'Tis the season for giving thanks so let's start with the participants and supporters of The Great Chicago Fire Hydrants, including our very own Kevin Cronin! Select the link below and vote for your favorite hydrant. A winner will be selected from those who vote, which will be announced Dec 4th. VOTE EVERYDAY THROUGH DECEMBER 3 FOR KEVIN'S HYDRANT!! click here to vote.
Los Angeles, CA & Bloomington, IL - In response to the recent wave of storms that brought tornadoes and highly-damaging winds to the Midwest, STYX and REO SPEEDWAGON have announced that they are using their combined might to help raise funds for those affected by this tragedy. On Dec. 4, these proud members of the Midwest's rock elite will appear with special guests (to be announced shortly) at U.S. Cellular Coliseum in Bloomington, Illinois in a fundraiser: Rock To The Rescue Extends A Hand To Those In Need. Funds will be earmarked for affected families in central Illinois communities that were left reeling in the wake of devastating tornadoes and winds. In order to maximize charitable proceeds, the artists, along with numerous vendors, crew and local staff, have generously forgone any personal compensation for the evening.
Tickets for this performance go on sale at www.ticketmaster.com for $58, $43 and $28 (tickets are subject to applicable service charges and event time and date are subject to change). Visit www.uscellularcoliseum.com for up-to-date information. Donations to Rock to the Rescue can be made at www.rocktotherescue.net.
STYX guitarist and IL native James "JY" Young said, "As we approach the 50th anniversary of JFK's assassination, I'm reminded of his famous quote, 'Ask not what your country can do for you, ask what you can do for your country.' The good people of Illinois lent support and a helping hand to every artist on this bill at different times in their respective careers, and we owe a tremendous debt. It's our turn to ask what we can do for this great State, and the best way we know to help those in need is to get on stage and let the incredible healing power of music play its part in rebuilding Illinois."
REO SPEEDWAGON singer/guitarist Kevin Cronin said, "I am Illinois born and bred. REO Speedwagon is an Illinois band. The word 'Illinois' is music to me. The utter devastation and human suffering in Washington, IL and the surrounding areas is heartbreaking. I believe that we need to take care of our own... the people of Illinois are our own, and we are theirs."
"With our company being based in this area for over 40 years and my family living in Pekin which was effected by the storm, we wanted to do something to help all those affected. Everyone at Jay Goldberg Events have had friends, family members and employees who were directly impacted by the storm," said Jay Goldberg of Jay Goldberg Events and Entertainment.
City of Bloomington Manager David Hales said, "The City of Bloomington has heavy hearts for those affected in the recent tornado outbreaks around Central Illinois. We know that our city and surrounding cities will pull together to help out and support this cause. We are glad to be hosting this benefit concert in our city."
"We are honored and excited to be hosting this benefit concert. We are passionate about our business and know this is the best way that we could help out. Everyone involved in putting on this concert has dropped everything to make this happen, and we are looking forward to a very successful event to help those that need it," said John Butler, President of Central Illinois Arena Management that operates the US Cellular Coliseum.
Rock to the Rescue is a 501(c)3 non-profit organization, whose mission is to build strong, healthy communities through the support of grassroots organizations across the country. Rock to the Rescue originally started in 2001 as a result of the 9/11 terrorist attacks and is the brainchild of STYX's Tommy Shaw and REO SPEEDWAGON's Kevin Cronin. The two musicians brought together bands and artists such as Bad Company, Journey, Survivor, Kansas, Lynyrd Skynyrd and many others to be part of "Volunteers For America" concert events in Dallas and Atlanta that ultimately raised over $775,000 for victims of 9/11, as well as the Port Authority police department in New York City. On the bands' last tour together, the Midwest Rock N' Roll Express, Rock to the Rescue not only raised thousands of dollars for local charities at each tour stop, but also raised $108,000 which went directly to the Boston One Fund, helping victims of the Boston Marathon bombings. For more information visit: www.rocktotherescue.net and www.facebook.com/rocktotherescue.
For years now, I've agonized over a gnawing question: which is the all-time greatest rock and roll band: REO Speedwagon or Cheap Trick? Tick tock, tick tock -- c'mon dude, pick one! And although it's a question with which I continue to wrestle, tonight I had the distinct pleasure of basking in the presence of both bands. Sorta.
Decked out head-to-toe in full-on rock regalia -- leather pants, t-shirt, leather jacket, boots, and a stylish "stars and stripes" scarf -- Cheap Trick's vocal powerhouse, Robin Zander, took the King Center stage at 8pm with his newly-formed collective, The Robin Zander Band.
