Blog Entry, 09.05.16 •
Rally In The Alley - Medina, Ohio|
It blows our minds when we begin our summer stretch of shows then find ourselves here in Medina in what seems like a flash. We've been fortunate for the past several years to be included in their Labor Day celebration as one of the three top bands to pull a crowd for the event. The bigger stage, the better lighting and even better sound...this all helps to create the perfect rock 'n roll show.
Even with this show being outside we were checking the radar early in the week. Hot off the heels of our show in Canton two days earlier where the rain played a major role in keeping many people away we were counting on this show to get us back on track. Back on track was exactly what happened. We originally hoped to have a Canadian band open the show however, unforeseen circumstances prevented them from making the trip. So alternate arrangements were made and a different act was put in their place. By 8:30 PM the MR.SPEED Army was ready to go and we took the stage to a tremendous crowd. As has become customary for us the fans were shoulder to shoulder and from the stage all the way back to Sully's.
We gave it everything we had even with it being our 4th show in 8 days. We decided to put "Psycho Circus" back in as the opening track and removed "I Stole Your Love" to save as an alternate. Jim scorched the evening air with multiple balls of fire at the end of "Firehouse" and Andrew gave "God Of Thunder" an "ALIVE!" era kick in the ass with his solo. The highlight for me is seeing those fans that really know "Mainline" sing along with us. We know that you'd like to hear some of the deeper tracks from the KISS vault but we only have so much time at each show.
The show ended with the classic confetti storm and the fans didn't want to leave. Our merchandise tent was mobbed with those fans that wanted a little extra time and we met some super nice people. We love this event and the connection we get with the crowd. We'll hope to put Rally back on our calendar once again in 2017...only time will tell.
Blog Entry, 09.04.16 •
JD Legends - Franklin, Ohio|
Today provided another opportunity for us to take our show to a brand new audience. Over the years we've performed in and around the Dayton area but we've never been to Franklin, Ohio so we were pumped for the chance to show our stuff. We rolled into town by 2 PM and were greeted by a very energetic crew of local stage hands waiting for us. The tight quarters with which we had to maneuver our trailers were really the only obstacle during the load-in itself. The air was humid and the sun was blazing which made the conditions perfect for a hot night of rock 'n roll.
Unfortunately, about 90 minutes after we arrived the sky darkened and the wind began to swirl all around the stage area. We immediately began to cover our gear and move everything away from the edges of the stage to avoid potential damage knowing the skies were about to unload on us. Within minutes the winds became so strong and the rain was falling so fast that before we knew it our best efforts were being compromised once again by mother nature. So we sought refuge beneath anything that would provide shelter and waited it out. After about a 90-minute delay we were back on track and completing our sound check.
A Stone Temple Pilots cover band opened the show for us as the crowd swelled to well over 1000 fans. By the time we hit the stage our trepidation for what to expect was wiped away by the call and response of the Franklin KISS Army. I've said it before and it's so true that when the band and the crowd make that magical connection with a passion for music the feelings can be overwhelming and this show proved to be just that. From the opening number "I Stole Your Love" to "Calling Dr.Love" and even "Mainline" these fans were amazing and they provided the perfect antidote for anything that might have been ailing us.
Great emotion, amazing energy and the true spirit of rock 'n roll came alive in Franklin at JD Legends tonight. We can't wait to come back and do it all over again!
Blog Entry, 08.01.16 •
Streetsboro Family Days Festival|
Overcast, hot and humid...the perfect recipe for a rainstorm. That's exactly what we got just after loading in to the Streetsboro Family Days Festival on Saturday afternoon. But we've never shied away from a confrontation with Mother Nature...for the most part and this day would be no different. Sure the rain left everything muddy and damp but once we took the stage at 9:00 PM things would heat up quickly all over again.
We got things going with a short set consisting of "Deuce", "C'mon & Love Me", "Let Me Go, Rock & Roll" and a few others. At 9:30 PM there was a short fireworks display and at 9:45 PM we hit the stage again for a full 75-minute show that had everyone moving'. All of the classics were there including "Shout It Out Loud" and "God Of Thunder". We did drop "War Machine" and "Black Diamond" along with "I Was Made For Lovin' You" due to the short fireworks intermission. But the fans didn't seem to mind one bit. It's an amazing feeling for us to see the happiness on their faces with each and every song. Jim once again thrilled the crowd with multiple balls of flame at the end of "Firehouse". Joe's smoking guitar emitted an ear-piercing tone as he changed guitars to finish off "Shock Me". Absent was Andrew's drum solo in lieu of the album version of "God Of Thunder".
