Back-up Vocal~ Ah, the crucial step in orchestrating a solo album. Picking the guitar player. It can be a complicated process to suss through the options. Which player has the right sound? Which player has the right tone? Which player has the right technique? Which player has the right pedigree? Which player will work for what only the most generous of accountants would call “peanuts” on a good day……with the breeze blowing in a favorable direction?

Thus, we find our intrepid Bo in an existential quandary that has suddenly turned sideways on him. So, he has done what he feels any aspiring solo bassist with a dream would do in his predicament: badger, hound and beg the legends for their time and skills. By this point, Manny’s band name precedes Bo and the moment of revelation has caught up to him. I have to admit, my heart goes out to the guy. The concept behind this one reminds me of how easy it always seems to look to mere civilians when a legend like Chris Squire or Richie Sambora decide to make a solo album. I can only imagine that finding the right mix of musicians to join the project must be something of a balancing act. In some cases, it may be as simple as bringing in some friends who are good on their respective instruments and will compliment the bigger picture. But, it may also require hiring some unknown folks who play instruments that are outside of the traditional scope, if one or two songs on the solo project are of a more unorthodox nature. Case by case basis and dealer’s choice, I suppose.

I don’t want this particular Comic to come across as some giant name-drop dump for the sake of doing it. There was design in my choices and method to my madness. Every guitar player listed here resides in my cadre of favorites and every one of them is absolutely deserving of further investigation. Each player named in the above Panels has brought a slice of magic to my life and I discovered that I had a platform to give them some credit here. Readers are, of course, welcome to use the digital highways to explore the talents and offerings of all the names mentioned. Some are already well known. In fact, some are considered Icons in this day and age. Others may only be respected and admired within more niche oriented circles, but should absolutely be heard by a broader audience. So, with your permission, allow me to recommend a couple of them who have spoken to me and need what credit I am afforded to provide.

Steve Rothery plays guitar for Marillion. They are my favorite band. His work is a completely captivating blend of color and light unmatched by any other. You MUST look into him. Now. Travis Larson is a spectacular guitar player, leading an Instrumental Rock trio called the Travis Larson Band. They’ve been noted a time or two in the Mannyacs realm before. But, there’s always room for more of them. Buck Dharma has also been cited by my boys. He is a brilliant player, best known as the Lead guitar guru for Blue Oyster Cult. Still, not well known enough for my liking. Tony Janflone is a name that has graced my little creation numerous times already. In fact, we’ve even immortalized it by making it the band’s headquarters mailing address. The finest guitar player in Pittsburgh and a truly upstanding dude. He’s been one of my heroes for years and I bring his name to the table every time I can. Rik Emmett is a name I have wanted to include in my works for several years, but never found a way to incorporate until now. Some may remember him as the leader of the Classic Rock band, Triumph. As a Canadian Rock star, he is a hometown hero in his own Country, but I can’t speak to whether or not he reached “household name ” status here in the States. Still, his gift as a singer and songwriter and his insane versatility as guitar player in an every-increasing field of music genres, make him something of a maverick. Hard to pin down, is Mr. Emmett. But, his music has been a considerable part of my life over the last 20 years and his name needed a place in Manny’s world. Finally, we get to Paul Speer. Now, I have known of his name for several years. Paul Speer is a wonderful guitar player, widely respected for several decades, especially in the New Age music genre. But, my first real exposure to his work presented itself in a side-project he made just a few years ago with Queensryche drummer, Scott Rockenfield. The Rockenfield/Speer Hell’s Canyon album is a dark, atmospheric Instrumental sojourn of an album. It’s got the ideal combination of grit, groove, and space. I love it and play it often. It is beyond worthy of a spin. Paul Speer brought truly stunning guitar work to Rockenfield’s vision and he was in need of a Shout-Out by the Mannyacs crew. Really, beloveds, pick any name from those promoted here and start listening. You will find gripping, ambitious work from every one of them. You may even find they’ve provided a message you never knew you needed to hear. 

As a last note of clarification, allow me to offer a disclaimer that I now feel should have been advanced some time ago. I in no way receive any type of payment or praise from any of the musicians I cite in these pages. 99.9% of them have never heard of Mannyacs or even know I’m alive. Thus, I would venture a guess that they are blissfully unaware that they have been ever been given a nod in my work. I only strive to give back to them for all that their art has given me over the years. If a Shout-Out in my Comic leads a few new listeners their way, then we here at Mannyacs are more than happy to have driven the train that got them there.