Nine national and international acts: Winner of the blacksheep band contest, Damian Lynn, Hunter & The Bear, Jersey Julie, The Brandos, Nazareth, Micky & The Motorcars, The Common Linnets, Saga. Where from: Switzerland, UK, USA and Netherlands. Motto: “Talents meet Legends”. Character: Pop, Rock, Folkrock, Blues, Rock’n’Roll, Country, Fusion. Speciality: The ticket ist also a ticket for the tram S42 from Heilbronn-Neckarsulm-Bad Friedrichshall-Bad Wimpfen to Bad Rappenau. From Bad Rappenau Station a bus takes you to the festival area in Bonfeld. Timetable Bus-Shuttle from Bahnhof Bad Rappenau to Bonfeld: 5.45pm, 6.45pm, 7.35pm, 8.45pm.
Damian Lynn (Switzerland)
May we introduce: Damian Lynn, singer-songwriter from Lucerne. You could label him a newcomer, but he’s come around a lot already. He played on over 60 stages in 2014, playing solo-gigs as well as support slots for Büne Huber, Pegasus or Bligg. On 26th June 2015 he released his debut record on Phonag Records AG, which went straight to #12 in the Swiss Album Charts. After playing in several bands Damian took is career in his own hands some years ago. He started writing songs, recorded them and uploaded live performances on Youtube. Word of his talent spread quickly and Damian was able to play his first gigs, equipped only with his guitar, voice and loop station. Until today he sticks to this way of performing, although he’s recently added a live drummer to his shows. In the list of concerts played there’s already renowned places like Gurtenfestival, m4music Festival or the Montreux Jazz Café in London.
The Singer-Songwriter has grown his fanbase during his support shows for the swiss soul star Stefanie Heinzmann, where he played lots of shows in Germany. His biggest success so far just followed right after this tour in January 2016: Damian Lynn was nominated for the “Best Talent” award at the yearly Swiss Music Awards – and he won! By winning this price he has shown once more how big his talent is.
His brand new single is released: “When we do it”.
Hunter & The Bear (Great Britain)
Hunter & The Bear is an anthem rock outfit giving us an inside look at their studio time. “You Can Talk” is their latest release, evidencing the rigorous diet of rock legends (Zep, Sabbath, Floyd) that influences what the Huffington Post says “British rock needs right now”.
When they’ve been in Bonfeld at the blacksheep festival in 2015 – they found also in Germany immediately fans. Yes, Hunter & The Bear is a folk rock band. But a folk rock band with that certain something. This is what critics says about Will Irving, Jimmy Hunter, Gareth Thomas and Chris Clark. Will and Jimmy wrote their first songs as students, inspired by bands like The Band, Dire Straits or Bruce Springsteen – the so called Boss.
After graduation the two boys went to London to play their power folk there. They met Gareth and Chris – and a new band you won’t miss was born. Hunter & The Bear got brilliant critics for their debut “Dusty Road”. Short time later they published their new EP mit that certain single “Pick me up”. In 2014 Hunter & The Bear played as support for Bruce Springsteen. 2015 they’ve been the first time in Germany at the blacksheep festival. And we are looking forward seeing Hunter & The Bear again.
- Will Irving – Lead Vocals, Rhythm Guitar
- Jimmy Hunter – Lead Guitar, Backing Vocals
- Chris Clark – Bass, Backing Vocals
- Gareth Thompson – Drums, Backing Vocals
Jersey Julie (USA)
“The trio is explosive: The tracks on the CD are open in style and plunge into the roots of American popular music, blues, rockabilly, bluegrass, boogie…with a fire from hell, a fury of energy hot.” Blues Again Magazine Gilles Blampain
“Jersey Julie, is a woman full of talent and energy. This woman of talent, not to mention her gentleness, availability to others, openness of spirit, and sense of friendship among other advantages & qualities is an excelling singer/saxophone player of the blues, who, with her band literally sets the stage on fire wherever they play.” Blues & Co Blues Magazine, Michel Faton
Jersey Julie, American sax player and singer from New Jersey, appears here with her fantastic smokin’ trio of Rockin’ Roots and Blues groove. Jersey Julie started performing, playing sax and singing from the age of 5 on stages and venues throughout New Jersey and New York, where she grew up around Broadway stages and fantastic jazz clubs. Her blues experience started in Chicago, where she lived for 8 years, hopping from blues club to group, learning the ropes and jamming all night with some of the greatest players around, all of them giving her the name Jersey Julie (“that little girl from Jersey that blows and sings her lungs out”). After traveling around Paris she was picked up on the road and brought back to the USA to play in the south, in Atlanta GA, for 5 years, where she then became close to and “schooled by” many incredible southern blues men and women who became her family and mentors.
