“Tonight, we are here for you… and you for us. Are you ready? Let’s go.” Graham Russell, taking a pause on the front end of the sold out show at Thunder Valley Resort Casino on Friday night, looking back on 2014 and then at the very moment and forward. He and his songwriting partner Russell Hitchcock, strike me as very thoughtful and contemplative. I’d just caught one of their shows in South Lake Tahoe in September, and couldn’t pass up the chance to see them do their thing (and a special thing it is) again, since they were playing even closer to home for me. The duo that comprise Air Supply this year are celebrating 40 years together of making amazing music together and taking it out on the road to play before crowds of all ages (Graham also exclaimed, “there will be a 50, too!”). Which is no surprise, as their music is ageless. And, like that last show I saw, close out their encore with the extremely contemporary “Desert Sea Sky”, which seems to catch many by surprise (in a good way). But I’ve found from going on these live journeys with them twice now, that they are full of surprises, and know how to put on a live show that can go from fast to slow, rocking to ballad, in the blink of an eye. And they seem to love it as much as their fans.
“Sacramento… you may notice a bit of moisture forming on my forehead… falling down my face… I know what you’re thinking. You’re thinking, ‘Morris has lost it.’ You may even be thinking, ‘Morris is not cool anymore.’ But let me fix that shit for you, Sacramento. Just like you take a cool bottle of champagne out of the refrigerator, and you set it on the counter… what does it begin to do? See, it sounds like you all don’t know. See, it begins to condensate, Sacramento. Because that’s what you do when you’re cool from the inside out… So please understand, Morris is not sweatin’. I’m condensatin’. And, hell yes, Morris Day is still cool!” Words from the legendary Morris Day from Morris Day & The Time (now The Original 7ven), headlining the Big Block Party by WorldOne Presents at Thunder Valley Casino Resort Saturday night. Having come on stage after the sun dropped out of view, which hit a high of 100 degrees, it left me wondering if the sweat rolling off everyone in the sold out concert venue was from the heat of the day, or the heat coming off the stage from the outrageous funk band, who followed the incredible line-up of Sheila E., Guy, and Doug E. Fresh.
The show at Thunder Valley Casino Resort’s Outdoor Amphitheater Sunday night was continuing on in WorldOne Presents’ tradition of their annual “80s Rewind Festival Music Fest”, and arrived in Lincoln, California with it’s own unique line-up and variation on the newly christened Retro Futura Tour 2014 (formerly Regeneration Tour). With this event, the same co-headliners – Thompson Twins’ Tom Bailey and Howard Jones – shared the bill, as did Katrina Leskanich (formerly of Katrina and The Waves. But in place of Midge Ure and China Crisis was the incredible English Beat featuring Dave Wakeling. As usual, the show took on a character all it’s own, playing out to a large and enthusiastic crowd. I think the Katrina/English Beat/Howard Jones/Tom Bailey line-up featured artists that all have one thing in common: authentic optimism driving their music. Of course, the modern day ’10s are not the classic ’80s, and though the music played came from the past, it could also serve as a beacon of hope for the future. And, as with the show at Mountain Winery the night before, there seemed to be quite a reception for Tom Bailey, who stopped touring and performing live as Thompson Twins way back in 1987. It was another exceptional performance by all of the artists, and both shows are certainly on the short list for top concerts of the year for me personally.
“Are we not in the desert? Where are we?” A bit of comic relief part way through The Go-Go’s set by Gina Schock, who as per tradition emerges from her drum kit at some point in the show to give us a bit of fun. And that is kind of at the heart of The Go-Go’s punky/poppy/surfy/beachy New Wave music, so what better a group to headline 2014’s newest 80s-centric tour, Replay America. Also on the bill is Patty Smyth from Scandal, Martha Davis from The Motels, and Pete Byrne from Naked Eyes. A real assortment of 80s hitmakers each took to the stage at Thunder Valley Casino Resort on Saturday night to take the crowd back about three decades to a real innovative time in music. Though there was a lot of music to be heard, things proceeded along quite quickly with the first three artists sharing a band (with some changes set to set), and a quick changeover for the aforementioned Go-Go’s, who closed out the night with a string of classic songs. Definitely a unique opportunity to catch many favorites in one sitting, and I know I thoroughly enjoyed each artist, only half of whom I’d seen live before (though I was already a fan of all four). Awesome show.
