Bands set to rock Smoke on the WaterWritten by Toledo Free Press Staff Writers | | firstname.lastname@example.org
Win a free night at Smoke on the Water — Ribs for the Red Cross and meet MiniKiss! One Toledo Free Press reader will win four tickets to the July 30 Smoke on the Water event, four VIP tent passes, four T-shirts, a meet-and-greet session with MiniKiss and a ribs dinner with a drink and two side dishes courtesy of Swanton’s Baldy-Q. To enter, visit the Toledo Free Press FaceBook page (www.facebook.com/ToledoFreePress) and post on our wall the name of your favorite Kiss song or a great rib sauce recipe by July 28. A winner will be chosen and notified by July 29.
Gin Blossoms promises to bring its biggest hits
The Gin Blossoms want to be Toledo’s “soundtrack” to its Saturday night on July 31.
“You can have a night full of fun and frivolity,” said Jesse Valenzuela, guitarist for the band. “The best part is it’s on the weekend so you can have a few drinks and not go to work the next day.”
The early 1990s alternative rock band, composed of Robin Wilson, lead vocals, Valenzuela, guitar, Bill Leen, bass, and Scott Johnson, guitar, will perform at Columbia Gas of Ohio Smoke on the Water — Ribs for the Red Cross on July 31. The group is scheduled to take the stage at 8:45 p.m.
The Gin Blossoms are no strangers to playing at events that benefit a special cause, Valenzuela said during a telephone interview from the band’s tour bus. The group has played benefits for a variety of causes and tries to play a benefit for the children’s hospital in Phoenix every year. Additionally, the band is discussing playing an event protesting the new immigration law passed in their home state of Arizona, he said.
“Even though I don’t live there anymore I find that the law is tragically misplaced,” he said.
Fans of the Gin Blossoms’ popular hits, such as “Hey Jealousy,” “Found Out About You,” “Till I Hear From You” and “Follow You Down,” won’t be disappointed when the band plays at Smoke on the Water, Valenzuela said.
“I think [the audience is] there to hear the hits, and rightfully so. Sometimes they know and like the new music and I’m thankful for that, but we have to protect that legacy of Gin Blossoms — the hits are what fans expect and deserve,” he said.
In September the Gin Blossoms will release a new album, “ No Chocolate Cake.”
The album’s name is a rebellion against the denial of parents or people telling you, that you can’t have everything, can’t have more of something, like “no more chocolate cake,” Valenzuela said.
The majority of “No Chocolate Cake” was recorded without the band being in the studio together, Valenzuela said. Members of the band would record their part and send the work electronically to the next guy, he said.
“The record was cut in different places … After you graduate to a certain recording musicianship you don’t need to sit down and do it together,” Valenzuela said.
The band expects some of their friends from throughout the state to be at the Toledo show.
“For some reason we have a lot of good times in Ohio and meet a lot of people,” Valenzuela said.
Kentucky Headhunters add country flavor to Smoke
For Richard Young, guitarist and vocalist for the Kentucky Headhunters, music and family are inseparable.
The band began when he, his brother Fred Young and their cousins Anthony Kenney and Greg Martin began playing music together in an old house on the family farm that their grandmother let them use.
“I guess it was kind of foresight on her part to keep us out of trouble,” Richard said.
When each of the boys got their driver’s licenses, their first drive was always to that farmhouse, which most people called a shack.
They covered it with posters and album covers of their favorite rock groups, including Led Zeppelin.
“The posters on the wall are worth more than the house is,” Richard said.
His father, a teacher, always supported his son’s dream of being a musician.
“He never said, ‘Cut your hair, get a job,’” Richard said.
They called the group Itchy Brother.
During the next few decades, the band morphed into the Kentucky Headhunters, lost and gained members, won a Grammy, played more than 1,000 shows and sold more than 6 million albums.
The members married women they had known since high school. They have stayed married to the same women for their whole lives. Richard will celebrate his 30th anniversary in August.
In 1989, the group released “Pickin’ On Nashville,” which sold more than 2 million copies.
The band members developed close relationships by making music together for so long.
“These people are almost like spouses,” Richard said.
They make music part of their lifestyle.
“We get up every morning, drink coffee and listen to music,” he said.
Richard’s family still owns the farm where he grew up and began playing music. He said one evening a few years ago, the band played in Times Square; 24 hours later, he was back in Kentucky, beating hay on a tractor.
“We’ve lived a charmed life,” he said. “Don’t guess we’d change anything about it, really.”
Young’s son started a band, Black Stone Cherry, that practiced in the same old house and has a large following in Europe.
“It’s just a big family thing,” Richard said.
His son once told him, “Dad, the funniest thing is when we play in, like, London and places like Berlin; you see ’em coming up after the show at the back door with the bus, these old guys with gray hair and Headhunters shirts on.”
Richard said the Headhunters’ live shows present a heavier side of the band than their records. He described the group as a party band and said they have a huge following of bikers.
“If you want to see a good Headhunters show, sit in a lawn chair and relax,” he said. “And if you want to see a great Headhunters show, get up and get involved.”
