Beers & Skulls, Rocker-style

I recently had the opportunity to catch up with some old friends and new ones over a brew. Beer is great for that. After millennia, it’s still the beverage of choice for just hanging out and enjoying the day.

In the same way that everyone has a favorite beer, we all have a favorite song. Today, we’re mixing it up and bringing it all together for an afternoon of delicious craft beer and rock n’ roll memories.

Earlier in the week, I met up with a few of Las Vegas’ more renown rockers for coffee (that other brew) and scheduled some time to get together for a beer. I immediately thought, ”This is going to be fun.”

A few days later, Beti and I met with our three legendary rockers at Paul and Carmen Shortino’s home in Las Vegas. Singer Johnny Solinger was already there when Beti and I arrived. He and Paul were making wardrobe changes for their show later that evening. A few minutes later, fresh from L.A., Rowan Robertson joined us, and we were ready to roll, or shall I say, ready to pour?

It was the perfect setting. The Shortino abode is beyond comfortable and very rock-n-roll retro, with art everywhere. We sat in the living room where everything kicked off before migrating to the dining area where
we continued for the next two hours.

April 20, 2019, will go down in my book as a perfect day, in all ways; great company, awesome beer, great memories, and lots of laughs. All that and perfect weather, too.

So, for those new to heavy rock, puberty, or America, Paul Shortino is a rock singer and musician who has sung for several bands, including Rough Cutt/The Cutt, Quiet Riot, Bad Boyz, and Shortino (the band). He is also renown as “Duke Fame” from the iconic movie, This Is Spinal Tap (1984).

Johnny Solinger is an American singer-songwriter best known as the former lead vocalist of Skid Row from 1999 to 2015.

And last, but definitely not least, Rowan Robertson is an English rock guitarist who currently plays for Bang Tango. Robertson also played guitar for AM Radio, Dio, Vast, and Violet’s Demise.

Raiding The Rock VaultThese three rockers currently perform together, along with others, in the Las Vegas production show Raiding the Rock Vault, bringing the history of rock ‘n’ roll to life.

Their performance features classic anthems by the biggest acts in music including The Rolling Stones, The Who, The Doors, Jimi Hendrix, Led Zeppelin, Deep Purple, Free, Eagles, Fleetwood Mac, Queen, Boston, Kansas, Aerosmith, Van Halen, AC/DC, Pat Benatar, Foreigner, Heart, Journey, Bon Jovi, Whitesnake, and many more.

Raiding the Rock Vault tells the story of classic rock from the 1960s to the 1980s and is performed by members of some of the greatest rock bands in history.

Over two dozen uber-talented rockers rotate through the show, with about a dozen on stage for any given performance. Since their current venue [VINYL] is essentially a large rock bar, beers are available throughout their 90-minute show.

But today we’re all enjoying some downtime, sans crowd, loudspeakers, or a light show — no smoke or fire either, just a relaxing afternoon and great beer.

Let’s start with a pour. I brought a couple of great beers, thinking I’d show them something new. After hearing true rock beer tales from these guys’ adventures on the road, it was I who learned a few things.

Curious and hungry for old rock party stories, Paul started us off with a memorable one.

Paul: “I used to see a guy who would stand on his head and drink beer. He would come to this club where we were playing in L.A. We had a trio, and this guy would come in and do a headstand and shoot a glass of 12-ounce beer. He did it faster than most others could drink while standing. He just inhaled it like a shot, like the cowboys did in those old westerns. Two guys held up his legs; I’ll never forget it.”

Rowan: It reminds me of that Van Halen story, where Alex lined up 12 tall-boy cans, and everyone said he couldn’t do it, but he drank them all. Then he took a broomstick and said, “My dad used to do this,” so he tried to jump over the broomstick holding on to each end of it, but as he jumped his foot got caught on his way over, so he face planted. The best thing not to do when your drinking is to try something you haven’t perfected.

Beti with Rockers, Johnny, Paul, and Rowan.

A.D.: Yikes, that hurts! Let’s get back to beer. Who’s got a favorite?

Johnny, “of German descent,” says he’s liked beer since the first time his grandfather would let him drink it at the early age of five.

Johnny: “Over the years, I’ve even brewed a few batches in our bathroom. Coming from Germany, my grandfather drank his beer at room temperature, and it was a lager. In Texas, I learned that Mexican beer is fantastic. We get a lot of it because of it being right there. But it gets so hot in Texas that I’ve grown to like lighter beers. As a beer lover of all kinds, it depends on what I’m having for a meal or where I am in the world. If I’m in Rome, I want something from Italy. If I’m in Germany, I want something from that particular province.”

