Audience 'Under Siege'
THE HERALD-MAIL ONLINE
Friday June 23, 2006
HAGERSTOWN-MARYLAND CONCERT-May 22, 2006
started first, prompting the crowd to move to the bluesy beat.
"Make some noise!" a backup singer yelled, as he commanded
people to get up and clap their hands.
Moments later, screams filled The Maryland Theatre Thursday night as actor
and musician Steven Seagal walked on stage with a guitar clinging to his chest.
The music continued, and so did the
crowd, which stood and danced along in their seats.
Seagal, wearing blue jeans and a bright yellow sleeveless shirt
exposing the muscles his movie fans have become familiar with, and his band, Thunderbox, didn't take to the stage until nearly
10 p.m., but the crowd didn't seem to care.
Steven Seagal & Thunderbox
Cheers of affirmation could be heard as the blues band played
its first number.
"That's what I'm talking about," Seagal said amid shouts from the crowd as the opening song ended.
"It's hot up here, y'all, and it's only going to get hotter!" Seagal encouraged the crowd.
Seagal is on tour
promoting the May release of his album, "Mojo Priest." Song titles on the album include "Gunfire in the Juke Joint," "She
Dat Pretty" and "Slow Boat to China."
Dave Schober of Union Bridge, Md., knew Seagal was in a blues band, but he never
had heard him play until Thursday.
"I know he's also a big collector of guitars, like me," Schober said.
said he attended the concert for a night out on the town.
The Stonebergers, of Hagerstown, are fans of Seagal's movies,
saying they have seen nearly all of them.
While Sandy Stoneberger joked that she and her husband have wondered how
many people Seagal would beat up within the first 30 minutes of a movie, she said they had no idea he was a musician.
didn't know he had a band until we saw it in the newspaper," Sandy Stoneberger said before Seagal performed.
decided to come out and see their action hero in person.
Bill Stoneberger said he thought Seagal's music would be
good even before the show started.
"I just think he has the voice, and the way he carries himself, he's going to be
good," Stoneberger said.
passes the blues test at Gold Country
By SPENCER K. ROUSE - The
Big-screen martial arts star Steven
Seagal, sporting a flying-V guitar, leads a spirited set of blues with his band, Thunderbox, June 8 at Gold Country Casino
OROVILLE -- Last Thursday night, arguably the
finest martial arts actor of our time revealed another side of himself at Gold Country Casino. Specifically, Steven Seagal
and his band Thunderbox brought some outstanding deep Delta blues to the nearly sold-out crowd.
what must be some of the best blues musicians from the Memphis, Tenn., area.
As Seagal and band opened their set,
the audience was a bit stunned, not knowing exactly what to expect. Then there was a gratifying awe after the first song as
Seagal announced, "That's what I'm talkin' about!"
After about four songs he took time to introduce his smoking band,
giving the nod for each to perform a lengthy and tastefully executed solo. Seagal's playing style was simple and his flying-V
guitar strapped snugly to his considerable frame gave a slightly awkward appearance, but he thrilled the enthusiastic audience.
The crowd's appreciative hoots and hollers were met by wide grins from the big-screen action hero.
I must admit I
was somewhat leery in my expectations of Seagal's musical explorations. However, his enthusiasm for the music itself as well
as the performance were clearly evident and contagious throughout the band and to the audience. That is, except for the 10
percent or so that were probably in their 70s who left within the first two songs. This was quite understandable as the sound
was clear, loud and absolutely guitar driven.
Thunderbox consists of three guitarists, including Seagal, trading between
rhythm, slide, lead and solo licks. One player sported a double rattlesnake-head hat. The intensity of the guitar interchanges
were sonically powerful but the expression from the players was of ease and joy.
Clearly leading the band was a young
drummer, obviously jazz-schooled, driving the driving the rhythm from the top while remaining crisp. The rhythm was complemented
by the bass player. He was up in the mix far enough, enabling him to ride the beat alongside the drummer without being drowned
Thunderbox's instrumentation is completed with a young keyboardist who Seagal introduced as on par with the recently
deceased Billy Preston, but for me the highlight of the band was Seagal's backup singers. While Seagal sang lead on most of
the first five or so songs, his backup singers took a larger role in the vocals deeper into the show. This male and female
pair had so much enthusiasm and talent they commanded the audience.
