by Clay Marshall 10/28/2000
Gilby Clarke and Derek Sherinian, two perennial favorites, each celebrated birthdays in August, and I was privileged to attend the birthday performances of both. Clarke, still holding fort every Thursday night at Hollywood’s Cat Club along with the rest of the Starfuckers (ex-Stray Cat drummer/Cat Club owner Slim Jim Phantom, Buckcherry rhythm guitarist Yogi and L.A. Guns axeman Tracii Guns), was on Aug. 17 joined by bassist Stefan Adika now that Johnny “Blackout” G. is touring with Slash’s Snakepit.
Clarke’s friends turned out in full force to celebrate, as the crowd included Sherinian, Ryan Roxie, Bruce Kulick, Matt Sorum, and Eric Singer. Although the evening was essentially all covers (as usual), Clarke’s solo career was still represented in part through renditions of the Clash’s “Jail Guitar Doors,” Janis Joplin’s “Mercedes Benz,” and the Rolling Stones’ “Dead Flowers,” all of which he’s tackled on disc. However, the evening’s highlight came during “Tijuana Jail,” the only original Clarke track performed, as he was joined onstage by Adika, Guns and Singer–the same four who delivered near-legendary weekly performances last summer as the Blues Mafia at Hollywood’s original Baked Potato. And for those scoring at home, Clarke said his wife gave him a new pickup truck for his birthday.
Sherinian’s celebration, meanwhile, took place with Planet X at the Baked Potato Hollywood on Aug. 25. Like Nevermore, the group will soon tour with progressive hard rock mainstays Fates Warning, but a guest- list-only crowd packed the Potato to sneak a peek at perhaps what is today’s most ambitious instrumental rock act.
Sherinian’s friends also turned out in droves, as Clarke, Guns, Adika, Teddy Andreadis, and bassists Tony Franklin (ex-Firm, ex-Blue Murder) and Phil Soussan (ex-Ozzy) turned out to wish the keyboardist well. The evening never turned into an “all-star jam,” in part because no one, it seemed, wanted to take the stage after the virtuosity displayed by Planet X as they performed material from both new album UNIVERSE and Sherinian’s 1999 solo album PLANET X. Guitarist Tony MacAlpine and drummer Virgil Donati only seem to get better (a scary notion), while Sherinian debuted an impressive keyboard solo featuring a Bach piece he said he spent two months learning.
Still, Clarke, Soussan, Franklin and Guns did indeed take the stage at various points before night’s end for improvisational blues-fusion jams, prompting Sherinian to joke, “We’re gonna try something different–we’re gonna play in 4/4.” Sherinian also took a break at one point, saying he wanted to sit back and watch his band play. Be careful, Derek–it’s addictive.