Wednesday, October 28, 2015

The frontman's journey - Jeff Salado recreates the Steve Perry experience for Journey Revisited

By Pam Spaulding ("Panda", JR Team Captain)
(Originally published 12/11/2014, updated 11/13/2015)

The stellar timeless songwriting, musicianship, harmonies and tenor-based vocals of Journey are easily recognizable, embedded in cultural references, and are celebrated by millions. Many are enamored of not only the hits, but the deep cuts and varied textures and genres that the band dared to dip into over the decades -- blues, R&B, rock, and pop. It’s no surprise that among those who grew up with the iconic music are now musicians and vocalists inspired to pay tribute to Journey by performing the work live -- including the members of Journey Revisited.

Journey Revisited's lead singer Jeff Salado asked me what I thought about seeing the band for the first time live -- when I came out to California in November 2014.

With experience as a journalist, photographer, and videographer, I decided to give him feedback/insight that he was unlikely receive from the average concert-goer. What was surprising is that once he read it, he asked me to recast what was a private email into an article because he wanted to share with you all what it's like to perform through my lens as a writer, a fan and good friend.

Prior to that November Black Oak Casino performance, I had only seen Jeff onstage via video. where it's clear that he has great stage presence and stagecraft -- he interacts with fans, and connects them to the music of Journey. I did, however, have the good fortune to spend time with him prior to the concert, hanging out in his environment -- seeing the offstage Jeff Salado.

Most fans never get to interact with that Jeff - the goofy, funny, nerdy, lovable guy who's also capable of conversations of great intellectual depth and thoughtfulness. A dude who loves talking Journey from the perspective of a singer (of course), muscle cars of all brands and styles, boxing, history, science and classic TV. Jeff possesses a noggin full of useless trivia like myself that makes conversations incredibly interesting. That guy isn't on stage.

The joy in live performance is imperfection, the choices of the artist ensures that each performance is uniquely owned and delivered to the audience is a key goal. Audiences continue to seek out the golden tones, the rich warmth and raw emotive draw that Steve Perry evoked during his tenure with Journey. The tribute bands yearn to satisfy that thirst for melodic sound that moves fans of Journey’s classic album oriented rock.

The challenge for Jeff Salado, a huge Perry and Journey fan, is to keep that level of quality, fidelity and emotion pouring forth each gig to connect with the music and channel that energy to ardent fans of the aural benchmark set by Steve Perry.

So my presence at Black Oak as a working professional (to capture photos and video) allowed me unique access to observe passively on multiple levels. After the show, I had a lot to say about that experience, but not in detail, or with a critical eye. So here's my perspective on the Journey Revisited lead singer...what you see and experience is more than meets the eye.

The Professional Jeff

This is the serious guy you see at the venue working on sound check, trying out an ear monitor, or the green room discussing band plans for the year. He's quite relaxed but carries a level of command of the room that telegraphs business. After all, this is a job for all of them. They are all conscious of wanting to be at their best to please the audiences that eagerly await hearing classic Journey.

It's also reflected in the photos in the Green Room. You'll notice that the other guys are relaxed, focusing on their own warm up routines, but Jeff's presence set the tone for the evening, loose but mindful of the task at hand, for instance, inquiring about adding songs to the roster for the next year, and how the band can accomplish learning them by tour time.

There were a couple of unusual circumstances that night -- I was introducing the band on stage, and they were celebrating guitarist Val Popovic's birthday. So Jeff and Val were holding court in discussions, considering whether to sing a version of "Lights" based on the studio recording or a live version.

Jeff's ability to stay motivated in adverse conditions is remarkable; that night at Black Oak was an unusual perfect storm to vex a vocalist -- the smoke in the casino was overwhelming due to a group that arrived and proceeded to smoke out the capacity of the air system to clear it out. Cigarette smoke flowed freely into the concert venue space.

It's enough to shake any vocalist - the issue became so problematic that Jeff, during the performance, twice asked me to retrieve lozenges from the dressing room in a valiant attempt to keep his vox from being affected by the smoke. Everyone in the venue was feeling the horrible burn. It is also not surprising how well Jeff pushed past it, making slight vocal changes and choices to accommodate the uncertainty of his ability to deliver certain notes -- a hallmark of a self-aware vocalist. Jeff's had to endure enough uncertainties and frustrations and always forged ahead as the professional that he is. But he has remained humble.

It's rare for an artist to talk about an off-night; it's a vulnerability that many won't admit to. But the reality is that we're only human; and Jeff wanted me to share that it's something he's not ashamed of; we all have days where we come up short for whatever reason. It's no different for entertainers  -- their skills and performance are dependent on tissues that get strained by smoke or hurt by allergies. The show must go on.

