Category: FESTIVALS

SKOGSRÖJET – festival-of-loud-guitars&screams time! :)

I didn’t go to Sweden Rock Festival this year, my “home” that I haven’t missed one single time since the mid 90’s, but this year I had to for personal reasons. I had to go to Croatia to take care of a few things that couldn’t be postponed any longer.

So I’m really glad that I’ll get to experience THIS festival, SKOGSRÖJET instead, cause it’s brand new to me.

Some of my favorite artists and bands are on the bill, so it’s like Christmas! I originally only got myself a ticket because they announced YNGWIE, my guitar hero since I was a teenage rocker. He hasn’t played in Sweden since god knows when, so that was a major treat! Then they announced APOLLO – Sweden’s Tony Martin, the man with the massive voice.

Then came all this other stuff, it’s gonna be a party-weekend to remember!

Not only that, but some of these acts bring old friends, Loudness with a long-time friend Anett from the Jon Oliva-days, Apollo from the Firewind and post-Firewind days, Pretty Maids with “little brother” Chris Laney on the keyboards and guitar…

And kickass live acts within their respective fields – THUNDER is an AMAZING band! I first saw them at the Donington Monsters of Rock back in the early 90’s with Iron Maiden, The Almighty, Slayer and W.A.S.P among others. They kicked ass.

Then I made a reaquaintance with them when they played with Whitesnake on their UK tour a few years ago – and then played Sweden Rock Festival. Incredibly solid band, great songs, just a wonderful vibe all the way through. And now they’re back in Sweden – then, if I feel that I STILL haven’t had enough of them, they’ll also be rockin’ the boat at the Monsters of Rock Cruise next year!

[this is from the Whitesnake tour a few years ago]

AMARANTHE kick ass at what they do, they’ve done their own thing from the very start and whether people loved it or hated it, they still carried on with their unique style.
Never mind the fact that all guys go goo-goo-gaa-gaa over Elize, she’s an incredibly talented singer – all three of them are. And there’s fireworks, laser and stuff, enough to feast your ears and eyes. :)

And D-A-D…! There is not a festival, gig, stage, ANYTHING that won’t start rockin’ to the CORE when these guys plug in their guitars and turn everything up to eleven! I love, love, love them to death! It’s genuine, it’s rough, it’s tough, it’s rock’n’roll the way it’s supposed to be, it’s a show, tons of humor and there’s just nothing not to like about these guys, Denmark’s greatest pride and joy!
If you haven’t heard them or seen them, it’s never too late and I can’t imagine anyone not having a fantastic time at their shows! :D

Hardcore Superstar, another one of those solid bands that have so much energy on stage it’s exhausting just watching them. :) It just hit me that a lot of these great acts are all from Gothenburg, Sweden – and Liv Sin is another one to add to that list.

When I first saw Sister Sin, they were opening for some major act, don’t remember who it was, but I remember thinking when I saw that petite, little leather-packaged chick in fishnet stockings: “…probably another one of those wimpy girlie singers that focuses on image and can’t sing for shit“…

Boy did I regret thinking that for even one second! SHE was the real deal – no doubt about it! She had a powerful rock’n’roll voice, like she’s been eating barb wire for breakfast, she was ALL over the fuckin’ place, rockin’ like the 100% pure rock chick that she is!

She’s never disappointed me since – she delivers at every show. Some people were just born to do what they do, and Liv was born to rock the asses of everybody.

And Yngwie – well… he doesn’t need an introduction. Just call him Maestro. :) Nobody comes close, he is simply amazing. Yeah, he’s mister Attitude and all that, but strip away all the bullshit and it comes down to the greatest guitarist I’ve ever heard. There might be others that are technically better, but Yngwie’s got the whole, complete deal – the melodies, she showmanship, the “feel”… It’s a zillion notes per second but it’s not ONLY that, unlike most other shredders. Love the guy. For his playing. I mean listen to this and tell me he’s not fantastic!

Second day – Apollo, Ugly Kid Joe, Pretty Maids, Backyard Babies, Black Star Riders…and old school NWOBHM heroes Saxon. :)

APOLLO – you’ll hear his voice on so many records, he’s one of the most sought-after vocalists in the country and there’s no doubt why. Apart from being an impressive singer, he’s also a super nice guy. This clip is from his days with Evil Masquerade. A favorite of mine. :)

PRETTY MAIDS – been around for ages and they’re only getting better!

