Scorpions at Amalie Arena in Tampa, FL on 9/14/22 By Jesse Striewski/Photos By Brooke Striewski

Last night, the Rewind It Magazine family took an unexpected road trip to catch classic rockers the Scorpions perform at the Amalie Arena in Tampa, FL. But not even traffic delays and copious amounts of of rain could dampen the mood when we arrived (fashionably) late to the event.

To see such legends as vocalist Klaus Meine and guitarist/band founder Rudolf Schenker, not to mention former Motorhead/King Diamond drummer Mikkey Dee (I always felt somewhat cheated when he was actually absent the one and only time I saw Motorhead back in 2009, although former Guns N’ Roses drummer Matt Sorum in his place was was a more than worthy fill-in) was worth every bit of stress it took to get there.

Although Whitesnake were originally on the tour with them, they unfortunately had to opt out due to frontman David Coverdale’s ongoing health issues. As disappointing as this may be, the all-female group Thundermother were still pegged as the openers. But, due to said road and weather conditions, we missed their set completely too (though we were able to finally see the girls doing an autograph signing session at the end of the night).

In fact, The Scorpions were actually already in the middle of their second song, “Make It Real” (“Gas in the Tank” served as the opener) by the time we even arrived. The laid back vibes of “The Zoo” and the instrumental “Coast to Coast” followed before a couple more-than admirable new tracks in the form of “Seventh Sun” and “Peacemaker.”

The band took things back to the ’80s for a bit with “Bad Boys Running Wild” and “Send me an Angel,” throwing in another instrumental, “Delicate Dance,” in between. This was followed up by the massive 1990 power ballad “Wind of Change,” which was no doubt a collective emotional moment for everyone in attendance last night.

“Tease Me Please Me” and the title track to their latest album, “Rock Believer” proceeded before a bass/drum solo between Dee and bassist Pawel Maciwoda commenced. After which, the guys started breaking out the big guns in the form of “Blackout” and “Big City Nights.” A short reprieve brought the band back for an encore of “No One Like You,” and finally the massive hit anthem “Rock You Like a Hurricane,” which sent everyone there home breathless.

There’s no denying the sheer rock greatness that graced the stage in Tampa last night, and the memory of it all will no doubt last a lifetime.

Cinderella’s Tom Keifer and Faster Pussycat at Destination Daytona in Ormond Beach, FL on 7/23/22 By Jesse Striewski/Photos By Brooke Striewski

Volusia County was pulsating with the sounds of boisterous ’80s hard rock this past Saturday, July 23, as the criminally underrated Cinderella frontman Tom Keifer and his band blistered through the hot and humid night with fellow ’80s rockers Faster Pussycat in direct support (L.A. Guns were originally scheduled to perform in between the two acts, but unfortunately cancelled at the eleventh hour).

Faster Pussycat have always been one of those bands from back in the day that I tend to forget about sometimes (often times due to inactivity), but am always quickly reminded by how fun they truly are. Opening with “Jack the Bastard,” Taime Downe and company (it should also be noted that although L.A. Guns were not able to play, Faster Pussycat bassist Danny Nordahl and drummer Chad Stewart previously both served some time with them between 2007-2012) quickly got bodies moving.

More heavy-hitting cuts followed, including “Where There’s a Whip, There’s a Way,” “Cathouse,” “Slip of the Tongue,” “You’re So Vain,” “Ain’t No Way Around It,” “Number 1 With a Bullet,” and “Sex Drugs & Rock-n-Roll” before they finally slowed things down a bit to play their hit 1989 power ballad, “House of Pain.” The guys then brought out guitarist for Tom Keifer’s band Tony Higbee to finish off their set with “Don’t Change That Song” and of course their signature rowdy anthem, “Bathroom Wall.”

Faster Pussycat vocalist Taime Downe with Tom Keifer Band guitarist Tony Higbee performing at Destination Daytona on 7-23-22.

