Rock N’ Resort Music Festival 2010

This past weekend, I headed back up to North Lawrence, Ohio for the 7th Annual Rock N’ Resort Music Festival at Clays Park Resort. If you’ve been a long-time reader, you know I’ve attended before (this was my fourth time, actually).

The missus and I went up Thursday night with the Mobile Mortuary (our camper) and attended the Thursday night pre-festival kick-off party which included local fav’s The Overtones, who did some decent covers including “What’s Going On” excellently sung by vocalist Cassandra Rose.

The next three days were hot, sweaty, loud, drunken mayhem that had us up until 6am on at least two occasions thanks to some overzealous neighbors in the primitive camping area. Lots of swimming, eating, DRINKING yadda yadda but let’s talk about the bands.

First off, I’m only going to elaborate on the acts that I liked. My momma always said that if “you ain’t got nuthin’ nice to say about someone, don’t say nuthin'”. In that spirit, there are several cover bands that I . . . ahem, endured & won’t go into any further details. On the other hand, here are some of the more positive moments;

Blues Traveler, Hoobastank & Theory of A Dead Man all did excellent shows which were generally crowd pleasers. Not a huge fan of any of these bands but found myself entertained & would go see them again. Especially if the tickets were free.

Cleveland Ohio’s own Jackie , who with a kind of bland band name (say that five times real fast) do NOT play blandly on stage, thankfully.  Hottie vocalist Jackie LaPonza [pictured] belted out originals that were worthy of a big stage performance.  The band is trying to win a slot opening for KISS when they come to Cleveland – consider Jackie as Rim Of Hell endorsed, mmk?

Bad Company Former Lead Singer Brian Howe – the man best known as Paul Rodgers’ replacement, Brian was hilariously entertaining and timelessly professional.  His voice is as strong as ever & he gets my respect for refusing to leave the stage during a thunderstorm.  As the few of us who were brave enough to stand in the downpour found out, Brian “didn’t want you to think we were a bunch of pussies”.   Get that man another Tequila shot!   Will never forget hearing him sing “Bad Company” under a strangely appropriate blackened sky.

Starship Featuring Mickey Thomas – I know what you’re thinking, I was skeptical too. Honestly, they do the name proud even though none are original Jefferson Airplane members. Mickey Thomas (the closest thing to a founding member) still has a great vocal style and smoothly prowls the stage while crooning songs I’d almost forgotten like “Sarah”, “Fooled Around And Fell In Love” & “Jane”. Accompanied by firecracker vocalist Stephanie Calvert, we were also treated to excellent renditions of Jefferson Airplane classics “White Rabbit” and “Somebody To Love” as well as the syrupy 80’s hits “We Built This City (On Rock N’ Roll)” and “Nothing’s Gonna Stop Us Now”.  Despite what you may or may not think of that repertoire, the band was tight & sounded great.

Overall, another crazy year spent with perennial friends we only know from this event, to new acquaintances who we’ll probably meet with again in that same campground years from now.

Put In Bay 2010

Went on a short trip to Put In Bay this past weekend, and had an amazing time (as always).  Sampled the relatively new Put-In-Bay Winery, took a tour of the associated Dollar (pronounced DOH-lar) house, tooled around on a golf cart, and ate too much seafood.  YUM!  Also caught one of the best cover bands I’ve ever heard at Mr. Ed’s – yeah really, they were that good!

Splendid Chaos did outstanding renditions of a lot of popular rock artists including Nickleback, Puddle of Mudd, Eve 6, Bush, Sublime, Rage Against The Machine, Saliva,  Zeppelin, even some decent originals as well. Very polished & tight performance had the crowd going, especially with the versatile vocalizations of singer Mike Hall, who had an almost chameleon-like ability to adapt to the artists they covered.   Folks, I’ve probably heard hundreds of bar bands in my day – these guys are easily in the upper echelon.  Check’em out at the link above.

Sadly, I could only stay on the island a very short time but it was still good to bask in the sunshine a little.  I’ll be very busy over the next couple of days but know that I am working on CD reviews of some bands you may not have heard yet (Kopek & Locusta for example) as well as one that I’m sure you have (Iron Maiden!).   I’ll also be reporting back from the 7th annual Rock N’ Resort Music Festival so stay tuned, mmmk?

