December 7, 2015 Whitford St. Holmes Rock Out In Amityville, NY 11-21-15
There is a common phrase that most people are surely familiar with, that phrase is a match made in heaven. When Aerosmith’s guitarist Brad Whitford and Vocalist/Guitarist Derek St. Holmes of Ted Nugent fame teamed up in 1980, Rock lovers knew they were witnessing a new musical project that gave the phrase a whole new meaning. Originally joined by Bassist Dave Hewitt and Drummer Steve Pace, the band calling themselves Whitford St. Holmes released their Whiteford/St. Holmes album in 1981, toured a bit, but sadly would disband just a couple of years later. With Whitford leaving to join Aerosmith’s Joe Perry in his band, St Holmes continued to work off and on again with Ted Nugent. A somewhat overlooked footnote in Rock-n-Roll history, to many’s surprise in 2015, Whitford and Holmes joined forces again for a reunion tour and with plans for an album simply titled REUNION, thus striking the industry of dedicated fans.
Much like their original touring over three decades ago, Whitford St. Holmes took to the road to play more intimate venues and give their followers even more incentive to come out, REUNION was actually available by its official release only at the shows. Also, those who were willing to splurge on the VIP tickets also had the chance to go backstage during the night’s show to meet the two Rock legends one on one, pose for photos, and leave with autographed merchandise. Furthermore, while Whitford and St. Holmes alone make a must see duo, rounding out the band is Buck Johnson (keyboards, vocals) of Aerosmith fame, Troy Luccketta (drums) of Tesla, and Nashville’s well-known Chopper Anderson (bass). Together, the five men set their sights on Amityville’s Revolution Bar & Music Hall for one of the final shows on their 2015 REUNION Tour scheduled on Saturday, November 21st, for a night no one would forget.
As concert goers warmed up from the cold November night, local act Captain to Copilot readied themselves at the stage. Based out of Lindenhurst, New York, Captain to Copilot came together in 2003 and is comprised of Chad Willems (guitar, vocals), Dan Cahill (guitar, vocals), Jeff Frohman (bass), as well as Justin Willems (drums, nubiphone).
Opening with “Edge of Greatness,” the band quickly attracted people away from the bar across the dance-floor to come watch their set. Continuing with “Ten Times a Day” and “Broken Romance” did more to set the stage for the night. With Willems’ voice echoing throughout the building and guitar solos captivating the crowd, the band continued with “Angels To Go” and “Tomorrow Brings You Down.” The band rolled along with “In This Together” before closing with “Dirty 58” to a loud applause.
With the crowd now warmed up, The Blackfires began to set up their equipment to prepare for their set. With Audrey Cheggy (vocals) at the helm of the energetic New York City based Hard Rock five-piece, the Blackfires are a band that bring a Classic Rock feel to a modern era. Joining Cheggy are Guitarist Anthony Mullin, Guitarist Hector Marin, Bassist Grasebo Doe, and Drummer Joe Mitch, The Blackfires are a bit of an anomaly. With members from Spain, Russia, Uruguay, the UK, and New York City, the band is, in its own sense, an international one. With the release of 2012’s Live from the Cutting Room followed with 2014’s release of the single “Woman Walks,” the band is already proving to have a firm grasp of who they are and what they are capable of.
As fans who had purchased the VIP pass for the night lined up by the entrance to the backstage area for a chance to meet Whitford and St. Holmes, The Blackfires took to the stage with an energy that brought everyone a bit closer. Opening with “Can’t Get Over You,” Cheggy instantly shined with the charisma that has received him comparisons to the great Jon Bon Jovi. With fans screaming in approval, the band continued into “Overdose” as Cheggy, Mullin, Marin, as wll as Doe jumped around on stage, and Mitch kept the fast-paced beat going as he wailed away on the drums.
Going into “Envy” and “The Dead,” more attention was grabbed of those wandering around the room. As the dance floor filled, The Blackfires broke into “Leavin’ Town,” and each song built on the energy of the last, including “Primal Love.” After thanking those in attendance for coming out, The Blackfies closed with “Bad Love” and received a warm reception. Fans looking for a current band that harkens back to one of Rock’s strongest eras need to look no further than The Blackfires.
As the Blackfires closed out their set and VIP fans finished their meet and greets with the Whitford and St. Holmes, the stage crew began setting up for the headling act. Many quickly crowded the dance floor to get as close to the stage as they could before the set began. As the lights dimmed, signifying the start of the set, the audience roared with excitement. Desiring to showcase their upcoming album, the band immediately proved why the new record is a must-have for any Rock fan as they opened with “Shake It.” While the track was new to all in attendance, it did not stop them from dancing along with infectious riffs and exciting energy. As the song came to an end, St. Holmes greeted the crowd and thanked everyone for coming out. Letting everyone know that the band was excited to bring lots of their new songs to the masses, they went into another newbie, “Rock All Day.”
Spotlighting REUNION more, they continued with “Hot For You,” “Tender is the Night,” and “Hell Is on Fire.” Each track building on the last, the set list continued to convey a message that this reunion was one that would not only bring back great hits, but give birth to new masterpieces as well. For long time followers, Whitford and St. Holmes did not disappoint as they continued with “Sharpshooter” off their self-titled album. From there on, the oldies continued with “Shy Away” as many sang along along in the crowd.
Mixing things up, and keeping the night interesting, they turned attention to back to newer material with “Gotta Keep on Movin’.” Through each song played, the band wowed the audience with quick guitar solos and amazing vocals. Slowing the show down a little, St. Holmes dedicated “Catch My Fall” to the ladies in the crowd, claiming it would be one of two tracks tonight specifically for the women. The group then revisited their debut album with “Whiskey Woman” before choosing to take their guitar riffs to the next level with a cover Jimi Hendrix’s “Red House.” Then “Shapes” was the next song to be introduced as the crowd began to see why they needed to pick up the REUNION album after the show concluded. Dedicating another song to the ladies in the crowd, St. Holmes pointed to a beautiful girl up front, winked, and said “This is for you,” before the band played “Every Morning.” Exciting the overall mood of the room, many moved and grooved to the track.
Paying tributes to the roots of both Whitford and St. Holmes, the group of five closed the set with four carefully chosen cover songs. The first of four was Ted Nugent’s “Hey Baby,” which long time Nugent fans were quick to recognize and sing along with. Perhaps the biggest surprise of the night came next as Johnson left from behind his keyboard to join center stage as they played Aerosmith’s “Last Child.” As the band rocked out behind him, Johnson’s powerful voice commanded the attention of all as the singer could have left even Steven Tyler wide-mouthed in amazement. As Johnson accepted a loud applause and returned to his keyboard, the band played “Train Kept A-Rollin”. The track first introduced by Tiny Bradshaw in 1951 has seen many incarnations as its been passed through The Yardbirds, Led Zeppelin, and, of course, Aerosmith. This live version was something to behold as Whitford and St. Holmes remained in sync, sharing the stage through mind-blowing guitar solos and non-stop action. With one more trick up their sleeve, they broke into Ted Nugent’s “Stranglehold” before closing out the night with appreciation for those who came out to see their performance.
Whitford St. Holmes is a band that simply cannot be overlooked. With REUNION slated for a Spring 2016 release, it is a follow up over thirty years in the making. With that said, those who might have overlooked their debut self-titled album are strongly suggested to hunt it down. With no tour dates currently announced, 2016 looks to be a big year for the reincarnation of Whiteford St. Holmes, so look out.