What’s not to like?! I can’t wait for this weekend, that’ll be my dose of rock’n’roll for this month! :D

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Monsters of Rock Cruise 2018, it’s ON! :)

The Monsters of Rock Cruise, MORC, last year was a memory for life.
I’ve always loved the sea, so being out there, surrounded by the Carribean sea with a light breeze blowing through my hair was wonderful.

There was music and good times everywhere from morning to evening, but at night, it was all peaceful and quiet.

I had a balcony cabin and I felt incredibly privileged when I fell asleep watching the bright moon light up the water surface like a mirror, and then woke up early in the morning to almost complete silence, only the sound of waves splashing against the ship, to watch the sun rise. It was spectacular.

Apart from that, I’m at home on a boat full of rockers. That’s my “tribe”, that’s where I belong. :)

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I was there for Madam X, first and foremost, I love their passion and energy, and they’re just simply great people and great musicians.
They rocked that ship.

Then of course there was another good friend, Gus G and “his boys”, all of them great guys that I’ve gotten to know through the years. He kicked ass as well.

I didn’t think I would get to do it all again, until the announcement for 2018 Monsters of Rock Cruise was made recently. The lineup made me lose my breath, pretty much. It’s like tailor made for me. :)

Madam X again – don’t miss it! They have the most dedicated fan, there were people from all over the planet who came to see them on the cruise. And they didn’t disappoint anyone, those shows were loud and freaking awesome!

Lita Ford – my number one role model, inspiration, idol. She had a lot to do with the person I am today, because she was the only female rocker back in those days who was successful but embraced her femininity. All other female rockers all looked like dudes and I couldn’t quite relate. Lita was different and I loved her for it. I still think she kicks ass – and I’m still stoked that she included a photo from our interview – that was in this blog – in her biography. :)

The Quireboys – the BEST live-band I can think of. I’d say that the only competition they’ve got would be Whitesnake/David Coverdale. Other than that, they blow me away, every single time. There’s something genuine about this band, a love for what they do and a spark that never dies. Spike is the ultimate frontman, he’ll probably die on stage. I was so impressed when he managed to engage a whole audience all alone, a capella at Sweden rock – sitting on a chair with a broken leg! Well, he moved everything else that he was able to move, and did it with the biggest grin ever. That band is a GUARANTEE for a good time and I’m so excited that they’ll be on the cruise!

Pretty Maids – another kickass liveband that never disappoints their audience. After almost four decades of kicking ass, they KNOW their business better than anybody. And I happen to know that it’s 100% genuine, it’s a love for rock’n’roll that shines through. As if that wasn’t enough, my “little brother” Chris Laney joined the band last year and he’s handling the keyboards, guitar and vocals. I’ve known that guy since he was a teenager and he’s got music running through his veins, incredibly talented musician and a wonderful guy, so that’s a band I won’t miss on the cruise, for sure!

Thunder – wow and wow. The finest of the finest of British hard rock. Amazing musicians, great songs, great live performances… They opened for Whitesnake a few years ago, and gave the snakes a good run for the money. The hair is shorter and “greyer” nowadays but you forget about all that once they start doing their thing. I love this band!

Doro – she’s adorable, a powerhouse metal queen with a love for rock’n’roll that you just can’t miss. I admire her in so many ways. She’s really dedicated her whole life for music and she lives it, one hundred per cent. Won’t be missing her this time either.

L A Guns is one of those bands I remember from wayyyy back in the day. I met them for an interview in London once when they were opening for Skid Row – sat with Phil Lewis and Kelly Nickels and both left such a bad, arrogant impression that I couldn’t stand them for years. However, I can’t deny that they’ve done some pretty great songs, so I’ll bury the hatchet and go check them out. :)

Loudness kicked some good ass at Sweden Rock, that will be cool to see again. And, yet another friend of mine is handling booking and management for this band so I hope to see many familiar faces on this cruise as well. :)

It’s the ultimate escape from everyday life. You get all this fantastic music, all this “let’s kick ass and have a great time“-energy, all day and all night, you let it charge your batteries, fill your heart & soul with love and joy, while the sun is burning your skin on pool deck. :) What could be better than that?

