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Articles Home » Music Reviews » Year In Review - 2020 - Worst Year In Music History By Nina McCarthy
Year In Review - 2020 - Worst Year In Music History By Nina McCarthy

Year In Review - 2020

Worst Year In Music History

By Nina McCarthy

Boston Rock Radio



This past year started on a high note and then quickly went downhill after my birthday in March when the pandemic hit in full force. We’ve had pandemics over the years, but it’s been over 100 years since the big Flu pandemic in 1918, when the world last had to wear masks like we are now.  Despite the depressing year, I’m going to reminisce mostly about the good that happened in my music world with Boston Rock Radio in 2020, or at least in my little bubble here in New England.

On January 5th, I attended an intimate show at The Vault, in New Bedford, MA featuring Ron “Bumblefoot” Thal playing solo. Although I had met him once briefly when he played with Dave Ellefson, this small show allowed him to talk to everyone and take photos; and I can’t forget buying his Bumble F**ked hot sauce for my son that he even signed. My son almost couldn’t eat it, so it really was “fucking” hot!

January is always the annual ‘Opus’s Birthday Blizzard Bash’ at the legendary Toad’s Place in New Haven, CT. I’ve known Christian “Opus” Lawrence for over two decades, so this is always an event I look forward to. This year, On January 11th, the bash launched with special guests including:  EARTH - Black Sabbath Tribute Band, Dead By Wednesday, BLACKTOOTH - The Ultimate Pantera Tribute, Kings And Liars, Joey Concepcion, Curse the Son, and more. I was off to a rocking new year in January and even concluded it with seeing Enuff z’nuff and Pump 5, also at the Vault.

On February 5th I hopped on a plane to Miami with some friends to catch the Monsters of Rock Cruise Pre-Party. Three nights of meeting people from all over the world that would be my shipmates, as we hung at the bar and patio was amazing. That Saturday we headed to Ft. Lauderdale to embark on the high seas to Cozumel and Belize, rocking, drinking, and partying with the bands, which included Tesla, Extreme, Heaven’s Edge, Kings X, and many more. Meeting Steve Harris from Iron Maiden was awe-inspiring and one of my precious memories from the cruise experience. The biggest highlight, however, to me was watching Nuno Bettencourt rocking out onstage with Extreme while I sat in the jacuzzi with a frozen pina colada. Life couldn’t get any better at the moment! I wish I could have stayed there.

Sadly, I missed UFO playing February 18th in MA, but I was still exhausted from the cruise...not to mention my knee was huge and my feet were still hurting. Bassist Rob Deluca is a great guy and I would have liked to see him with UFO since I’ve only seen him with Spread Eagle and Sebastian Bach. Anyone that knows me well, knows my love for the bass! By March 3rd, I was feeling better and my birthday was on the 2nd, so back to The Vault I went to catch Geoff Tate for his '30th Anniversary Tour' where he performed Empire and Rage For Order in their entirety. I had an interview postponed with Tim “Ripper” Owens because it was to promote The Three Tremors Tour, which was now not coming my way. No M3 or summer NAMM. The Bad Boys of Boston 50th Anniversary Tour with Aerosmith and Extreme was postponed until September of 2021, as well as the Def Leppard/Motley Crue/Poison/Joan Jett Stadium Tour postponed until summer 2021. Rammstein announced a North American arena tour that was also postponed to 2021, and I’m praying that happens as I have tickets for Fenway Park in Boston. I can’t even begin to list the other tours canceled or postponed throughout the year. I’m getting depressed….time to move on...but first I can’t forget to mention (more to lighten the mood than anything) that 2020 also brought us Buckcherry’s horrible remix of “Crazy Bitch” with rapper, Wifisfuneral. We could have done without that.

Geoff Tate

I seemed to start the year off in rock n roll heaven, but then the dreaded Covid-19 restrictions kicked in and I saw shows being rescheduled one after one, and then eventually canceled for the rest of the year all over the world!  What was I going to do to keep my musical mojo going? Some bands held off on new releases, but thank you to the ones that put their albums out despite not being able to tour in support of them. This new music coming in kept us pushing forward at BRR. I’ve included my list of Top 10 new releases of the year below. (This is my personal list, not the results of the BRR charts.) Without live music events, live-streaming with paid tickets (or tip-jars) and merch sales became popular, which helped, but just isn’t the same as being in the crowd of like minded music lovers, screaming, and singing along, and perhaps a little moshing at times...but not for me! This was a huge loss to the music business for the bands, crews, venues, and everyone else involved. Devastating! I hope you got to watch some live streams and/or bought some merch to help them out.

As a music journalist with no live shows to attend, I had more time on my hands to do interviews. I did a couple on the phone including Michael Alago (who was an A&R Rep at age 24 that signed Metallica, White Zombie, as well as working with many others, and Deen Castronovo of The Dead Daisies on April 15th. After these lengthy phone interviews I decided it was time to try Zoom Video, since everything, including doctor’s visits, seemed to be in the virtual world. My first video interview was actually with Blake Bedsaul of SAUL, and I killed it! (I was told so anyway), so I decided this was the way to go. I continued to do several others this way that you can view on the Boston Rock Radio website.

