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"Concert For Cliff" Featuring Vai, Satriani and A Host of Shredders

By Junkman, On-Air Personality
Tuesday, October 3, 2006 @ 8:03 AM

House of Blues, Hollywood 9-30

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Cliff Cultreri made many friends in the music industry in his years at Relativity Records and beyond. Many have gone on to great success due to his foresight, and knowledge of talent. Two, in particular, the incredible guitarists Steve Vai and Joe Satriani have said on many occasions that if it wasn’t for Cliff, they would not be where they are today in terms of a successful music career. This past Saturday night, I witnessed them give something back to a friend in need.

Unfortunately, Cliff suffers from a host of auto-immune and connective tissue disorders that are attacking his immune system, a one in one million occurrence that causes severe pain and physical problems. As many in the music business know, health care is at a minimum and very expensive to obtain, and with this in mind, his friends got together to put on a fund-raiser to help with the enormous health care costs.

And what a show it was. At nine PM, a full House Of Blues on the Sunset Strip crowd were treated to the first act-none other than the great Steve Vai and his awesome band, including bassist Billy Sheehan and drummer Jeremy Colson. Opening with a song he said he had not played in years, “Tender Surrender”, Vai blazed through his set, showcasing his many talents as a guitarist, and featuring fellow guitar gods Johnny Hiland during “Crying Machine”, Dweezle Zappa for “Eat That Question”, as well as Joe Satriani for the aptly titled “Giant Balls Of Gold”. Huge balls indeed!

Earlier in the week, Joe Satriani’s manager and publicist had asked me if I would help out and emcee the auction of memorabilia, between acts. My answer was naturally, “what part of hell yes I would, do ya wanna hear”? And, as Vai and company finished their set, I grabbed my microphone and was transformed into an auctioneer. Apparently, I did a good job, as I was told we raised over $20,000 taking bids on items such as an autographed Peavey JSX signature model combo amp, that was signed by all the artists appearing, as well as autographed Joe Satriani and Steve Vai model Ibanez guitars, that included a personal lesson from Steve and Joe! Even the House Of Blues got in the act, donating a House Of Blues Washburn guitar that was signed by all the artists. Also auctioned off were many rare posters and T-shirts from past G3 and Joe Satriani tours, (autographed naturally) amongst other items. Steve Vai then reappeared onstage to announce the winners of an online auction of his personal Ibanez JemVai 2K DNA guitar; the winners were a couple that flew in from Italy to be there. It was great fun helping out with such a worthy cause, and being center stage in front of a sold out crowd in Hollywood is a feeling that is indescribable.

But it was time for more music and after enjoying a beer or ten at the bar, I made my way up to the balcony for act two-the great Joe Satriani and band, along with more special guests. While there, I said hello to Cliff Cultreri and his family, and he was beaming, clearly enjoying himself which, taking his condition under consideration, is not something that is easy to do these days.

Joe Satriani and his band, featuring the great Dave LeRue on bass, Jeff Campitelli on drums, and Galen Henson on additional guitar, began their set with “Flying In A Blue Dream”, in my opinion, the greatest driving song ever. Performing tunes from throughout his recorded catalog, “Satch” had the crowd salivating.

Then, during “One Robots Dream”, from the “Super Colossal” CD, he was joined by guitarist Paul Gilbert, who wowed the crowd with his soloing. After that, VIOLA! Another incredible guitarist joined the group. Shredder Scott Henderson added his signature licks to “House Full Of Bullets”, by now the crowd was in a frenzy. Steve Vai then added his guitar pyrotechnics to a scorching version of “Ice 9”, before Steve Lukather gave, what I consider the performance of the evening, taking “Always with Me, Always with You” to another level, with his stunning guitar technique. The entire House Of Blues virtually erupted after that performance.

By now, everyone was getting warmed up, and it was time to have some fun. And after Satriani’s band finished their set, it was time to bust out some cover tunes and rip it up. First up, Joe Satriani traded licks with Lukather, Paul Gilbert, and Steve Vai, and supplied vocals for the old Jeff Beck Group rocker “Going Down”. Then Vai took the microphone for a version of Frank Zappa’s “My Guitar Wants to Kill Your Mama”. The 4 guitar virtuosos effortlessly segued solo after solo as the room really heated up.

Next up, Johnny Hiland joined in for Jimi Hendrix’s “Foxy Lady”, with Paul Gilbert singing in his best Jimi voice. Bassist Billy Sheehan then returned to the stage and did vocals and bass for the old ZZ Top favorite, “La Grange”, which also featured not only Johnny Hiland and Steve Lukather, but also guitarist Johnny A, who provided some smokin’ leads throughout.

Steve Lukather then sang lead on another Hendrix tune, “Red House”, along with every guitarist in the house on stage, taking a turn at a solo. Satriani, Hiland, Vai, Lukather, Johnny A, and Scott Henderson, along with both Sheehan, and Leroux, on bass, totally ripping it up. A true “Murderers Row” of guitar shredders, and the crowd roared their approval with every solo.

It was the kind of night that you didn’t want to end, and now, at almost 2 AM, Joe Satriani led everyone in a closing number of Neil Young’s “Rockin in The Free World” with, once again, everyone showing off their considerable talent. By now, I was, and most everyone else was sweaty, sore throated, sore handed from applause, and loving every second of it. Truly, an amazing evening. And as the band finished off, and thanked everyone for coming, you truly felt, as Steve Vai said earlier in the evening, that we had made a difference in one mans quality of life.

Afterwards, I had the opportunity to speak with Cliff Cultreri and his family, and he was, naturally, very touched by an incredible evening featuring his incredible friends. In obvious pain, it was nice to know that, maybe, at least for a little while, that pain had subsided with this outburst of giving to a very special man. I hope that you will help as well.

If you would like to help out Cliff and his family, donations can be made by check. (No donation is too big or too small, according to Steve Vai’s website) Send checks to:

    KOCH Entertainment
    22 Harbor Park Drive
    Port Washington, NY 11050
    Attn: Nancy Young
Please make all checks payable to Patricia Cultreri.

My thanks to everyone involved for letting me participate. Please visit www.joesatriani.com and www.vai.com for more information.


Steve Vai And Band:

  • Tender Surrender
  • The Audience Is Listening
  • Building The Church
  • The Crying Machine ( W/ Johnny Hiland)
  • Whispering A Prayer
  • Answers
  • For The Love Of God
  • Eat That Question ( W/ Dweezle Zappa)
  • Giant Balls Of Gold (W/ Joe Satriani)
Intermission/ Auction

Joe Satriani And Band:

  • Flying In A Blue Dream
  • The Extremist
  • Red Shift Riders
  • Cool #9
  • Satch Boogie
  • One Robots Dream (W/ Paul Gilbert)
  • House Full Of Bullets (W/ Scott Henderson)
  • Ice 9 (W/ Steve Vai)
  • Always With Me, Always With You (W/ Steve Lukather)
  • Crowd Chant
  • Summer Song
Encore Jams: (Featuring Various Guitar Shredders)

  • Going Down
  • My Guitar Wants To Kill Your Mama
  • Foxy Lady
  • La Grange
  • Voodoo Chile
  • Rockin In The Free World

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