She recorded for the Music Maker Label in 2004, alongside several of these amazing artists from the southern USA and formed the Jersey Julie Band in 2009. Julie’s story is one of adventure and traveling the world, searching out the best in the human experience and bringing along all the great wonderful people for a fantastic ride. She’s appeared in festivals across Europe and the Americas and has never stopped setting fire to the stage with her great joy for music, expression, good times, deep emotion, complete inhibition, dancing & percussion, and her love for her fellow musicians. Joined on stage by husband Oli Mas on guitar & vocals, and best friend Chris Ben on piano & vocals. Both OIi and Chris are fantastic and soulful singers and players, who have leagues of their own fans and own accomplishments throughout their fabulous years playing music!!
Jersey Julie Band’s first release “Goosebumps”, gives its listeners thrills and chills as it combines a rockin’, rockabilly, gospel country, funk feel. The whole CD is built around guitar, sax, stand-up bass, and piano – no drummer. Just Julie stomping on a board or on tambourine and the album flies like a rollercoaster ride from beginning to end. Goosebumps has received 100 percent incredible amazing positive reviews from Blues Magazines, Radio and Journals across the world. Often given honorable mentions like “Coup de Coeur” and Best of 2012. The group is now currently in the studio working on the next CD for release in the autumn of 2017.
- Jersey Julie – Saxophon, Lead Vocals
- Oliver Mas – Guitar
- Stéphane Blanc – Bass
The Brandos (USA)
The Brandos are probaly the best live rockband of the USA. They’re music is a mixture of roots-rock, american-civil-war-folk, irish folk and with their album “Over The Border” from 2006 also mexican folk. It has been over tweenty years since this New York quartet – featuring original members Dave Kincaid on vocals and guitars and Ernie Mendillo on bass, along with later additions Frank Giordano (guitar, vocals), and former Del Lords’ drummer Frank Funaro – unleashed their trademark guitar-rock sound to the world.
The band’s 1987-released debut “Honor among Thieves” was received with enormous critical and public acclaim. That same year, The Gavin Report dubbed them “Best new American Band”, Rolling Stone ran a full-page story praising their talents, and Time Magazine clinched it with their quote “The Brandos roots run deep and offer great nourishment”. John Kincais wrote us about the Brandos lineup in 2017:
„The lineup of the band for the upcoming tour: myself of course, up to my usual antics, Tommy Goss (Thomas Goss) on drums/vocs, Frank Giordano on guitar/vocs, and Sal Maida on bass/vocs. As some of you know, Tommy played all the drums on this new album, and did a tour with us all the way back in ’97, and played on a couple of tracks back then, “Hallowed Ground” and “Lodi”. We’re very happy to welcome Frank back into the band, and I believe he’s already well known to most of you, as he did many tours with us as well as playing on the “Pass the Hat” album and various subsequent tracks. Sal is one of the best bass players in the New York area, with an impressive and long list of people he’s played with: Roxy Music, Sparks, Cracker and a host of others. For my part, this is a killer lineup, and I’m very much looking forward to getting out there and rocking’ it with these guys.“
- Dave Kincaid – Vocals, Guitar
- Tommy Goss – Schlagzeug, Percussion
- Frank Giordano – Guitar, Vocals
- Sal Maida – Bass, Vocals
Nazareth is without doubt the biggest rock band to emerge from Scotland. They were the pioneers who took Scottish rock international and paved the way for the other great Scottish bands like Big Country or Simple Minds that came later. The original members first came together in Pete Agnew’s band The Shadettes in 1968 and changed the name to Nazareth in 1970. They toured with Deep Purple in the early 70’s where they met Roger Glover who produced their breakthrough album “Razamanaz” in 1973 that included the hits “Broken down Angel” and “Bad bad Boy”. The album was followed by Loud’n’Proud later the same year featuring the single “This Flight tonight” which became a massive hit throughout Europe and sent the band to number 1 in Germany. It was also a huge hit in Canada where the band became the first foreign band to do a coast to coast tour of the country that wasn’t just part of a North America tour.
