Sirbaugh Acres VI: Time Machine

Last year was my first iteration of Sirbaugh Acres, which at that time was marking its fifth year running. It was a splendid affair, with five bands showcasing their musical prowess for a lawnful of onlookers. This year I returned for the sixth installment of the series, with some newcomers and returning musical champions. Unlike the previous outing, this one carried the theme of “Time Machine” and featured each band playing a tune from Ronnie James Dio’s storied career. But they weren’t limited to Dio, and explored a variety of other covers from bands like Led Zeppelin, AC/DC, Queensrÿche, and, of course, gave a healthy dose of their own material for the delighted listeners. The acts included Nero’s Fiddle, Elizabeth’s Furnace (formerly Meridian), Mindmaze, A Sound Of Thunder, and Bleeding Black, who performed their final show that night.

Normally when I do concert reviews, I have difficulty connecting one-on-one with some of my favorite bands. I’ve enjoyed the relaxed setting that Tim Sirbaugh, the namesake of Sirbaugh Acres, has provided, allowing me the opportunity to both immerse myself in great music, as well as get to have real conversations with the people behind it. This is like a vacation for me, so forgive me as I forego a band-by-band review and simply inundate you with photos I captured of each set. But suffice to say, each band put on a hell of a performance and, despite a brief rain shower that took us by surprise, the entire event was a wonderful auditory adventure.

While I don’t have the exact numbers, I feel the event has grown in size since I last attended, and I certainly noted more photographers and videographers this time around. If you’d like to check out some of the footage of the first three bands: Nero’s Fiddle, Elizabeth’s Furnace, and Mindmaze, you can find it here, courtesy of the Mad Shad Channel. You can find our photo gallery for all the bands below, along with links to explore their music further.

Nero’s Fiddle: Facebook

 

Elizabeth’s Furnace: Facebook

 

Mindmaze: Official Website | Facebook | Twitter | Instagram | Apple Music | BandsInTown

 

A Sound Of Thunder: Official Website | Facebook | Twitter | Instagram | Apple Music | Bandcamp | YouTube

 

Bleeding Black: Facebook | ReverbNation

MindMaze in Sparta

MindMaze: Official Website | Facebook | TwitterInstagram

MindMaze is one of those bands that I try to make sure I see anytime I can. Their music is my kind of progressive metal, taking cues from legends such as Fates Warning and Queensryche, but producing songs that are entirely their own. There is a level of technicality and precision to their music, too often overlooked by other bands, and yet their stage show is far from admiring statues standing in place. And while my interactions with them are few and far between, they’re always kind and appreciative of those who support them and willing to spend quality time with everyone who seeks it. Their recent concert at Sparta Inn in Sparrows Point, Maryland was no exception, and I ended up talking quite a bit with Sarah and Jeff Teets, the sister-brother duo of vocals and guitars. Before I knew it, we were all doing and impromptu photo shoot outside, first with the whole band, and then just with Sarah as the others went to set up their gear.

Whether it be Jeff jumping off the drum riser, or Sarah and bassist Rich Pasqualone playing a game of “let’s knock each other over,” or drummer Mark Bennett beating the the ever-loving crap out of a $200 house drum kit, the MindMaze crew are full of energy. I had a ton of fun watching this foursome rip into tracks like “This Holy War” and “Slave To The Cycle,” the latter which fans almost didn’t get to witness. Luckily, the band was given extra time on stage, and they made great use of it. And despite Sarah only recently recovering from a lost voice, you wouldn’t have been able to tell if she hadn’t apologized for it. Though she later told me it was uncomfortable to sing, she pushed through it and the crowd was left in awe.

They’re heading to Hollywood’s renowned Whisky a Go Go on August 2nd, so all you West Coast fans should try to make it out. And for those of you on the East Coast, spend that time clearing your schedule so you can ensure you get to their next performance in your area.

Sirbaugh Acres V: It Was Metal

On the overcast and potentially stormy afternoon of September 15, with Hurricane Florence threatening us from the south, myself and more than a hundred others gathered outside in a small West Virginia town to indulge in a gratuitous sampling of barbecue and heavy metal. This was Sirbaugh Acres, a private event from mastermind and hard rock enthusiast, Tim Sirbaugh. Thanks to him and Kickstarter backers, he had organized the fifth installment of this festival, entitled Sirbaugh Acres V: It Was Metal. The latter portion of the name was not only telling of what would come, but also owed credit to the headlining act, D.C.-based A Sound Of Thunder, whose most recent release bears the same moniker.

