This was originally going to be a much different concert review than it is, but sometimes life has a funny way of working out. When I headed to Epcot with the family for yet another Garden Rocks concert I was expecting to see ’80s new wavers A Flock of Seagulls. But it became quickly apparent that was not happening when, after arriving, the older gentleman next to us quipped, “You guys don’t look old enough to know who Tony Orlando is!”
And so began our adventure at a Tony Orlando show, which was surprisingly more entertaining than any of us expected the ’70s performer to be. It’s doubtful that few in attendance were expecting Orlando to open with a blistering cover of Led Zepplin’s “Whole Lotta Love” either, but that’s exactly how it went down.
From then on, Orlando ran through his most popular hits including “Tie a Yellow Ribbon Around the Old Oak Tree,” “Candida,” and “Knock Three Times,” before going into a medely of “La Bamba/Twist and Shout.” In between all of this, there was a brief solo that found drummer Timothy Pope emerging from behind his set to continue playing his sticks on everything from a bar stool, to the very front of the stage itself.
There was also some interaction between Orlando and a female fan holding a sign with a photo of them from 1979 on it. Orlando promptly invited the fan onto stage, where he finally planted a smooch on her after all these years. This of course drew plenty of applause from the audience.
Next up, 18-year-old bassist Captain Sibley took over vocals for a cover of Paul Simon’s “You Can Call Me Al,” showcasing the young newcommer’s talent, before finally finishing the set with hyped-up version of Chuck Berry’s “Johnny B. Goode.” I can’t say I was ever a big Tony Orlando fan, but I also cannot deny how much fun he was to watch perform live, proving that nothing beats live music no matter what.
I really didn’t have intentions of going to yet another Garden Rocks concert at Epcot this past Saturday, April 30. But my wife/photographer Brooke insisted we each meet there after our schedules aligned, and I’m glad we did (ironically, I ended up seeing the whole show while she missed a good portion of it!). And truth be told, I didn’t even know much of Berlin’s material until I first met said lovely wife of mine roughly a decade ago.
The band took the stage right at 8:00pm (for the sixth and final time of the weekend according to singer Terri Nunn) opening their short set with “Masquerade.” More fan favorites like “No More Words,” “The Metro,” and the newer “Animal” continued the show before Nunn slowed things down a bit to tell a brief but teary-eyed story about meeting Walt Disney in person when she was a child.
This tender moment segued into the group’s most well-known hit, the synth-pop ballad “Take My Breath Away” from the 1986 Tom Cruise blockbuster Top Gun, which of course the crowd ate up with more than just a little bit of delight (and on a side note, I often point to said film as the movie that really “awakened” me to rock music with its soundtrack, so on a personal level it was great seeing another band that performed on it live, with Cheap Trick and Loverboy being the other two).
But it didn’t end there; a high octane cover of The Cult’s “She Sells Sanctuary” gave Nunn an excuse to run from the stage into the audience and continue singing among a stunned, ecstatic crowd. For the finale, bassist John Crawford put down his four-string to duet with Nunn on a PG-rated version of “Sex (I’m A…),” which if I’m not mistaken, contained some alternate, Disney-inspired lyrics to better suite the atmosphere.
After this, all of the band members gathered arm-in-arm on stage to take a gracious bow. It was a fitting, classy goodbye to an already appreciative audience, and a night few in attendance are likely to forget anytime soon. The only downfall of the entire evening? The lone young lady thrashing herself next to us and hitting us with her hair the entire time. A word of advice in the off-chance she’s reading this; when at a concert, have some courtesy for those near you, because you never know if those people next to are actually there to get coverage (like this) of the show for you.
There was never a shortage of pop hits from various different groups that I was exposed to as a kid growing up in the ’80s. And while I largely ignored much of that music once I hit adolescence and punk rock and heavy metal took over, I’ve since opened my mind more again in my older age (if you couldn’t already tell!), my musical pallet effectively coming full circle.