We were dripping with sweat at the show came to a close. We brought everyone to their feet saluting our service men and women along with all of the emergency personnel that keep us safe every day for "Rock And Roll All Nite". The confetti storm worked perfectly and capped off a hot and heavy set of classic KISS that won't be see in Streetsboro until they bring us back next year.
Next stop...just outside of Chicago in St.Charles, IL.
Blog Entry, 07.21.16 •
Bromeley Family Theater @ The University of Pittsburgh at Bradford - Bradford, PA|
It had been approximately 15 years since we had been anywhere near Bradford, PA (the last time was in Limestone, NY at the recently closed Rock 'N Rick's) and we were thrilled to be going back. This time we were unloading our show into the Bromeley Family Theater on the Bradford campus of the University of Pittsburgh. The venue was beautiful and offered us every comfort we could hope for. All of the staff at the venue were very accommodating and our stay there was nothing short of amazing.
The day didn't quite start off as planned. Upon loading in and setting up our show Joe realized that a key costume piece was accidentally left behind. Instead of panicking, everyone pitched in and began thinking of ways to get the item to the show in time. Before too long a plan was put into place and with the efforts of Joe's wife and Jim's girlfriend the item was soon in the dressing room and our focus became the show. What we found to be interesting was that we tend to feel that we have an awful lot to set up on each stage that we perform on. This stage however was enormous and our back line looked like it needed to work out a bit to fill up the stage dimensions. After sound check and a light dinner we began prepping for the show.
We met with a few fans just prior to taking the stage at 7:30. Earlier in the day I had been challenged to bring the crowd that would show up for the show to their feet, something that typically does not happen at shows in this theater. I was ready. Opening once again with "Psycho Circus" I could feel that the apprehension of the crowd was already slipping away. They were ready to rock. During "Firehouse" our foggers blew smoke high into the air and the beacon lights signaled the climactic end with Jim's fire-breathing antics. Once again, not one, not two, not even three bursts were enough. There would be four balls of fire from the lips of the Demon to delight the wildly cheering crowd, half of whom were on their feet. We pressed on. All of the highlights, all of the hits and at least one rare track brought the nearly 600 fans to their feet for the finale of "Rock And Roll All Nite".
After our last two shows which left us feeling as though we didn't quite have the shows that were wanted, this show proved otherwise. We played great and the reaction from the fans was our reward. Afterwards we met with quite a few of them in the lobby. It's always enjoyable for us to hear from and share KISS stories with those that are brave enough to approach us. I mean, many like to observe us from a far. Some may just want to have the show as their memory without any interaction while others can't seem to get enough. Whatever the reason we couldn't do what we do without them and we're grateful.
So thank you Bradford, you guys were amazing. Next stop...Springfield, Ohio and the Clark County Fair on Saturday.
Blog Entry, 07.09.16 •
California Palms Hotel - Austintown, Ohio|
Once again we found ourselves taking our show just east of Cleveland to Austintown, Ohio last Sunday evening. With the 4th of July holiday weekend in full swing we were ready to give this Youngstown suburb a dose of classic KISS. We arrived right around 3:30 PM and found an altar-like stage affixed to the rear parking lot of the hotel. Now I don't want the California Palms Hotel to be confused with that legendary one the Eagles sang about in 1976...it's not even close. The California Palms is trying to set itself apart on quite a few levels and offer "live" entertainment in the process.
So we laid our gear upon the stage and finished up with our sound check right around 6:00 PM. Fans had begun to arrive and grab their seats right around the same time as we disappeared into our fourth floor rooms to prep for the show. From our windows we could see the crowd grow larger as show time approached which was just before 9:00 PM. We split the show into two sets mainly for a local fireworks display that could be seen not too far off in the distance. Jim was once again up to his old tricks by spewing 4 bursts of flame from his mouth during the end of "Firehouse". Just to set the record straight we only ever ask him to do one. During the break I sat with a few fans, one of which was an original member of the Michael Stanley Band. I apologize for not catching or remembering his name as it was quite loud with the fireworks and music being played. We sat and compared notes on bands from both the Cleveland and Pittsburgh areas from the late '70's and early '80's. I found it interesting that he was a co-write on "He Can't Love You" by the Michael Stanley Band which is a favorite track of mine.
The second half of our show had a different energy level than that of the first. We threw in "Strutter" as a bonus track after numerous fans shouted out for it along with "Cold Gin". As the show drew to a close those that remained moved up close and helped us to end the show on a great note. The confetti canons worked effortlessly showering a continuous storm of confetti all over them to seal the show.