When they arrived in the country they were told it was the fastest selling Canadian tour of all time and in fact had sold out faster than Elvis who had been there recently. As you can imagine, you can still hear a host of “faster than Elvis” jokes in Nazareth dressing rooms to this day. Then came Rampant and the massive tour in support of it’s release seeing the band play 50 shows in 9 countries throughout Europe and Scandinavia. The tour was quickly followed by the release of the single My White Bicycle which gave them another chart hit in UK and Germany. They were now riding a crest of popularity around the world but still had not managed to get that elusive American hit that every band needs to prove that they really are a global success.
As it turns out, that hit was just around the corner. The classic album that brought them American success and international acclaim was the next one, Hair Of The Dog and it’s title track (popularly, though incorrectly known as ‘Sonofabitch’ due to it’s hook lyric) became a staple of Rock Radio troughout the world.
Many bands were later known to say how much that song had influenced them and in fact it was covered by Guns N’Roses on their Spaghetti Incident album, as the guys are well known Naz fans. The American version of the album contained the beautiful Love Hurts which still sets the standard for a rock ballad vocal to this day. The song became a worldwide hit, reaching number 1 in six countries and remained on the Norwegian chart for 60 weeks. In 1982 the band released Dream On, another ballad that was to become an anthem throughout Europe. From 1971 till now Nazareth have recorded 23 studio albums, earning them platinum, gold and silver awards throughout the world with 3 platinum and 8 gold albums coming from Canada alone.
Their latest release, Rock’n’Roll Telephone (2014) was described by one music press critic simply as “one more masterpiece” so we’ll just leave it at that. The line-up today consists of Jimmy Murrison (the longest serving Naz guitarist in the band’s history), Lee Agnew (drummer since Darrell Sweet’s death in 1999), Pete Agnew (founder member since he can’t remember) and new singer Carl Sentance who joined the band in 2015 after Dan McCafferty had to retire due to ill health. Reviewing one of the first shows with Carl performing as lead singer, a member of the Rock press confirmed what the band members already agreed that: “He fits right in as a man on a mission to prove his worth and totally nails it. He has mastery of the material and wears the songs like an old leather jacket”. Over the last five decades Nazareth have played literally thousands of concerts worldwide ranging from rock clubs to stadiums and when asked one time if he could remember playing in a certain town, Pete answered “if it’s got electricity we’ve played it”. Well, we have electricity in Bonfeld – so Nazareth is playing there as well. You will like it.
- Pete Agnew – Bass
- Jimmy Murrison – Guitar
- Lee Agnew – Drums
- Carl Sentance – Vocals
The Common Linnets (NL/USA)
Great songs. Sparkling guitar riffs. Acoustic string instruments. Intricate vocal harmonies. The sheer fun of playing together. All these, and many more aspects, vie for your attention when listening to The Common Linnets’ latest release ‘II’. But the overriding impression is one of a band in complete unison. They are musicians who have discovered the power of togetherness and have created a sound that rings so true, you could be forgiven for thinking the group members have been working together for years.
The Common Linnets have made immense progress. This release is all killer, no filler, right from the opening track the no-holds-barred rock song ‘We Don’t Make The Wind Blow’, to the magnificent closing track ‘Proud’. Quality is the key, evidenced by tracks such as the spooky ‘Runaway Man’, the Crowded House inspired ‘That Part’, and the stately moving ‘Soho Waltz’. Did Ilse DeLange ever hit that high and lonesome sound so well as she does on ‘Days Of Endless Time’ supported by dobro and mandolin? But ‘II’ also offers ‘Hearts On Fire’, an irresistible up-tempo dance tune, and the steel strings of ballad ‘Dust Of Oklahoma’ plucking at heartstrings.
