NITA STRAUSS PUTS ON GUITAR CLINIC DURING 28TH SHOW IN 30 DAYS
Date: December 20, 2018
Venue: Canal Club
Location: Richmond, Virginia, USA
Reviewer: Christopher Carroll
Photos: Christopher Carroll ROCK Photography
Being a big fan of Nita Strauss, I was excited to find out that she had embarked on a ’29 shows in 31 days’ tour to support her newly released, solo CD Controlled Chaos and was even more thrilled to learn that the next to last stop was within an hour and a half from me! This was the 2018 series of ‘The Guitar Collective’ tour which Nita would co-headline with Angel Vivaldi, another phenomenal guitarist and which would also include, special guest Jacky Vincent (ex-Falling In Reverse).
This club looked to be in the bowels of Richmond, Virginia, not the nice, new, pretty area of town. With an hour and a half to kill, my friend and I wandered around and found a bar/restaurant called Billy Jacks! With half of a Dodge Van sticking out of the wall behind the bar and a very rustic décor, we thought the place was pretty cool. The food was creative and extremely good (with things on the menu like the Chuck Norris and the Buford T. Justice). The drinks were super cheap and they weren’t stingy with them. After hanging out there for about an hour, we were not convinced that this wasn’t a gay bar…. But we weren’t positive that it was, either! Either way, it was great and I’m certainly going back.
Before the show, Nita and Angel had a meet and greet and did a short Q&A where they welcomed questions about anything from the music business, to guitar and even health and fitness. When asked about what types of injuries a guitarist may be prone to, Nita gave a very detailed answer (since she, herself, is victim of ‘Repetitive Strain Injury’). She even showed us a couple of exercises that her doctor has her perform to combat this injury. It was incredibly interesting!
I asked her about how her life had changed (aside from no longer drinking and her newfound dedication to health and fitness) after joining Alice Cooper. She explained how she’s really learned how to treat people by watching Alice Cooper. She gave examples, such as this current tour, how she and Angel go above and beyond what might be expected by the crew to ensure the crew really enjoys working on the tour. She backed up and told the story of how she got the Alice Cooper gig, which was while she was playing on the Monsters of Rock Cruise with Femme Fatale. Evidently, Kip Winger was on the cruise and was watching the Femme Fatale show, then gave Alice a call and told him that he really needed to check her out. Nita is incredibly energetic onstage and when she was asked if Alice ever told her to ‘back off’ or ‘know her place.’ She replied, ‘Absolutely not’ and that Alice actually encouraged her to up her showmanship game. She said that, in the beginning, being new to the band, she didn’t want to step on any toes but one day, Alice told her that when she takes the stage for a solo, she IS ‘Alice Cooper’ and that inspired her to give it her all and to live up to that image.
She explained how when she played with Jermaine Jackson, there was an invisible line, which was WAY back from the front of the stage and that you did not cross that line the entire night, unless Jermaine happened to motion for you to come forward. At that point, she would come forward to him, play her solo, then move back behind the line. She said that, with Alice Cooper, there’s still an imaginary line, out of respect for him but that this line is wherever Alice is, onstage. For the most part, the band members don’t go any further on the stage than Alice is. The exception to this is when it’s their time to solo, then, that player takes over the stage. This doesn’t seem to be a steadfast rule, just something the band members do out of respect for a legend who has been at the top of his game for approximately 50 years.
Jacky hit the stage first and he was impressive. Instead of bringing a full band onstage, he had his music on a track and played guitar over it. The focus was truly on him.
Next, Nita came on like a mammoth kicking in the door! The music was heavy and deliberately in your face. Nita was exactly how I expected her to be, onstage, beautiful, smiling, pulling the audience into the music with her and treating the fretboard like it was her jungle gym. Nita knows not to just fill a song with acrobatics. She’s very good at changing a song up and creating an enchanting groove. She was having a great time and this was her 28th show on a run with only two days off the entire tour. If you have never gotten to see Nita perform live, whether it was with The Iron Maidens, Femme Fatale or Alice Cooper, you are missing out on witnessing a star. This woman is captivating when she plays! Nita and Angel shared the same second guitarist and bassist in their bands, Jason Tarantino (check out his project Etherius) and Dean (unfortunately, I did not get his last name).
Angel came on to close the show that night and not only did he sound amazing playing his 7 string Charvel, he had a blast doing it. He writes some really catchy riffs, which keeps his songs entertaining. And, speaking of entertaining, the man played one insane run while chugging an entire bottle of water and another as he was recording the audience with his cell phone in the other hand. He is quite entertaining, doesn’t take himself too seriously so he is able to have fun with it. If you haven’t heard of him (I hadn’t before this show), you should really check out some of his stuff on YouTube or get a few of his CDs. He’s a self-taught virtuoso.
Nita Strauss performing “Mariana Trench” and “Lion Among Wolves” at Canal Club in Richmond, Virginia, USA on December 20, 2018:
Nita Strauss performs at The Canal Club in Richmond, Virginia. 2nd to last show of The Guitar Collective 2.0 co-headine tour with Angel Vivaldi.