“Somebody’s gonna get pregnant tonight!” Headlining this year’s Summer Jam for WorldOne Presents and V101, R&B icon Keith Sweat made it clear that much of his music is meant to accompany more… romantic activities. It was fitting that by the time he took the stage at Thunder Valley’s Outdoor Amphitheater Saturday night, the sun was long gone and there was a bright moon serving as backdrop to the evening. The other artists brought more of a high energy show to the stage, with Salt-n-Pepa performing not only their own music but samples from all manner of genre of music, courtesy the founding DJ, Spinderella, while D’wayne and Amar of Tony! Toni! Toné! raced back and forth across the vast stage getting the audience going at the start of the show. The sold out crowd of 4,000 fans in Lincoln, California appeared to be thrilled by the performances of all three artists, with DJ Gino bridging each act with his ongoing DJ set.
Last night was all about old school hip hop legends, with Whodini, Kurtis Blow, and Rob Base each taking the stage during V101’s Hip Hop Halloween House Party at Pano Hall inside Thunder Valley Casino Resort in Lincoln. Pioneers in what has since become a wildly popular genre of music, it was a celebration of the artists who built the foundation of hip hop, with respect paid to many of their peers who were not part of the concert, by way of mention and covers. It made for an interesting and unpredictable night of music, with legend Kurtis Blow doing his own music, like “The Breaks” (the first gold certified rap song back in 1980) as well as some unexpected works from others that followed many years later, like House of Pain’s “Jump Around”. Hip Hop has obviously changed tremendously in the past three decades, but those in attendance last night, I think, appreciate that it was probably at its best in those early years, and it is gratifying to have seen these artists do their thing on stage last night in a relatively intimate atmosphere with a great crowd, some of whom also took to the stage throughout the show.
“You can’t be what this is…” Part of comedian Sinbad’s introduction of The Brothers Johnson, headliners of V101’s Old School Funk Fest 2013. The legendary American Funk and R&B group took to the stage after Midnight Star and The Dazz Band through down the bass-driven hits for a few hours leading up to George “Lightnin’ Licks” Johnson and Louis E. “Thunder Thumbs” Johnson rocked Thunder Valley’s Outdoor Amphitheater with classics like “Strawberry Letter 23”, “Stomp!”, and “I’ll Be Good To You”, to the thrill of the sold out crowd at the World One Presents production. It was definitely an evening of sublime entertainment with groups that unfortunately don’t perform on stage much too often these days, though their old school sound definitely is a reminder of a lot of what is missing in music today in many respects.
Readers of The Rock Subculture Journal know that my favorite decade of music is the 80s, so a multi-headliner concert like The Rewind Festival Featuring Regeneration Tour 2013 at Thunder Valley Casino Resort’s Outdoor Amphitheater is an event I’ve been anticipating for months. With a stellar line-up of some of my favorite artists, it was certainly a night to remember. The Regeneration Tour is in the midst of a 9-date tour across the U.S. with a final show in Mexico City, with a varying line-up as it goes along. Music fans lucky enough to attend the show in Lincoln, California last night got to see a show which included Men Without Hats, Berlin with Terri Nunn, Erasure’s Andy Bell, and Howard Jones, as well as local talent Larisa Bryski kicking things off as part of the World One Presents and 93.7 Jack FM promotion. All of the artists were in top form, the sound system was excellent, and things moved along briskly, offering a non-stop show of hits from the 80s and beyond. It was a stellar show, and definitely one to catch if you are able to with the remaining dates on the tour.
Last night Thunder Valley Resort & Casino played host to one of a short run of shows by music legend Crystal Gayle. The award-winning singer, best known for her 1977 hit, “Don’t It Make My Brown Eyes Blue”., put on an amazing show of her own songs as well as tributes to the works of others, with her own signature style. It was incredible to have an opportunity to enjoy the show put on by her along with her sister Peggy Sue and the five-piece band led by Jay Patten.
Last night I had an opportunity to see Styx perform at Thunder Valley Resort and Casino in Lincoln, California. Really quite the performance… it’s rare these days when a band comes onto the stage, sans opening act, and just let’s it rip, and has the audience from the first riff. Given that the band, born in Chicago, has been around since the 70s, they obviously have a stellar catalog of work to choose from, and the set tonight spanned everything from their more anthemic rock to popular hits on the ballad side, showing a real versatility in their musical style as well as an unusually democratic (small “d”) sharing of their various talents, and (quite literally) the spotlight. It is obvious that these guys love to perform, feed off their audience, and seem to play together well, and really appear to enjoy their music and playing it live – together – to an enthusiastic crowd. And given some back and forth, and my interview with Lawrence Gowan leading up to the show, and, well, just looking around within the amphitheater (which at least appeared to be completely sold out), their audience today very much spans many, many generations, with old and new fans alike just soaking in some genuine rock and roll. Styx really delivered, and it was an awesome performance, from beginning to end. [Read more…]