The vocal harmonies reflect the influence of 1970’s West Coast groups such as Fleetwood Mac, Crosby, Stills and Nash & Young but ‘II’ is clearly in the Americana and alt-country vein. Small wonder, considering that the tracks were recorded in Nashville, Tennessee, with guest contributions from dobro player Jerry Douglas and pedal steel specialist Paul Franklin, two of the biggest names in the genre. In the words of co-producer JB Meijers: “These guys are some of the finest musicians on the planet. I deeply admire people like Jerry. He is completely relaxed in the studio and I wasn’t even that aware of him. But when at night at playback time I listened to the stuff we did during the day I thought: holy shit, we’ve got a genius like him on the team!” Yet, the band created a timeless and unique signature sound. JB: “Of course, the roots of the music are American, simply because we all love that tradition. But we are not purists. We do employ chord changes and melodies that are truly European and that gives the music a subtle twist”. That is how it should be. After all, The Common Linnets are a transcontinental band and the American singers and songwriters Matthew Crosby and Jake Etheridge often spend weeks on end in Europe. Early this year all four members of the band went to Berlin to work on material that became the backbone of ‘II’.
Throughout a tumultuous year other songs were written in dressing rooms, on tour buses and in studios. The tour that started last fall – ‘soul winning’ as Ilse calls it – took them to various continents and was a huge success. All kinds of gold, platinum and other awards were bestowed on the band. There was the European EBBA-Award (presented by Jools Holland, who immediately invited the group to play on his BBC Radio show), The German Regenbogen Award and equally prestigious Echo Award, plus a slew of other international awards. Only two years ago The Common Linnets were just an idea of Ilse’s, who wanted to work in the relative anonymity of a band and to record an album with like-minded musicians. This became Low Profile. The result was anything but low profile and taking part in the Eurovision Song Contest put them straight in the spotlight. ‘Calm After The Storm’ won an astounding second place and became a number one hit in fourteen European countries! The eyes of the world were upon them and everybody wanted to see them perform. But who are The Common Linnets? Most people got to know them as a duo.
On the eve of their European tour they decided on the group approach. Tricky: from a duo to a full group and from the brightly lit Song Contest stage to murky rock venues. They were guided by a single motto: let’s go with the flow and see how far we get. Looking back Ilse says: “The Song Contest was fantastic and we gained a vast audience. We were the odd one out with a beautiful little song that got us to second place. But you can’t expect that momentum to last and we had to start creating our own music.” To which JB adds: “The Song Contest has its own drawbacks. We had to prove that we could really play and put on a complete show. I think we succeeded. On stage we quickly became a tight-knit unit.”
Of course, the gradual success was more than welcome. But the feel good factor was more important. In their ‘cocoon’ of constant touring, composing and recording the group grew very close. “Suddenly we were on this unforeseen and completely unknown adventure trip,” Ilse says. “The start of international recognition and the possibility of bigger things is all new and exciting to us. You can try to tell your friends and relatives how it feels, but we are in the midst of it and that has really brought us together.” New songs seemed to come spontaneously and we were given the chance to mature on stage. The vocal harmonies grew ever tighter. The group spirit is evident by the absence of real solo tracks on “II”. Jake states: “We often work on a song together. And once our vocal parts start blending to a point where we’re all singing with big smiles on our faces we know that we’ve got a damn good song. That’s how we operate.”
Ilse concurs: “Our music grows organically and that is very important to me. We did not start out to score hits and get platinum records. It is all about our love for music and creating something that comes from the heart. I wanted to be free of all the expectations I have to deal with as a solo artist and be part of a band. Our new record has really improved on that score, so we’re heading in the right direction.” And the ego of a singer grown accustomed to being in the spotlight on stage? “Oh, that’s doing fine”, she smiles, “but thanks all the same.” A fantastic new record. A fully booked agenda for well into the next year. The future looks bright for The Common Linnets. Ilse: “The main thing is the fun we are all having and that is something we want to hang on to. Whatever happens, we are in this together so things could not be better.”
- Ilse DeLange – Vocals
- Jan – JB – Meijers – Guitar
- Matthew Crosby –
- Jake Etheridge – Guitar, Mandoline
Micky & The Motorcars (USA)
Thirteen years can put a hell of a lot of wear and tear on even the hardiest of rock ’n’ roll bands. But don’t be fooled by all those hundreds of thousands of miles on Micky & The Motorcars’ odometer: pop the hood of Hearts From Above, the long-running Austin band’s seventh album, and you’ll find a brand-new engine, fine-tuned and good to run for at least as many more miles still ahead. And behind the wheel? Two brothers — Micky and Gary Braun — who by their own admission haven’t been this fired up about playing together since they first rode south from the Whitecloud Mountains of Idaho to stake their claim to the Texas and wider Americana music scenes.