And consistency is key to any tribute band. After all, JR has to perform gig after gig to represent the peak of Journey live. Even that stellar band had off nights. Journey Revisited has to replicate landmark sounds such as the 1981 Live in Houston concert that Jeff models some of his Perry vox from. This consistency is why JR won a coveted Modesto Area Music Award for Best Blue Collar/Cover Band in 2015.

David Hawkes (drums), Jeff Salado, and Val Popovic (guitar) picked up the MAMA at the
Modesto Area Music Awards for Best Blue Collar/Cover Band. Oct 20, 2015

The Onstage Jeff

This aspect of Jeff Salado will be familiar to many of you. My first reaction to seeing him onstage in person (after doing the band intro I had to quickly get offstage and get down in the venue to see the rest of Escape) was "WOW." Hearing his voice live with my own ears -- it was literally going from mono to stereo for me, and I was having a hard time concentrating on my photography during that number; I had to keep stopping to look up at Jeff to reconcile what I was hearing with seeing him up there on stage with the guy I just had lunch with, cutting up with friends.

And, as I mentioned above, I saw him on what he considered an off-night because of the smoke affecting his breathing, challenging him when hitting/holding certain notes that he normally does with ease. He also was mindful about some mistakes in timing on certain songs.

These are things the vast majority of people in the audience didn't notice or care about. But the perfectionists of Journey Revisited always want to deliver 110%, Jeff included. For Jeff that means focusing on his stagecraft and appearance as well -- he told me, "it's not only the music, it's how it's being presented and looking our best and feeling our best is doing our best."

For me, imperfections are part of the beauty of live performance though; you're seeing the marvel of the gift of the human voice, a fragile instrument with miraculous ability to produce sounds so rousing, so moving. Not everyone is as blessed with the physical goods to produce the notes that Steve Perry did, but to have the skill of controlling that instrument to project sound with such clarity and power and emotion is one of Jeff Salado's natural gifts that he works hard to hone for the audience.
Photo by Jeff Hall
The band digs deep to deliver no matter what the conditions are.

The Journey catalog is already a high bar to clear instrumentally; and the Bay Area arena rock supergroup’s era that is the most in demand to hear live is the Steve Perry years (1978-1996). Gig after gig, those classic, stratospheric vocals have to be recreated at an almost impossible standard -- one that even Steve Perry couldn’t reproduce consistently live, simply because we’re talking about the human voice.

The difficulty of being a lead singer is that you can't replace pipes like guitar strings and every night, every venue is different environment. The one thing I wish for, as part of the band's support infrastructure, is that I lived closer to see JR live more frequently to enjoy the uniqueness of each performance, the nuances, the choices made (I live in NC).

The "It" Factor

It makes for a more informative piece to discuss this section not in a cheerleader "isn't Jeff cute and he sings great" review. It means so much more to describe how the performances work, and how that the forces align to deliver a special experience for fans, casual and die hards alike.

For me, seeing Jeff the performer up there, the offstage Jeff ceases to exist; this onstage Jeff delivers a huge dose of liquid mojo out there for the audience to drink in. What is it?

Vox - His pipes are amazing; I could hear that despite the challenges that night at Black Oak. One video, I watched over and over afterwards, was Too Late because his vocals speak to me in that song, and the band is so tight on it. I think many fans find the sweet spots in their favorite Journey songs that Jeff sings that you walk away wanting more. His range, his power, and his strong Perry-like vibrato and tone are what sets him apart from other Journey tribute singers.

He also shares with Perry a gifted fine ear for pitch -- hearing the notes with clarity and able to reproduce accurately on demand. That takes much more work than what average people can accomplish without major effort, but it is second nature to the Journey Revisited vocalist.

 After a gig, Jeff always has singers and vocal coaches come up to ask how he does it. But sometimes it really looks like he isn’t really thinking about it. They have no idea that Jeff has zero formal training, and employs no regular routine to maintain those golden pipes. He’s like a car that never needs an oil change.

"I have NO regimen, I'm pretty much a fly-by-the-seat-of-my-pants singer."
-- Journey Revisited lead singer Jeff Salado, on whether he has regular routines to maintain his voice

But he knows that to preserve what he has will take more work down the line.

One thing that is quite noticeably different about Jeff in comparison to Steve Perry is his speaking voice. Perry in older interviews has an almost alto, soft voice; Jeff is most definitely a baritone and a harmonious, deep resonant one at that. It's immensely pleasing, though it's not called upon for the Journey catalog. He would make a great DJ...

