On Sept. 5, bassman John Montagna posted on his latest Facebook page, Radio418, that his final installment of his "what I did in my spare time this summer" project would be online by Sept. 9. What John did was manage, in between his hours on the Happy Together Tour 2013, to score some of the best interviews with some of the biggest names in classic rock and have them open up and share things they have never before shared, ever. There's just something about the Berklee College of Music that teaches its "best of the best" to multitask as standard operating procedure, and to spend every waking moment working to be good at everything you do, their course mantra when they prepare to launch you into the world.
Bassist/singer Montagna, a Berklee alumnus, spent the past three months on the biggest classic rock reunion tour, mostly on the road riding a quasi-comfortable tour bus. Together with his favorite bandmates, Godfrey Townsend (guitar), Manny Focarazzo (keyboards) and Steve Murphy (drums), these four guys make it possible to put five major rock acts on one stage with an efficient, effective, music concert experience sans down time and band change-outs. They also sing tremendous backup on over 50 songs on any given night, with The Turtles, Mark Lindsay, Gary Lewis, Gary Puckett and Chuck Negron.
Not only did Montagna manage to entertain hundreds of thousands of music lovers on stage by staying solid in the background, John took the time to get to know the principal artists, He earned their regard such that they opened up to John and spoke frankly about things that, well, they simply have never told other interviewers before in the 30 years or more that they've all been doing these reunion tours.
As you scroll through the list of pictures, that's just a sampling of the interviews that John posted via podcast, on his own channel Radio418. You can find the general index at foureighteen.podomatic.com and check out his latest postings. The interviews are punctuated with song snippets and come off as warm and friendly to hear, just as though you were right there with them in the room, just the three of you, hearing things that no one else gets to hear from the artists themselves.
Howard Kaylan's talk with Montagna is one hour and forty-seven minutes of some kind of fascinating. Kaylan may well hide behind tinted blue glasses, perky fedora and a pretense of ever-so-obvious cynicism, but the bottom line is the guy reveals himself to be an insightful intellectual who'd likely be just as successful teaching a group of college kids (anything but music) as he is hitting his notes dead-on every night, sounding just like he did in the 60s and 70s. Hear Howard here.
Be aware: Kaylan's interview with John contains substantive typical "Kaylanese," favorite words that give movie ratings an "R," but he's not about to change who he is for the sake of audio recordings. In fact, if you look up WYSIWYG in the dictionary, odds are Kaylan's picture is front and center. He's one tremendous singer so...whatever. But don't expect his autobiography (with Jeff Tamarkin), "Shell Shocked" to be a happy walk down memory lane, because it's not. But Montagna loved every minute of reading it, no doubt about it.
Click on "View the List" immediately below this paragraph and meet some of John Montagna's new good friends. Included here is just a sampling, but Montagna has finished posting almost all of his interviews from the Happy Together Tour on his Podomatic channel. Next week, you can expect to hear him talk about Chuck Negron's career, before and after Three Dog Night so keep checking back there and on his web site, www.johnmontagna.com. Montagna was really in his element on the Happy Together Tour this year. His multimedia, and multitasking, skills have produced a great body of work that will be of interest to classic rock fans, domestic and international. Yeah, yeah, yeah.