published Friday, June 15th, 2012

Renowned guitarist and drummers unite for rock showcase on Unum Stage

IF YOU GO

What: Thunder & Fire Tour featuring Michael Angelo Batio and Carmine and Vinnyce.

When: 8-11 p.m. today.

Where: Unum Stage, Riverbend.

Admission: Free with Riverbend pin ($45) or wristband ($26).

Phone: 756-2211.

Venue website: www.riverbendfestival.com.

Tonight, three virtuosos of the rock world will show off their skills on the Unum Stage at Riverbend during an extra-long set as part of the Thunder & Fire Tour.

Brooklyn-born brothers and drumming gurus Vinny and Carmine Appice have performed with a wide range of artists, including Dio, Jeff Beck, Ozzy Osbourne, Rod Stewart and John Lennon. They will cross sticks and trade solos from behind a pair of kits as part of Drum Wars, their traveling show.

World-renowned, ambidextrous guitar legend Michael Angelo Batio once was named No. 1 Shredder of All Time in Guitar One Magazine. He is known for showmanship and versatile performances on self-designed two- and four-neck custom guitars. He will fill out the rest of the show with a 90-minute rock survey, "Hands Without Shadows -- A Tribute to Rock Guitar."

Batio took time during his European tour to respond to emailed questions.

Q: You started playing guitar at age 10. What drew you to the instrument?

A: The music I liked to listen to -- rock music -- was guitar-based and guitar-driven, so it seemed like the right instrument for me. Plus, I thought it was a cool thing to do. I started playing the piano at age 5. Music just came naturally to me. But I always loved to practice and work to get better. I still love to.

Q: You play equally well with both hands, but you weren't born ambidextrous. What compelled you to learn to play with both hands?

A: I wanted to do something on the guitar that had never been done. Not to be "better" or "cooler" than other guitarists but to be different. I wanted to invent a new type of guitar and invent a new way to play the guitar. I accomplished those goals. I am left-handed but first learned to play the guitar right-handed. It was easy for me to play the guitar left-handed, so I started drawing different guitar designs until one resembled what I currently play.

Q: What was the impetus for designing your custom double and quad guitars?

A: Again, I just wanted to be different. I invented a stage move I call the "MAB over-under" technique. A lot of this generation's guitar players use that stage move and have given me credit for it. But I realized that anyone could do that because we were, more or less, all using the same type of instrument. Once I invented the double guitar, I had something no one else had and no one else could copy unless they have a double guitar built like mine.

Q: Who are some of the musicians whose music you will perform as part of "Hands Without Shadows?"

A: It will be a chronological tribute featuring my arrangements and medleys from the different eras of rock, beginning with Jimi Hendrix and Eric Clapton, then moving on to Led Zeppelin, Van Halen, Metallica, Pantera, a tribute to Randy Rhoads and Megadeth, and ends with an original score featuring the double guitar.

about Casey Phillips...

Casey Phillips has worked as a features reporter in the Life department since May 2007. He writes about entertainment, young adults, technology and people of interest. Casey hails from Knoxville and earned a bachelor of science degree in journalism and a bachelor of arts in German. He previously worked as the features editor for Sidelines at Middle Tennessee State University. Casey received the East Tennessee Society of Professional Journalists Award of Excellence for Reviewing/Criticism in ...

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