Deen Castronovo - Photo credit to owner

In Boston Rock Radio news, early in the year, we happily welcomed radio personality JD Rich to the BRR Team to co-host with Wayne Benson, bringing over 20 years of rock experience, stories, and insight to the table.  However, due to Covid and with Wayne relocating the studio to Cape Coral, Florida, she graciously took on (mostly took over) the task of album reviews. Although he was already a contributor, Thomas Amoriello was officially brought on board, joining the Team in March. He’s also a musician, as well as journalist, so he brings immense knowledge to the fold along with some killer interviews. I also celebrated my 5th anniversary working for Boston Rock Radio in December. BRR was one of this year's sponsors for the Limelight Magazine Music Awards, which had to be postponed until May 2021. In addition to our Dirtbag affiliation, we also gained a sponsorship with Blackout Coffee Company in November. (Use code BRRFL at checkout to get a special discount on your order!) It’s some good stuff for those that like it strong! I had the Blueberry Crumble but if you’re in it for the caffeine, try Brutal Awakening. Now I’m craving some.

Enough staying home already! On a hot August day, Hatebreed had a small, socially distanced, and Covid compliant Breedbrew “Live For This Lager” Launch at Witchdoctor Brewery in Connecticut. This was a great opportunity for some socialization with some like-minded musicians (as I had interviewed drummer, Matt Byrne the night before) and seeing some of my friends from the scene. However, as the pandemic worsened around this time, my doctor advised me to stay home if at all possible and my State of Rhode Island went into an “essential” only phase, so things came to a stop, pretty much.

It sounds like my life was all fun and games, but it actually wasn’t. I had health issues in 2020 (with my blood pressure so high, it landed me in the hospital for 5 days and foot surgery), the depression from lack of in-person socialization and live shows, and seeing my friends in various positions in the music business suffer from the venues closing. It was heartbreaking! The 2020 Rock and Roll Hall of Fame induction was postponed, and then replaced with an exclusive special honoring the inductees, including Depeche Mode, The Doobie Brothers, Whitney Houston, and Nine Inch Nails. Not to mention the ones who lost the good fight in 2020 including former KIRRA vocalist Vincent Ojeda, Neil Peart (Rush), Reed Mullin (Corrosion of Conformity), Pete Way (UFO), Frankie Banali (Quiet Riot/W.A.S.P.), Lee Kerslake (Ozzy's early solo albums and Uriah Heep), and the one that hurt the most, Eddie Van Halen, amongst others. These were some great losses, with many too young to be leaving us. I know there’s an amazing concert going on somewhere with the legends we have lost over the last several years. Keep rocking!

 Reed Mullen- Photo credit to owner

Last, but definitely, not least, I can’t thank the Boston Rock Radio Team, including our fearless leader Wayne Benson, along with JD Rich and Thomas Amoriello with their endless support and contributions to album reviews and interviews, along with our new promotions guru, Joe Alfano, who has helped increase our “Bangers” immensely. Also thanks to all the publicists, bands, and labels that I have dealt with over the past year who send all the new stuff. A few reviews that I covered personally this past year were: I Prevail, SAUL, Cristian Machado, idle threat, Then Falls The Sky, Jump The Fall, Stone Horses, The Loyal Order, Gardner/James, amongst some others. JD really carried the weight of the reviews for the year and I can’t be more appreciative for her creativity and humor, as well as her amazing reviews. Thomas came through with some fantastic interviews. He lists them on a recent Facebook post, and actually all the mentioned articles are on the BRR website. Please take a gander if you haven’t seen them. We, as a team, voluntarily work hard to bring you the entertainment, because, well, we love music and sharing it with you.  So tune in, visit the website, like and follow us on Facebook if you don’t already, and feel free to join the rest of our Bangers in The Boston Rock Radio Rock Pit on Facebook. Listen online from our website or at LIVE365 wherever you are. Boston Rock Radio is your worldwide source of new Rock and Metal. Now bring on 2021 and let’s open things up in the music world!  We appreciate your support because without listeners, there would be no Boston Rock Radio. Wear your masks, get a what you have to do, so we can get back to a semi-normal life. We need live music! #saveourstages


Cheers to a healthy and prosperous New Year...fingers crossed!

~Nina (and that’s Ny-nah, not Neenah) for those that don’t know me!


Nina McCarthy, joined the Boston Rock Radio staff in December of 2015. Nina has freelanced for over 25 years, interviewing bands for various webzines. Nina currently focuses full time as the Senior Music Journalist and Digital Content Editor for BRR.  Nina is a very dedicated supporter of music. Contact Nina at for interviews, reviews, comments, or suggestions.

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