Last month, I caught ’70s prog rockers The Orchestra Starring Former Members of ELO at Epcot’s annual Garden Rocks festival; this past weekend, I made it back out there with the family, this time to catch Starship Featuring Mickey Thomas, who surprised us with a an out-of-this-world performance this past Saturday, April 23.
Those keen on their music trivia know that the roots of Starship go all the way back to ’60s rock outfit Jefferson Airplane, who evolved into Jefferson Starship in the ’70s, before finally settling upon just Starship in the ’80s (the “Featuring Mickey Thomas” part was added in the early ’90s, to avoid any confusion with the current incarnation of Jefferson Starship that’s also still active). And although original singer Grace Slick will always remain a favorite among fans, she’s been long-since retired for a good three decades now.
But Thomas – who originally joined during the ’70s Jefferson Starship era – has kept the name going nicely, with newcomer Cian Coey stepping into Slick’s shoes with ease, and adding a youthful sex appeal to the band. Also notable in the lineup these days is guitarist John Roth, who has also been with ’80s rockers Winger on and off since the early ’90s.
This past Saturday evening’s performances featured tracks from every era in the band’s history, as they opened their first set with “Jane” before going into one of their first number-one hits, “Sara.” They followed this up with the massive hit “Nothing’s Gonna Stop Us,” famously known for its use in the 1987 film Mannequin. After that, the band dug even deeper with “White Rabbit,” “Miracles,” “Count on Me,” and “Somebody to Love,” before ending things on an epic high note with the criminally underrated anthem, “We Built This City.”
During the band’s second set, my son Jacob and I sneaked off in the park to try the new Test Track ride, but were back in time to catch the third set of the evening after sunset, which was somewhat changed up from their first. This time around, the guys (and girl) surprisingly started out with “We Built This City,” but again followed with the one-two power ballad punch of “Sara” and “Nothing’s Gonna Stop Us.”
They wasted no time again to run through the Jefferson Airplane staples “White Rabbit” and “Somebody to Love,” before closing with “Rock Music,” which found Thomas belting out a line from Led Zepplin’s “Whole Lotta Love” during its climax. It was a great ending to an already great evening filled with timeless classics. I pity the closed-minded who look down on bands like Starship, they truly don’t know the good time they’re missing out on.
Earlier this month, Epcot kicked off it’s annual Garden Rocks concert series, which hosts a number of different artists spanning the course of numerous decades. This past weekend featured The Orchestra Starring Former Members of ELO, which not only features members from ’70s and ’80s prog rock outfit Electric Light Orchestra and ELO Part II as their name would suggest, but it should also be noted that former Styx guitarist/bassist Glen Burtnik is a part of the lineup as well. This past Sunday, March 27, Rewind It Magazine was able to make it out to catch one of the band’s many sets over their four day period here.
No doubt that some purists out there will likely scream there’s no ELO without Jeff Lynne leading it, but I’ve always been of the mindset that I’d rather have someone still performing the songs live, rather than no one at all. And after a full day of family fun spent at place like Epcot, what better high note is there to end on then to listen to some classic prog rock?
The band first took stage on this beautiful Florida day at 5:30pm, opening with the massive hit “Evil Woman.” More fan favorites in the form of “Sweet Talkin’ Woman,” “Hold on Tight,” “Can’t Get It Out of My Head,” and “Above the Clouds.” But nothing quite compared to the one-two punch they ended with of “Mr. Blue Sky” and “Don’t Bring Me Down,” at which point the band had the entire crowd standing on their feet.
As much as I wanted to stick around for their next set to see if they played my personal favorite (“Turn to Stone”) or not, we had other places to hit on our agenda before we left the park for the day. But as luck would have it, we had circled almost completely back around by the end of their second set to hear them performing just enough of said song. It was the perfect ending to an already memorable day, one I hope you can experience for yourself someday as well (the band will also be performing one last round of sets at Epcot tonight).
