Marcus, Scott Henderson and Victor Wooten. In 2003 Steve Smith and Buddy’s Buddies — the Buddy Rich alumni quintet — released two CDs on the Tone Center label that were record live at the famous London jazz club Ronnie Scott’s; Very Live at Ronnie Scott’s Set One and Set Two. In 2009 Tone Center release a compilation music called: The Best of Steve Smith-The Tone Center Collection. In 2004 Steve toured with Soulbop, and all-star group featuring Bill Evans, Randy Brecker, David Kikoski, Victor Bailey and Hiram Bullock. In 2005 the group released a live CD entitled Soulbop Band Live. Smith’s explosive solos and intricate timekeeping served to gain him much acclaim from sources such as Modern Drummer magazine, whose readers recently voted him the #1 Fusion Drummer of 2012. He has been voted #1 “All-Around” Drummer five years in a row, in 2001 Modern Drummer magazine named Steve as one of the “Top 25 Drummer of All Time”, in 2002 he was voted into the “Modern Drummer Hall of Fame” and in 2003 his Hudson Music DVD Steve Smith Drumset Technique – History of the U.S. Beat was voted #1 Educational DVD of 2003. The 2008, 2009 and 2010 Drum! magazine readers poll voted Smith #1 Jazz Drummer, and in 2009 Drum! readers voted Steve Smith Drum Legacy – Standing On The Shoulders Of Giants the #1 educational DVD. In 2005 Steve was invited to be first drumset artist to perform at Zakir Hussain’s annual concert in Mumbai, India called Homage to Abbaji, a concert dedicated to the memory of Zakir’s father and tabla guru, Allahrakha. In 2009 Steve played at Carnegie Hall in NYC with a special quartet version of Zakir Hussain’s Masters of Percussion that also featured “Vikku” Vinayakram and Giovanni Hidalgo. In 2010 The Raga Bop Trio featuring Prasanna, George Brooks and Smith released an album on the Abstract Logix label and toured extensively. In 2011 & 2012 Steve has been touring with the virtuosic jazz pianist Hiromi as a member of her “Trio Project” which also featured Anthony Jackson on bass. As a drummer, Steve Smith has worked for, and with, the best. He is consistently pushing the boundaries of creative drumming and constantly expanding his strong musical voice at the top of the international drumming community. As an educator, Smith is both the eternal student and perpetual teacher of the drums. His highly lauded, recently released educational DVDs The Art Of Playing With Brushes and Drum Legacy -Standing On The Shoulders Of Giants, are state of the art showcases of his playing and teaching skills. He is one of the few drummer/bandleaders who continues to bring world-class bands to all corners of the globe with a tireless regime of live performances.
A WORD FROM JOHN MCCARTHY, CREATOR OF THE ROCK HOUSE METHOD:
I have spent my entire life sharing my passion for music with others, both as a musician and instructor. For more than 30 years the Rock House Method has been proven to work. I have personally taught thousands of students one-on-one, authored more than 40 books and DVDs and produced over 100 instructional products coaching guitar greats to teach in their own instructional program.
Co-owner of Rock House and the creator of The Rock House Method, John in his over his 20-year career has produced and/or appeared in over 100 instructional products. In addition to his own products, John has worked on and written instructional products for every artist on the Rock House roster. No artist appears in a Rock House program until they have been coached by John. During his career as a performer he has worked with renowned musicians such as Will Calhoun, David Ellefson, Leo Nocentelli, Doug Wimbish, Bernie Worrell, Gary Hoey, Bobby Kimball and many others.
John McCarthy is a guitarist, author, educator and creator of the Rock House Method system of learning. Since 2001, The Rock House Method has sold more than three million instructional programs of which McCarthy writes, composes, and demonstrates in. In the past John has written columns for Guitar School magazine and starting June 2009, he began writing a monthly column titled “Metal Rising” in Guitar.
John McCarthy began providing music lessons at the age of 15 and created the first complete rock guitar instruction series on video in 1986. In 2000, John designed the Rock House Method accelerated learning system that combined instruction in video and book form with an on-line support system. In 2001 marketing specialist Joe Palumbo became a business partner and the mission began to take “The Rock House Method” to masses. John began playing guitar at the age of 6 inspired by listening to the vast album collection of his older brother and sisters and states this as the reason he has a wide range of music genres in his vocabulary. When John turned 8 he already had a band playing local camps and parties and at 15 was playing across the tri-state area in clubs.