Finally, the legendary Tom Keifer took the stage, armed with a stellar band of musicians, and that unmistakable voice, kicking things off with the solo track “Touching the Divine,” before treating fans with some favorite Cinderella tracks in the form of “Night Songs” and “Coming Home.” “It’s Not Enough” and “Somebody Save Me” followed before Tom and company slowed things down a bit for the piano-driven title track of his latest album, “Rise.”

Another Cinderella classic in the form of “Nobody’s Fool” got the crowd back on their feet again, before one last solo tack, “Solid Ground,” paved the way for a slew of Cinderella staples, including “Bad Seamstress Blues/Fallin’ Apart at the Seams,” “The Last Mile,” “Don’t Know What You Got (Til It’s Gone),” “Shake Me,” and “Shelter Me.”

The band took a brief reprieve before taking to the stage once again for an encore that included dueling guitar solos between Keifer and Higbee, then finally closing out the night with “Gypsy Road,” leaving the audience dripping with sweat, yet fully content. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again; Keifer often does not always receive the recognition he truly deserves, and any list of greatest hard rock frontmen should include him right alongside the best of them. At least those of us catching him on this tour right now understand the true depths of his greatness.

Guitarist Tony Higbee (left) and Tom Keifer performing at Destination Daytona on 7-23-22.

Film Review: Nova Rex: Ain’t Easy Staying Cheesy (My Productions USA)

By: Jesse Striewski

I was first introduced to Nova Rex back in 2016 via band founder and bassist Kenny Wilkerson, when I was scheduled to interview him for a now-defunct magazine I was writing for at the time (whose name I will never utter here). Since then, I’ve come to know and deeply respect Kenny and all the endeavors I’ve watch he and the band create for themselves since.

So it was my pleasure to attend the premiere of the band’s new documentary Ain’t Easy Staying Cheesy – their follow up to 2011’s Ain’t Easy Being Cheesy – last week along with numerous friends, family, and colleagues – as well as most of the band themselves – in tow (a night to remember indeed). And it was all the more special to personally receive a small credit in the film for contributing some brief interview questions during one of its segments.

At first, the film seemed all-too familiar as it once again recounted the band’s early days as they experienced various lineup changes and tried their hands at different markets. Eventually this segued into their current incarnation and many of the things they’ve done since, such as played the Hard Rock Hotel in Daytona Beach with fellow ’80s rockers Pretty Boy Floyd, or played the Amway Center in Orlando, not once but twice now (all events Rewind It was lucky enough to be there for).

Of course things finally cumulated with the addition of current frontman John Bisha of The Babys in place of most recent vocalist Adrian Adonis, which includes some bittersweet moments while also ending things on a high note. All in all, Ain’t Easy Staying Cheesy is a fun ride from start to finish, and should be required viewing for just about any true ’80s-era rock fan.

Rating: 4/5 Stars

From left to right; Jesse Striewski (author), Kenny Wilkerson (Nova Rex), Jacob Striewski (photographer), and Terry Harger (photographer) at the premiere of Ain’t Easy Staying Cheesy at Aloma Cinema Grill on 7/13/22 (photo by Brooke Striewski).

Nova Rex at the Amway Center in Orlando, FL on 7/1/22 By Jesse Striewski/Photos By Brooke Striewski

Around this same time last year, local rockers Nova Rex brought the thunder to the Amway Center for pre-game and halftime sets during an Orlando Predators home game. This past Friday, July 1, the band rocked the house again, this time with The Babys singer John Bisha behind the mic.

I’ve caught the band live several times over the years, but this was my first time seeing them with Bisha on vocals. The band – which is still rounded out by founder/bassist Kenny Wilkerson, Britny Fox guitarist Greg Polcari, and drummer Shawn Lowery – seemed as rejuvenated as ever on this particular night.

