Monsters Of Rock Cruise X 2020 -
Through the Lens of A 13 Year Old Photographer

         For those of you who don’t know, I’m Shannon, owner and sole writer and photographer of Rockin’ Interviews. I am 13 years old. I have been fortunate enough to go on the Monsters Of Rock Cruise for three years now. I feel like I have grown up on this cruise, learning and growing more and more everytime I take the voyage. This year, I was a little MOR excited than usual because my dad and I were invited to do photography for the photo experiences on the cruise. Prior to this cruise, we had discussed what we were going to do about doing photography and we had decided that if the opportunity came up we would take it, and that is exactly what happened. There were many bands I was excited to see for the first time like Shiraz Lane, Winger, Hardcore Superstar, and Burning Rain, among others. I was also very excited to see my hometown hero, Jimi Bell, playing with Autograph. Before making the trip to Florida, I was pretty nervous to share the photo pit with such amazing, professional photographers but you’ll see how that turns out later. All I can say is I was over-the-moon excited.

MORC X Media Team
Photo by Neil Lim Sang
Pre-Parties
Meeting Reb Beach (Winger, Whitesnake). He was super nice and chatty with me.

          The day after we flew into Ft. Lauderdale was pre-party #1. This was the first time we were going to be meeting April, the mastermind behind MORC’s media crew. I can’t possibly thank her enough for noticing my work and making this MORC the best one yet, for me.
          My parents and I were on duty scanning tickets and wristbanding people at the door. After our shift was over, we headed off the stage to begin shooting/watching shows:
 - Raven
 - Cold Sweat
 - Madam X
 - Lillian Axe


My pick scores from the night were two picks from Maxine Petrucci, guitarist of Madam X, and Chris “Godzilla” Doliber, bassist of Madam X.

Pre-Party #2
Concert Lineup:
 - Roxanne
 - Richie Kotzen
 - Jason Bieler
 - Great White - I was really impressed by Mitch Malloy’s stage prescence, vocals, and of course his hair.
 - Y&T

This pre-party really opened my eyes in a lot of ways. There were a couple people who actually knew who I was from social media which is really cool. I was really glad to get some great advice from two of the amazing MORC crew photographers, Janina Nenadic and Tammy Vega. My parents and I always have the conversation of “who is the one person you want to meet this cruise?” and this year, for me, it was Reb Beach of Winger and Whitesnake. He’s one of my all-time favorite guitarists and I had never met him or seen Winger live. My mom and I were sitting on a bench listening to the shows and all of a sudden, Reb Beach walks by. I’m like ‘oh my god, I have to go meet him’. And I did just that.


 

Saying hello to Roxy Petrucci of Vixen and Madam X
Day 1 - 2/8/20

 - Got on the boat
 - Met Brandon Cook
 - Walked by Steve Harris twice
 - Saw almost every musician on the cruise at the muster drill.
 - Got MORC media credentials (what!!!!?)
 - Met Perry Richardson (Stryper)
 - Worked with one of my favorite bands, Shiraz Lane, at their photo experience.
 - Reunited with the first all-female band I ever saw live, Paradise Kitty.
 - Met Extreme
 - Met Honeymoon Suite
 - Ran into Jimi Bell (Autograph, House Of Lords)
 - Sat next to Slaughter in the cafe for around 2 hours.


Shows:
 - Diemonds
 - KIX - what is so unreal about MORC is the fact that you are at shows with the other musicians. During this show, I was standing next to Keith St. John (Kingdom Come) and my mom gave Nuno Bettencourt (Extreme) ear plugs.
 - Shiraz Lane
 - Autograph


 

Perry Richardson (Stryper)

Shiraz Lane

Day 2 - 2/9/20

 - Dave Rude Guitar Clinic - The first time I took this clinic I had just started playing guitar and was in a major rut and that clinic is what made me continue to play. A similar situation happened this year when I took Dave’s clinic, I was feeling like I was in a rut with guitar again and the clinic was kind of like a reset button.
 - Met Slaughter, Vixen, Firehouse, Tyketto
 - Got a pick from Mark Slaughter - he grabbed my hand and nonchalently gave me a pick at the photo experience.
 - Met Kat Krash who I actually write for now, check out her publication, Amplified Edge.
 - Met Steve Harris of Iron Maiden (again, what!!!!?)
 - Got a Steve Harris autograph for my best friend, Abby K.
 - Met Bob Capka of Black N Blue (who, come to find out, actually watches my guitar videos and knows who I am)
 - Signed my first autograph

 

 Shows:
 - Joel Hoekstra - ran into Jimi Bell here too.
 - Doro
 - Stryper
 - British Lion
 - Burning Rain
 - KIX
 

Cruiser Jam - I walked onstage to play ‘Lick It Up’ and Izzy Presley announces I will be playing with Lorraine Lewis (singer of my favorite band, Vixen, and Femme Fatale) and Steve Brown (Trixter, Danger Danger, Tokyo Motor Fist, and ex-Def Leppard). So I get onstage and Alex Kane (Enuff Znuff, L.S.D., and others) is sitting right next to me and was closely watching me the whole time I was playing (and looking out for me when gear malfunctions began). Then all of a sudden CJ Snare (singer in Firehouse) is running up onstage and starts singing into my mic. It was just the craziest thing that has ever happened to me. I also could see Mark Schenker and Brian Forsythe (Kix), Nuno Bettencourt (Extreme), Jeremy Asbrock (Ace Frehley, Gene Simmons), and others watching my play. Talk about nervous. After the jam was over, I went back to the cabin and just sat on my bed crying and thinking ‘what the hell just happened?’ and ‘did I really just do that’.