After an approximately 10 song high-energy set,
the "Love Doctor" handed his flying V off to a roadie and headed off the stage. Thunderbox finished the song to roars and
more cheers. Once the stage was clear, chants of "Steven, Steven" arose and spread quickly through the crowd. After a very
short interval they returned, eliciting more cheers for "The Mojo Priest" himself. Seagal emerged with a huge smile as the
crowd left their seats to come to the stage for a better look. Seagal and Thunderbox tore through a strong encore, leaving
with high fives for the crowd.
Steven Seagal's popularity is still very strong as a growing line of more than 100
was forming in the lobby for a meet-and-autograph-session after the show. But only those fortunate enough to purchase the
CD were able to get in.
Steven Seagal plays blues
concert at Pepe’s on the River
Monitor Staff Writer
MISSION — Without even hearing
a song from any of Steven Seagal’s two albums, Alicia Consiglio drove with two of her friends to the action star’s
concert at Pepe’s on the River on Saturday.
“He’s very good looking,”
she said, as her friends, Cris Corona and Eva Chipps, laughed.
The three women are big blues fans,
regulars at Harlingen’s Blues on the Hill concerts each summer. But they’re even bigger fans of the pony-tailed,
kimono wearing Seagal.
They packed in with hundreds of others
at Pepe’s, enjoying heaping plates of botanas and sipping on margaritas, Miller Lites and Bud Lights at the 2nd annual
Blues by the River Festival.
Jake Cortes & The Recipe For the
Trouble warmed up the crowd before Seagal — who is better known for playing a cop battling drug-dealing Jamaicans in
movies like Marked for Death — was scheduled to start jamming at 10 p.m.
“The music’s awesome,”
Corona said about Cortes’ band, “but we are here for Seagal.”
Seagal’s appeal also extended
to the men in the crowd.
Will Wallace and his brother Wade
were much more familiar with Seagal movie classics like Under Siege and Above the Law, than Mojo Priest, his latest album.
“I knew he collected guitars,”
said Will, who had been unaware of Seagal’s guitar playing. “I grew up watching him kick a—.”
Wade, a big blues fan, was swaying
to Cortes’ music, commenting on how he might try to get Cortes to play at his November wedding with Christine Parra.
“I had no idea until I heard
it on the radio that Seagal was coming,” Wade said.
His fiancée, within earshot, was quick
to catch that one.
“Whatever, for two weeks I haven’t
heard him shut up about the show,” she said.
Andres R. Martinez covers law enforcement
and general assignments for The Monitor. He can be reached at (956) 683-4434. For this and more local stories, visit www.themonitor.com.
Review From Amos Stevens
Well left our house at 5pm & got to the crickett
pavillion & they had opened part of the parking lot at 3pm for a beach party. Volleyball court, temp stage, a few booths
selling food & liqour. They're patting everyone down & security didn't care about my camera,considering on the phone
& other signs said not to bring them in-I later heard from a man that he was denied to bring in even a digital camera-he
was told he had to buy one of their one time use cameras.
Gates to the pavillion didn't open till after
6pm, and went into our seats just after 7pm. Had found at the merchandise booths they're selling Seagal Mojo Priests t-shirts
for $35, a 18" X 12" picture of Mojo Priest with a white area below it for him to sign for $5 & his Cds for $15 we got
a couple of his CDS & was told after he performed he would be out there for autographs.
Well on stage they had his band set
up brought out a fan(gee I wonder why,it only got up to 112 yesterday) just in front of a large drop with a painted village
scene. Behind it you could see another larger band set up. Seagals 3 guitar players,keyboard & drummer came out &
began to play, his two back up singers came out-a woman & a man & they did most of the talking-trying to encourage
the rude crowd. They introduced Seagal & he came out already carrying a guitar that they plugged him in & they finished
the song. During the performance he changed guitars & then back to the one he came in with. I'm not familiar with the
songs from his new CD yet,but did recognize "Dark Angel" and " alligator ass" songs for a total of about 6 songs he played
in a half hours time.
The audience that was in the seating area was
ridiculously rude for the most part. Their either standing or walking around visiting. The outside booth areas were packed
the whole time of Seagals performance-the people weren't coming inside yet. One woman did stand up a couple times to clap & dance around. People were being allowed to gather in the
aisles blocking views & security was doing diddily. The 3rd song only about 5 people could be heard applauding.it was
that bad for Seagal & his band. As soon as he was done performing & was leaving-waving
at the audience,we scurried
out to the merchandise booth to wait for him. After a while the line grew,but got impatient because he didn't get out there
probably around 830pm. This older man shuffled into the booth to look things over before he allowed Seagal to enter
with his band members etc. The chair they had
for Seagal, was too low & he disappeared from site so they brought up
something else,I didn't see what. He wasn't in the best of moods as you can bet but he
looked good & joked around a
bit when someone was yelling from the line about how great he looked-he pointed at the man standing to his right & said,"who
or me". He allowed photos to be taken,sadly this is the only photo that we got that was good. I will be trying to
I can save the stage photos,but they're just too far away & blurry.