It’s really like being in a dream for a few days, and in case anyone wants to know if it’s worth the money: Hell YES! 

I can’t wait to do this again. :) Miami, Haiti and Jamaica, can’t wait to see you! :D

 

DESERT TRIP – home of the coolest of the cool

The festival of the century. Bucket list fest. Call it whatever you want, but I feel incredibly privileged for having been one of the 75,000 people that attended the Desert Trip festival in Indio, CA on “weekend one” (Oct 7-8-9).

There have been a lot of age-jokes about the festival, which I guess is to be expected when you put all these legends on the same stage three days in a row:

Bob Dylan
The Rolling Stones
Neil Young
Paul McCartney
The Who
Roger Waters 

Even Mick Jagger himself made a few age-jokes when he entered the stage the first evening.
It’s funny though, cause I never saw “old men” on that stage.

I saw young guys stuck in the wrong bodies.
Every time I see Keith Richards smile that rascal smile of his, I see a rebel kid that lives inside a wrinkly body, and you see it in his eyes too.
It’s not an old dude. He is just badass, maybe even more now than ever before. He’s earned it.

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Keith Richards, Desert Trip, Indio CA (Weekend 1)

Being young is not always an advantage. Respect and reverence is something you can enjoy when you’ve invested YEARS into whatever it is you do in life.

There is not a 20-year old on the planet who comes even CLOSE to being as cool as Keith Richards. When you’ve done something your whole life, proving time and time again that you’re not only a survivor, but also a winner and you’ve paid your dues a long time ago, it just puts you in a position that younger musicians can only dream of.

Check out Mick Jagger. Most young guys couldn’t do what he does – he doesn’t stand still for five seconds, he works the biggest stages in the world and he doesn’t even stop to catch his breath. What “old dude” does that? It’s all about the energy that you’re projecting, not the packaging you’re stuck with.

Paul McCartney always had his boyish charm, and he’s always looked like a young man, dispite the inevitable signs of aging. His spirit shines through everything he does and all he is.

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Paul McCartney – Desert Trip, Indio, CA (Weekend 1)

He’s a young boy with a talent that he’s blessed the world with.

When he entered the stage at Desert fest, I wasn’t prepared for my own reaction. I thought I was going to be all smiles and partyyyy during his set. Instead, his very presence made me cry like a baby for almost 2 hours straight! I simply couldn’t stop it. That’s how powerful that experience was.

It was tears of joy and like a “movie” rolling inside my head that took me to different places and emotions throughout my life, that were somehow connected to whatever song he was playing. First love. First heartache. Days in school. Growing up. Life. Friendships. Career. Every single song is strongly connected to something that has touched my heart. I could barely hold on to my camera when he sang “Here Today” (tribute to John Lennon). Just totally lost it there.

That wasn’t a concert. That was a religious experience. And going back to that age thing, I can’t recall ever having one of those super-emotional experiences at any 20-year old’s gig. Not even when I was 20.

Wrote this in a private Facebook update that night:
I’ve used superlatives about concerts and artists in my life, but that was compared to what I had seen, heard and experienced up until then. THIS was not just on another PLANET, it was a totally different GALAXY. I’ve never seen anything that powerful in my entire life and I’ve seen a lot.

The whole thing just moved me to tears, I was bawling my eyes out while smiling up to my ears all at the same time, because I really didn’t know what else to do with everything that I felt during that show.
I’ll have to process it a little first, but, man… that was just… they would have to come up with another word that’s stronger than “amazing”, “fantastic” or “out of this world”. Paul McCartney in concert – on a stage this size makes EVERYONE ELSE look like freakin AMATEURS!

The Who… Oh yeah, when you hear Pete Townshend talk to the crowd, it’s easy to tell that he’s still a loud rebel at heart with a whole lotta attitude! And he did slide on the stage on his knees too!!

When Roger Daltrey swings his microphone like a maniac, I suddenly realize who Sebastian Bach got that move from. :)

In short: These guys wrote the book! The book of rock’n’roll. They had something to say, they had visions, they just went ahead and changed the world.
So to me it wasn’t just an “old dude festival”. Far from it.