 

Dave Rude (Tesla)
Bob Capka (Black 'N Blue)
  Steve Harris
(of Iron Maiden)
Slaughter
Day 3 - 2/10/20

 - Had lunch with Jimi Bell (Autograph, House Of Lords)
 - Met Chip Znuff
 - Worked at Lizzy Borden photo experience
 - Met Lynch Mob, King’s X, Bulletboys
 - Met Shiraz Lane again

Shows:
 - Shiraz Lane
 - Mac Sabbath
 - Quireboys
 - Winger
 - Faster Pussycat


 

Paradise Kitty
Hannes Kett
(Shiraz Lane)
Chip Znuff
(Enuff Znuff)
Lynch Mob
Jani Laine (Shiraz Lane)
Lizzy Borden
Paul Taylor (Winger) and Jeremy Asbrock (Ace Frehley, Gene Simmons, Thee Rock N Roll Residency)
Sam Bam Koltun
(Faster Pussycat, Budderside)
Day 5 - 2/12/20
Day 4 - 2/11/20

 - Met Jeremy Asbrock (Ace Frehley, Gene Simmons, Thee Rock N Roll Residency)
 - Met Paul Taylor (Winger)
 - Met Sam Bam Koltun (Faster Pussycat, Budderside)
 - Talked to Britt Lightning and Share Ross (Vixen)
 - Watched Jimi Bell (Autograph) and Britt Lightning (Vixen) warm up.
 - Troy Luccketta (Tesla) asked to look at my phone for the setlist at Rare Hare.

Shows:
 - Autograph
 - Enuff Znuff
 - Krokus - Pool Stage - downpoured
 - Tesla
 - King’s X
 - Firehouse
 - Hardcore Superstar
 - Rare Hare
 - Burning Rain


 

Britt Lightning and Share Ross
(Vixen)

 - Took photo of Mike Fitz (Bad Marriage) and a group of his fans.
 - Caught my dream jump photo at HCSS.
 - Almost got kicked in the head several times at H.E.A.T., but it was    quite a fun photo pit experience.
 - Caught picks from Mark Slaughter and Jeff Blando.
 - Met Autograph
 - Met Enuff Znuff - Alex Kane gave me bunny ears, of course.
 - Met Stryper - Before I even said ‘hi’, Michael Sweet said ‘hey! Shannon! How’s your guitar playing going?’ I had no idea he knew who I was.
 - Met Doro
 - Met Tesla
 - Met Winger
 - Met Steelheart
 - Met Burning Rain
 - Met Heavy Pettin’
 - Met Quireboys (one of which knew me too, apparently)
 - Met Tokyo Motor Fist
 - Jenna Syde dedicated “Sweet Child O’ Mine" to me and gave a whole speech about what I do.

 

Shows:
 - Hardcore Superstar
 - Kingdom Come
 - Lizzy Borden
 - Tyketto
 - Firehouse
 - D-A-D
 - H.E.A.T.
 - Slaughter
 - Lynch Mob
 - Vixen
 - Paradise Kitty


People in the elevator with:
Kip Winger
All of Kix
Chip Znuff - literally in the elevator with him ⅗ days
James Kottak

 

Hardcore Superstar Jump Shot
Enuff Znuff
Stryper
Winger
Burning Rain
Autograph
Q+A

Q - Having not grown up listening to these bands how did your favorites draw you in? Live? Radio single? Album?

A - Simple answer: I have grown up listening to these bands. I’ve listened to 80’s rock my entire life.

Q - How did you feel the artists responded to having you interview and/or photograph them?

A - Majority of the artists think it’s really cool and will pose for me in photos and make faces, etc. they’re all really excited to meet me too, but it’s so weird to me when they know who I am. I always ask myself “how do they even know me?”

Q - What band did you miss that made you mad?

A - I wasn’t really mad that I missed any particular band. I left with one regret: not meeting Hardcore Superstar.

Q - In what ways did your age help you on the cruise, in what ways did it get in the way?


 A - I think that my age helps me be more memorable amongst both people and artists. For example, if I’m shooting in the photo pit or if I’m helping out at a photo experience, an artist would remember a teen girl over your average Joe photographer. I think that there are very few cases which my age gets in the way. The only time it gets annoying on the cruise is really when people assume I am a band’s family member because they believe that’s the only possible way I could be doing what I’m doing.

Q - Funniest moments on MORC for you?

A - Definitely the So You Think You Can Shred contest. Unfortunately this year I missed it, but that is usually a highlight. I also get a good laugh out of people wearing costumes and Neil Lim Sang's t-shirts. Those are always quite funny.



 

     Thank you to: April Lee, Larry Morand, Izzy Presley, all the amazing MORC media team members, everyone who supports me, and last but not least, all of the amazing bands!

 

     Looking back on this year's Monsters Of Rock Cruise, I feel so overjoyed by the memories made with amazing people. Every musician I met, every show I saw, every encounter with a follower of mine will be a moment I will never forget. I am forever grateful that I was welcomed into the MORC media team with open arms by all involved and I cannot wait to do it again next year!

© 2020 by Shannon Wilk.

Located in Connecticut, USA
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