Emotive ability - He puts himself into the song; Jeff has the ability to "perform" emotion even when he's not feeling it that night. Even though I knew he was having a rough go of it (i.e., the lozenges run), when I would watch him, I felt the songs, I felt the resonance and connection to them. That's a hallmark of a pro.

Physical performance: Jeff gives it all onstage -- often at his own expense in post-gig pain. I know he wishes he could jump off the riser every night, but no one takes the Perryisms and runs with them in spades like he does. He projects a significant bodycon (body confidence) onstage.

JR fans are roused by the music as Jeff performs the classic hits no longer covered by Journey proper in concert. He brings not only the essence of Perry's notable energy to the stage, but Jeff  (and his many female fans aren't hearing any news here) brings a considerable dose of his own mojo that he naturally projects and and overlays on top of it. It's why he has such a tremendous...

 photo Jeffconnect_zps7n9uypkl.gifAudience connection - If you were standing near that stage, which I often was, I was bowled over at how dynamic and powerfully he draws people to him. When he looks directly at people during a song that energy flows to them, and reflects back. It's exciting to experience.

Several times he looked at me as he does to people in the audience all the time. When I saw the images, as I was going through the 800+ shots taken during the show, I could actually recall that energy. It's why audiences come back, and want to come back. He connects as an artist.

Jeff on what he is trying to project:
"I want people to feel special because they are; when they go home after a JR concert, I want them to feel that there was a connection directly with me in the hope that we'll see them at our next concert. We do everything we can to make each show even better."
After a decade of covering public figures and politicians for a nationally read, influential political blog, I can honestly say I've seen few people onstage or out in the political realm with the kind mojo Jeff Salado has.  Jeff has the ability to make everyone else in the room disappear when he looks at you. You feel like you are the center of his universe, with undivided attention, whether it is for a few seconds, or a few minutes of conversation. He makes that person feel special in some way. There's no way to create it or recreate it. This is priceless when interacting with fans after a gig. He gives it all in those moments.

I've had discussions with Jeff -- amusing ones at times -- about this energy and its impact on women. It's there onstage, but it's also there when he's still in stage persona and interacting with people of all persuasions. He obviously knows how to turn on the considerable natural charm, but it's that extra something special that just flows from him that is non-denominational -- many rock stars have it like Steve Perry, Mick Jagger, and Robert Plant. But he projects it earnestly and with approachability.

Many in the audience can feel that energy from an artist, but they just can't quite put a finger on why they are drawn to that person onstage or articulate it, in this case that mojo's coming from a Journey tribute band singer named Jeff Salado. He has "It" and knows how to use it, whether innately or that he's developed it over the years through self-awareness of it.

Since that Black Oak concert, I've worked with the band at gigs at the Covina Center for the Performing Arts (Los Angeles in a theatre venue), Victorville (the San Bernardino County Fair on a huge pro-production outdoor stage), and in San Jose at Rockbar, a 1,000-capacity nightclub with a pro-level lighting/sound environment). They throw it down in every venue and provide huge opportunities to capture dynamic photos, audio and video for fans who don't have the ability to attend.

Like Perry, Jeff walks a tightrope each gig without a net, no Auto Tune, no lip sync. And the songs are not dropped a half-step, they are performed in the merciless standard E tuning. It's Jeff’s vocal instrument out there, often without support for adequate rest, or experiencing weather conditions at gigs where temperatures may exceed 120 F onstage, as was the case at Kings Fair in Hanford, California in June 2015. And that is the story of so many vocalists at the working tribute band level. And unlike Perry, who as the originator of these songs had the latitude to try alternate interpretations live, tribute singers like Jeff Salado have to pick a live or studio version that is familiar to the audience and try to match it, note-for-note each time.

I told Jeff to read this from time to time to remind himself what sets him apart as a performer and professional from so many others. You'll have to weigh in to share your thoughts about what Jeff brings to a Journey Revisited performance.

And thank you, Jeff, for being so willing to open up and share!


Journey Revisited - Separate Ways - Rockbar Theater - 10/16/2015.
Journey Revisited - Separate Ways - Rockbar Theater - 10/16/2015. Prepare to be wowed!
Posted by Journey Revisited on Thursday, October 29, 2015

Journey Revisited - Lights/Stay Awhile - Covina, CA 3/22/2015
Journey Revisited - Lights/Stay Awhile - Covina, CA 3/22/2015. Vid by Pam Spaulding (Panda) #journeyrevisited
Posted by Journey Revisited on Monday, April 13, 2015

Journey Revisited - Loving You Is Easy - Rockbar Theater - 10/...
Journey Revisited - Loving You Is Easy - Rockbar Theater - 10/16/2015. Prepare to be wowed! Click HD to see in high-def. #journeytributeband #tributeband #rockbar #like4like #instadaily #instagram Rockbar Theater
Posted by Journey Revisited on Thursday, October 29, 2015

Journey Revisited - Just the Same Way - Rockbar Theater - 10/1...
Journey Revisited - Just the Same Way - Rockbar Theater - 10/16/2015.
Posted by Journey Revisited on Thursday, October 29, 2015

Sunday, September 13, 2015

Health progress update - when the image in the mirror still doesn't match reality

Panda health progress update! Still losing...and trying to find a few new pieces of clothing that will 1. Stay up. 2. Fit some kind of way as I drop the last 25 lbs.