My closing words in a private post on Facebook that night were:
I leave the US this time with my mind full of impressions which will take a long time to process, but it was something extraordinary that I’ll remember for the rest of my life“.

There is a LOT more to say and post from the festival, but I just wanted to share some of my first reflections on that age-thing – cause in this case, age is a measure of your coolness.
Cause when you’ve worked yourself up to this level, there is NOBODY that will EVER get close enough to even try kicking your ass! :) And that calls for some respect.

DESERT TRIP – GOT A PASS!

When it was announced, I thought it was a hoax. A festival with names like Rolling Stones, Paul McCartney, Bob Dylan, The Who, Neil Young and Roger Waters. To me, that sounded like the kind of gig you would imagine you could go to when you die and go to heaven one day. Simply too good to be true.

I could barely believe it when it turned out to actually BE true. Holy cow!

Of all the hundreds, maybe thousands of gigs I’ve seen in my life, this surpasses them ALL, even as just an IDEA, never mind the actual FACT and the actual FESTIVAL….!

I’ve seen Rolling Stones, Paul McCartney, Bob Dylan and Roger Daltrey individually, but to have them all in one place is unearthly! :)

I had to try to get a ticket. I realized that the whole world was going to be online at the time the tickets went on sale and there was an imminent risk that I would end up with a crashed webpage or something that said I was number 1,567,901 in line or along those lines.

Yet, if you never gamble you never win!

That particular day, I had to work late, and since I work in Copenhagen and live in Sweden I knew that I wouldn’t make it home on time for the ticket release. The solution was to bring my laptop. I decided to find somewhere to sit at Copenhagen Airport where nobody would bother me, and just be READY….

Copenhagen airport is my second home. I know everything about that airport that a traveler needs to know. :) There is a space right below the Metro-escalators that has a bench with 3 seats that most people never notice. Sure enough, there was only a young guy there, and in the hour that I sat there, nobody else came.

Went to the Desert trip webpage that had this countdown clock, which really got the adrenaline pumping. At the same time I was trying to stay cool and also be prepared for the possibility that I would have to go home empty handed.

The minutes turned to seconds…. 5, 4, 3, 2, 1……..

The page reloaded and it said I was number 1,945 something in line. My spontaneous reaction was: “Okay, I’m screwed, this isn’t happening…” .

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Next thing I know, the thing counted down really, really fast, went to number 500 in line and less than two minutes later I was IN.

I now had 10 minutes to complete my purchase or my place in line would go to somebody else.

I knew what I wanted. Where are the STANDING PIT TICKETS???

A hunch told me to click on page 6 – and there it was!

I had already prepared everything so that it wouldn’t take more time than necessary. Google chrome can save your credit card info, but even if that doesn’t work, I had written it down in the Windows word pad, so all I would have to do was cut and paste. Bam – bam and bam!

Before I knew it, I was a proud owner of a ticket to the Desert trip festival!

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ticket

Honestly… I was staring at the screen thinking: “What? Really? That was it? I’ve got a ticket now?”

I still can’t quite believe it!

But yes, best seats in the “house”. I thought everybody had the same easy experience as me but when I checked online I saw lots of angry and disappointed people who said that they had waited for hours in the virtual line, only to find out that it was sold out. From what I’ve heard, and I’m not sure if the figures are correct, about 100,000 tickets were sold out in 5 hours. For both weekends – cause they announced an extra weekend due to the extreme demand. All gone.

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I’m not surprised. And I feel incredibly blessed and thankful for being one of the lucky ones who will get to experience this.

It’s the most expensive thing I’ve ever done, right after the Monsters of Rock cruise, but thatyou could pay in installments, choose a payment plan. Here, you had to pay straight up.

Which means, no traveling and no gigs for me until after October. All the plans I had have been cancelled because I have to reek in some extra cash for this.

However, it will all be worth it and Im beyond excited! I’ve always been a Beatles fan, since as long as I can remember, so seeing sir Paul again will be MY treat. :) I love the Stones as a live act, that will be icing on the cake.

And the trip itself, I love it! I had actually booked hotel and rental car BEFORE tickets went on sale. Figured it would be easy to cancel if I didn’t get a ticket to the festival. Also, prices AFTER the tickets were sold out, would be through the roof, so I’m glad that I planned ahead.