For some reason I was initially hesitant to brave the Bike Week crowds and catch Jackyl at Destination Daytona for a second year in a row (‘How different could it possibly be this time?,’ I originally thought). But I was glad I ignored those early instincts and had my wife/photographer grab her gear and get ready to cover them again for Rewind It Magazine this past Saturday, March 12. It was all the more special having our teenage son, as well as a friend of the family, with us to experience it this time around (not to mention running into some familiar friendly faces while there as well).
Maybe it was the surprisingly cold weather that night, but for some reason the vibe was much more laid back this time around. This was apparent when the Georgia-based openers and neighbors to Jackyl, The Angie Lynn Carter Band, took the stage. The six piece group had a definite Fleetwood Mac feel to them (and even covered one of their songs, “Dreams”). Other standouts were covers of The Allman Brothers’ “Midnight Rider,” and originals like “Rumors.” But to be completely honest, although the band was tremendously talented, I’ve never been much of a fan of that era/genre of rock, and was more than ready for some Jackyl by the time their set was finished.
Right at the nine o’clock hour, Jesse James Dupree and company took the stage to rock yet another Bike Week audience. Starting off with a virtual repeat of last year’s set, the band opened with a trio of heavy hitters in the form of “Blast Off,” “My Moonshine Kicks Your Cocaine’s Ass,” and “Mental Masturbation,” before debuting a brand new song for the first time, which for the life of me, I can’t remember the title of.
It wasn’t long before the guys got back down to business with more classics in the form of “Screwdriver,” “Down on Me,” “Back off Brother,” “Push Comes to Shove,” and one of my personal favorites, the blues-ly ballad “Secret of the Bottle,” which was omitted from their set last year. Afterwards, the band once again brought out a Harley and several contestants on stage, with yet another Wisconsin-based rider taking home the prize (if memory serves me right, I think the winner’s name was Tim?).
Once that business was settled, it was back to business for the band, with an array of hits that included “I Stand Alone,” “Dirty Little Mind,” “When Will it Rain,” and “Redneck Punk,” before finally closing things out with “The Lumberjack,” complete with Dupree’s chainsaw solo and onstage carnage of a bar stool, which he once again set on fire before promptly smashing on stage. This was capped off by yet another blast from his custom shotgun microphone stand. It was another epic conclusion to yet another great time hosted by Jackyl – an event truly worth witnessing firsthand if you haven’t yet had the pleasure.
Some bands and musicians I will never tire of no matter how old I get; Iron Maiden is one of those bands. Each and every time I revisit their catalog, I’m instantly transported back to being that fifteen year old kid, still trying in earnest to figure out any and every Steve Harris bassline I could in my old bedroom. And when I finally saw the band live in 2011 after years of admiration, I must have had the most visibly dopey smile around that night as I sat in the audience in complete awe.
So it didn’t take much to get me through the door at The Plaza Live for frontman Bruce Dickinson’s Orlando stop on his new spoken word tour, which just kicked off this week here in Florida. While worlds away from a Maiden or even solo performance, the charismatic singer spent the evening going through both his professional and personal life experiences with enough energy and one-liners to rival just about any stand up comedian.
Beginning with his early life and leading up to his joining bands like Shots and Samson during his college years, he eventually lead up to his induction into Iron Maiden and many of the adventures that naturally came with it, using slides along the way like a professor teaching his course. Of course he also discussed his career as an airline pilot and battle with cancer as well. But don’t expect to hear much singing at these shows; aside from brief a cappella lines from “Run to the Hills” and The Beatles’ “Let It Be” weaved within his storytelling, there was not a whole lot of it to be found.
After a brief intermission, where the video for the latest Maiden single, “The Writing on the Wall,” was displayed, Dickinson returned to answer questions from fans who turned in handwritten cards handed out before the show. This lead to some of the night’s most comical moments, with one particular, KISS vs. Slade inquiry posed from a Liverpool fan being one of the highlights.
