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Roger Reis

Roger Reis

Tuesday, 01 June 2010 18:16

Jam for Life a Major Success

Bobby McGee’s was the setting for Jam for Life; a benefit concert for the American Cancer Society. Eight bands played their hearts out entertaining the concertgoers with energy. This charity should be proud of what kind of a show that was put on in their honor. It was a successful event.
 
Drunkyard started off the evening in the beer garden with their grunge style of playing. Solid drums, bass, and keyboards blended with distorted guitar riffs and eclectic vocals for a mix of sweet sounds. They played a version of “Snowblind” by Black Sabbath having the keyboards play the Iommi guitar arpeggios in their own unique style.
 
Strictly Jug Nuts is just a phenomenal act that caught everyone’s attention. They played the washboard, a banjo, kazoos, acoustic guitars and a bunch of other instruments that are not seen much these days. They did a great version of “My Blue Heaven” in a style that was warm and easy on the ears.
 
Liquid was a band that had a high level of energy, awesome vocals, and was musically very entertaining. The band kept the attention of onlookers as they played a mix of covers that were well received. Guitar solos and tight vocal harmonies between the two lead singers created music for the ears. They were a very nice band to see live.
 
Rev Luv came in and rocked the house with a short and to the point set. Before you knew it, the show was done and over with leaving you asking for more. This group really knows how to set the mood for a party and have the ability to entertain the crowd with power and force. Everything was musically tight from the beginning to the end.
 
Pitchy and the 44’s!! What an awesome show!! Fast mandolin runs played with precision started out their set with the rest of the band following right along. They were a superb band to see live and possibly the best attraction of the evening. This was a demonstration of super tight musicians playing their ass off in their own unique way.
 
Threeway Split had gone the extra mile to be the band to talk about. How can three guys produce this much music? This trio is just a pure delight to see and hear. Intricate guitars, good vocals, and clock work rhythm section. They have a combination for success on all levels. Just a damn good band!!
 
Ballistic played their fingers to the bone with true rock band style. This band jammed the hell out of a bunch of good covers and some interesting originals as well. The highlight of the show was songs like “All Along the Watch-Tower” and “Sunshine of Your Love.” These tight musicians played their first gig for the American Cancer Society. Good stuff!
 
Trainwreck finished out the event with style. This quartet of virtuosos wowed the hell out of everyone. Strong guitar players leading the show in superhero musician like status. As they leapt songs in a single bound, they played guitar licks faster than a speeding bullet, with no capes, or logos on their chests. The band was perfect to headline the event.
 
The goals of the night were to raise money for the American Cancer Society and that is exactly what was done. The bands played the show for free, donating their time to the event and what a worthy event it turned out to be. The end total collections for the evening were over $1,600.00 exceeding the expectations of the promoter for this benefit. Thanks are being sent to the bands from the promoter, “Without all these guys, the event would never have happened.”
 
This was the first year of the Jam for Life and it was a success. The plans are already in the works for next year’s Jam for Life II. The American Cancer Society now has yet another annual event that will benefit this worthy charity. Can’t wait until next year’s show! It will be a night to remember.
 

The lights turned low, Willie stepped up to the microphone, and started singing “Whiskey River” to open the show. A Texas flag unfolded as a back drop from the first strum of the guitar. Five musicians followed Willie’s lead and every chord or note that he played for the entire music presentation. The Genesee Theater in Waukegan, Illinois had one great song after another played and it was a time to remember.

 

Willie Nelson strummed, picked, and sang, entertaining a packed auditorium. This aging country music star lived up to his reputation packing a hell of a wallop into the ears of the audience. This guitbox player only used one guitar for the entire show and it was quite apparent he had used this one a lot before. There was a hole in the guitar from where he had picked and strummed so many times it had worn through the top of the body on his acoustic. The battle scares to his instrument is something he should be proud of.

 

The song “Still Is Still Moving To Me” was early on in the set and pure pleasure to hear. As the words and music were projected from the stage you knew you were seeing a country music legend. The fast paced ditty had everyone in the place dancing in their seats.

 

Plenty of songs were squeezed into the evening, but when in the presence of Willie Nelson, a hundred songs is never enough. Pieces like “Crazy” and “Me and Paul” were amongst the songs played for the true fans delight. “Angel Flying To Close To The Ground” was yet another one that impressed many within the theater.

 

“Georgia,” “All Of Me,” and “On The Road Again” all were done and over so fast leaving everyone wanting more. “Hey Good Looking” was a piece that just stole everyone’s musical soul and messaged it creating a perfect aura for the evening. Such a timeless classic written by Hank Williams and perfectly performed by Willie.

