On Wednesday, May 28th, the Whisky played home to one of those legendary sold-out events that you typically hear stories about years after it happened. When California Breed took the stage at 10:30p.m., it was an all out zoo! The capacity crowd left throngs of hopeful show-goers on the sidewalk desperately looking for a last-minute cancellation and a ticket inside where bodies were packed in like sardines, stuffed elbow to elbow amidst a host of camera lenses pointing from all points in the venue just trying to catch a piece of the action. It was an exciting moment as Glenn Hughes was back in town.
Multi-instrumentalist and vocalist Glenn Hughes is well-respected and highly visible due in part to his longstanding membership in rock and roll’s elite, and also to the various projects where he’s lent his talents as a bassist, a songwriter and a vocalist with one of widest vocal ranges in the sport of hard rock and heavy metal. When it comes to reaching the notes even the ladies are jealous of, Hughes is both a gold medal winner and a record setter.
In the late 60’s, Hughes appeared on the scene as a founding member of the Brit band Trapeze, writing his first hit titled Medusa, on the album of the same name, and began a career in music that would run through a gambit of stars as he climbed the ladders of success. In the early 70’s, Hughes would co-front the inspirational and groundbreaking rock act Deep Purple, with fellow veteran vocalist David Coverdale. In the early 80’s, he released an underground collectible with guitarist Pat Thrall, under the short-lived moniker of Hughes/Thrall. He followed his thrill-ride through decades of global music domination by recording with artists including Gary Moore, Toni Iommi (Black Sabbath), John Norum (Europe) and of late, with Joe Bonomassa, Derek Sherinian and Jason Bonham in the band Black Country Communion. Following three album releases, the group disbanded in early 2013, leaving the door open for the next big thing. That big thing came in the form of 22 (now 23) year old Andrew Watt.
Hughes shared, “It was February 2013 when I was introduced to this 22-year-old guitarist in New York from my dear friend Julian Lennon. There was an instant connection musically and we made a decision to write songs together, which have come out brilliantly. It was fate.” In April 2013, tweets from both Hughes and Watt shared the experiences of writing and recording together in Burbank, CA with the promise of what was to come.
Watt brought in a refreshing perspective to Hughes’ music. As a bright young twenty-something, Watt has already seen the world from the viewpoint of being a performer, writer, producer, promoter, booking agent and recording artist. His ability to write, perform and tirelessly self promote has added experiences to his resume that artists often take a full career to achieve, and he’s done this in just five years of making his appearance on the music scene. A tireless machine for the advancement of music, Watt was flying back from touring with artist Cody Simpson in Europe upon working with Hughes. Watt shared that the first two songs written together were Chemical Rain and Solo, (the former of the two is available as a bonus track on the Deluxe Edition of the band’s debut CD release).
Drummer Jason Bonham was a member of Hughes’ former band prior to California Breed. While the group disbanded on more than favorable terms, the proven relationship between Hughes and Bonham on three releases states the obvious inclusion of Bonham in California Breed. One would think, there was simply no other choice. Hughes shared memories from the stage during the performance of long nights at the Whisky with Jason’s father, founding drummer of Led Zeppelin John Bonham. In the early 1970’s, Hughes performed his first US shows ever at the Whisky, and it was evident that it meant everything to be there again, this time with Jason.
The band’s self-titled debut CD release, featuring a dozen tracks, offers something rare in today’s recorded music. Producer Dave Cobb recorded California Breed live in the studio, having Hughes sing directly over guitar and drum tracks while later recording the bass riffs. The band played direct to tape; capturing a big analog sound much the way long-standing classic rock albums were recorded in days past. As a result, the perfectly mastered CD that fans purchase is a clear representation of the band on stage. Seeing, and hearing, the band live is a true recreation of the CD. It’s authentic rock and roll, released through Frontiers, Italy and available after May 14th, 2014.
The show started at 10:30 PM as posted. Stacks of bright white Orange brand amplifiers, custom-made from the manufacturer just for Glenn Hughes, stood tall flanking Jason Bonham’s drum set. The band came down to the stage to applause from the capacity crowd, opening the first public performance of the band ever with track six from their CD titled The Grey. The shredding guitar into was a perfect introduction of Andrew Watt to fans. Throughout the first song, Hughes and Watt would trade-off amazing high-pitched vocals, establishing up front that Watt is much more than a flair driven guitarist, but rather a cornerstone element in the band’s sound, as comfortable laying down rhythms in the background as he is standing on the front of the stage tearing off the audience’s faces with searing guitar wizardry.
Their set featured a blend of both new songs from the CD and classics that fans both love and hope for when Jason Bonham performs; they pulled out Led Zeppelin’s What Is and What Should Never Be and the Immigrant Song. Hughes also shared, almost tearfully and with utter gratitude toward fans, that the song Medusa was both the first song he ever wrote and that he performed it for the first time at the Whisky, in 1970.
At this landmark event, and as expected, a long list of celebrity fans and friends attended the show. Former band mates of the group’s individual members including Chas West (Jason Bonham Band vocalist), Chad Smith (Red Hot Chili Peppers), Joe Bonomassa, Steve and Trevor Lukather, Jason Sutter (Marilyn Manson), Eric Singer (KISS), Jimmy D’Anda (BulletBoys), Chuck Wright (Quiet Riot), Mike Tramp, Lita Ford and a host of others were at the Whisky on a Wednesday night.
Now that you know what you’ve missed, the key is to get on board and be at the next show, singing along. To do this, visit www.californiabreed.com and get a copy of the CD. Check the upcoming show dates and follow the band on the social network. California Breed has plans to appear at select locations throughout 2014, and more details will be provided through the band’s online resources as new dates are scheduled.
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