Of course, that’s not to say that the years between then and now have been fallow for Micky & the Motorcars, who have spent the last decade and change establishing themselves as one of the exciting young roots-rock bands in the “Live Music Capital of the World” and growing their fanbase through constant touring and a fistful of increasingly confident releases. But Hearts From Above finds founding members Micky (lead vocals and guitar) and Gary (guitar, mandolin, harmonica, and vocals) invigorated and supercharged by a transfusion of new blood from fresh recruits Dustin Schaefer (lead guitar), Joe Fladger (bass), and Bobby Paugh (drums).
“I think that with the last record we were struggling a little bit just trying to keep the band afloat,” says Micky of 2011’s mature but rather ironically titled Raise My Glass, a compelling document of the band at its most ruminative and brooding. “We loved the songs and we loved that record, but everyone was in kind of a tough spot with the same-old/same-old, and I had just gone through a breakup, so it was definitely the harder, darker side of the Micky & the Motorcars. Hearts From Above is more about all of us being in a much better place now. Having the new guys with us now has just brought a lot higher energy level, both onstage and in the studio. It’s kind of like when we first got started 13 years ago. All of us are just having a blast.” You can hear that born-again “blast” right from the start of Hearts From Above with the soaring title track, a song Micky started working on in the afterglow of a particularly inspiring show he caught by one of his biggest Austin heroes, Alejandro Escovedo. “Alejandro’s one of those guys who makes me want to be better,” Micky enthuses, “and all I wanted to do was go right home and write.”
He ended up co-writing “Hearts From Above” with Willy Braun, who, along with another older brother, Cody, actually moved to Austin a few years ahead of Micky and Gary with their own wildly popular Americana rock band, Reckless Kelly. But from the moment the Motorcars hit town and released their 2003 debut, Which Way From Here — followed by subsequent releases like 2004’s Ain’t In It For the Money,2007’s Careless, 2008’s Naïve, 2009’s Live at Billy Bob’s Texas, and Raise My Glass — Micky and Gary have proven time and again that while they may not have been the first band of Brauns to take Texas by storm, they can more than hold their own. They’ve made quite a name for themselves out on the road, too, touring on average 12 months out of the year across the United States and beyond. (Micky & the Motorcars have toured Europe three times and even recorded a live album over there, set for release when they return overseas early next year.)
Friendly competition aside, though, the four Braun brothers remain as supportive of each other today as they were as kids, when they all played together in their father Muzzie Braun’s country band throughout the Western United States and in front of millions of TV viewers on the Tonight Show (twice!) To wit: In addition to co-writing half of the songs on the album, Willy also produced Hearts From Above. And of course Cody (who’s produced Motorcars albums in the past) is a VIP guest on the record, too. As Gary proudly points out, all four Braun brothers can be heard singing on the song “Hearts From Above” — something that he says “hasn’t happened in the studio since we were teenagers.”
“Cody came into the studio when we were tracking and coached us pretty hard,” Gary continues. “He has a great ear for harmony and really helped us pick the right parts for the songs. And of course I have always liked working with Willy, and I don’t care if we are writing a song or building a doghouse. He’s a fun guy to be around, but he also knows when to be serious. He was really good at talking to the band getting the best takes we could.”
Recorded in early 2014 at Austin’s 12th Street Sound and funded by the Motorcars’ first-ever Kickstarter campaign, Hearts From Above is packed with assertive songs destined to become crowd favorites; indeed, some of the songs already are road-tested keepers — most notably the epic album closer, “Tonight We Ride,” which Micky describes as an “anthem for soldiers and cowboys and cowgirls and bikers — really, anybody that sticks together as a team.”
“We’ve been doing that song live for probably almost a year now, and it’s starting to get to the point where the crowd is shouting out for it,” says Micky, who co-wrote the tune with Willy and Brian Keane. “That’s a really great sign when you haven’t even recorded a song yet and people are already requesting it!”
One of Micky’s other personal favorites on Hearts From Above is the swaggering “Hurt Again,” which he co-wrote with Jason Eady. “That one’s the wild card,” he says with a laugh, “because Jason is best known for his country stuff, but that’s probably the most rocking song on the whole record. I really love the opening line, ‘The taxi’s running waiting right outside/There’s a look of shame girl that you can’t hide,’ because I feel like it just reaches out and grabs people right out of the gate, and then it’s just rock ’n’ roll from then on out and it never lets up.
