Tag Archives: Donnie Iris

King Cool Light (Beer Review!)

I usually reserve this space for music-related discussions.  However, it’s not often one of our friends has such an interesting venture.  Donnie Iris (who we talked with back in Dec 2010) has created his own BEER – King Cool Light (www.kingcool.com).  It’s brewed by Lion’s Head out of Wilkes-Barre, PA, and is currently available all around Western Pennsylvania, close to Iris’ hometown of Pittsburgh, and most-recently, Youngstown, Ohio (which is how I got my hands on a six pack*).  I do not claim to be an expert in this area, but I know what I like.

The first thing I noticed was, even at the first sip from the bottle, how clean a finish it had, with no aftertaste.  Their slogan is “The Light Beer That Rocks,” which is fitting because it definitely has a more full-body flavor and not watered-down at all, like it’s store-bought counterparts.

The real treat came when I poured it into a glass.  I couldn’t believe all the flavors that it unlocked.  It has a darker color that would suggest that it’s a heavy beer, but it’s not.  As an added bonus, the packaging is great, from the pictures of Iris and band in concert, to the bottle cap, which features Iris’ signature horn-rimmed glasses.

I asked a friend of mine, Ron Campbell, who is a beer expert, to try a bottle, and here’s what he had to say:

“I’m drinking your King Cool Beer right now. It’s not bad — better than I expected. It has a beautiful light caramel color. That was a surprise when I poured it into my ROCK-N-ROLL Hall of Fame beer glass. It’s crisp with a light malty taste. Lightly hopped,  no bitter aftertaste. Does that sound like a beer commercial? I would buy it if it comes to town. I would say it tastes like a lighter version of Sam Adams Light.”
Even the picky folks at the Beer Advocate (www.beeradvocate.com) gave King Cool Light a B-.  Now, if that sounds like a low grade, consider what they said about other beers in it’s class: Bud Light (D-), Miller Light (D+) and Coors Light (D).  Even Sam Adams Light got a comparable B-.
Here’s hoping that Donnie Iris’ new venture makes it out nationally.  Everyone should have a chance to taste this rockin’ brew. –Tony Peters
*thanks to Marjana Zupcsan
I’m drinking your King Cool Beer right now. It’s not bad better than I expected. It has a beautiful  light Carmel color. That was a surprise when I poured it into my ROCK-N-ROLL Hall of Fame beer glass. It’s crisp with a light malty taste lightly hoped no bitter after taste. Does that sound like a beer commercial? I would buy it if it comes to town. I would say it taste like a lighter version of Sam Adams Light.

Donnie Iris – Ah! Leluiah! (CD review)

Donnie Iris & the Cruisers – Ah! Leluiah! – The Christmas Album (2010) CD review

While many of his contemporaries have long since given it up, Donnie Iris has miraculously found a second wind. For proof of this, check out his song “Little Black Dress” from a few years ago – it’s some of the most blistering rock he’s ever laid down.  Now, the man who’s best remembered from his 1981 hit “Ah! Leah!” brings us the cleverly-titled holiday disc “Ah! Leuliah!”

While many artists toss off their holiday album with little or no regard, Donnie Iris has compiled a well-thought track listing, with multiple styles, where all the songs fade into each other creating a unique listening experience.  There’s even an ode to the Beatles Sgt. Pepper, with both versions of “We Wish You a Merry Christmas” mimicking the two versions of the title track from the Beatles.  All the elements of a classic Iris record are here: crunchy guitars, layered vocals and catchy melodies.

He’s taken several familiar Christmas tunes and rocked them up “Cruisers” style and the results are quite enjoyable. “Emmanuel” is given a Deep Purple feel with its heavy organ, while “White Christmas’ harkens back to the pre-rock n’ roll days with its fretless bass and trumpet solo.  The lone original, “This Child,” was written by longtime collaborator Mark Avsec and is another standout of the album.

The most impressive track is Iris’ take on Handel’s “Hallelujah Chorus” – while this has been done many times, it’s not been done quite like this:  Iris single-handedly sang every vocal part, overdub upon overdub – bass, soprano, alto, tenor – for a total of…81 Donnies.  The track took six months on and off to finally complete and it’s a real stunner.  For those who grow tired of the mellow, color-by-numbers type Christmas records, Ah! Leluiah! offers a welcome change.  A seriously fun holiday record.  –Tony Peters


#52 – Donnie Iris – Ah! Leluiah!

Donnie Iris

Donnie Iris had a monster hit in 1981 with “Ah! Leah!.”  Now’s he’s just released his first-ever holiday-themed record, “Ah! Leluiah!”  One of the disc’s highlights is a take on Handel’s “Hallelujah Chorus” in which Iris overdubbed every single vocal part himself – a total of 81 Donnie’s on that single track!  We also chat with him about his new venture King Cool Light beer.

#48 – John Lennon Tribute Show

John Lennon

Thursday night marked the 30th anniversary of John Lennon’s death.  We pay tribute to one of the most influential musicians in the history of music through a special 2-hour edition of Icon Fetch.  The show will feature live calls from listeners and recorded interviews with a wide array of musicians who were affected by Lennon’s talent.  Among the guests are May Pang, who was Lennon’s girlfriend during the year and a half “Lost Weekend;” Delbert McClinton, who taught Lennon how to play the harmonica in the early days of the Beatles; and Tommy James, Gary Wright and Wally Bryson of the Raspberries, who all had a chance to meet Lennon during his lifetime.

Other artists include Grammy winners Shelby Lynne and David Lanz; rockers Dwight Twilley and Donnie Iris; melodic songwriters Marshall Crenshaw and Jason Falkner; and underground veterans Peter Case and Steve Wynn.  Several authors who have written recent books about the singer, including Robert Rodriguez, Ken Sharp and Keith Elliot Greenberg, will also weigh in with their thoughts.