 

“Always On My Mind” has been recorded by so many musicians over the years including Elvis Presley, but no one has done it as well as Willie. Since the release in 1982 of this single most true fans can’t listen to anyone else sing it anymore. The opinions at the Genesee Theater were all the same for this show. Everyone was singing along with him and seemed to be in perfect harmony.

 

The wonderful Steve Goodman classic “City of New Orleans” was music perfection. Nothing seemed to bring in the cheers as much as the song “To All The Girls I’ve Loved Before.” Julio Iglesias was no where to be found, but there were plenty of singers in the room. Willie performed the hit song just as well without his original singing partner and nobody seemed to miss him. 

 

It didn’t really seem to matter what this country music icon was singing as long as he kept on doing it. He threw bandanas into the crowd and just before he left the stage he was slapping concert goers hands in the front of the theater and then signed as many autographs as he could before departing as his backing band played some traveling music for him. What a class act.

Willie had chosen a great group of musicians to back him up. He had a piano player, bass player, snare drum player, harmonica player, and a percussionist. The group of entertainers seemed to play within a synchronization and it is clear they had become one. Every accent provided by each player was such a pleasure to hear and he couldn’t have done it without them.

 

There have been some great musical acts in the last fifty years, but this man has his own unique playing style. The country music outlaw had no fancy stage show, lights, or any smoke and mirrors to make his show appear better. Just being able to see him play was show enough and he didn’t need anything flashy. Thank you Willie Nelson for becoming a musician. You will always be considered one of the best.

Big Randy does it again setting up a sweet party at the Pyramid Club (236 W. Lake Street Addison, Illinois). This party animal set the gathering in an upscale club with live music. The band Rhino39 came out and rocked the house with some great heavy metal songs. It was a night to remember.
 
As the evening unfolded, Rhino39, a five piece band took the stage and jammed out powerful pieces of art work. Pentatonic minor guitar riffs, power chords, peddled eighth notes on the bass, and deep throated vocals were the basics of the bands show. The energy that was projected into the audience raged flawlessly throughout the two sets they played.
 
The bass player had an amazing amplifier that was Earth shattering loud. The clean bottom end rumbling away was larger than life and a driving force behind the band. This bass player was not just pushing high decibels, but is a smoking player as well.
 
Two guitarists filled the rhythms and leads for this band. The axe handling abilities by both showmen were played out with precision movements. Each one had their own unique styles and proved themselves with the flashy quick riffs. The soloing in the thrash overtures was top notch as well filling the pieces out making each one whole.
 
Lead singers are a dime a dozen, but good ones are few and far between. The amazing lungs screamed a wide range from the low deep growls to some higher pitched vocal lines. He entertained the crowd and kept the interest of the audience. When it came time for the band to jam or guitar solos to wail, he stepped out of the way rather than hog the show.
 
The percussive master beat the drums keeping the time and adding flavor and originality to the bands style. The drums filled the club with a mighty strength leaving everyone’s jaw on the floor. He smashed away accenting what the stringed instruments were laying out before him.
 
The highlight of the evening was when Rhino39 covered the song “Walk” by Pantera. Their rendition was absolutely perfect on many levels that you thought you were listening to the album Vulgar Display of Power. This has been thought of by many fans of Pantera as one of the best metal songs ever to be produced. They might be right. The manly shouting of “RE! Spect! Walk!” filled the room and turned the casual gathering into a kick-ass party. One thing is for sure, Rhino39 will be remembered by everyone that saw them at this party.
 
The purpose of the evening was to raise enough money for the summer ritual called Woodsbash. The party has always been free to anyone that wants to come out and listen to the music in this BYOB setting. The 2010 financial goal has been reached and the party will commence as scheduled. Big Randy has figured out a way to do this again with the help of his good rockin’ friends. It would be a delight to see Rhino39 play out in the woods this summer. Who knows. Could be a repeat of last years entertainment of HAG and Wicked Soul. Whoever plays this time around it is sure to be the best party of the summer of 2010. Could this be the next summer of love?         
Monday, 15 February 2010 13:13

Great White Live at Chicago's House of Blues

A rowdy crowd gathered at Chicago’s House of Blues on February 12th to see the party band Great White. Jack Russell and the boys took the stage once again to sing and play their hearts out and to entertain the concertgoers. Packed in tight, hands waved in the air, heads were banging, and the music was moving fans through the room.  It was a hell of a night for music and a night that will not soon be forgotten.

Monday, 15 February 2010 12:45

Rev Luv is badass!

In a cloud of fog the band REV LUV took the stage at Chicago’s House of Blues with a vengence. This local area band raged out with power stealing the show from the headlining act. As they played with every bit of drive, determination, and their soul, it was clear this band was put on Earth to entertain a crowd. They are just amazing!!

