Wherever you go-- in your car, to the store, or just staying at home surfing the net-- youre probably going to be hearing keyboards. Although keyboards have practically been banished from alternative rock, its still true that every note you hear in many of todays biggest dance and pop hits d on a keyboard. Ironically, while everybodys swimming in a sonic sea of keyboards, nobody seems to know the names and the faces of the people behind the keyboards. Not long ago Keith Emerson, Rick Wakeman, and Herbie Hancock were household names, and before that, Liberace, Little Richard and Victor Borge. After a decade where rock was dominated by the guitar, its easy to forget that the first rocknroll guitarists were inspired by the piano rhythms of Fats Domino and Jerry Lee Lewis and that many keyboardists were true showmen, not just humble human statues stuck behind humongous stacks of humming synthesizer systems. But like everything else, the music world seems to run in cycles, so the time just may be ripe for the return of the keyboard hero. If so, Stu Simone is ready for the challenge, with KEYTAR.
To those that know him, it comes as no surprise that "keytar player" Stu Simone was born and raised within a block of Hollywood's famous Sunset Strip. This naturally flashy musician definitely doesn't fit the mold of the typical quiet, nerdy keyboard player, and that could be why his CD "No Strings Attached" is nothing like any keyboard album you've ever heard. "The California Kid" truly lives the almost-mythical California lifestyle-- surfing, snowboarding, mountain biking, bodysurfing, water-skiing, skateboarding and playing beach volleyball, all within an hour of his house-- and his music and hi-energy stage show could well be a reflection of his active SoCal lifestyle. His first home was within earshot of The Whiskey-A-Go-Go, and Stu literally heard his musical calling at age six... when a piano teacher moved next door. Maybe Stu might have grown up as a flashy lead guitarist, but when his best friends started taking piano lessons next door, his fate was drawn as a keyboard player... if not an atypical one. Since then, Stu Simone has been toiling in the shadows as a professional keyboardist, doing what rock keyboardists are "supposed" to do: i.e. staying out of the way of the lead guitarist and singer. While Stu learned to perform that role well-- he played to over a half million rabid rock fans in 1999 and 2000 alone as the touring keyboardist of the re-united platinum rock headliners POISON-- there were some ruffled feathers over the years when Stu would do what was only natural for him, like the time he suddenly lept out from behind his keyboard stack, wireless keyboard aloft behind his head, shredding a blistering "keytar" solo... right in the middle of "Girl From Ipanema!" Leading up to his current gigs as leader of the original project KEYTAR and the tribute to Hair Bands HAir Guitar and musical director of top Journey tribute band ESCAPE, Stu Simone headlined nearly every top venue in Southern California with original rock acts L.A.Rocks, Magic, Rings Of Saturn and Torie Tyson. Stu Simone can be heard on POISON's latest CD, "Power To The People", and can be seen in various venues in such cities as Las Vegas, Ft. Lauderdale, Salt Lake City, Seattle, Phoenix, Boise an nearly every week in Los Angeles. Active in the Hollywood movie scene as well, he's covered everything from Metallica to Glenn Miller, Led Zeppelin to Lithuanian polkas, and Jan Hammer to MC Hammer, not to mention conjuring up wind, rain, barking dogs and car horns on command. But now Stu Simone can follow his true calling with the release of KEYTAR's debut CD.
As Keyboard Magazine said in the November, 1995 issue, "For all those who thought that the flashy keyboard frontmen all faded away in the 70s, Keytar player [Stu] Simone brings back a bit o blazo-matic back to rock keyboards." KEYTARs debut CD on Trek Records is appropriately entitled "No Strings Attached". After listening to the screaming sonic assault of "Godzilla: Escape of a Lounge Lizard" (an instrumental that tells the story of a keyboardist who wants to rock but is stuck in an all-too-familiar "pro gig" situation), its hard to believe that every instrument on the album was played on keyboard*. (In fact, no amps, speakers, mics... or strings* were used at all.)
"No Strings Attached" features ten tracks that showcase Stu Simones distinctive lead-guitar-style attack front and center in a variety of settings. "In The Beginning" (which opens KEYTAR live shows) ushers the return of lush Pink Floyd-style headphone music, while "Stus Groove", "HIPocket", and a fresh new version of Hendrixs "Purple Haze" display KEYTARs "Hip-Bop-Heavy-Metal-Fusion" sound. Before moving from rock to Bach on "Ave Marias," (a true oldie!), KEYTAR puts a different spin on "arena rock" as Stu Simone dives into the increasingly wide world of "Sports Instrumentals" with "Charge!" and a new take on the all-time number one arena shout-along anthem "Rock & Roll, Part II." (*By the way, the latter track is the only place where a non-keyboard instrument does makes an appearance, as Stu dusts off his guitar to trade 8s with his keytar, a section designed to be played live on the "double-neck keytar." The plan is for Stu to be able to jump back and forth from keyboard to fretboard... all on one instrument!) And speaking of live, the stage is the place where "the KEYTAR concept"-- any sound coming from any instrument-- will truly blow minds. In a world crowded with typical re-tread "clone-bands", suffice to say that KEYTARs cutting-edge live shows will definitely be eye-openers! Its the dawn of a new millennium, and the musical world seems ready for change. "No Strings Attached" is only the beginning...
To order KEYTAR's debut CD, click on Releases
To listen to samples of the album, click on Hear Keytar
To see album cover art, click on See Keytar
To see an in-depth interview in September of 2002, with Stu Simone, click on cdsmash.com/interview_with_stu_simone_.htm
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