A Legend Returns to Shred

By on April 11, 2014


Jake E. Lee, Red Dragon Cartel (photo Travis Failey / RSEN)

Jake E. Lee has made his triumphant return to the music community. After being out of the limelight since 1996, but still active musically, Lee and his new band, Red Dragon Cartel, are out touring and promoting their self-titled debut. Before hitting the high seas on the Monsters of Rock cruise, Lee and his bandmates made a stop at a new player in the local rock-n-roll venue scene, The Largo Cultural Center.  I have been in the Tampa Bay community for many years and have seen venues come and go and change with the times. I was skeptical about this venue when it was first announced, but that had more to do with my ignorance than anything else. Traveling into Largo and pulling onto the street where my GPS directed me to, I was surprised to see that the building was in the middle of a beautiful park and playground and that they were having a “movie in the park” night. It was pretty surreal to see the parking lot filled with metal heads hanging out just listening to music from the car, and directly behind them, children were playing on the swings and the monkey bars, and families were eating popcorn and taking in the movie on the lawn.

Upon entering the venue, Eddie Trunk from “That Metal Show” was there greeting the fans, shaking hands and kissing babies. Not really kissing babies, but we were all babies once, right?

Eddie Trunk, That Metal Show (photo Travis Failey / RSEN)

Eddie was also heading out on the Monsters of Rock cruise the next morning and tonight he was hosting the Red Dragon Cartel event.

Eddie told the story about how fans of That Metal Show would continuously ask him, Don Jamieson, and Jim Florentine, “Whatever happened to Jake E. Lee?”  Eddie announced, Jake is “alive and well” and is shredding across the States and the seas.

The Largo Cultural Center was almost filled to capacity as Eddie Trunk came on stage to introduce the band.  Red Dragon Cartel took the stage and opened with the Ozzy Osbourne classic, “The Ultimate Sin.”  It was great to see Jake E. Lee on stage once again, performing with his hallmark style and flare.

After opening with “The Ultimate Sin,” the crowd was primed for an evening full of new music and old.

With DJ Smith on vocals, Ronnie Mancuso on bass, and Jonas Fairley on drums, Red Dragon Cartel played a set consisting of new music off their new release,  Red Dragon Cartel, a few songs from the Badlands’ catalog, and, of course, a couple select tracks from Jake E. Lee’s time with Ozzy. After playing “The Ultimate Sin,” the band played “Deceived,” and then “War Machine,” followed by two tracks from their new album.

DJ Smith (photo Travis Failey / RSEN)

Jake E. Lee’s style of playing the guitar is definitely a fresh, non-dated sound, but it also has enough Jakeisms that you know exactly who you are listening to. With “High Wire” up next, vocalist DJ Smith showed why Jake picked him to be the frontman for his band. Nailing the very tough to emulate, Ray Gillian, throughout the song, Smith hit the brutal highs that were necessary and provided enough variations in the vocals to make the song his own. With drummer Jonas Fairley and Smith changing instruments, Fairley took center stage and did a great job fronting the band singing “Rock and Roll Rebel.” This was by far one of the highlights of the evening.

Prior to the beginning of the show, Eddie invited the fans who were seated in the auditorium like setting, down to the floor in front of the stage.  With a few more Badland’s songs, including “Sun Red Sun,” “In a Dream” and “Rumblin Train,” the crowd waited with anticipation for the set’s encore. I was hoping it would be “Killer of Giants” but everyone knew that it would be “Bark At The Moon.” Eddie Trunk came back on stage and asked the crowd if they wanted to hear “Bark At The Moon” and the crowd responded with a resounding roar.  The title track from Ozzy’s third album was written by Jake E. Lee with some contention from Ozzy’s camp, and the song was a perfect finish to the evening.

Jonas Fairley (photo Travis Failey / RSEN)

The Red Dragon Cartel’s show was like a reunion with a family member that’s been away for too long. Jake E. Lee proved once again that he should always be remembered as not only a great guitar player but also a great performer and songwriter. With this backing band of solid pros and a first album with tracks that will get airplay on satellite and terrestrial radio, Jake E. Lee is back in the game and he isn’t going away anytime soon.

JAKE (photo Travis Failey / RSEN)

Red Dragon Cartel fans (photo Travis Failey / RSEN)

For more information on Red Dragon Cartel go to http://reddragoncartel.com/ and for Eddie Trunk proceed to http://eddietrunk.com/

  1. The Ultimate Sin

  2. Deceived

  3. War Machine

  4. High Wire

  5. Rock ‘n’ Roll Rebel

  6. Shine On

  7. Shout It Out

  8. In a Dream

  9. Rumblin’ Train

  10. Sun Red Sun

  11. Feeder

  12. Bark at the Moon

    JAKE (photo Travis Failey / RSEN)

DJ Smith (photo Travis Failey / RSEN)



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