VERN TELL'S IT LIKE IT IS
THE STEVEN SEAGAL BLUES BAND
May 27th, 2006 at the Tractor Tavern, Seattle
"" I'm not about to start writing concert
reviews, but I think the Steven Seagal Blues Band tour is worth an explanation. From the moment I first heard about the show
to the second I got there, I really had no clue what the hell was gonna happen. And I had many discussions with people about
who was gonna show up, if anybody. Wouldn't it just be young people going to laugh at him? Would it be embarassing? Would
he have to break a dude's wrist and throw him through a window? Or pull a decorative lasso or samurai sword off the wall and
go to work? I even had an elaborate notion of how he could bring along a stuntman to pose as a heckler, then do a couple moves
on the guy and throw him through sugar glass. That would be one hell of a show.
I know because of stevenseagal.net that
there are some crazy female fans whose Seagal fandom is purely about lust. But the internet is a worldwide medium. The question
is how many of these women there really are in the world and how many are within driving distance of Seattle. I figured 1
or 2 tops, probaly none. But I figured wrong.
The show sold out, and there were people
outside with signs begging for extra tickets. It was a mostly older crowd inside. Lots of grey hair, also lots of bald heads
and tattoos. Some tough guys, some ponytails, some nerdy old guys in leather jackets. I wondered if anybody was a serious
blues fan. Was anyone here to genuinely examine his chops? There was a pack of crew-cutted frat boys hooting in the back,
some young hipster types here and there, possibly for ironic purposes, possibly for Seagalogical study. Probaly more men than
women but not much, seemed like lots of husbands and wives. Mostly white people, but all races were represented. I noticed
a decent percentage of Native Americans, and a woman wearing a fringed jacket with beadwork like Seagal wears in ON DEADLY
GROUND. That made my day. I figured if there was ever a Seagalogy convention you'd be seeing alot of those.
I never been to this place, the Tractor Tavern. There are cowboy
boots, some tractor tires and a few farming type tools decorating the place, lots of things that could become improvised weapons
if a fight were to break out. Unfortunately there's no pool table so we're not gonna see the legendary pool balls in the napkin
move from OUT FOR JUSTICE. This is Seattle, so the country theme is a put-on. It's not an authentic tough joint but it is
an approximation of a bar where a fight might occur in a Seagal picture. The bathroom is ridiculously narrow and has a piss
trough instead of urinals. But there's a sign on the wall that says "Be nice or leave," and I was immediately struck by how
nice everybody was. People apologizing for bumping into each other, letting ladies go first in line, bartenders replacing
spilled drinks for free. I saw a woman trying to buy a ticket even though the show was long sold old. She said she had driven
all the way from Oregon. The ticket girl thought about it for a moment, stamped the lady's wrist and let her in.
Another thing I wondered when I realized
I had a chance to see Steven Seagal playing music was whether or not he would have guitar face. I don't know if anybody else
is as fascinated by this as me, but alot of guitarists make goofy faces while they play. They bob their head around and mouth
the sounds they're trying to make. Or sometimes they scrunch up like somebody just farted in their face. With somebody like
Jimi or some of the traditional blues guys it might be cool. With alot of people, especially white people, it looks ridiculous.
And when you are better known as a movie star, like say if you were Al Pacino or Patrick Stewart, you would look even funnier
making guitar face. So this was an important question in my mind.
The answer is that Seagal has a very
powerful and unique guitar face that is entirely contained within his brow. For most of his playing his face was completely
motionless. His mouth just looked like a bracket tipped over. Like in his movies, his eyes were so narrow that you couldn't
tell if they were open or closed. But his eyebrows would tilt in and out of a concerned upside down V and he'd shake his head
slightly side to side. This is an entirely respectable guitar face that in no way compromises his tough guy screen persona.
In fact it emphasizes it, using my Theory of Badass Juxtaposition. Blues guitar is pretty manly so it's not as strong of a
juxtaposition as jazz piano (Clint Eastwood) but personally I believe any expressive art counts.
How good is Seagal? I would say
he's pretty good, definitely above expectations. With the extreme tightness of his band, I could tell he was a little sloppy
on the guitar. At one point I thought one of the backup guitarists might have winced at his playing, but that was probaly
my imagination. I don't think his performance was embarassing at all. He could've gotten away with strumming and singing,
but he took almost all of the solos. We're not talking about memorizing some chords, he has to know the idiom of blues soloing
in order to be able to play these songs, so I think he's serious, not just going through a phase. He did well.
