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 EasyStaying 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.
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.
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.