VAN DYKE: Back to the Future
As I mentioned in the last blog, there was an event at Johnny Bang Bang’s this past weekend that featured a reunion of the band Forever. Featuring Jack Emrick on vocals, Steve McCarley on guitar, Ray Burke on bass, and Kevin Tanner on drums, Forever was THE band in Quincy in the ‘80s. As far as I knew, no other hard rock bands existed around here back then. I know now that there were others, but being too young to go to a bar limited my exposure to them. As they set up for the performance, there was a slide show of the old newspaper clippings and pictures from the old days up on the big screen behind the stage. I saw one that was a newspaper announcement of a show they played at the Casino Starlite that I remember going to. Then they started bringing Tanner’s drum set in. If there was a Smithsonian in Quincy, this thing would have to be in it. It is truly a monument of drumming. In case you never saw him play, Kevin Tanner is a freak of nature on the drums, just an incredible talent. After the drums were in place, the guys walked onstage. My good friend Dennis Hibbard grabbed the microphone and used the same introduction for the band that was used back at the Casino Show. “Please welcome Heavy Metal America Recording artists, FOREVER!” And in an instant, it was 1986 or ‘80 something…
…I was not sure what to think with this being the first concert I ever saw in Quincy. The opening band, Poison Dollys, was great. They had a Runaways/Missing Persons/Pat Benatar vibe with a more modern Motley Crue-ish kind of sound. The lead vocalist, who goes by the name Roulette, along with guitarist Gina Stile, bassist Mef Manning and drummer Gail Kenney won over the crowd very quickly. The girls ran through most of the songs from their self-titled debut album (which along with the Forever album can be picked up over at Play It Again Records on Maine Street, ask for Paul). These girls made it clear early on that were not just a gimmick. The musicianship was spot-on, and the songs were really good. There was a terrific breakdown in the middle of the song “Right Time” that was just awesome. When they were done, they signed autographs and chatted with some of the crowd. I am not an autograph person, so I ran over to get another soda. They charged 50 cents for a soda, can you believe that? I was going go all D’Annunzio on them about that, but I decided to get back in front of the stage instead. Pretty soon, the stage was filled with smoke and the opening riff of “Wicked Bitch” literally parted my hair coming out of McCarley’s guitar cabinet. The band was hitting on all cylinders and were genuinely excited to be playing to a huge crowd in their hometown. The drum solo was incredible. It was truly an inspired as well as inspiring performance. My personal favorite moments were probably “Sail On” and “Harsh Reality.” By the time I made it back out to the parking lot with my cigarettes safely tucked away in my sock so mom and dad would not see them, I could not hear anything. It was great, I am sure that I will remember this show for years to come…
…Jim Bier, one of the best guitarists this area has to offer (if not THE best), stood in for Steve McCarley and just wailed through the entire set. I do not think anyone else could have done it as well as Jim, so hats off to Mr. Bier for that. Jack was just as good if not better than he was back in the band’s heyday and was absolutely blown away by the reception of the crowd. Ray was Ray, always right there, solid as 4-ton brick. Then there was Kevin, as I said earlier, a freak of nature on the drums. At one point, he did a short solo then stood up and got an ovation from the crowd. That was one of the coolest moments I have ever seen. Being someone who was out of playing for a long time and got back into it under similar, but much smaller circumstances, I could almost imagine what was he was feeling. Rock on Tan-man! You deserve it.
After the show, a friend and I headed over to Cellar 21 to hopefully catch a few songs from Logan Kammerer. We were stuck by the total difference in vibe from Johnny’s as soon as we walked in. The show at Johnny’s was loud and energetic with an electric atmosphere, while Cellar 21 had a cool, mellow thing happening with a relaxing feel. The musicianship was at the same high level both places. Logan’s set was almost over, but we got there in time for a Paul Simon tune called “Punky’s Dilemma” which is possibly my favorite cover song that he does. If you have a chance, be sure to check out one (or more) of his acoustic shows. When we left there we headed to a friend’s house to hang out with some other people. There were a couple guitars there and before I knew it, I was listening to someone play “We Can Work It Out” by the Beatles. Then several others joined in. Someone brought in some pots and pans from the kitchen and started playing percussion with them. There were four or five people passing the guitars around and every one of them could play pretty well. I didn’t touch anything. I just took it all in along with a couple of PBR’s. It just goes to show you that there is talent all over this town. That really added to the surreal-ness of the evening, so I decided to share it.
This week, get those rock ‘n’ roll clothes and bandannas out and put on some ‘80s metal along the lines of Motley Crue’s “Too Fast For Love,” or Def Leppard’s “High and Dry.” When those are done, put on “Strangers in the Night” by UFO. If you have not placed an online order for a Les Paul and a Marshall Stack by the time that album finishes, I do not know what will save you. If you are going to spend money on instruments, why not do it with some style?
Don Van Dyke
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