MUSIC | Howdy, folks! Hope you're all still having a nice summer out there!

One of the nicer things about summer (apart from some time off school or work, or whatever duties you may suffer from) is of course all the nice festivals and concerts. August has quite a few interesting gigs to offer. Alice Cooper's currently taking his tour to Europe, and I've reserved this Wednesday for his stop in Gothenburg, Sweden.

What's even cooler, however, is the fact Ms. Cooper will be backed up by young guitar prodigy Orianthi Panagris - better known simply as Orianthi - throughout this whole tour. If you fancy guitar music and the name is still unfamiliar to you, you really must've been living under a rock (or perhaps a spoon?) over the last few years!

Standing in the shadow of Michael Jackson

Some may say she's most recognised for her work with Michael Jackson on his farewell tour "This is it", which sadly never happened. She also worked as a studio musician for Mary J. Blige's heavily criticised cover of Led Zeppelin's Stairway to Heaven.

Featured Releases by Orianthi
UK/Europe
US/America
I, for one, can proudly say however, that I was listening to Orianthi's own music long before knowing about her involvement with the Jacko tour. Ironically, some (half-deaf, likely) M.J. fans accused her of just riding on a wave of recognition generated from Jacko, and for copying his music. Dumb shits. I've never even cared to listen to MJ in the first place, but Ori has always appealed to me musically. Sure, Michael Jackson and Orianthi both make melodic, catchy pop tunes with guitars more or less prominent in them. But accusing her of copying Jacko is about as retarded as saying that all rock bands that play crunchy power chords are Nirvana ripoffs. Or to quote* former Nirvana drummer, and lead Foo Fighter, Dave Grohl upon being accused of sounding like his old band; "You mean, we both make melodic songs with loud guitars? ...This is what I do. What did you expect me to do - a reggae album?"

Anyway, after the successful 2nd album "Believe", Orianthi's career really rocketed (as far as sales go these days). She's got a new EP out now as well, so stuff seems to be going real well. This is also what really puzzles me; why would a rising star that has it all going on, accept a gig as a touring guitarist for an old geezer, whose career peaked a staggering 40 - yes; FORTY freaking years ago?!

Ergo, she'll again be standing in the shadow of yet another music celebrity. I'm sure it's cool and all, being a part of a legendary old band; another thing to tick off the "100 cool things to do before I die" list. Something she now has in common with Hollywood actor Johnny Depp, who's also been seen playing with Alice Cooper quite recently.

It's still a bit of an odd career choice to me, though... Personally, if I was to successfully craft my own music, then THAT's what I'd want to be recognised for - not for working as a stand-in or session musician for some other band. Maybe it's a sign good as any, as to how tough the music industry really has become. It's hard for any musician to make a living off of their own stuff these days, unless they're some overexposed teenyboppers like Jason Bleibler, or in band which spells "Metallica" or "U2" - and were famous long before the dreadful Internets and MP3's came along.

Hit single "According to you" from the album Believe by Orianthi.

The Age of the Cover Bands

Either way, I hope more people will get their eyes and ears open to the amazingly talented Orianthi, from this Alice Cooper tour. She deserves all the recognition she can get, but hopefully that'll eventually be for her own music. Would hate to see her end up in some cheesy "all-star" band of old, passé rock stars milking the old cow of their former, glory days.

Chumbawamba once made a record titled "The Boybands Have Won". Horrible though...however it seems like this day and age is the era of cover bands, rather. I frankly can't name one single band of the 21st century that virtually everyone is familiar with. Unlike back in the day. Therefore, the only way to unite a massive amount of people, is through playing old songs, recorded long before our idea of music became the anonymous, digital smorgasbord that it is now.

Regardless of what "all-star" band Alice Cooper has put together this time around -- to me, Orianthi really is the main attraction of this tour. And quite honestly, I'd prefer a full gig with her over Ms. Cooper any day of the week.  It's about time the old fossils let someone of this generation to step forward, marking a new era of guitar heroes.
- And finally a girl, for once!

/theJo

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* < 100% accurate reproduction off the top of my head.
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