You might've heard some of his singing
on his movies. It's funny because you can tell it's him. Like alot of blues I'm sure, the whole production sounds way better
live than on CD, including the singing. I couldn't make out all the lyrics, but he's definitely following blues traditions
more than putting his unique Seagalian spin on them. Alot of "Well I woke up this morning" and "I went to bed last night"
and that kind of stuff. I noticed in one song he mentioned seeing Jesus and the Devil walking down a road together, which
seemed like an unusual thing for a Buddhist lama to be singing about. But it's an acceptable use of symbolism. One song they
played turns out to be called "Talk To My Ass," but the lyrics never say that as far as I can tell. Another one was called
"Alligator Ass" because of the punchline at the end where he says he ordered some chicken but they gave him alligator ass.
Every song or two a guy would come out
and hand Seagal a different guitar. One of them had a snakeskin strap that looked like it had part of the head still on there.
Despite that, Seagal's presence was serious and humble, mostly expressionless but occasionally he would look at his bandmates
and break into a wide, boyish smile. Some of the crowd were yelling things like "UNDER SIEGE!" but instead of getting mad
he smiled and nodded and a couple times shook people's hands. There was very little between songs banter (I would've liked
a speech on alternative fuel resources) but he did go around and introduce the band, telling where they were from, what they
did (this guy tours with Alicia Keys, this guy plays with "everyone from the Rolling Stone on down"), and invariably describing
them as "amazing." Bernard Allison for example is "The son of an amazing blues legend, and he himself is an amazing... blues
legend." After he'd introduced everybody in detail, almost as an afterthought he said, "Oh, and I'm Steven Seagal," and the
band busted immediately into the next song as the crowd went nuts again. Because it's true, he was Steven Seagal.
The show was pretty short, just about
an hour before the encore. But at least they didn't wear out their welcome. The last song before the encore was "Feet Don't
Fail Me Now," which he doesn't have on the CD. I think it's a traditional zydeco song, but they played it as funk, even throwing
in a little "Fire!" from the Ohio Players. Now, I don't know blues but I do know a thing or two about funk. I've seen James
Brown a couple times, I've seen Parliament-Funkadelic, I've seen the other Parliament where they don't have George Clinton
but they have all the other original members. I've seen the Meters (without Zigaboo unfortunately), I've seen War. One time
I saw the original JBs opening for James Brown - Bootsy, Fred Wesley and everybody. I saw Herbie Hancock's reunion with the
original Headhunters. I even saw Dolemite once. I've also seen shitty funk bands and you can tell when it's bad. You do it
wrong and it's cheesy as hell. And you have to be tight or it doesn't seem funky. Funk to me is what X-Men is to nerds, so
believe me when I say that this was scorchin. The Hammond somehow sounded like a funky ass horn section, but distorted like
a dusty old record from a low budget session. I couldn't fuckin believe what I was experiencing here. The crowd was dancing.
The band was burning up. And Steven Seagal was standing there in his orange shirt wailing away. What the fuck is this, is
this a dream or is this real life? Did my love for OUT FOR JUSTICE and old school funk seriously just intersect right before
I'm not lying people, this was one of
the most amazing things I've seen in my life. It was a genuinely entertaining concert, and every song got an explosive applause
from the audience. There was never a point where the appreciation, or the novelty, or whatever you think it was, seemed to
be wearing thin. Some of those crazy women were yelling "I love you Steven!" and dudes were yelling things about his movies,
but with few exceptions I got the feeling these were sincere fans. Alot of them knew that it was funny what they were seeing
but they were genuinely appreciative of Seagal. Now that I think of it it's kind of a relief because these are the people
I'm trying to write Seagalogy for. Now I know there are lots of them.
Now don't get me wrong, if this great
band had had some "amazing blues legend" as the leader instead of an aikido instructor turned movie star turned lama turned
bluesman, you would've had some more all-around technically proficient and authentic blues. But it might not have been as
good. Because the sight of a genuinely awesome band fronted by the guy from BELLY OF THE BEAST is surreal and beautiful. A
once in a lifetime dream. I had that constant "this is too good to be true" feeling pretty much from start to finish.