As usual, Rewind It Magazine arrived fashionably late thanks to I4 traffic and rain hit along the way. So by the time we did make it, the band was already well into their pre-game set with the hard-hitting “Break Away.” Shortly after the guys launched into the ’80s-esque power ballad “Alone Tonight,” one of my personal favorites of theirs that I don’t recall ever hearing them perform live any of the prior times I saw them. They rounded out their first set with the anthem “Turn it up Loud” before turning things over to the Orlando Predators to host the Jacksonville Sharks in their final home game of the season.

Rewind It photographer Brooke Striewski with the Prowlers dancers prior to the Orlando Predators/Jacksonville Sharks game on 7/1/22.

Things did not look too bad for the Preds as they went into halftime down by just two points 21-19, and Nova Rex took over the stage once again. This time they brought the big guns, launching into “Bring the House Down Tonight” and new track “Time Is Up For You,” complete with plenty of bangs and pyro explosions finish the night.

The Predators did not fare as well however, ultimately losing to the Sharks 37-34. But the action was far from over, as former F.L.Y. (Fast Life Yungstaz) singer Vee Fly, who now goes by 4MULA9, ended the night with some hip hop, including his most well known hit, “Swag Surfin’.” It was a fitting end to an already eventful night, one that will surely be remembered for a long time to come.

Vee Fly (a.k.a. 4MULA9) performing after the game on Friday night.

Def Leppard, Motley Crue, Poison, and Joan Jett and The Blackhearts at Camping World Stadium in Orlando, FL on 6/19/22 By Jesse Striewski/Photos By Brooke Striewski

It’s taken three attempts and nearly two years, but after numerous false starts, the massive Stadium Tour featuring Def Leppard, Motley Crue, Poison, and Joan Jett and The Blackhearts finally rolled through Orlando via Camping World Stadium this past Sunday, June 19. And as Def Leppard frontman Joe Elliot noted at one point, “Third time’s the charm.”

Rewind It Magazine arrived fashionably late for the event, as Joan Jett was well into the hit “Cherry Bomb” from her Runaways days. The last time I saw Jett perform was actually at the 2006 Warped Tour, and not only had the Blackhearts lineup changed since then (most notably former Billy Idol drummer Thommy Price had been replaced by Bouncing Souls drummer Michael McDermott), but so had her set list, which was apparent when she went into “Light of Day” next from the 1987 film of the same name she co-starred in with Michael J. Fox.

More covers and originals like “Everyday People,” “You Drive Me Wild” (another early Runaways track), “Do You Wanna Touch Me (Oh Yeah)”, “Fake Friends,” “Crimson and Clover,” “I Love Rock n’ Roll,” and “I Hate Myself For Loving You” followed before finally closing things out on a high note with “Bad Reputation,” which some may recall served as the theme song to the late-’90s teen show Freaks and Geeks.

Poison were up next, and were the one and only act on the bill I had never seen prior, although frontman Bret Michaels’ solo shows have played a pivotal roll in the Rewind It family over the years (it was the first concert my wife/photographer Brooke and I ever attended together in 2013 while we were still dating, and a few years later in 2018 we covered one of his Downtown Concert series shows for Rewind It, which you can still read on here).

Bret was on fire on this night, with guitarist C.C. Deville, bassist Bobby Dall, and drummer Rikki Rocket behind him as they launched into “Look What the Cat Dragged In.” “Ride the Wind,” “Talk Dirty to Me,” and “Your Mama Don’t Dance” lead to a guitar solo from Deville, which found him briefly touching on Van Halen’s “Eruption” as a tribute to late guitarist Eddie Van Halen.

More hits including “Fallen Angel,” “Unskinny Bop,” and the epic power ballad “Every Rose Has Its Thorn” were up next before the guys ended it with the ultimate ’80s party anthem, “Nothin’ But a Good Time” (at this point, the only possible way for them to end a set), priming the crowd just right for the rest yet to come.

The first couple of times I saw Motley Crue live (in 2005 and 2012, respectively) were each mind-blowing experiences, and I never tire of seeing one of my all time bass idols – the one and only Nikki Sixx, of course – on stage. Ironically though, I always seem to miss the beginning of their sets. But this time I made sure to be there for the entire thing, as the band ripped through classics like “Wild Side,” “Shout at the Devil,” and “Too Fast For Love” right off the bat.