I could see this perhaps not going over too well for a mere casual observer. But for a die hard fan, it was just the right amount of history (although I must confess, I was already familiar with many of his stories, having already read his autobiography). Dickinson has no doubt lead a fascinating life, and if you’re able to go in with an open mind, you might just be glad you did.
For the first time in its ten-year history, the massive Welcome to Rockville music festival came to the International Speedway in Daytona Beach, FL for four straight days and nights from November 11-14. And with press credentials extremely limited for the event, it did not look likely that Rewind It Magazine would be able to make it. But as luck would have it, our very own photographer Brooke Striewski managed to pull off winning four day passes from local rock station WJRR.
Each night featured an array of different bands on the stage (and to anyone that was able to make it all four days and survive, I applaud you), and having just acquired wristbands the day of the first show and having numerous prior engagements, there was no way we would be able to make much more than the headlining acts. But photo passes be damned, we were still determined to get in as much as possible, and see as many friends of the extended family also attending as possible (including Mike Jones, Josh Kelly, and Rewind It Magazine contributor Shawn McKee).
Although I’m ninety-nine percent sure the first band we saw onstage upon entering that first night on Thursday, November 11 was indeed Brass Against, we did not witness the now-infamous “peeing” incident from lead singer Sophia Urista (shame, I know). Our first “real” introduction to the music was via A Day to Remember, a band I first saw back in 2011. Can’t say I was ever a huge fan of theirs, but songs like “Mind Reader,” “Resentment,” “All Signs Point to Lauderdale,” “Brick Wall,” and “All I Want” were all decent enough live numbers.
From there it was on to catch hip hop icons Cypress Hill, who just about any middle/high school misfit in the ’90s will remember as the go-to stoner group. Along with Public Enemy’s DJ Lord in tow, the group actually started off somewhat promising with tracks like “I Ain’t Goin’ Out Like That,” “When the Shit Goes Down,” “A to the K,” and “Hand on the Pump.” But as soon as they did “Pigs” and started preaching their hypocritical anti-law enforcement rhetoric from their oh-so protected stage (From what again? That’s right, law enforcement!), they began to lose us. More stunning achievements in songwriting followed, such as “Bilingual,” “I Wanna Get High” (where a nearby fan became falsely excited, mistaking it for another, similar sounding song), “Dr. Greenthumb,” and “Hits From the Bong.” By the time they reached their biggest hit “Insane in the Brain,” we were already making our way over to the main act of the night.
Slipknot are one of those rare exception, nu metal acts that I can actually tolerate. and having previously photographed frontman Corey Taylor and guitarist Jim Root on stage with Stone Sour for another magazine at Earthday Birthday back in 2013, I was actually intrigued to finally see them behind their “other” faces. They were also our fifteen year old son’s favorite act of the entire festival, so to be able to watch them alongside him was no doubt a special moment for me. They definitely did not disappoint, coming out strong with somewhat newer track “Unsainted” before finally launching into the likes of “Before I Forget,” “The Heretic Anthem,” “Psychosocial,” “The Chapeltown Rag,” “Wait and Bleed,” “Vermilion,” “All Out Lie,” and “Duality.” At some point during the night, Taylor also took a minute to address the recent tragedy at Astroworld, forging a moment of honest solidarity between band and audience.
Night two was definitely a step up, and one to remember. By the time our crew arrived this time around, Chevelle (another band I once photographed at EDBD, but in 2012) were mid-way through their set. Although more up my son’s alley once again, hearing tracks like “The Clincher,” “Send the Pain Below,” and “The Red” took me back to another, more simple time.
