The House of Blues Orlando, located in Disney Springs inside Walt Disney World hosted a magical night of Rock n Roll with Mammoth WVH and the talented guitarist from The Alice Cooper Band, Nita Strauss on Thanksgiving Eve, November 22, 2023. The venue was nearly sold out as a mature audience filled in to see the musical virtuoso, son of one of the best guitar players of all time, the late, great Eddie Van Halen. The bonus for the ticket was the dynamic and charismatic Nita Strauss. Strauss got the party underway with her five-piece band standing out front shredding her signature Ibanez guitar in her nine-song set.
Nita Strauss began her set at 8:00 PM with the instrumental, “Summer Storm” off her latest album The Call of the Void, released July 7, 2023. She came out on stage wearing Minnie Mouse ears and her fingers blazed the fretboard as she blasted the riffs of the song with her blond locks flailing back and forth. The ears didn’t make it through the first song.
Strauss’ stage appearance is both elegant and fierce as she just rips on her guitar. The band blazed through four instrumentals bringing the set to Josh Villalta’s drum solo. Strauss and Villalta announced their engagement in July at the premiere of The Call of the Void’s release party. As the band exited the stage for Villalta’ solo, Nita stopped by the drum riser and gave her fiancé a kiss for luck!
The Call of the Void is a record of 14 tracks. Since the band doesn’t have a singer, Nita recorded the album with the aid of nine guest vocalists. After the drum solo, Strauss introduced the night’s guest singer Kasey Karlsen from the band Deadlands for the final four songs of their show.
I have seen Nita Strauss twice as a solo artist, and three times in Alice Cooper’s band. She is mesmerizing and extremely talented. She seems to get better every time I see her perform. Strauss is also a photographer’s perfect subject as her poses and flying blonde hair make for great images.
Nita Strauss – Lead Guitar
Josh Villalta – Drums
Johnny Young – Rhythm Guitar
Christopher Dean – Bass
Katt Scarlett – Keyboards
Kasey Karlsen – Vocals
1.) Summer Storm
2.) Our Most Desperate Hour
3.) Mariana Trench
5.) The Quest / Drum Solo
6.) The Wolf You Feed (Kasey Karlsen on vocals)
7.) Through the Noise (Kasey Karlsen on vocals)
8.) Dead Inside (Kasey Karlsen on vocals)
9.) Victorious (Kasey Karlsen on vocals)
As Mammoth WVH came on stage the crowd understood that Wolf was Eddie Van Halen’s son, and he wasn’t going to play and put on a guitar clinic like his father. But, the excitement was still there as Wolfgang is blessed with talents even his father didn’t possess. Wolf is an accomplished musician, being able to play all instruments which he demonstrated on his initial release Mammoth WVH in 2021. Wolfgang recorded the entire album and played all the instruments on every track, thus showing that Wolfgang is a great songwriter and composer. Eddie Van Halen was indeed in the house at House of Blues Orlando from Wolfgang’s EVH signature guitars to the EVH signature 5150 amplifier Wolfgang’s music was played through.
Mammoth is out touring in support of the band’s second album Mammoth II which was released in August of this year 2023 and they played eight of the ten tracks. The show got underway with the title track, “Mammoth” from the first album of the same name released in 2021. There was a videographer on stage making photography challenging as he was obstructing the view of the photographers. This was a first for me as a photographer, but still able to shoot with a moving and blocking obstruction in the way. At the beginning of the second song “Right?,” Wolfgang told the audience that he was making a music video of the song and to enjoy the history that was being made. And the purpose of the man with a video camera was revealed.
Wolfgang’s lack of stage mobility was fine as bass player Ronnie Ficarro was all over the stage and guitarists Frank Sidoris and Jon Jourdan were great showmen at each end. Frank Sidoris also plays with Slash Featuring Miles Kennedy and the Conspirators, as I knew he looked familiar to me.
Incredible songs, with great lyrics performed by outstanding musicians, made a show that the audience expected from Wolfgang Van Halen. He is rock n roll royalty with the lineage of two very famous parents, Eddie Van Halen and Valerie Bertinelli. It was a wonderful evening and the full house showed their appreciation all night long with thunderous applause. Wolfgang’s career is just getting started as a solo artist and with the material in his first two albums, his career is showing a very bright for the future.
Wolfgang Van Halen – Lead & Backing Vocals/Lead & Rhythm Guitar/Keyboards/Piano/Bass Guitar/Drums/Percussion
Frank Sidoris – Rhythm and Lead Guitar/Backing Vocals
Jon Jourdan – Rhythm guitar/Backing Vocals
Ronnie Ficarro – Bass/Backing Vocals
Garrett Whitlock – Drums/Percussion
2.) Right? (Filmed for a music video)
3.) Miles Above Me
4.) Like a Pastime
7.) I’m Alright
9.) Think It Over
10.) Distance (Wolfgang solo acoustic;… more )
11.) Waiting (Teased “Wonderwall” by Oasis before again)
12.) You’re to Blame (Teased “Wonderwall” by Oasis before again)
14.) Take a Bow (With Lateralus tease)
15.) Another Celebration at the End of the World
16.) Don’t Back Down (Band introductions)
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Photographer and Editor/Founder of AllMusicMagazine.com. My love of live music has taken me to incredible experiences with the top bands of all time in stadium shows to the smallest venues with equally inspiring musicians. Using the medium of photography and my publication, these memories will last forever.