After the first trio of tracks however, drummer Tommy Lee vacated the stage due to his well-publicized rib injury (no rollercoaster drumsets this time around!), making way for Ozzy Osbourne/Black Sabbath drummer Tommy Clufetos, who quickly picked up the pace on “Don’t Go Away Mad (Just Go Away),” “Saints of Los Angeles,” “Live Wire,” “Looks That Kill,” and only their fourth performance ever of the 2020 track “The Dirt” from the film of the same name (and it definitely showed – frontman Vince Neil’s voice wavered a time or two while trying to reach some notes on it).

The guys then launched into a number of their most well-known covers, including “Rock N’ Roll Part II,” “Smokin’ in the Boys Room,” “White Punks on Dope,” “Helter Skelter,” and “Anarchy in the U.K.,” before going through some more original classics in the form of “Dr. Feelgood,” “Same Ol’ Situation (S.O.S),” and “Girls, Girls, Girls.” Tommy Lee then returned to the stage once more and fans turned on their cell phone lights for the massive power ballad “Home Sweet Home,” before they finally closed things out for the night with “Kickstart my Heart.”

And finally, Def Leppard came on stage…and initially sucked the life out of the room. When I first saw them back in 2003, they opened with a couple of early ’80s tracks in the form of “Let it Go” and “Rock! Rock! (Till You Drop).” There were no such classics like those to be found anywhere in their set this time around, instead opting to start off with a couple newer numbers (which I get they need to promote) in the form of “Take What You Want” and the uber-lame “Fire it Up,” both bad choices in my opinion.

By track number three, the band finally started to treat the crowd with what they really came for, the “classics.” “Animal,” “Foolin’ (tragically one of the very few songs performed from 1983’s Pyromania album, my personal favorite of the band’s along with the two before it), and “Armageddon It.” Another new track, “Kick,” was thrown in before more Hysteria-era tracks “Love Bites” and “Excitable.”

After which, the band stripped things down and went acoustic for a bit, with frontman Joe Elliot performing “This Guitar” solo before being joined by the rest of the guys again on “Have You Ever Needed Someone So Bad” and “Two Steps Behind.” “Rocket,” “Bringin’ on the Heartbreak,” and “Switch 625,” which featured a solo from drummer Rick Allen, got things back on track.

Finally, the band threw it all out there, unleashing “Hysteria,” “Pour Some Sugar on Me” “Rock of Ages,” and “Photograph” on the now-exhausted crowd (yours truly included).

I’ve since been asked who the best band of the evening was, and it’s far from easy to answer. Def Leppard were probably the strongest as far as overall sound is concerned, although their set list was merely “meh” in comparison to the last time I saw them, as previously noted. But I’d have to say Motley Crue were definitely the most exciting to watch as always, with Poison coming in a close second. And I’m pretty sure nearly anyone who was in attendance on Sunday night will agree they indeed got enough bang for their buck.

Paul McCartney at Camping World Stadium in Orlando, FL on 5/28/22 By Jesse Striewski/Photos By Brooke Striewski

I’ve witnessed greatness on stage many times in the nearly three decades since I first started going to concerts. I’ve seen many early rock and heavy metal bands from “back in the day,” including pioneering acts such as Black Sabbath, Deep Purple, Blue Oyster Cult, Aerosmith, and even The Rolling Stones. But never before have I managed to catch one of The Beatles, the ones who started it all, and undeniably my earliest memory of rock music going back to when my parents had first introduced me to them so many years ago.

But that finally happened this past Saturday, May 28, when legendary former Beatle himself Paul McCartney took the stage at Camping World Stadium in Orlando, FL. I was there to witness this much anticipated event with my wife, son, mother-in-law, and extended family and friends of the Rewind It Magazine family. I don’t think a single one of us could issue a word of complaint if we tried.