 

Tuesday, 29 December 2009 18:39

Trans-Siberian Orchestra Rocks the Holidays

Trans Siberian Orchestra (photo by Lewis Lee)

 

On the day after Christmas light fluffy snow fell to the ground covering the Chicago area in cotton like white silk. The stockings were no longer hung with care and St. Nicholas would not be back until next year. Concert goers braved the elements and piled into the Allstate Arena (6920 N. Mannhiem Road Rosmont, Illinois) to see a spectacular showing of the Trans Siberian Orchestra (TSO).

 

Lights, lasers, and many other special effects were a huge part of the show that entertained an audience of all ages. Guitars, bass, drums, strings, singers, and a narrator resonated through the arena with a perfect level of decibels. The performance of this well rehearsed orchestra was a delight to witness.

 

Paul O'Neill (photo by James Minchen)The narration for the evening was done by Bryan Hicks with his lower register vocal style in a very warm feeling. He told a story in passages as the show went along that were intriguing and literary works of art in so many ways. As the narrator he introduced the songs within stories and words that flowed of the tip of his tongue.  

 

Over a dozen years have passed since the creation of the TSO the great group of musicians performed some interesting variations on the old classic Christmas songs that are fond memories for everyone. They did a soulful version of “Hark the Herald Angels Sing.” The voice was smooth and tastefully duplicating a Yule tide classic.

 

Violinist Anna Phoebe was a highlight of the evening. She had quick runs as her bow slid across the strings over and over again proved she is not just another pretty face. She played a pink electric violin that was a show stealer on every song. Her performance was top notch and never a dull moment. Anna was perfect in every way. She was well accompanied by a set of strings that played along during the entire evening with lots of sweet accents. 

 

Guitarist Robert Kinkel showed his ability throughout the show and gracefully performed a few of the old classic pieces with a more modern rock feeling to it. As the band leader he played his intricate parts in a mechanical effortless way and the notes flowed into a river of music. He was backed by two other well accomplished guitar players Chris Caffery and Alex Skolnick both of which played with incredible musical chops throughout the entire evening.

 

The rhythm section was made up of Johnny Lee Middleton on bass and Jeff Plate on drums. The drummer was well surrounded by a circle of percussion and he could barely be seen. Every tap to his kit was just like clockwork within a perfect measure of time. The bass was plucked adding the smooth bottom end that could be felt from the floor to the rafters.

 

An eight person group of backup singers made up a wide range of notes on the musical scale. Singing throughout the show, even in Latin at times, was a sweet accent for the music. Four female singers came to the front of the stage long enough to do a song and dance showing their multi talented skills.

 

The two keyboard players tickled away at eighty-eight pieces of ebony and ivory for the show. Both were well trained and well accomplished musicians who couldn’t play a bad note if they tried. Smooth pretty sounds came from these two musicians. Sweeping sound-scapes to tinkering on the piano didn’t really matter. It was just beautiful no matter what they did.

 

The list of songs played was a perfect selection to include a few of the most sophisticated Christmas songs. They performed their own version of “The Nutcracker” called “The Night Castle.” Considered the highlight of the evening, this rock orchestra put an unusual twist to the classical masterpiece.

 

At a point in the show when the band was introduced it appeared that the show was over for the evening, but then they surprisingly introduced the second half of their show. The show lasted about two and a half hours and was magical from beginning to end.

 

As others were returning their gifts, shoveling their walk, and eating leftovers; over ten thousand entered the Allstate Arena for a show that will not soon be forgotten. The lights, the lasers, and the smoke machines were more effects than what most bands bring on tour with them. The show was good wholesome entertainment from beginning to end for your eyes and ears to see and hear. The show helps to bring a reminder as to what the real reason for the holiday season is. This was truly a phenomenal show for anyone to see.   

Tuesday, 03 November 2009 18:55

Queensryche - A Night at the Opera

QueensrycheSunday night concerts are always a great way to start the week. The entire show provides a shot in the arm of adrenalin and makes you grin from ear to ear until at least midweek...

Arlo Guthrie and the Guthrie family took the stage at the restored Genesee Theater (203 N. Genesee St.) in Waukegan, Illinois singing an eclectic group of songs. As they played the entire audience was transformed from just being Arlo Guthrie fans to fans of the Guthrie family.

 

What more can be said other than incredible. Ian Anderson and his band impressed the hell out of a packed house at the Vic Theater. They played some old Jethro Tull standards and real rare gems. A perfect evening with five other musicians in an acoustic setting was a delight to see and hear.

Michael Firestone as Michael jackson“Happy Birthday Michael,” were the words Michael Firestone said just as the band started the song, “You Are Not Alone.” This Michael Jackson impersonator was incredible to see perform live.

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