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).

The Orchestra Starring Former Members of ELO at Epcot’s Garden Rocks Series on 3/27/22 By Jesse Striewski/Photos By Brooke Striewski

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).