So Saturday I went into Kohls, and needed a light sweater because I have been so cold intolerant, and saw a nice one in the Juniors section.

Shock #1: I picked up an XL (I have no clue what Juniors size that is, maybe a 13?) and said "this will never fit." I pull it over my dang rack and IT FIT. It was $17, so I got it.
Shock #2: Just for giggles I go over to the Juicy jeans section. Let's try on some pants. I eyeball a pair that roughly looks like it MIGHT fit, might be too small, not looking at the size. Get in the fitting room and THEY FIT. Not quite right though, wrong cut for me. Too loose in the legs, and too snug in the waist so they went back on the rack. BUT THEY WERE A SIZE 10! Unreal. I started out on this journey a 22.

Seriously, I still look in the mirror and don't see someone that small. But this week a photo turned up in my feed (Autumn and Laurel, sorry I cropped you on this one!), and it reminded me very starkly what I looked like five years ago. Big change from that time (61 lbs heavier then), but I will never be petite, mind you. And that's ok.

Tuesday, July 14, 2015

Journey Revisited's 'Just the Same Way' video montage highlights July 18 benefit gig at State Theatre

We put together a montage of unreleased Journey Revisited video footage from the March 20 Covina and May 30 San Bernardino County Fair gigs, along with photos to accompany the band's spot-on rendition of "Just the Same Way" for you. It's for the upcoming benefit at the State Theatre in Modesto, CA. The guys are going to kick it for a great cause on Saturday night! Rock on, Jeff, Val, David, Michael, and Kevin...

Journey Revisited - State Theatre Gig Promo Montage - Just the...
Journey Revisited - 7/18/2015 State Theatre Gig Promo Montage - Just the Same Way. JR Videos, stills and information to highlight the benefit for the Center for Human Services at the State Theatre presented by the DB Project. Montage, vids, pics by Pam Spaulding of Team JR.Tickets are $25, purchase online:; or call the State Theatre box office at 209-526-1476.
Posted by Journey Revisited on Tuesday, July 14, 2015

Journey Revisited is:
Jeff Salado, Lead Vocals
Val Popovic, Lead Guitar & Vocals;
Kevin Jachetta, Keyboards, Keytar, Guitar, & Vocals;
Michael Gonzales, Bass & Vocals;
Dave Hawkes, Drums/Percussion.

Friday, July 10, 2015

Watching the mane go bye-bye...thanks methotrexate.

I'm grateful for the medications I take for rheumatoid arthritis that allow me to continue to work and be productive -- and in manageable pain most of the time. And I definitely feel the difference when I skip methotrexate and Orencia. After about 4 days I start to slow down, all my joints hurting, the fatigue is incredible. It's like night and day.

Methotrexate is a drug cancer patients are given, but is taken a much reduced dose for those battling RA. It's pretty toxic and many cannot tolerate it, but it does reduce inflammation. I had terrible trouble with the oral version. Since I moved to injectible, I've had fewer tummy side effects, but both versions did a number on me.

For all the positives in controlling pain, the one side effect that is demoralizing and humiliating is watching my hair thin and fall out. My locs, which I've been growing since 2000, have been a source of comfort and pride, having cultivated them from two-strand twists and locked and maintained them on my own (no, I wasn't going to pay anyone to do what I could learn to do myself!) for all these years.

What I couldn't stop was the horror of locs simply dropping out in the shower, and my hair thinning. I cried numerous times. What is happening to me?

I always liked wearing hats, it was kind of part of my look, but now wearing hats became a necessity. The only time I didn't wear one is if I had my hair up in a pony tail and had a headband on, which helped hide the thinning...a bit.

On the left - you can see how thin it is today; on the right with a hat and single pony.
And in the middle, the lush locs of the past (2011).
But here we are in 2015, and it's just grinding me that the medicine that keeps me able is taking its toll...on my vanity. I'm actually not that self-conscious otherwise, for whatever reason. For instance, I've been on a health regimen that has resulted in a weight loss of over 50 lbs so far (30 more to go!), but I was not shy about being a plus size fashionista at times, lol. The weight loss is obviously something I feel good about, since I feel better and look better overall. But for all that, losing my hair I don't have much control over and it vexes me.

