Category: Live Reviews

I’m not well versed in opera. I love classical music, but I never got opera- more specifically, singers. In fact, the first opera I went to, Puccini’s Madame Butterfly, lulled me to sleep within the first act. However, there is one particular singer that has caught my attention recently and changed my perception on operatic vocals. For those who doubt this music is any good, think again. The name you want to remember is Charles Castronovo. “The Boss.”

It’s been pretty classical in our metal abode as of late. Taso spent the last few months preparing for performances with the world-renowned tenor, Charles Castronovo. The two concerts were recently performed at Zipper Hall and Pepperdine’s Raitt Recital Hall. AJ and I got to see both of them. For free too. It was badass. Anyway, I want to illustrate how extremely inspiring Castronovo is and the amazing job the band did.

The first concert took place at Zipper Hall, which is right next to the Walt Disney Concert Hall in Downtown LA. I never really get the chance to dress up so it was cool to act a bit more cultured on this particular night. Tickets went for $100 a pop so we were lucky to go.

Charles Castronovo’s “Italian Songbook” was a collection of Italian, Neapolitan and Sicilian folk songs, performed with visual aesthetics that gave the show an intimate feel. Staggered candles flickered around the stage and the band members sported Italian caps and vests.

Imagine the music of The Godfather being performed live, right in front of you. It’s that awesome. Taso gave an impressive performance on guitar, having been an integral part of the arranging process. Pepperdine graduate and former Parkening student, Austin Grant, played the mandolin, which gave an authentic ornament to the music. Percussionist Jake Jamieson gave an animated and exuberant performance, and bassist Tyler Kimmel and Alex Lavruk on accordion rounded out the sound.

And then there is Charles. Normally, I’m not really into singers, but Castronovo’s voice is powerful and dramatic and you can’t help but be moved by his voice. He has great control and power, and his dynamic range made each song gorgeous and intimate.

He is only 35, which is young for an opera star, and has already toured the world in countless operas. He recently finished a run of a new opera, Il Postino, with the world-famous Placido Domingo, in LA. He will be Pavarotti-status as the years go on.

After the performance, there was a swanky reception with food and vino. I missed vino. Vino makes AJ classy. Overall, an excellent concert followed by ritzy schmooze-fest. I was down.

Zipper Hall Reception

Stay classy, AJ














The next concert at Pepperdine was also a huge success. An attendance record was set for Raitt Recital hall at 300 people, 100 over capacity. Seriously, they brought down the house.

Pepperdine Raitt Recital Hall Attendance RECORD!
After the show, Charles took the band and some friends out to Moon Shadows in Malibu. There we were, all suited up, having drinks on the outdoor lounge while the waves crashed nearby, chatting it up with THE Charles Castronovo. Not to divulge too much information, but Chris De Pretis and I may or may not be writing a script based on Charles’s performance. Think gangster noir.
You can’t help but be inspired by this guy. Charles doesn’t have an ounce of pretention and he is such a nice and down-to-earth guy. His name needs to be remembered. His vision can perhaps bring a younger and wider audience to the opera world. Check out his YouTube channel to see performances from the Zipper Hall show.
That’s all for now. Stay posted for more of my lessons and reviews on and Also, get excited for The Human Abstract’s new album, Digital Veil. AJ and his band have a really incredible record on their hands and it will be released in the upcoming months.

Philip Sayce

I wrote this short review as a writing sample for a website. I’m posting it because you all need to check out Philip Sayce. Amazing guitarist.

Blues Sensation Philip Sayce @ Molly Malone’s Pub

August 17th 2010

Energetic is the best word to describe Philip Sayce’s live show. From the moment his three-piece band took the stage, an infectious and continuous surge of energy swarmed over the crowd. Akin to the popular Stevie Ray Vaughan sound, Sayce’s blend of power blues, funk, and rock pleased the diverse crowd. Sayce’s powerful rhythm section, bassist Joel Gottschalk and drummer Chris Jago, performed with a high level of musicianship and effortlessly got the crowd cheering for more.

Sayce is a passionate singer with a dynamic and soulful vocal range. His music organically flows with catchy pop-hooks and choruses, with most songs ending up as extended jams. Guitar-wise, Phil is a fantastic lead player. His ability to wail on his worn Fender Stratocaster allowed him to unpretentiously walk off the stage, into the audience, and solo for several minutes, outside of the shine of the stage lights. Despite his short set, Philip Sayce gave a stunning performance that left the audience thirsty for more blues.

Molly Malone’s Irish Pub was an ideal venue for this performance. The stage lies in a separate room from the main bar, allowing patrons to either enjoy the bar atmosphere or watch the show. The pub’s brick walls, adorned with rock and roll memorabilia, create the perfect atmosphere for watching live music. With a beer in hand, anyone who attends Molly Malone’s for a live show is sure to enjoy the pub’s casual aesthetics. With the cheap admission price for the show, Molly Malone’s delivered another outstanding night of live music.