Social Distortion has been a band on my list for some time now, and although I’ve had close calls of seeing them in the past, I was finally able to catch them this past Friday night. Tracks like The Rolling Stones’ “Under My Thumb,” “Ready For Love,” “California (Hustle and Flow),” “Far Side of Nowhere,” “Lude Boy,” “She’s a Knockout,” “The Way Things Were,” “Story of my Life,” “I Was Wrong,” “Ball and Chain,” “Don’t Drag Me Down,” and Johnny Cash’s “Ring of Fire” were all powerful in a live setting (although I would have liked to have heard just a little more older stuff, like maybe “Mommy’s Little Monster” at the very least). The laid back demeanor of founder and lone original member, frontman Mike Ness (now joined by former U.S. Bombs/Youth Brigade guitarist Johnny Wickersham in place of the late Dennis Danell since 2000) was a stark contrast to Cypress Hill’s set the previous night around the same time frame, and just echoed an overall coolness.
Former White Zombie frontman Rob Zombie was up next, and like Slipknot, was playing his final show of 2021. Although there’s still plenty of visuals to behold throughout his shows via videos of everything from clips of his films, to half naked go go dancers, I remembered not being all that impressed the last time I caught him live in 2006, either. Now joined by not one, but two former members of Marilyn Manson (guitarist John 5 and drummer Ginger Fish), Zombie and his crew made plenty of noise with tracks like “The Triumph of King Freak (A Crypt of Preservation and Superstition),” “Dead City Radio and the New Gods of Supertown,” “Superbeast,” “Living dead Girl,” “The Eternal Struggles of The Howling Man,” “Well, Everybody’s Fucking in a UFO,” “More Human Than Human,” “House of 1000 Corpses,” and “Thunder Kiss ’65.” A quick solo from John 5 followed before closing things out with “Dragula,” but overall, it was not much more than simply a pretty “meh” performance.
And finally, after waiting forty years (the age of both myself, and the band themselves), I was able to come full circle and complete seeing the last missing piece of the “Big Four” of thrash metal that also includes Megadeth, Anthrax, and Slayer. It was truly surreal to hear Metallica tear through “Whiplash” off of 1983’s Kill ’em All album, before going into “Ride the Lightning” from the album of the same name. More classics new and old followed, including “Harvester of Sorrow,” “Cyanide,” “The Memory Remains,” “One,” “Frantic” (yes, from 2003’s St. Anger album, which lead singer/guitarist James Hetfield even poked a bit of fun at), and “Moth Into Flame.” More classics like “No Leaf Clover,” “For Whom the Bell Tolls,” “Whiskey in the Jar,” “Fade to Black,” “Master of Puppets,” “Fight Fire with Fire,” “Fuel,” and “Seek and Destroy” followed. But I also noted how, curiously, nothing from TheBlackAlbum was performed, and I would indeed find out why soon enough (stay tuned). Although packed in like sardines in one of the largest crowds any of us have ever been in, it was truly an unforgettable experience to have together.
Having already seen the majority of bands on Saturday night’s roster – including The Offspring, Staind, Lamb of God, and Gwar – and having previously committed to the third annual Stogies and Spirits event at Henry’s Depot in Sanford, FL (where we watched local cover act Skin Deep perform instead) we wisely took a night off from Rockville and waited until Sunday to return, which was a gamble that paid off perfectly. Upon arrival on Sunday afternoon, the weather had cooled down considerably, and the all-female trio The Warning were well into their set. Not only were some pretty faces a welcomed addition after staring at nothing but dudes for days now, the girls actually rocked pretty damn hard, too…
…Yet not as hard as the mighty Anthrax. The last time I saw them back in 2010 (where I photographed them at Hard Rock Live along with Megadeth and Slayer), they were full of energy, and absolutely tore up the stage. And despite a member change since (Shadows Fall guitarist Jonathan Donais has since taken over for Volbeat’s Rob Caggiano), the band still had it. Staple tracks like “Among the Living,” “Got the Time,” “Caught in a Mosh,” “Madhouse,” “Finale,” “I am the Law,” “Anti-Social,” and “Indians” still all sounded crushing live, making Anthrax easily one of my favorite bands of not only the night, but the entire weekend as well.