As "Feet Don't Fail Me Now" was ending,
Seagal left the stage, followed by the band, and the crowd chanted, "RYBACK! RYBACK! RYBACK!" until they came back for one
more. After the encore, everybody had huge smiles threatening to break off of their faces. Most people were in too much of
a daze to leave. Some people crowded at the corner of the stage hoping to catch another glimpse of Seagal. Sure enough he
came out and shook some hands. Suddenly it threatened to turn into mayhem as people rushed the corner trying to get a piece
of the action. After a few minutes Seagal climbed on stage and tried to find a live mic.
Holy shit, I thought.
Is he gonna do it? Is he gonna make the speech from the end of ON DEADLY GROUND? Or maybe the sermon from FIRE DOWN BELOW?
Is he gonna take questions? Instead he said that he was going to find a place to sign things and "spend some time with
you." This, of course, resulted in a burst of Beatlemania-esque hysteria.
Eventually Seagal was seated behind a
little table and everyone tried to crush each other to get to him. This was when you really got a feel for the type of fandom
you had attending the show. There were definitely obsessed women, including two feisty plus-sized ladies who had managed to
score a sweaty hand towel Seagal had used. They explained that it was the one he used when he lifted up his ponytail and wiped
the sweat off the back of his neck. They were honorable though so they found a man with a pocket-knife to cut it in half so
they could each have a piece. There were plenty of admiring middle aged women who were not crazy, and some of them decided
that an autograph was not worth being crushed and just left. Another one kept saying she was going to touch his hair.
I guess I'm not as much of a superfan
as you'd think, because I didn't bring a DVD to autograph or a camera. But I was amazed at the memorabilia that seemed to
appear out of nowhere. Posters, huge blow up glossies, laser discs of OUT FOR JUSTICE and UNDER SIEGE. Some young Seagalogists
were obviously amused by the whole thing but I was happy that they weren't just being ironic. I heard discussions of INTO
THE SUN and how PRINCE OF PISTOLS is gonna be about the blues. People were calling their friends to brag that they were ten
feet away from Steven Seagal. "Oh my god, I can't believe it, that's Casey Ryback right there." There was a real camaraderie
here. Strangers crammed together, talking about their favorite Seagal movies, making jokes about the titles. Somehow word
had spread throughout the neighborhood, so some kids were gathering outside begging to get in, but they didn't have IDs.
Watching Seagal sign was almost as good
as watching him play. He spoke quietly so you couldn't tell what he was saying to people. But he would put on these little
reading glasses (perhaps the same ones he uses to examine antique samurai swords for museums) and then he'd take them off
to pose for pictures with people. For every picture he would assume his dead-eyed badass face. No smile at all. I saw people
posing for what must've been some hilarious pictures - groups of college kids with gigantic smiles surrounding Seagal with
the look of a stone cold killer on his face. (If any of these show up on the internet here let me know and I'll link to them.)
I haven't met too many famous people or gotten too many books signed or anything, but when it happens I got a rule. Don't
assume you are the one cool guy who can relate to your hero and ask a question he hasn't heard a million times before. Just
be polite, say thank you or whatever. Make it simple. So when I got up to the front I just shook the man's hand and said "Thank
you very much, I'm a huge fan, it was a wonderful show." Usually I'd probaly just say "thank you" but how often are you gonna
meet Steven fucking Seagal? So I splurged and threw in that extra "wonderful" part.
I didn't feel like I made a personal
connection with the man. Not that he was unfriendly, but he's been sitting there signing autographs for a bunch of crazy people,
not sure who's sincere and who's gonna try to sell it on ebay. You can't blame him for not seeming like he's your best friend.
I can't even remember what he said back to me. I was probaly too busy wondering how the hell I was standing there shaking
Steven Seagal's hand to actually experience the moment.
As I walked away from the tavern I just
started laughing at my luck. I've done well with this hand. It's worked out pretty good for typing, it's flipped off Dick
Cheney to his face, and it's shaken Steven Seagal's hand. If I ever get horribly maimed, now I got another reason to hope
it happens on the left side.
Some kind of jug band was playing on
the sidewalk next to a hot dog stand. Other people were floating to their cars or bus stops powered by post-Seagal highs.
That movie didn't lie, life is beautiful. The problems of the world might go away if everybody could get a chance
to see Steven Seagal with a flying-V. I figure no matter how down in the dumps you are, try to always live your life as if
you might shake Steven Seagal's hand later that night. Because who knows, you might.
As I got further away I began to run
into people from the outside world, people who may not have even been aware that the star of THE GLIMMER MAN was sitting in
a tavern nearby. And everybody I passed I had to fight the urge to say, "Excuse me, I just shook Steven Seagal's hand."
Nah, they wouldn't understand. It's something
you have to live.