Got in touch with a lady on Facebook that will be travelling from Peru to the festival and her and her company wanted to share the rental car with me – so we cut the costs and it’s a lot more fun to get to know new people as well!

This will be fantastic, I can’t wait!!

The Guitar Gods disaster in Miami

As always, when there is TONS to write about, I never have TIME to write. Since my last post, I’ve been to the US for the Guitar Gods festival in Miami, the Monsters of Rock Cruise to the Bahamas, to Hamburg, Germany for Avantasia and right now I’m in Nashville relaxing for a change (although there will be a gig tonight).

So, I’m behind with the updates, but since I finally have lots of time and no stress (wow, I almost forgot THAT feeling…) I thought I’d try to go back to where I left off and see how much I can remember of this past month’s adventures!

Going back to my trip to Miami…

The Monsters of Rock Cruise was planned a year in advance, so I already had my flight tickets, hotel arrangements and everything taken care of. But then, about two weeks before departure, there was an announcement that there would be a Guitar Gods festival on Miami Beach, featuring Yngwie Malmsteen, Steve Vai and Gus G, among others.

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It sounded like an absolute DREAM! Three monster guitarists on stage together, I was super excited! So, like I mentioned in my last post, I had to buy a new flight ticket to make it to that show. The original ticket was non-refundable and couldn’t be changed, and I would never have made it if I had chosen that flight. But – I thought it would be worth it. Wouldn’t miss this for the world!

After a comfortable flight with Austrian Airlines, I landed in Miami at 3.30 PM and breezed my way through customs and immigration. I even got a laugh when the immigration officer asked the standard question: “So, what brings you to the United States?” and I said that I was there for the Monsters of Rock Cruise.

“Monsters of Rock Cruise? I believe that is the cruise where last year they ran out of beer! Why would you want to go on THAT?” He laughed, gave me my passport and wished me a good stay.

I had a reserved cab that was waiting for me to take me to my hotel. On the way there, I saw the venue and people standing in line outside.
Got to my hotel, I checked in and just threw in all my stuff in a pile on the bed, quickly put on some extra lipstick and ran out the door.

There was a long line of people alright, but not nearly as long as I had expected. And what the heck was going on, why were they late? The doors were supposed to open at 5 I think, but it took more than an hour before they started letting people in, no explanation or apology, no nothing. Well okay…

Once I got in, it looked like some weird sort of cabaret/family fair with clowns and unicycle acrobats or whatever… Just not at all what I would expect to see at a rock event.

The cause was great, I liked that it was to benefit the April Malmsteen Foundation, a foundation that works to protect endangered species and their habitats around the globe. I’m all for that, anyone who actively works for animal rights is in my good books. But quite frankly – my impression of this event as a whole was… “WTF?”

It was a pretty small outside venue, the stage looked like someone had just thrown everything they had off the truck, on stage without any thought whatsoever. The visual impression was anything but impressive. It looked like the work of total amateurs, like there was some sort of local talent show for the neighborhood, not something that was going to feature some of the most amazing musicians on the planet!

Seriously, it was embarrassing.

There WAS a talent show. It was the worst thing I’ve ever seen. Not the contestants, they were all pretty good actually, but the organization of it was nonexistent.
People were running around on the stage like headless chickens, nobody seemed to be in charge of anything. It was as if they didn’t even know who was doing the presentation of the players – or when.

The backing tracks that the contestants brought on their iPhones or tablets, was the source of major confusion. It took several minutes between every contestant, to figure out the technical issues (=how to plug in an iPhone to get the sound through the PA… Very advanced stuff apparently).

And the worst part was when the poor guy who WON, was handed over the microphone by the host so he could say a few words – but next thing he knew, the host was gone. Just wandered off the stage and the guy just stood there with the microphone after he was done, wondering wtf to do with it. Nobody there to grab the mic and go: “Thank you, let’s hear it for xxxx and congratulations!”. The winner was left alone on stage with a microphone. Lovely.

You get the picture. A total freaking disaster.

But the disaster wasn’t over.