With his face almost completely hidden by his low-riding, cream-colored top hat, the iconic frontman led his band of merry music vets through an hour-long set that featured a fistful of Cheap Trick ditties as well as a slew of staples from the likes of Led Zeppelin, The Beatles, The Rolling Stones, The Who, and AC/DC.
A rock solid contingent, RZB also features one-time Robert Plant guitarist Mark Hitt, former John Entwistle drummer Steve Luongo, bassist Larry Hobbs, longtime Cheap Trick keyboardist Phil "Magic" Cristian, and Zander's son, guitarist Robin Taylor Zander.
Despite experiencing intermittent audio glitches, equipment malfunctions, and tuning delays throughout the set, the band ultimately overcame and conquered. Musical highlights included compelling recreations of The Beatles' "Golden Slumbers," The Who's "Bargain," and an engaging new arrangement of Cheap Trick's "Love Comes." Accompanied by a miniature-size "Energizer" monkey, Luongo delivered another one of the evening's "wow" moments with his show-stopping drum solo. Props also are owed to Zander Jr. Wearing a rather chic gray suit and tie with a matching skully, the twenty-year-old guitarist not only had the musical goods, but also brought a noticeably youthful, fresh factor to the festivities. For his part, Zander (senior) looked fabulously hippy-dippy-rocky-rolly and was vocally spot-on all night. In sum, RZB knocked out a stellar ensemble performance.
The pulsating power of U2 blasted from the monstrous sound system as the house lights dimmed at precisely 9:30, alerting the revved-up regiment of nearly 3,000 that the evening's feature act was ready to rock!
All dressed in classic "concert black," the members of REO Speedwagon ignited the crowd immediately with their signature opening tune, "Don't Let Him Go," as the sweet fragrance of stage smoke permeated the venue -- and from there, the full-tilt, ninety-minute onslaught ensued.
In short order, renowned ringleader Kevin Cronin led his troupe through such early set staples as "Music Man," "Take it on the Run," and "Keep Pushin'." And the crowd goes wild!
Yet, despite the cavalcade of classics, this certainly was no tired nostalgia trip. In fact, the Speedwagon of 2013 is less like your dad's '74 Gremlin sitting on cinder blocks, and more like a pimped-out '77 T-Bird - with crazy-looking spinners on the wheels, an iPod in the dash and PLENTY of gas in the tank!
Not only was the band tighter musically than Bryan Hitt's snare drum, the members oozed energy and passion. PLUS, they all looked fit and fabulous - you know, like a rock and roll band. Visually, the show was equally dazzling. Four vertical, 20-foot lit columns made for a clean-looking, yet eye-catching backdrop - positioned behind the enormous, tri-level, metallic riser that was home base for founding keyboardist Neal Doughty (stage right), Hitt (center) and a grand piano (stage left), shared by Doughty and Cronin throughout the night.
Engaging and charismatic, the leather-clad Cronin often assumed the role of a New Age preacher, inspiring the congregation with his refreshing Gospel of Rock and Roll. Equally compelling was perennial guitarist Dave Amato, whose undeniable mystique, swagger and array of vintage Les Paul's likely prompted many to ask, "Gary who?
Although the set list leaned heavily on tried and true fan faves, including "Can't Fight This Feeling," "Time for Me to Fly" and "Keep on Loving You," the (for me) surprise addition of such bona fide (and nearly forgotten) gems as "Golden Country" and "Son of a Poor Man" only further amplified the sheer awesomeness of the band, its music and its legacy. I mean, c'mon, there's not a man, woman or child alive who ever tires of hearing Bruce Hall knockin' down "Back on the Road Again," right? And the image of Cronin sitting at that piano, busting out the iconic intro to "Roll with the Changes" remains as chilling as ever. However, as a longtime Speedwagon aficionado, I gleefully would have ponied-up an additional surcharge to hear a song or two from the post-Richrath era, as 1996's Building the Bridge and Find Your Own Way Home from 2007, measure up easily against such acknowledged and much-loved records as REO and Tuna Fish.
And with Cronin's signature reminder to "always keep 'Ridin' the Storm Out' people," the REO Speedwagon juggernaut came to a dynamic conclusion. Hey, wait a second - could it be? Yes, for the first time in 30+ years, "157 Riverside Avenue" was absent from the set. But fortunately, I have a great therapist who's helping me to work through that. In sum, I laughed, I cried, I screamed, shouted and sang along. Heck, at one point during "Like You Do," I even took off my pants and danced! Gosh, I sure was relieved to have worn an extra layer of Depends. Kudos, kids -- see ya next year!
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