Our fears of rainfall were soon assuaged thanks to the mystifying powers of the opener, Dirty Deal, whose song of sunshine quickly parted the clouds for the rest of the day. Tailgating, lawn chairs, and dancers were the winners of the day, as one act after the next took to the stage. In addition to original material, the speakers blared the sounds of Led Zeppelin, Accept, and Queensryche. More than one person leapt to their feet at the sound of Zeppelin tunes, I assure you. All in all, everyone had a glorious time.

You can check out our photos from that afternoon and evening, featuring the aforementioned Dirty Deal, as well as South Of Sobriety, Meridian, Caressing Steel (a very good RUSH tribute act), Chicago’s Shokker (with Sarah Teets of MindMaze subbing in on vocals), Bleeding Black, and A Sound Of Thunder. We hope it’ll give you a little taste of the event and entice you to check out some of these fine acts as well.

Dirty Deal: Website | Facebook | Twitter | YouTube

 

South Of Sobriety: Facebook | YouTube

 

Meridian: Facebook

 

Caressing Steel: Facebook

 

Shokker: Facebook | ReverbNation

 

Bleeding Black: Website | Facebook

 

A Sound Of Thunder: Website | Facebook | Twitter | YouTube | Instagram | iTunes

Iced Earth at Baltimore Soundstage

After the immense high of seeing Judas Priest in concert, and with news of an impending snow storm coming the following day, I was excited to chill out for one more great concert with Iced Earth at Baltimore Soundstage on March 19, 2018. What’s more, they were bringing Sanctuary with them, a great metal band who recently had experienced turmoil, but were persevering to bring their music to the masses. Opening for these two respected metal acts were Kill Ritual, and a particular delight to me, MindMaze, a group I’ve had the pleasure of seeing several times before.

MindMaze: Official Website | Facebook | Twitter | Instagram | iTunes 

Pennsylvania-based MindMaze is a talented foursome, featuring siblings Sarah (vox) and Jeff Teets (guitars), bassist Rich Pasqualone, and drummer Mark Bennett. Having seen them open for Udo Dirkschneider (ex-Accept), as well as attending a headlining show of theirs, I’m familiar with their intricate, melodic brand of heavy metal. Opening for Iced Earth was a great chance for them to showcase this to a new audience, and their six-song set brought a huge response from the crowd. Bennett’s monumental beats crashing down supported the meanderings of Jeff and Rich as they attempted not to get their fingers tied in knots wandering their fretboards. Sarah’s banshee wail closed out the final notes of “This Holy War,” widening eyes and ushering applause from the audience.

 

Kill Ritual: Official Website | Facebook | Twitter | Instagram | iTunes

Next up were West Coast metallers, Kill Ritual, supporting their newest album, All Men Shall Fall. Though only four of the quintet were present (bassist Jim Pegram being on tour with Mudface, so guitarist Chris Lotesto took up bass duties), they put on a solid set. They were very relaxed, feeling at home on stage and off! In fact, during the third song of their set, vocalist David Reed Watson disappeared and suddenly showed up in the photo pit with us. Soon he was standing on the barricade, screaming into the crowd, while Lotesto and guitarist Steven Rice commanded the stage alongside drummer Seamus Gleason.

 

Sanctuary: Official Website | Facebook | Twitter | YouTube

Sanctuary has had a rough time in recent memory. In December 2017, frontman Warrel Dane (ex-Nevermore) passed away. However, with the tour already in place, the band decided to continue, dedicating these performances as both a tribute to Dane’s life and as a farewell tour for the band. Joined by Witherfall vocalist, Joseph Michael, they put on one Hell of a show for Baltimore, drawing on equal amounts of material from their three studio albums, Refuge Denied, Into The Mirror Black, and the most recent release, The Year The Sun Died. The songs were nailed down tight, and Michael hit high note after high note, while guitarists Lenny Rutledge and Joey Concepcion (Armageddon) seared through dual guitar solos. All in all, it was a wonderful send-off for the band and I wish them all the best of luck on their next endeavors.