“We actually started out a lot more country,” he continues. “Before the Motorcars, I came straight out of a country band and then playing in a bluegrass band after that for a couple of summers on and off. But as we all got older, we started playing more and more rock ’n’ roll, and for me, ‘Hurt Again’ really expresses our ability to do that.“
Although Micky fronts the band, Gary’s brotherly harmonies and back-up vocals (not to mention his myriad instrumental chops) have been a key element of the Motorcars’ sound from day one. He also steps forward to sing a song or two of his own on every album, and his two tracks on Hearts From Above are among the album’s highlights: the hooky, up-tempo “Led Me the Wrong Way” and the haunting “Sun Now Stands,” a powerful account of Chief Joseph and the Nez Perce Indians of the Pacific Northwest.
“I had the idea to write about the Nez Perce and how they were kicked off their land and instead of staying on the reservation that the government had put them on, they decided to make a break for it and try to escape to Canada,” says Gary. “After awhile I realized it was going to be pretty hard to cram that whole story into a four-minute song, so that’s when I called Willy and as luck would have it, he had just finished a book on the topic and was also planning on writing a song about it. We got together the next day and got to work, and I think it took us about four hours to write the whole thing from start to finish.”
The poignancy of “Sun Now Stands” is matched elsewhere on Hearts From Above by the album’s one cover, “Sister Lost Soul” — a song that the aforementioned Alejandro Escovedo wrote for his acclaimed 2008 album Real Animal as a tribute to fallen brothers in musical arms. “That song is very sentimental to me, and the whole band, really,” Micky explains. “We kind of do that one as a tribute to our good friend Mark McCoy, who was with us forever. We lost him last year in a boating accident.” McCoy, the Motorcars’ original bassist, died a year after leaving the band to move back home to Idaho. Micky also sings “Sister Lost Soul” in memory of another late friend who helped teach him guitar and introduced him to the music of Van Morrison and a lot of other great songwriters and rock acts.
“As we get older, we all start to lose friends, and whether they’re really close friends or even acquaintances you just kind of knew, it’s always a sad thing to see people have to go through things like that,” Micky explains. “And that song is just kind of a tip of the hat to all those guys. It’s an anthem for them and for the people that miss them.” Bittersweet though it may be, the song fits Hearts From Above‘s spirit like a glove. For Micky and Gary Braun, who’ve driven the Motorcars together now for more than a dozen years, as well as for the newer members helping them steer the band further on down the highway, it’s a celebration of where they’ve been, where they’re headed, and most of all, where they are right now.
“Apart from how we’re all much happier now in regards to our relationships and personal lives, I think I was really able to just write about how grateful we are to get to do what we do,” says Micky. “I think all of us in general are in a pretty good spot right now. We’re happy to be on the road and to be putting out music, and we’re grateful to our fans for helping out on the Kickstarter project and for showing up at shows. We just seem to be in a very positive place, and I feel like this record really represents that.” (Copyright by Blue Rose Records, Abstatt, Germany)
- Micky Braun – Vocals, Guitar
- Gary Braun – Vocals, Guitar
- Dustin Schaefer – Guitar
- Joe Fladger – Bass
- Bobby Paugh – Drums
FAREWELL TOUR after 40 years of songwriting ans performing!
Saga (photo by Hans-Willi Carl) is a progressive rock quintet, formed in 1977 in Oakville, Canada. The band created a new sound and their big hits like “Wind him up”, “On the loose”, “Humble stance” or “Don’t be late” are still played by radio stations all over the world. Saga sold so far more than eight Million records.
Saga were founded by bass player Jim Crichton, his brother Ian, who plays the guitar, and Welsh-born vocalist Michael Sadler. The band’s keyboard player, Jim “Daryl” Gilmour, replaced Greg Chadd in 1980. The drummer Mike Thorne joined the Band in 2012. Saga is still a stunning live band with powerfull arrangements and excellent musicians. After leaving the Band in 2007 due to the birth of his son, Michael Sadler decided to come back to Saga in 2011.
