Michael Cavacini

An award-winning arts and culture blog.

Christian Matthew Cullen Discusses Night Ranger

Composer, producer, and sound designer Christian Matthew Cullen has had an interesting and prolific career. He’s created audio for TV, radio, advertising, video games, and more. Along the way, he was chosen to be Night Ranger’s keyboard player, a position he held from 2007 to 2011. Christian was kind enough to speak with me about his time in the band. As you’ll see in the interview below, it was a remarkable time in his life and career.

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A Conversation With Ted Nugent

Ted Nugent. Those two words can elicit wildly different responses, depending on who you are. That’s not surprising since he’s known as the “Wild Man” of rock and roll. Nugent – or Nuge, to some – has a career that spans more than five decades, with more than 40 million albums sold and 6,400+ concerts along the way. When he’s not shredding his guitar for thousands of passionate fans, Nuge is writing books, hosting TV shows, or offering his vociferous thoughts on myriad political and cultural issues. He’s on the verge of releasing a new studio album entitled The Music Made Me Do It and Uncle Ted is on the road this summer, further solidifying his position as one of rock and roll’s preeminent guitar-slinging superstars. Amidst his busy schedule, Nuge was kind enough to do an interview with me where we discuss his impressive career, collaborations with other artists and more.

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Review: ThrillerFest XIII

ThrillerFest is the premier conference for thriller writers and readers. ThrillerFext XIII marks my fourth time at this event and it fittingly kicked off on Friday the 13th. Over two days, numerous panels took place on a wide range of topics – everything from how to best execute a fictional character to how to handle sex scenes in thrillers. These panels were comprised of new, best-selling, and seasoned authors, all offering a unique perspective on myriad issues and trends.

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Melissa Takes Manhattan

Melissa Manchester is not only one of my favorite musicians, she’s one of my favorite friends. Her talent, energy, kindness, and passion are undeniable and all were on full display tonight during her opening performance at Feinstein’s/54 Below. Melissa has additional performances on Saturday (7:00 p.m. and 9:30 p.m.) and Sunday (7:00 p.m.), and I absolutely recommend you attend one or more of these fabulous concerts.

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Catching Up With Ricky Phillips

Photo by Rick Diamond

Ricky Phillips is one of the most talented musicians around. For the past 15 years, he’s been the bass player for STYX. He’s also been a member of Bad English and The Babys. All three of these bands have topped the charts numerous times and sold millions of albums. In between these three legendary gigs, Ricky has played with additional legends, including Sammy Hagar, Ronnie Montrose, and Eric Singer. 2017 saw the release of two new albums featuring Ricky’s masterful musicianship: STYX’s new studio album The Mission and Ronnie Montrose’s posthumous 10X10. STYX is on tour this summer with Joan Jett and Tesla, and Ricky was kind enough to speak with me about his impressive career and passion for music.

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Tommy Shaw’s Sing For The Day!

Tommy Shaw, best known as the lead vocalist and guitarist in STYX, is releasing his solo 2016 concert performance with the Contemporary Youth Orchestra on Blu-ray, CD, and Digital Audio/Video on June 29 via Eagle Rock Entertainment.

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Review: Aladdin The Musical

Disney’s Aladdin, the musical, is currently at the Academy of Music in Philadelphia. Performances run until July 1, and I highly recommend that you go. I went to a performance last night and the nearly sold-out crowd ate it up from beginning to end. Having watched a clip of this show from the Tony Awards a few years back, I knew that the Genie was going to be the star of the show and he was. Michael James Scott, who plays the role of the Genie and was the understudy for the Genie during the original Broadway run, is fantastic. Just watch him sing and dance to “Friend Like Me” and you’ll be blown away by his stamina and unending charisma. He’s the heart and soul of the show and made it a blast to watch.

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Book Review: Creating The Filmation Generation

Creating The Filmation Generation is a fascinating autobiography by Lou Scheimer, one of the original founders of Filmation, an animation studio that produced He-Man and the Masters of the Universe, Fat Albert, Star Trek, Mighty Mouse, Tom and Jerry, Batman, and much more. TwoMorrows Publishing is behind this book and it’s a quality read through and through. It takes the reader from 1928 up until 2010, just three years prior to Scheimer’s death. In addition to the insightful text, this book features great photos, posters, and imagery befitting an animation icon.

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A Conversation With Great White’s Michael Lardie

Photo by Neil Zlozower.

For several decades, Great White has been pleasing fans with rockin’ songs, albums, and concerts. In 2017 the band released its newest studio album, Full Circle, and this summer they’re back on the road playing to thousands of fans. The band’s keyboardist/guitarist, Michael Lardie, was kind enough to speak with me about his experiences in Great White, as well as Night Ranger.

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Book Review: The President Is Missing

As you probably gathered from my previous post, I was excited about reading The President Is Missing. Unfortunately, after reading 10 chapters, I lost interest in the book. It failed to capture my attention because nothing compelling occurred in the first 10 chapters. Something shocking has to happen in the first chapter of a thriller so that it makes me want to keep turning the pages to see how it all comes together. Unfortunately, it seems that Bill Clinton’s influence on this book was to the story’s detriment as it moves at a snail’s pace and is bogged down by political jargon and details that get in the way of the James Patterson’s normally fast-paced writing style. I made a decision a few years ago to stop reading books that aren’t good. I realized that there is no need to waste hours of my time on a book that isn’t enjoyable. To my disappointment, The President Is Missing is one of those books.

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