Beliefnet
The Pop Culture Road Trip

First of all, we picked a winner in the signed book giveaway. All of your “first concert” experience comments were wonderful, it was a totally random pick and the winner is someone who described what it was like to see the band Avenged Sevenfold.

Now, there were many comments about the band, so odds were high I’d pick one of those reviews.
However, it also seemed fitting. 
You see, here in our city of Huntington Beach, California, we had a loss last December: Jimmy Sullivan, aka “The Rev,” drummer for Avenged Sevenfold, died suddenly and unexpectedly. The band is from here, and for 10 years, more or less as brothers, they have created intense, meaningful music. 
In doing so, they also created an intense, meaningful fan base.
The Sullivan family and my family are close friends, and so we took the loss hard. After the funeral, I asked the family if I might write a piece about Jimmy (I write a weekly newspaper column here in town). They gave me the okay and so I wrote about the beautiful service, in which band members, friends and family all talked about the kid who was born to be a drummer–the kid who grew up to live his dream.
Once the column ran, I started hearing from fans of the band–young people who expressed their grief, their pain and their frustration–but mostly their love of The Rev. 
Each day more and more letters arrived and I was given a peak into a community that was so  hurt yet so affected by the music, that I started learning things I’d either forgotten (or never known). The faith, hope and importance they placed on the songs was something of another era–back when music meant something–back when lyrics spoke to you and related to you and made you feel like you were never alone.
So yes, inside, when I pulled an Avenged Sevenfold winner–I smiled. 
A coda to the story. This summer, when Avenged Sevenfold hits the road in support of their new work, their drummer will be the legendary Mike Portnoy from the longtime progressive-rock band, Dream Theater. 
He was Jimmy Sullivan’s musical hero growing up. And so when the band approached Mike about sitting in, he was honored. 
I’ve never heard of this happening in music. It’s a very special show of faith and friendship, and I’m sure the Avenged Sevenfold faithful will make Mike feel right at home this summer.  
On another Dream Theater note: my good friend, Jordan Rudess is the keyboard player in the band. He’s a supremely talented individual who melds art and science in a way that produces sublimely powerful music. 
Recently, he created/released a new app for iPad called “MorphWiz.” It allows novices and pros alike to turn their iPad into a space-age instrument that produces dreamlike sounds and effects.
Last week, Jordan was in Los Angeles. Dream Theater was playing that night, but in the afternoon my son and I met him at the La Brea Tar Pits and I shot a short video of Jordan to help promote his iPad app. That night I also shot some concert footage to edit it.
I cut the video to a piece of music Jordan created using the new app. 
You’ll know the song. 
But I never you never heard it like this before. I hope you enjoy it. (And to all of you Avenged fans, maybe it will make you think of Jimmy for a moment or two).

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