Originally known as The Pockets, Saga formed in 1977 from the nucleus of popular Canadian rock band Fludd. In June 1978, they released their self-titled debut album “Saga”. A modest success in Canada, it would eventually sell over 30.000 copies in Germany as an import. Their 1979 follow-up album “Images at Twilight” gave them their first hit in Canada. A third album “Silent Knight” followed in 1980. Saga toured successfully in Europe in 1980 as special guest for Styx. In 1981, the band’s 4th album “Worlds Apart” was released. The lead single “Wind him up”, a song about a compulsive gambler, finally broke them into the Top 40 on the Canadian Charts. A second single “On the loose” also fared well, and in December of 1982, proved to be their breakthrough in America where it peaked at #26 on the Billboard Charts.
“Wind him up” became the second single in America which was successful. A 5th album “Heads or Tales” was released in late 1983 and became another success. The follow-up single “Scratching the Surface” was popular in Canada. Their 6th album “Behaviour” was released in 1985, and launched hits in Canada with “Listen to your Heart” and “What do I know”. In 1986, Steve Negus and Jim Gilmour left Saga amicably. Meanwhile, Saga continued with Michael Sadler and the Crichton brothers augmented by session musicians.
Their 1987 release “Wildest Dreams” enjoyed better distribution under new label, Atlantic Records, but it failed to match expectations in America. The lead single “Only Time will tell” became a popular Chart favourite in Canada. For 1989’s Saga refocused on their earlier European popularity which marked a return to their earlier Progressive style. In 1993, Steve Negus and Jim Gilmour returned to Saga. The band’s next album “The Security of Illusion” was well received by Saga fans in Canada and Europe. The 1994 followup “Steel Umbrellas” was considered uneven when compared to their previous release, perhaps due the material originally being produced for the short-lived television series Cobra.
However, despite lackluster album sales, Saga’s 1993 and 1994 tours helped maintain some of the band’s early popularity their reputation as live performers was not lost among the band’s long time fans. In 1995, Jim Crichton composed and produced the majority of Saga’s next album, the conceptual “Generation 13”. Inspired by a popular political treatise by the same name, the story follows main character Jeremy’s troubled search for his real father. The concept is somewhat reminiscent of the storyline in The Who’s “Quadrophenia”. The album’s heavier compositions have a sound similar to fellow Canadians, Prog legends Rush and even early Kansas. Michael Sadler’s vocal performances on the more softer tracks were another album highlight.
Saga’s next album “Pleasure & The Pain” was released on the eve of their 20th anniversary tour in 1997. On the same anniversary tour the album “Phase 1” came out as an album containing demo songs from the 1979 album “Images at Twilight”, some of them were songs found not good enough for the album, some of them were different version songs. The album quickly sold out and a second issue was printed. The album was hard to get and it soon became a most wanted item for Saga collectors and fans.
Their 1998 tour was captured on the next album “Detours”, a double-live album released worldwide. Saga’s next three albums, 1999’s “Full Circle”, 2001’s “House of Cards” and “Marathon” (2003) have all been popular with the band’s longtime and loyal fanbase. All three albums included new chapters, representing a return to the progressive rock of the band’s early days.
Saga released a new studio album “Network” in the fall of 2004. Their next album “Trust” was published in 2006, featuring Brian Doerner as their new drummer. Even though Jim Crichton and Michael Sadler both lived in Los Angeles, they had not committed Saga to any full-length American tours since 1986. However, in late 2005, Michael Sadler announced a limited tour on the West Coast to promote his solo album “Clear”. The trek featured Ian Crichton as touring guitarist. Saga also played one show in New York City during their summer 2006 tour in support of Trust. A farewell tour of sorts is in the works which will also commemorate Saga’s 30th anniversary as a band.
Saga announced on July 15, 2007 that they were recording a new album in Los Angeles. Titled “10,000 Days” the album was released on November 6, 2007 in conjunction with their planned European tour. In April 2009 the group finished recording their album “The Human Condition” featuring Rob Moratti on vocals. Finally in March 2011 the Band announced the return of Michael Sadler to Saga. In July 2012, Saga’s twentieth studio album, 20/20, was released. On June 27, 2014, Saga released their 21st album entitled “Sagacity”, which received mostly positive feedback from fans. The album quickly topped the iTunes rock lists around Europe (most notably in Germany). Saga will come to Europe again. But after 40 years of songwriting will say good-bye to all of us. So enjoy seeing the legendary band at the blacksheep Festival. See you there.
- Michael Sadler – Vocals
- Jim Gilmour – Keyboards
- Jim Crichton – Bass
- Ian Crichton – Guitar
- Mike Thorne – Drums