Music Review: Dexter Wesley & The New Experience [Demo]

Going a little off the beaten path for this one, I want to talk to you about a demo disc I picked up at Comfest; Dexter Wesley & The New Experience. If you read my review of that event, you’ll recall that this band does a soulful Jimi Hendrix tribute that was a real crowd pleaser. I was thrilled when they let me take a listen to their new CD (recorded in just 6 hours, or so I was told).

First off, this band is old-school all the way; no slick marketing gimmicks, no glossy pamphlets with scantily clad women (aw, damn it!).  This disc is a plain ole’ CDR burned by hand from the guys who recorded it. Reminds me of the tape trading days of the 80’s. Not fancy, but shows that you’re dealing with musicians, not salesman. Fair enough.

The disc in question is comprised of 7 tracks, no playlist. I was able to piece together most titles from their Myspace page for all but 2 tracks; 4) is possibly called Captain Corruption and 6) well, you got me there.

The intro piece (aptly called ‘My Guitar’) sets the tone for the entire release; VERY Hendrix-like, but raw,  bluesy and feeling like a genuine 60’s vibe. I have a collection of Hendrix bootlegs and studio outtakes – this CD could easily fit amongst them. And like those rarities, this doesn’t quite have the sound of a mainstream Hendrix release, but it is most definitely in the same vein.

My favorite track is probably ‘I’m Tired of Being Your Fool’, which you can hear for yourself on Dexter’s Myspace page. Unlike most of the other songs, this one is all Stevie Ray. Damn good drinkin’ music, too. Also really liked ‘Blues (booze) in my head’ and ”Hold My Head Up”.

In fact, the whole disc is good down-to-earth, roughly produced, sweaty Blues-ified rock n’ roll. My only concern is that like their live performances, the sound is so very much Jimi it will be difficult for them to be appreciated on their own terms. Which honestly, they deserve to be.

So pour yourself a drink, take a listen on Myspace and see what you think. Maybe even catch them live if you happen to be in Columbus, Ohio -  I guarantee you won’t regret it.  But don’t hold your breath waiting for them to email bomb your inbox selling t-shirts or adding you on Twitter so you’ll know every time they take a crap.

These are musicians, folks.  Real ones.  Even in 2010, Old-school lives.   And thank God for that!

Cinderella/American Dog – LC Pavilion, Columbus Ohio 6-30-2010

It was SUPPOSED to be The Scorpions Farewell Tour, with Cinderella as opening act. That was what everyone bought tickets to see – The Scorpions Farewell Tour. Except Scorps’ vocalist Klaus Meine was ordered by doctors not to perform for 48 hours, or some such number, due to a serious chest infection that if left untreated & without rest, would literally threaten to end the tour early. For Klaus – no performing, no if’s, no and’s, no but’s. That’s the official story.

Now the cool part; rather than just drive up to Detroit (the next show on the tour), Tom Kiefer and Co. of Cinderella decided they’d perform anyhow – for free. Tickets were refunded, announcements broadcast all over the radio & amazingly, in that short of time frame (about 48 hours again) the powers that be found a new opening act – local boys gone to hell, the shit-kicking party band American Dog. And there was much rejoicing!

So yeah, the whole thing was free. Other than beer costs. Not free at all for me really, but I digress. American Dog – despite a plethora of sound issues during the first 3 songs, came prepared to entertain – and they did. As comfortable on stage as they are with a bottle in their hands, the bastard sons of C-bus laid it down nicely. A lot of new stuff was presented, not all of it as instantly memorable as some of their classics, but thankfully they did pull out their self-proclaimed anthem (and my personal fav) “Drank Too Much”. And yes we all did. Great show boys – as always.

Cinderella was a refreshing step back into my college days – the 80’s. Tom’s voice seems fully recovered from his own health issues and as a band they were in full form. After all this time, I kinda forgot just how many hits these guys have – and they played them all. Among them were “Heartbreak Station”, “Bad Seamstress Blues/Falling Apart At The Seams”, “The Last Mile”, “Somebody Save Me”, “Nobody’s Fool”, “Night Songs”, “Coming Home”, “Gypsy Road”, “Don’t Know What You Got (Till It’s Gone) and “Shake Me”.

I was impressed, and absolutely thrilled that I had joined the nearly capacity crowd to see this show. We all hear about the egos of the bands from the Glam era, I’m here to vouch for a band representing pure & honest rock n’ roll that saved a show instead & turned it into something memorable.

Cinderella, hopefully we don’t have to say farewell anytime soon.