I guess self-acceptance at any size, and with any beauty deficits is something to ponder. Is my hair that important in the scheme of things? Could I shave it all off again? I had a short natural back in the 90s (see the slideshow for a pic from that era), but I would feel naked without my locs. Would I start them over again? Who knows.

I just know it hurts to lose them, and a part of me mourns every day I try to style them knowing what "used to be."

But my health means more.

Slideshow of the various lengths and thicknesses of my hair during its loc phase...


* My hair journey (all those styles!)

Friday, July 3, 2015

Spend the 4th of July Weekend with Journey Revisited in Livingston and Marin County!

Why not rock out on Saturday and Sunday with Journey Revisited and you'll get fireworks and a slamming gig of classic Journey songs by the best trib in the business!

First up on Saturday is the Livingston 4th of July Festival, 2600 Walnut Ave, Livingston, CA 95336. JR will rock the house starting at 10 PM. Carnival Tickets are 50% in Advance. Unlimited ride wristbands are $20 in advance. FOR MORE INFO CALL 209-394-8830.

JOURNEY REVISITED VIP TABLE $250 Table for 6 includes 1 Bucket of Beer...

If you want a cool souvenir of the Festival, T-Shirts are available, and Journey Revisited's listed on the back!


On Sunday, we have great news -- a last-minute addition to the calendar -- JR got the call to open for Aaron Neville at the award-winning Marin County Fair. Now in its 74th year, the Fair reflects Marin County in all of its colorful traditions and innovations.

The show is at 3:00 PM PT, at the Island Tent. Address: 10 Avenue of the Flags, San Rafael, CA 94903.

TICKETS: Advance: $15 Adults 13–64, $12 Children 4–12; $12 Seniors 65+. At the gate: $20 Adults 13–64; $15 Children 4–12; $15 Seniors 65+. Reserved concert admission is $50 per person and includes Fair admission and reserved seating in a special section.

A little taste of JR from its recent gig at the San Bernardino County Fair in Victorville, CA:

Journey Revisited - Separate Ways - Victorville 2015
JR rocks Separate Ways at the San Bernardino County Fair, May 30, 2015.
Posted by Journey Revisited on Thursday, June 11, 2015

Thursday, April 30, 2015

Journey Revisited to throw it down at the legendary Viper Room on May 15!

Hollywood here they come - Journey Revisited brings its tribute to the Bay Area album-oriented rock band to The Viper Room on May 15, 9PM PDT (tickets here).

In March, the band had a three-night, standing-room-only gig at the Covina Center Of The Performing Arts -- SOLD OUT -- and they are poised to do it again at The Viper Room.

JR gives its audience an uncannily accurate tribute to the "Perry and Rolie" sound and style without pre-recorded backing tracks or digital vocal enhancements.

Journey Revisited delivers that organic live sound and audiences are always leave a concert ready to rock with the band again.

Every gig in 2015 so far as been a SOLD OUT event! And The Viper Room...let's pack the house!

Journey Revisited is:
Jeff Salado, Lead Vocals
Val Popovic, Lead Guitar & vocals;
Kevin Jachetta, Keyboards, Keytar, Guitar, & vocals;
Michael Gonzales, Bass & vocals;
Dave Hawkes, Drums/Percussion.

 photo zvYeXDi_zpsthdk36c2.jpg

General Admission $10.00 21+. 8852 W. Sunset Blvd, West Hollywood, CA 90069; 310-358-1881.

Booked by Reese Entertainment, 209-585-7447

Who's Crying Now (Victorville 2014)

Lovin' Touchin' Squeezin' / Any Way You Want It (Victorville 2014)

Just The Same Way" - Journey & Journey Revisited Mashup

Journey Revisited is available for media engagements:

Wednesday, March 11, 2015

Got your tickets for Journey Revisited's hot three-day L.A.-area gig at Covina?

JR's original two-day gig, March 20-21 -- its first tour in the Los Angeles area -- at the Covina Center for the Performing Arts had such strong advance sales that a third show, on Sunday the 22nd, was added by the venue! Journey Revisited lead singer Jeff Salado is stoked:
"With the show in Covina Ca coming up and nearly all 3 days are sold out, who's bought and paid for tickets to come see JR at Covina Center for the Performing Arts, March 20-22?"

It's going to be a blast -- everyone is looking forward to seeing JR die-hards and to meet new fans during this series of gigs. See you there!


Tickets $20/$30. Order here: