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Monthly Archives: November 2013

THE ULTIMATE FREEDOM

 

UltraSIG (3)

THE ULTIMATE FREEDOM

                                  By: Tess DeFlori

 Opening for bands such as, The Sex Pistols, Alvin Lee, Pat Travers, Blackfoot, Legs Diamond and other major rock groups, ULTRA is a home grown hard hitting classic rock band from San Antonio, Texas. Mixing southern blues, psychedelic rock and pro-metal, the band ULTRA rocked fans and friends on Friday night October 25, at one of San Antonio’s best known venues who hold on to the Armadillo World Headquarters tradition of promoting and featuring the best local talent.

Well-known, ULTRA had its beginnings with “Homer”, who was made up of some of San Antonio’s finest musicians. They continue to amaze audiences and players alike after 30 plus years. They are part of the Texas musical elite that found success as musicians, recording engineers and writers. Being a success in the industry even for a short time is difficult. To pass into legend status, is rare.  In the 70’s when rock n roll was still exploding, they, as many bands do, went through changes.  When Ultra’s line up and signature style evolved to its final incarnation a rich music heritage was born.

ULTRA, did not want to be known as a “cover band”, so they sought after management services that would maximize their opportunities to establish a national following. At that time, concert promoter Jack Orbin of Stone City Attractions was the “Go to guy”. Stone City had UlTRA exclusively as the opening act for many of the era’s most popular bands. Actually, Jack continues to promote! He re-united with UlTRA when he introduced them at the concert Friday night.

Between 1975 through 1978 ULTRA released one 5 track EP and recorded several demo tracks, which were never made public. Being an opening band can sometimes be a stepping-stone to stardom but this was not the case for these musicians. The band was never under contract and their roadies were receiving more pay than the band. To make matter worse, Disco had climbed to the forefront. The band members needed to get on with life, marrying, having children and earning a living. By 1978, the band had finally had enough and they decided to disband.

In 2000, Monster records acquired their demo album and contacted them. They re-mixed and put out a new album, which did great in Europe, China and in the Latin countries. Scott said that when visiting China, he found that they had hijacked their songs. Curiously, a song that was a foreign style to the band, “Hot and Cold”, was the most downloaded song for ring tones! The band has yet to see residuals on those downloaded songs!

During my interview with Scott Stephens, the Bass player, he said that in 2011, they received The Texas Legacy Music Award. I was present for this event and they sounded as if they had never stopped playing. Scott gathered the band members; they practiced and played at a local club before their induction. Scott said they were surprised when the club owner said the venue sold out and that the night would be standing room only. They felt prepared at last to perform in front of the two-thousand people, which took place at the Legacy Music Awards.  This ceremony took place at a local venue in San Antonio and they played with The Bubble Puppy as well as other inductees on that night.

In writing this article, I decided to go to a friend to get more information about this band. Gary Hull a local stand out 70’s musician with the band “Thumb” and an author, who is currently working on his second book, provided me with some further insight on this great band. Gary said that he first saw Galen Niles, guitar player of ULTRA, at the Jewish community center. If you are a San Antonian you know that back then the center was located on a different side of town. Gary was 14 years old at that time!  He said that the first song they played was a spot on version of the current top ten Led Zepplin hit “Communication Breakdown”. It was immediately obvious to Gary that he would need about 100 years of practice and some faster fingers to come close to Galen. Many players in town shared his same sentiment of Galen’s outstanding guitar playing. Even in the early 70’s, Galens fret work, and tonal command was daunting. He was to all the rest of the guitars players in town, their idol. Gary said that not much has changed where Ultra is concerned. Gary talked about how Ultra’s band members set the bar high for other musicians.

As the current line up demonstrates, Galen always attracted the best of the best to compliment his guitar work. Since the 70’s and currently, the ULTRA line-up consists of Scott Stephens (Bass), Galen Niles (Guitar), Larry McGuffin (Guitar) and Tom Schleuning (Drummer). These musicians have played together so long, they could change instruments and I doubt anyone could tell.

Getting back to Friday night October 25, Ultra was one of the co headliners with Bubble Puppy and The Krayolas. Ultra remains a local favorite. Tonight they brought the house down with Don Evans comic interludes and perfect vocal timing. This time we did not see Don ducked taped to a dolly and rolled on stage nor did we see him in a kimono…Too much to explain here, you just had to have been there. As usual, Galen delivered as promised. Larry is always a perfect compliment to Galen’s guitar work. The bottom end being the base and drums, made it possible for the rest of the members to soar on their musical selections for the evening.

As a rule, ULTRA is one of the only remaining San Antonio based rock bands that play all original material. Most of the audience can sing right along with the band. Just watch the audience at a concert and you will see their heads bob back and forth in perfect time with each tune. Ultra songs can be downloaded on I Tunes; CD Baby; and Sonic Bids. Take a listen back to the days of good old rock n roll!

For information about the band ULTRA, go to: www.ultra-rocks.com . They also have a facebook page. For booking contact scott@ultra-rocks.com .

Drop me a line about the article @ justforpost@hotmail.com

Ultra

Alamo City Comic Con 2013

Story by David A. De La Rosa

Pictures by Joseph Martinez

Alamo City Comic Con 2013

The inaugural Alamo City Comic Con which ran from October 25th – 27th at the Henry B. Gonzales convention center was a big success. This event provided great family entertainment, and gave convention goers an opportunity to dress up as there favorite superhero/villain or favorite TV/film character. This was also a great place for the fan boy to go get that hard to find comic book or collectible. Artwork was being sold there at very affordable prices, from comic book legends to local artists all were represented there. Most people who attended wanted to meet a special guest celebrity to take a photo with them or get an autograph. When I attended this event I wanted to see and do all of these things.

One of the greatest things about an event such as this is that people have the opportunity and are encouraged to dress up in costume. There were hundreds of people who attended the con dressed up in costumes ranging from the absurd to the brilliant, from the homemade to the store bought. This event also shows that we are all hams at heart everyone who wore a costume without hesitation would pose for a photograph if asked nicely. In my opinion the most abundant costume worn at the show was the Harlequin. There was also a good amount of women dressed up as Poison Ivy also was a good contingent of X-men (Mystique, Beast, Storm, and Rogue) represented there. Beyond the dressed up convention goers there were a few fan clubs represented there dressed up to help recruit new members (Ghostbusters, Star Wars, Dr. Who fan clubs).

I attended this event Saturday and Sunday. I didn’t have much of an opportunity to look or shop around for comics Saturday, but I made up for that on Sunday. There were many vendors selling comics, action figures, and limited edition porcelain figurines. I bought a good amount of dollar comics that plugged many holes in my collection. While I went from vendor to vendor looking through their inventories I overheard several of them say that they were taken by surprise by the huge turnout for this convention. When I heard these statements made over and over again it made me feel the success of this event was assured.

There were many artists at the convention selling original works or prints all at very affordable prices. The week prior to the event there was a three part comic book documentary on PBS called Superheroes: A Never-Ending Battle, this program showed the evolution of comic books from the golden age to the present. One of the featured men in the documentary was the great artist Neal Adams. Mr. Adams was there at the convention signing prints and drawing sketches for a small fee. I bought a print that Mr. Adams signed that I’ll treasure forever. There were local artists represented at the convention like Mr. Eric Pinto ( www.ArtofEricPinto.com ) who was selling art prints there.

The convention also had its share of big name special guests which ranged from TV personalities from the past and present, film stars, and old school wrestlers. In my opinion the main headliners there signing autographs were TV’s Batman Adam West and Burt Ward. Also Danny Trejo Who plays the anti hero Machete in that film franchise. Lord Of The Rings fans Sean Astin (rudy) was there. Other fan favorites included current cast members of the popular TV show The Walking Dead (Lauren Cohan, Addy Miller, Kylie Szymanski, and Travis Love). Myself I’m a huge Star Wars fan so when I heard Drath Maul Mr. Ray Park, and Mr. Peter Mayhew (the Wookie himself Chewbacca). Mr. Dirk Benedict was there some of you might remember him as the original Starbuck from Battlestar Galactica. Wrestling fans got to meet such favorites, Kevin Nash, Scott Steiner, and Buff Bagwell to name a few. Famous vehicles from TV and film that convention goers could view such as the Batman Begins Tumbler, the A-Team van, the DeLorean from Back To The Future, and Ecto-1 from The Ghostbusters.

There was a costume contest that had everybody clapping. It was great fun watching the people in the audience reaction to the costumes as they walked in front of the stage. Smiles and chuckling was in abundance.

The inaugural Alamo City Comic Con was in my opinion a great success. It had everything you would come to expect from a premier convention. The reasonable admission prices and VIP passes are posted on www.alamocitycomiccon.com the event has come and gone but you can gauge how the prices will be for next year’s convention. This cultural event and its scope has been what South Central Texas has been lacking. The potential for this event to grow in the coming years and become a major tourist draw has to make local businesses in the area very happy.  I have read from the Alamo City Comic Con Facebook page that next year’s con will have more space, and with that I hope more vendors with more special guests. I’ll return next year hoping the organizers of this event can top this one.

Story  David A. De La Rosa

River City Attraction

Comic Con: Special Guest Danny Trejo

Story by David A. De La Rosa

Photos by: Joseph Martinez

Alamo City Comic Con: Special Guest Danny Trejo

The inaugural Alamo City Comic Con has come and went; it was set up as a premier comic book convention. The four things people look forward to in a typical convention are comic book collectibles, artwork, dressing up in costume, and meeting celebrities.  The Alamo City Comic Con did not disappoint in any of those aforementioned items.

Myself I wanted to see the actor Danny Trejo; for those of you who don’t know who he is let me tell you. Danny has had a long career as a character actor playing bad guys in both TV and film, and lately has attained cult hero status as the Machete in that film franchise.  There were several ways to see and meet this celebrity either with a VIP pass, organized autograph signing, Q&A panel, or a lucky sighting in the halls.  I went to see him at the Q&A panel which was free for convention goers, in the Lila Cockerell Theathre. The Lower level of theatre was almost filled to capacity with the two main isles set up with microphones for the audience to lineup and ask Mr. Trejo questions.

The Q&A session lasted 45 minutes to an hour in which the audience asked Mr. Trejo questions about his life, career, or just wanted to state their admiration for Mr. Trejo’s work. As for Mr. Trejo he could not have been cooler he answered every question fully with down to earth wit and humor. I liked that about Mr. Trejo because you could tell he was happy to be there with his fans.  I’ve been to other conventions in which the celebrity guests (not mentioning any names) really made you feel that they didn’t want to be there, with their tone answering questions, or demeanor.  

 

Here are a few questions asked of   Mr. Trejo and his responses.

Q: Did you have any beef with any characters on the set?

A: Oh no god no I had a sword fight with uh Mel Gibson, and so when Robert yelled action I threw my sword down and Robert said what’s wrong. I said I’m not fighting William Wallace are you crazy he freed Scotland.

Q: Do you have a preference to play the bad guy?

A: Gimme what you got I don’t care man you got a good script I’ll be a good guy, you got a good script I’ll be a tree. It’s like a lot of people take this acting like really really serious you know but it’s I’m blessed it’s a great job but it’s still a job. You know I’m like a house painter and a house painter doesn’t really care what house he paints just as long as he gets paid. You know what I mean so somebody offers me a job it goes through my agent we get 20 scripts a week so they read’em and they see what fits me you know what is mean in a sense so ok let’s do this one. I’d do them all if I could.

Q:  How old were you when you got your tattoo on your chest, that Charra?

A:  God I got that, I’d hate to say it I got that in 1965. And uh and I was in prison and that was with a needle and thread. And me and a guy named Harry “Super Jew” Ross we did the outline in San Quentin and then I got kicked out of San Quentin.  They sent me to Folsom, and Harry said don’t let anybody touch it, it’s my first tattoo. So he said I’ll be in Folsom, so in about 5 months later he showed up in Folsom and he did a little more and then I got sent to Soledad and uh and he was almost done he said let me finish it so then 8 months later he showed up in Soledad he finished it so it was about I don’t know 2 years and uh 3 penitentiaries. I got to tell you this was his first tattoo so he hated it because he became a real good shader and fine line and some of you tattoo artists will know what I’m talking about. He became a great tattoo artist so he hated this tattoo cause it made him so famous. Don’t show it to anybody. Shut up! (Danny lifted his shirt and exposed his tattoo to great applause) Harry just passed away but his legacy is he put the tattoo on Danny Trejo.

The whole panel session was great and before people entered the theatre everyone received a ticket. At the end of the Q&A session Mr. Trejo was asked to pick a ticket out of a bowl to choose a winner of a special prize which was a limited edition figure of Machete, sponsored by Sideshow Collectibles. Mr. Trejo graciously signed the prize and took pictures with the lucky winner. For myself I thought this panel session was the highlight in my comic con experience. A note to any organizers of this event that might read this article do yourself a favor and invite Mr. Trejo back for next year’s comic con.

River City Attractions