Now it was time for the actual GUITAR GODS. First one was Gus G, one of my favorite guitarists. He walked out on stage and played flawlessly, like he always does. I heard people behind me and beside me talking, they were hoping he would come back and play more, cause he only did one song.

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I was waiting for the JAM! The one I’d been looking forward to since the damn thing was announced. The JAM that made me buy another flight ticket, cause I wouldn’t miss it for the world. Yngwie, Steve and Gus, what a treat! But… I’ll get to that.

Next up was Steve Vai. I think that guy can play in a shed somewhere and still be brilliant, make people forget about the circumstances, and he almost did just that. Steve Vai is pure CLASS.

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Last up, the “god” himself, Yngwie Malmsteen. Anyone who knows me or is reading this blog, knows that I’m a huge Malmsteen fan. I always have been. Last year I saw him at the Monsters of Rock in Brazil, then I travelled to Bucharest, Romania to see him, and years before that I saw him in New York City at the Gramercy and now this, I just try to see him anywhere I can, since he’s decided not to play in Sweden for whatever reason (I’ve heard a few explanations but it’s all just rumors).

But seeing him run out on that “kid’s dress rehearsal for their school play for their parents“-stage was a bit sad.

He’s supposed to be larger than life, a guitar god. The setting was for anything BUT.
Again – embarrassing. The crowd was…not huge, and that’s an understatement. I had expected this to be the event of the year, kind of. Instead, it was… THIS.

All that aside – I love his playing, I love his old-school rock star antics, his posing, his music…. I enjoyed THAT, and tried not to think too much about everything else. I will always be touched by his music, there’s no getting around that.

I was STILL waiting for that Yngwie/Steve/Gus jam though.

Then FINALLY, after all the mess inbetween songs and artists, it looked like it was time for THE JAM. That was going to be worth the flight ticket, the time, the money, the badly organized event, everything. So I was bracing myself for that, woo-hooo!

Yngwie started introducing his guests. Steve Vai, his “brother”, Rudy Sarzo, the one and only, Nicko McBrain on drums yeyyy and…. no Gus. Okay, well, maybe he’ll make an appearance in another song or something.

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The jam session included Ain’t Talkin’ ’bout Love by Van Halen, played by Steve and Yngwie. It was actually so bad that Steve Vai had my YouTube account locked down till August for sharing the video.

Quite frankly, I had a feeling that somebody would get the hickups when they saw that, but I hadn’t expected it to be Steve. He did just great. In fact, he was the only person NOT slaughtering that song. I don’t blame him for panicking and wanting that video off YouTube right away.
The reason why I shared it was because of the unique mix of artists playing a VH song, at this last-minute event. It was newsworthy, I always think in those terms. Even bad PR is good PR sometimes.
Blabbermouth had already shared it – like they do with all my videos – so thousands of people had already seen it and reacted in the usual Blabbermouth troll-manner…

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Sorry Steve, and Yngwie for that matter, I love you both, but I suppose that was proof that even “gods” fuck up sometimes. Probably made a whole lot of aspiring guitarists out there feel better about themselves for about five minutes, before the clip was removed. ;)

Gus G however, had nothing to be ashamed of though, so I’ll just share his performance instead:

Speaking of Gus, I was STILL waiting for him to get on stage with the others. He never did. I’m not the only one who was pissed off about that. I heard people in the crowd talking as well, where is Gus? Why isn’t he up there?

One of the main reasons why I even wanted to see this gig was cause I’d get to see a cool jam with these THREE guitar gods. Instead, there were only TWO.

Frankly? I think it’s the most unclassy thing I’ve ever seen or heard of. If you’re organizing a festival event, and you invite guests, then the crowd will EXPECT ALL of those guest musicians to be on stage for a final jam.
Excluding someone is something that only an asshole would do. I don’t know who that asshole was, so I’ll leave that unsaid, but someone was responsible and I hope that that person realizes how unprofessional it was to do something like that.

On the other hand, the jam was so bad that not even Steve himself could stand it, so Gus was probably lucky for not having to be associated with it.

The guy who won the guitar contest was really good though, and I hope he does well in the future. :)

And the “custom made” pizza that I got at the venue after the show was good. So, it was not a complete disaster. I hope next time they’ll hire professionals who know what they’re doing.

Rant over.