Former Escape the Fate frontman Ronnie Radke’s band Falling in Reverse were next up. Although another of the many bands I photographed at the three consecutive Earthday Birthdays I covered (I believe it was 2012 this time around), the appeal has definitely worn off for me, and is once again something more appreciated by my teenager. Still, it was interesting hearing “The Drug in Me is You” again alongside newer tracks like “Believe in Me,” “Drugs,” “Just Like You,” and “Popular Monster.”
Mastodon were up next, and admittedly, we only caught a glimpse of their set due to it being time to find some grub. But we filled our bellies just in time to catch a reunited Mudvayne, who, despite their laughable costumes and makeup, did not cause anyone to lose said dinner. I can’t say I was ever a fan of Mudvayne, or vocalist Chad Gray and guitarist Greg Tribbett’s other band HellYeah, who once again I photographed at – you guessed it – Earthday Birthday! The only songs I even recognized in their set were the early 2000’s hits “Not Falling” and “World So Cold,” and after listening to Gray struggle to hit the right notes (to be fair, I understand he may have recently recovered from a case of Covid), we began making our way to the next stage.
Legendary southern rockers Lynyrd Skynyrd have somehow also managed to escape from my radar until now, but it was totally worth the wait, even with virtually no original member present at the time (sole surviving member Gary Rossington was out due to recent medical issues, leaving long time vocalist/younger brother to late original vocalist Ronnie Van Zant, Johnny, and guitarist Ricky Medlocke, who played briefly with the band in the early ’70s and has been back with them for a good twenty five years now, as close as it gets). Still, this did not stop them from bringing the house down.
Thin Lizzy/former Brother Cane guitarist Damon Johnson took over duties for Rossington with ease and enthusiasm, and the band opened their set admirably enough with “Workin’ For MCA.” More classics like “I Ain’t the One,” “Saturday Night Special,” “That Smell,” “Gimme Back My Bullets,” “The Needle and the Spoon,” “Simple Man,” “Gimme Three Steps,” and “Sweet Home Alabama” followed before ending with an epic, ten-plus minute rendition of “Free Bird” (all these years of hearing it yelled at concerts, and we finally heard it live). Skynyrd’s set was undoubtedly one of the highlights of the night, and the entire weekend.
Things could have easily ended there and been just fine. But instead, Metallica had to play a second show of the weekend, and it was immediately apparent the energy of Friday night’s show just wasn’t quite there this time (from both band and audience), and opening with the semi-newer track in the form of “Hardwired” was a clue of what was to come. Things did actually pick up briefly though, as the guys dove through a couple of classics (and two personal favorites of mine) “The Four Horsemen” and “Welcome Home (Sanitarium).”
But then, the unexpected happened; they started playing The Black Album (remember what I had said about Friday night’s set?), and to top it off, backwards. That’s right, the most boring album in Metallica’s “classic” era catalog, was played from “The Struggle Within,” all the way to “Enter Sandman.” I get that it’s a milestone for the band and recently just turned thirty years old, but I could have easily lived without hearing every moment from it (and judging by the crowd’s reaction, I wasn’t the only one who felt this way). The Black Album was actually the first Metallica album I ever owned, and it did little to nothing to win me over as a fan; it took going back to their earlier efforts to finally win me over.
Although the band did briefly redeem themselves afterwards by ending with “Damage Inc.” and “Creeping Death,” it still did not measure up by any means to their Friday night set. But I think it’s safe to say that all those who attended and lived through the incredible, exhausting experience that was Welcome to Rockville 2021 will surely have many a story to tell for a long, long time.
Somehow, it’s been over twenty years since I last saw Rewind It Magazine interviewee Michale Graves perform on stage with the Misfits (one of my absolute favorite punk bands during my formative years, who I’ve personally seen live more than any other band in my lifetime – a half a dozen times from 1999-2003, plus a Misfits set during a 2005 Danzig show with guitarist Doyle as a special guest, and now Graves solo). And although “they”have tried to cancel him for having views that simply don’t fit in with what they’re “supposed to be” these days, it was apparent he was more than welcomed by the crowd at Oasis on the River/Oasis After Dark in Sanford, FL this past Saturday, October 23.