The band — Greg Martin, Doug Phelps, Fred Young and Richard Young — will perform Aug. 1 at Smoke on the Water.
More Than Me ‘super stoked’
More Than Me, a pop/rock band from Buffalo, N.Y., will perform at this year’s Smoke on the Water — Ribs for the Red Cross.
More Than Me has been together for nine years. Ryan and Todd Doyle are brothers, who deliver the rhythm guitar, vocals and drums. Joey Nicastro is lead guitarist and vocalist and Justin Rizzo plays bass and sings.
Their unique sound allows them to play in diverse settings, no matter how small or large the venue. With more than 500 live performances, they are reaching millions of fans across the country.
“We’re actually super pumped about performing in Toledo to do the show with the Gin Blossoms. They’re good buddies of ours. We’re looking forward to sharing the stage with those guys again … it’ll be fun to perform in Toledo,” Ryan said.
More Than Me won the Ambassadors of Rock Battle Of The Bands 2010, where they performed at Hyde Park in London at Hard Rock Calling, opening on the main stage for Paul McCartney, Crosby, Stills & Nash and Elvis Costello.
“We were super stoked about winning the contest, competing against over 250 bands. We just got back from London, doing this event with Paul McCartney and it was pretty unbelievable, it was pretty surreal. We just kind of rallied together to get people to vote for us, and with hard work it finally paid off. To play on stage with the Beatles’ Paul McCartney with 40,000 people watching was amazing,” Ryan said.
“We met a ton of incredible musicians, it was so unreal, we were just so blown away. It is really cool. Paul starting singing ‘Hey Jude’ and I got to sing the ‘na,na’s.’ It was just amazing, taking in the whole experience,” he said.
The band has since performed in Milwaukee at the largest summer festival in the nation and other venues nationally. More Than Me has been touring the country for several years. They will be releasing their self-titled debut record in the fall.
The bands is scheduled to perform 5:15-6:30 p.m. on July 31.
Not your average Polka
The Polka Floyd Show gives British band Pink Floyd’s classic hits a Polish twist.
The group, which has performed for four years, “just sort of happened,” said guitarist and vocalist Ken Haas.
“I was playing ‘Comfortably Numb’ during a session one day and the guys joined right in. It was sort of funny. After that I started writing Pink Floyd songs to polka music,” he said.
Polka Floyd is excited to for MiniKiss July 30 at Columbia Gas Smoke on the Water Ribs for the Red Cross, Haas said. Polka Floyd is scheduled to play at 7 p.m.
The group plays Pink Floyd songs that span the group’s career, but at Smoke on the Water it will perform “Dark Side of the Moon,” Haas said.
Polka Floyd is comprised of Ken Haas, vocals and guitar, Eric Hite, accordion and vocals, Chris Zielinski, bass guitar and vocals, Penny Haas, electric piano, and Frankie Dramczyk, drums. Guest saxophone player Sammy Krall, of the New Machines, will join Polka Floyd onstage at Smoke on the Water, Haas said.
For more information about the band, visit www.polkafloyd.com.
Smoke on the Water is presented July 30-Aug. 1 at Promenade Park in Downtown Toledo. Admission is $5, children 12 and younger are free.
MiniKiss to smack Toledo at ribs event
Gene Simmons, “The Demon” of Kiss who breathes fire and spits blood, is an imposing figure. Imagine being 4 feet 4 inches tall and impersonating the bass player — right next to the
6-foot-6 inch rock god..
Joey Fatale of MiniKiss and his little people tribute bandmates took on the larger-than-life characters and performed with the legends for a Dr Pepper commercial that debuted during the Super Bowl.
“Oh, man, it was so cool. We did that commercial from 6 in the morning until midnight, and Gene, he’s a great guy. He actually sat with us. We had a really great conversation,” Fatale, who plays “mini-Gene,” said.
“I asked him, ‘Listen, I can’t help this, but about a half hour before I go on, I have to be alone, I have to be in my own world, and I can’t let anyone bother me.’
“And he said, ‘Joey, that’s exactly how I am; until this day, I’m the same way. I have to be in my own world, and I don’t want anyone to bother me because I get nervous.’ And he even said if you feel like that, that means you really care and you have a lot of love for what you’re doing. That was cool to hear that because what I’m doing means a lot — and it means a lot to him — so it was really great to know that.”
MiniKiss will perform at Smoke on the Water — Ribs for the Red Cross presented by Columbia Gas of Ohio at 8:45 p.m. July 30 in Promenade Park. The Polka Floyd Show will open at
7 p.m. Admission is $5 and free for children 12 and younger. Tickets are available in advance for $4 at Meijer.
“We do all Kiss things — the blood, the fire,” Fatale said. “And the past couple of years, we’ve also been doing a few ’80s songs — we do some Van Halen, Guns n’ Roses.”
“Me being little all my life, kids always stared at me,” Fatale said. “When I’m in that MiniKiss gear, at first people have that look to them, but then they come up and they love it. They love what we’re doing.”