Paul: “Well said, Johnny. Years ago, when we lived in Germany, I learned how to drink beer with Coca-Cola or beer with 7-Up. Just add 15% of either to your favorite beer. It all depends on how you like it; you can adjust it to your taste. Give it a try with a German beer. It doesn’t have the same flavor as Mexican beer or American. I really got addicted to it because you can drink more.”

A.D.: “More is good. German beer, for me, is like candy already, but I’ll have to try that.”

Rowan: “My favorite beer is the
one in front of me. I like all kinds of beers.”

Johnny loves his German beer.

Johnny: “I got to try a lot of different beer in Germany.”

Rowan: “Did you try Warsteiner?”

Johnny: “Yes!”

Rowan: “That’s pretty good beer, but I think it’s time for Johnny to start the bathtub brewery up.”

We totally agree. Let’s see some homebrew, Johnny.

A.D.: “Rowan, You started playing professionally and touring for Dio when you were 17. What was that like to play with a big name band so young?

Rowan: “It was great. I was just a kid, so it was actually like we were partying all the time.”

A.D.: “So no school? No homework?

Rowan: “Yes, well, I had a lot of drinking education to catch up with. The only thing I liked when I came to L.A. was MGD. Since I was young, there were a lot of bars that didn’t let me in. They let me in the Rainbow Room in West Hollywood, with Jimmy Bain, a legendary rocker, and being that I was so young and still in training, he used to call me Mr. Vomit. I used to remember these guys would go on into the early hours doing shots, and I couldn’t go on. I just couldn’t take it. But now I enjoy a couple of beers over an evening, nothing so crazy as back then, that was young times. I got a bit of a taste now for IPA’s. There are some really tasty ones

All: “Cheers!”

Paul: “When in Europe, I like Delirium, the big bottle of Belgian beer with the pink elephant. It has an intense aftertaste. I also like lagers a lot. Living in Vegas, I like a cold beer when it’s hot out — quenches the thirst, and I like mixing my Mexican beer with Clamato.”

Paul went on to share more beer stories…

“In Japan, anyone can buy a beer. They sell it right out of vending machines, everywhere. I like Japanese beer all around; they drink their beer really cold. Kirin, Sapporo, it always tastes better with Sushi. But they use small glasses, so your beer doesn’t get warm. Everything is little all around.”

I remember, We took a cab down to the Roppongi area – lots of night clubs, and you walk around, put your money in the beer vending machine, and drink on the streets. Like Johnny, wherever I go, I like to have the local beer and get a flavor for their traditions, customs, and tastes.”

We agree. Local beers are always great. Beer is about community/ Those are the experiences and the stories that you take with you like a souvenir to savor and embellish upon years later.

For now, it looks like we’ve run out of time, and beer, and column. These guys are rockin’ the stage in a couple of hours! Bottoms up, and Cheers!

— Buzz

• • • • •

Paul, Johnny, and Rowan are consummate professionals and rockers who have spent a lifetime perfecting their craft and they, with the rest of the cast, know what it takes to put on an award-winning show. Our beer loving rockers turn it up at Raiding the Rock Vault at the Hard Rock Hotel, Saturday through Wednesday, 8:30 p.m. at Vinyl.

Peace out and rock on!

BETI: What I learned at the table was this…

Rocker Johnny Solinger 2014

Johnny is a consummate creator of music. Throughout his years of being the lead singer and rock star with Skid Row and playing on stages around the world, he still has strong ties to his roots in Texas. As so most artists cases, sometimes you just gotta do what calls to you, and Johnny tuned us into a couple of his country-rock songs, and within minutes we were tapping our feet and singing the chorus. Wonderful and quite frankly, unexpected melodies and storyline lyrics from an artist known to rock tens of thousands in stadiums. Two sides to Johnny? Maybe more, but what we know is that we hope he isn’t going to keep those tunes to himself for too much longer. Stay tuned!

Paul Shortino performing at Raiding the Rock Vault, Las Vegas

Paul can be seen getting involved with many great causes for the Las Vegas community. His creative outlet is his rock and roll, and if his full schedule wasn’t enough already – Paul is an ordained minister. That’s beyond cool. Recently Paul shared with us that he is composing a new Ruff Cutt album and will be releasing it very soon. A.D Cook and he are collaborating on a new album cover and a few songs… could they have a beer theme?

A.D. Cook with Paul Shortino, 2015
A.D. Cook with Paul Shortino, 2015
Musician Rowan Robertson

Rowan, a legend on his own, an uber-talented guitarist grown up on Rock and Roll and handpicked by Dio himself to start his career at the age of 17. It would be many a young man’s dreams to be center stage with the opportunity to mesmerize audiences with guitar solos that inspired musicians still to this day! Rowan shared with us that he has put together a series demonstrating and narrating a few “how to” licks for the guitar. Check it out if you desire to step up your rock star guitar skills. Find him on YouTube

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