Upon arrival, Graves had already started his set (we came directly from another engagement we had already committed to prior to learning of the show earlier last week), fully in the middle of a passionate performance of “I Believe.” The night was much more low key than the last time we visited Oasis (for Stevie B), and the light breeze and outdoor, ocean back drop added to the overall atmosphere of the evening. Another more recent solo track in the form of “American Prayer” followed before going into the Misfits track “Descending Angel.” Another Famous Monsters-era Misfits number, “Die Monster Die,” found itself tucked in between “Locked Away” and “Dawn of the Dead.”
A couple of favorites from the American Psycho album, “Resurrection” and “Dig up Her Bones” (the latter of which Graves gave the crowd a little back story on how it was written) before a cover of Mazzy Star’s “Fade Into You” found it’s way into the set list. Graves then broke out a harmonica for “Lucifer I am,” before another couple of Misfits songs, “Scream” and “Saturday Night,” segued into two more final solo tracks, “The World Turned Upside Down” and “New Song.” By the time he was finished, I realized I actually prefer this more stripped-down version of Graves, then the one I saw fronting the Misfits so long ago.
After his set, Graves stuck around to of course mingle with guests for awhile. An unexpected after party show of sorts with local rockers FYRE Insyde actually kept the party going. Their arena-rock presence coupled with anthems like “The Truth Behind the Lies” (which could compete with any of the generic rock that gets played on mainstream radio these days) was a sheer, welcomed surprise.
But something else happened this evening I felt I needed to address; much like when I interviewed Graves last year, I once again found myself being attacked and harassed online – while still there – for supporting someone with conservative beliefs. Since starting Rewind It Magazine in late 2017, I have always maintained as open a mind as possible, and have worked with/interviewed clients of all walks of life. And unlike larger mainstream media outlets with biased agendas, I have tried keeping politics as neutral – or completely out of all together – our work (we are after all, an entertainment publication). These hypocritical morons in the punk and metal scenes don’t even know what it is they actually hate about Graves and other conservatives, just that their herd leaders have brainwashed them so deeply to hate anyone that doesn’t comply with their same conformist views, even to the point of applauding their deaths (so much for “freedom” or “individuality,”right?).
I honestly have a deep respect for Graves – and anyone else willing to stand up for their beliefs against the grain – especially these goons in the scene with their group think mentalities. Open your eyes, and see who the real fascists are that you should be fighting against.
I can vividly remember being a kid in New Jersey and riding in my older sister’s convertible, listening to her Stevie B tape of Party Your Body while riding with the top down. One of the few things I knew about Stevie B at the time was that he was from this mystical place called Florida, so as far as my young mind was concerned, that was what “Florida music” was exactly supposed to sound like.
It’s funny how life works sometimes; not only do I now reside in Florida myself, but I can even watch Stevie B perform in the very state I once thought was so exotic so many years ago. That’s exactly what happened this past Saturday, September 25, when the freestyle legend himself graced the stage at Oasis on the River in Sanford, FL. And between the large pool nearby the stage and bikini-clad bartenders/waitresses, the Miami-vibe was no doubt alive and well, too.
The night started just after 7:00 pm, with live music being provided by a revolving door of DJ’s such as DJ Frank Dee, DJ Daggett, and DJ Mark Sanchez. Now, it’s no secret I’m more of a “rock” guy, so admittedly I don’t know a whole lot about DJ’s (nor quite understand why anyone would want to hear yet another riveting rendition of “This is How We Do It” for the umpteenth time, but that’s just me). But I suppose each DJ possessed their own uniqueness, and the crowd no doubt responded to them with plenty of enthusiasm.