 

Iced Earth: Official Website | Facebook | Twitter | Instagram

Iced Earth, on a world tour in support of their album, Incorruptible, took the stage to a roaring crowd. The setlist was a mix of extremely early and extremely recent material: while the plurality of songs came from Incorruptible, the majority of tracks came from 90s releases, with the focus on the band’s sophomore album, Night Of The Stormrider. But early or old, the crowd was ecstatic to be in attendance. Every hand in the audience was thrown up, pounding forth to the rhythm of the music in the form of a clenched fist or horns. “Do we still have energy out there?!” vocalist Stu Block screamed to the crowd, who cheered back a forceful wall of affirmation. “Good, that’s the key,” he responded, before going into The Dark Saga tune, “Vengeance Is Mine.” Soundstage was suddenly filled with chants of “Mine! Mine! Mine! Mine!”

Something unexpected and truly special for fans occurred during the encore. As the group tore into the heavier portion of “Watching Over Me,” former vocalist Matthew Barlow emerged onstage and joined in. Hitting the highs of the chorus while Block took the lows, they sang shoulder to shoulder, then let the music drop off suddenly, allowing the audience to continue the chorus A Capella. The night closed out, all members, including Barlow, bowing to that same roar of the crowd which had greeted them when they first took the stage.

Concert Review: A Sound Of Thunder & MindMaze


 

Last Thursday night was quite an evening!  Udo Dirkschneider, former lead singer for metal band, Accept, made a stop at the Baltimore Soundstage with his solo band for a lengthy set featuring old Accept tunes and a good time.  I had my own reasons for going to the show, however, which revolved around seeing one of my favorite bands, A Sound Of Thunder, open up for Udo.  They did me a true kindness by obtaining a photo pass for me, which allowed me the pleasure of getting up-close and personal during their first three songs.  While this photo pass allowed me to capture some shots of their set, as well as fellow opener, MindMaze, my clearance didn’t extend to Dirkschneider’s set.  Unfortunate, but better than if I hadn’t been able to snap shots at all!  Plus, I had the added enjoyment of discussing classic metal with a fellow enthusiast, ranging from Iron Maiden to Death.  Discussing the finer points of Metallica’s back catalog was a rare treat.

Now, onto the photos!
 
MindMaze: Official Website | Facebook | Twitter | Instagram | Bandcamp

It’s difficult for me to say exactly how awesome MindMaze’s set was.  Based on what their vocalist, Sarah Teets, recently said on her Facebook page, this may have been their best set yet.  However, as someone who has never listened to MindMaze prior to that night, I can only say this: the combination of searing vocals, pounding drums, and rapid fire riffs made their set a joy to behold.  The abundant audience that filled Soundstage might have seemed a bit stiff at the beginning, but quickly erupted in applause at the end of their opening song.  Even the debut of two new songs came across to resounding cheers.  I, for one, have already gone to check out more of their music.  In short: it’s worthy of your time.

 

A Sound Of Thunder: Official Website | Facebook | Twitter | Instagram | YouTube | Google+Band Store

A Sound Of Thunder has been a personal favorite of mind since I first encountered them opening for Fozzy at the Jaxx Club in Springfield, VA.  At that point, they gave off an air of Black Sabbath mixed with Iron Maiden and Judas Priest.  However, over the years they’ve developed their sound and melded all their influences into a seamless exhibition of heavy metal.  Though they didn’t have much more than half an hour, they still managed to wreak havoc upon Thursday’s crowd.  I would be surprised if there were any in attendance who were not newly converted fans after their first track, “Queen Of Hell,” rang in their ears.  Certainly, by the time they reached their cover of Manowar’s “Pleasure Slave,” a slew of onlookers were inducted into the Legion Of Thunder, submitting to the will of front-woman, Nina Osegueda.  For those who are looking for some of their influences, I’d highly recommend their newest release, “Who Do You Think We Are?”, a collection of cover songs.  If you’d like to check out their newest original work, however, look towards their album, “Tales From The Deadside,” which pairs nicely with the Valiant Darkman comics.

Here are some photos from Thursday, or check out the interview I did with Nina and Josh about “Tales From The Deadside.”