Opening with the classic Beatles track “Can’t Buy Me Love,” I was instantly transported back to childhood memories of seeing old black and white footage of the fab four bobbing around on stage together. For the next two and a half hours, I found myself so transfixed on that stage, possibly the most lost in music I’ve ever been in my lifetime prior.

The next few songs, “Junior’s Farm,” “Letting Go,” “Got to Get You Into My Life,” and “Come On To Me” all served as decent enough warm ups that were paving the way to better things, the blues-ly Wings staple “Let Me Roll It” and the Sgt. Peppers-era “Getting Better” being a couple of said things. “Let ‘Em In” followed before McCartney dedicated “My Valentine” to his wife (who was in attendance for the show) and oddly enough featured actors Johnny Depp and Natalie Portman “signing” the lyrics on the video screens.

“Nineteen Hundred Eighty-Five” was up next with some retro lazer light work, while more classics like “Maybe I’m Amazed” and The Beatles’ “I’ve Just Seen a Face” followed. Paul then dug deep with a track from his pre-Beatles Quarrymen days, “In Spite of All the Danger,” as well as “Love Me Do,” each featuring a little history of their original recordings from McCartney.

The semi-newer track “Dance Tonight” was next before McCartney took the stage solo with an acoustic guitar to perform “Blackbird,” another chill-inducing moment. “Here Today” was next up, before McCartney joked about the lack of interest usually reserved for newer music, before appropriately going into a newer track in the form of “New,” featuring the refrain “We can do what we want.”

Another Beatles number, “Lady Madonna,” proceeded before the interesting “Fuh You,” and although the Sgt. Pepper track “Being For the Benefit of Mr. Kite” attempted to bring the psychedelic vibe with it, it was definitely one of the weaker moments of the night. A little backstory on late Beatle George Harrison preceded a ukulele-driven version of “Something” before picking things up again with the goofy but harmless “Obla Di, Obla Da.”

From then on it was nothing but the best, including some Abbey Road (my favorite Beatles album) era classics like “You Never Give Me Your Money” (which McCartney explained he and his current band had never performed live before) and “She Came In Through the Bathroom Window,” before launching into “Get Back.”

Another Wings track, “Band on the Run,” followed before McCartney took the piano again to serenade the crowd with “Let it Be,” blow everyone away (literally with various pyros and explosions) with the James Bond theme “Live and Let Die,” and invoke the entire stadium to sing along with “Hey Jude,” the unforgettable, massive Beatles anthem from 1968, and close out the first set.

It didn’t take long for McCartney and company to take the stage again for an encore, beginning with “I’ve Got a Feeling,” which he explained Get Back director Peter Jackson had isolated John Lennon’s vocals for specifically for the tour, and fans were therefore given a rare treat. “Birthday” and “Helter Skelter” got the crowd on their feet again, while the epic climax of “Golden Slumbers/Carry That Weight/The End” (hands down one of my favorite Beatles medlies) was finally enough to choke up an old dog like myself, as I became overwhelmed with emotion, knowing just what greatness I had just experienced.

As if this wasn’t all enough in itself, a chance encounter on the way out of the stadium found us actually crossing paths with Alter Bridge and Creed guitarist Mark Tremonti (see photo below), who was more than happy to briefly chat with us about the concert we had all just witnessed (among other things). I couldn’t possible write a better ending to an already epic story if I tried.

The Rewind It Magazine crew (from l to r; Jacob Striewski, Shawn McKee, Jesse Striewski, and Brooke Striewski) with Alter Bridge/Creed guitarist Mark Temonti after Paul McCartney’s show last Saturday, May 28 (Photo by Jhennifer McKee).

Tony Orlando at Epcot’s Garden Rocks on 5/21/22 By Jesse Striewski/Photos By Brooke and Jacob Striewski

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.

Tony Orlando and fan during his show at Epcot on 5/21/22.

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.