At some point during all of those beats, local newcomer John Skoolyaad was invited onto the stage to sing an obscure Stevie B song in the form of “Running For Miles.” The young performer oozed style and professionalism, and brought a different level of talent to the stage before Stevie B’s own DJ Slice kept the party going for what seemed like an excessive amount of time (even if he was the most talented of all the DJ’s that night – would have definitely preferred a longer set from Stevie B in place of the numerous opening acts).
Finally, the man of the hour himself, Stevie B, took the stage at approximately 11:35 pm (call me an old man, but that’s about two hours later than a desired start time for this guy, considering I’m up no later than 7:00 am seven days a week). But the entire night instantly became worthwhile as he kicked things off with the club anthem “Party Your Body.”
More hits continued, including “Dreamin’ of Love,” “I Wanna Be the One,” and the massive 1990 number one ballad, “Because I Love You (The Postman’s Song).” Another song or two (which the names of escape me at the moment) followed before Stevie took it back to 1988 (his own words) and ended the night with the freestyle/dance classic, “Spring Love.”
Beyond exhausted by the end of his set, my always lovely photographer/assistant (who also happens to be my wife) and I took just a few extra minutes to mingle before exiting. In the process, we ran into not only said singer John Skoolyaad, but also ’90s pop star Rockell (best remembered for her 1997 dance hit “In a Dream”), who was watching Stevie B’s set from the stage the entire time. It was the perfect high-note ending to a very, very long night.
I’ll be completely blunt here; when it comes to tribute and/or cover bands, I can sometimes border on the “snob-ish” side (my attitude has always been, ‘why would I want to see imitators, if I’ve already seen the original?’). But when it’s done right, a tribute/cover act can sometimes come close to being as fun as the real thing. Such was the case with 4’10 singer Lin Doak, otherwise known to the world as Little Ozzy, who along with his band, rocked Oasis on the River in Sanford this past Saturday, June 12.
Over the course of just a few years, Little Ozzy has climbed his way to the top as one of the world’s leading Ozzy Osbourne tribute acts, even appearing on such multiple TV shows including America’s Got Talent and Ozzy and Jack’s World Detour. And while I have already seen the actual Prince of Darkness himself before, both solo and with Black Sabbath (in 1997 and 2004, respectively), I knew there was something special enough about Little Ozzy to get me to put my usual reservations towards tribute bands aside for one night.
My gut instincts quickly proved right, as the band – which also consists of guitarist Johnny Lawrence, bassist Aaron Rowe, and drummer Draven Blaq – took the stage just after 9:00pm, opening with a one-two punch of “I Don’t Know” and “Crazy Train” (really the only appropriate way to introduce a set of Ozzy classics at this point). Adding to the overall decadence of the evening was the atmosphere of the venue Oasis itself; with a pool filled with bathing beauties directly in front of the stage, there was plenty for the eyes to behold.
I was pleasantly surprised when the band followed up with a bit of a deep cut in the form of “Believer,” before segueing into a number of Sabbath staples that included “Iron Man,” “Children of the Grave” (one of my personal favorites), and “Sweet Leaf.” Solos from Blaq and Lawrence sandwiched more hits like “Mama I’m Coming Home,” “War Pigs,” and “Suicide Solution,” before Little Ozzy told a brief story of meeting late Ozzy guitarist Randy Rhoads’ brother, Kelly.
The band then slowed things down a bit for a spot-on version of “Goodbye to Romance” (always a favorite), before finally calling it a night with epic renditions of “Mr. Crowley,” “Shot in the Dark,” and “Fairies Wear Boots.” Although their set was nearly flawless, I found it odd that mega hit “Bark at the Moon” was omitted from the set, and I would personally love to hear more forgotten tracks like “Breaking All the Rules” included as well (but that’s just me).
Still, there really wasn’t all that much to complain about Saturday night’s show. So the next time Little Ozzy comes through your town, be sure to catch him and his band if you can; it’s sure to put an Ozzy-size smile on your face!