Berlin at Epcot’s Garden Rocks on 4/30/22 By Jesse Striewski/Photos By Brooke Striewski

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.

Berlin taking a bow after their final set at Epcot’s Garden Rocks on Saturday, April 30, 2022 (Photo by Brooke Striewski).

Starship Featuring Mickey Thomas at Epcot’s Garden Rocks on 4/23/22 By Jesse Striewski/Photos By Brooke and Jacob Striewski

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.

Starpship during their first performance of the day on 4/23/22 (photo by Jacob Striewski).

Special Edition: Kmart – And then there were Three By Jesse Striewski

This past Saturday, April 16, yet another Kmart met it’s demise as the Avenel, NJ location shuttered its doors for good. Being a New Jersey native originally myself, the news struck a nerve for me personally, causing me to reflect on my own childhood memories of the once giant corporation, as well as its history.

The roots of Kmart can be traced as far back as 1899, when Pennsylvania-born business man Sebastian Spering Kresge founded the S.S. Kresge Corporation, which would ultimately evolve into Kmart in 1962 (four years before Kresge’s death in 1966), opening it’s first location in Grand City, Michigan. During the ’60s and ’70s, the Kmart brand became one of the dominant retail forces in the United States and Canada, with the phrase “Attention Kmart shoppers” etching its place in pop culture history after the Blue Light Special was first introduced in 1965.

By 1977 the S.S. Kresge Corporation had officially become the Kmart Corporation, and the company continued to thrive throughout the 1980’s. Many store locations already had cafeterias inside them, but by 1985 Kmart began co-branding with major fast food companies, beginning with adding a Wendy’s to their Canton, Michigan location that same year. These would continue to expand with other big-name restaurants, Little Caesars being one of the more prominent ones used.

Daytona Beach, FL Kmart location on 1/26/16 during its final store closing days (photo by Brooke Striewski).


During this time frame of the mid-to-late ’80s, Kmart became one of the places to be. As a kid myself during the ’80s, there were few places I looked forward to stopping at more (other than maybe MacDonald’s) than Kmart. Our specific location in Clementon, NJ had a cafeteria that sold Churros, soft pretzels, and Icee’s, and there seemed to always be kids just “hanging out.” And for a moment, the toy aisle, lined from top to bottom with G.I. Joe’s, Transformers, and Ninja Turtles, seemed like the most magical place on Earth to me. And in my teens, Kmart (along with Blockbuster) was one of the first places I ever drove to on my own after first getting a driver’s license.

Kmart thrived throughout the ’90s, reaching its peak by 1994 with 2,486 store locations open worldwide. But seemingly overnight things began to wane, with competitors like Wal Mart, Target, and eventually Amazon, dominating the retail world. Kmart filed for chapter 11 bankruptcy in January 2002, and only continued to decline from there on out.

A lone Kmart shopping cart sits outside of what used to be a Kmart (now an Ollie’s) in Orange City, FL on 4/18/22 (Photo by Jesse Striewski).

In late 2004, Kmart began the process of purchasing Sears, and by 2005, both Sears and Kmart stores would be operated under the new Sears Holdings Corporation. Over the years, more and more stores began liquidating assets and closing their doors, even with later CEO Eddie Lampert promising to bring these stores back to their prime, something that indeed still yet to come to fruition.

At the start of 2022, Kmart still had ten locations operating in the U.S. But with this past weekend’s most recent closure, there is merely three stores left in New York, New Jersey, and Florida. The last time I was in a Kmart myself was over six years ago when the Daytona Beach, FL location was in the process of closing. It was a nostalgic trip down memory lane, and a clear reminder of what once was. Hopefully one day I can again walk through the doors of a Kmart store and hear the words “Attention Kmart shoppers” uttered again. Until then, I think I’ll go order something off of Kmart’s site, just to keep them around a little bit longer.

Avenel, NJ Kmart location closed its doors for good this past Saturday, April 16, leaving just three stores in the U.S. (AP Photo/Seth Weing).