The Youngstown area has always been one of trepidation for us. However, I feel that we can build on this experience and look to return again in 2017 to build upon our reputation in the area and give the card carrying members of the KISS Army a great reason to feel they've got nothin' to lose by joining us.
Blog Entry, 06.19.16 •
Concerts Over The Valley - Brunswick, Ohio|
Another weekend, another show...or so it's beginning to seem. After continuous rain on Thursday it was a relief to wake up on Friday to beautiful, blue skies. Swirling winds accompanied the sky that we welcomed and would ultimately destroy our merchandise tent 2 hours before showtime. Without realizing that adding the back to our tent a strong wind picked it up and tore it apart right before our eyes. Thankfully no one was hurt and we quickly purchased another tent right away to replace it.
Having never been to this venue before but hearing a lot about it over time gave us a zealous feeling of what we might be a part of. However, when we arrived we discovered that the stage was much smaller than we were told it would be and the conditions with which to unload our gear were less than ideal. But as is always the case we would rise to the occasion and get the job done with minutes to spare before our show prep would begin. So as the sun slowly began to fall from the sky and the cars started to litter the parking lot we disappeared to begin our transformation.
Fast forward to 7:00 PM and we hit the stage. A crowd of well over 1000 fans were in attendance. Just under half of them had seen us before based on their response to my question early in the set. This is an event where fans bring their lawn chairs and sit on a hillside while the band performs on a wooden stage very reminiscent of a picnic shelter. We've never really fancied ourselves a "sit back and chill" type of band so 3 songs into the set we had an eager bunch of attendees leave their comfy confines and join us right in front of the stage. Of course this didn't sit well with those that remain seated but oh well...who goes to a rock show and sits down? At first there was apprehension as is usually the case but before too long the crowd was feeling good about themselves. So much so that I even had to extinguish a smoldering situation between two fans that somehow managed to upset each other during one of the songs. Thankfully the situation did not escalate and the show went on.
After a 30 minute break we continued with our second set as darkness enveloped the horizon and the stage resembled more of a typical environment for a rock show. We added "Strutter" and "Let Me Go, Rock 'N Roll" to satisfy their thirst for a few more songs and those led us up to the shows climax with "Rock And Roll All Nite". Even our confetti canons got in on the act spewing shreds of paper into the night sky. Gauging by the crowds response to our last song we once again won the war on Friday night in Brunswick. It certainly wasn't the most ideal of situations but we got the job done and proved to ourselves that no matter where there is a need for classic KISS rock 'n roll, we'll be ready to unload our show and give 'em what they're looking for.
Blog Entry, 06.11.16 •
The Lamp Theater|
The Lamp Theater opened its doors in August of 2015 through generous donations of time and grants. Walking into the venue I was taken by how intimate it is and what a treasure it is to a town such as Irwin, PA. These are the kinds of places that can offer an incredible vibe for bands of all genres and I felt proud to be able to put our show on its stage for this one night.
After a lengthy load-in and set up and can I mention the delay wasn't our fault, we were ready to go for our second of back-to-back shows. We used a small, unfinished room above the stage as our dressing room. The option presented to us was the basement of the pizza bar next door but the thought of sweating our brains out as we painted on our character designs was frighteningly unappealing. The doors opened at 7:00 PM and by 8:00 PM we had somewhere close to 200 of the 305 seats full. Sure you could argue that a crowd of this size may not have been worth the trouble but you could also argue that good things come in small packages.
Fortunately for us, this small crowd came with a big dose of emotion and enthusiasm. We were contracted to perform (2) 50-minute sets so we ended up dropping "I Was Made For Lovin' You" and "Firehouse" replacing it with "Christine 16". We used the short 20-minute break to just catch our breath, putting everything we had into the climax of the show. I'm sure that The Lamp had not seen a confetti storm with any of its previous events like the one we showered down upon everyone on this night. I feel that we're getting a good feel for our show and I'd like to consider adding an additional song before too long if possible. We met fans in the lobby afterwards. Some reminisced about seeing us 15 years ago. Others were seeing us for the very first time. We even received an offer to headline a local festival next year, provided the negotiations aren't one sided. By the time we hit mid-July I feel that we'll be firing on all cylinders. Strap yourself in...it's going to be a great ride until then.
Blog Entry, 06.10.16 •
Rock The Park|
Two years ago we first hit the Perici Stage for our initial Rock The Park performance and it was a good night. On Friday we took a better version of our tribute to KISS to the Perici Stage and kicked off their 2016 summer series. Hot off of our Bike Week performance the week before we had plenty of energy as we hit the stage just after 8:00 PM. It's always a bit nerve racking hoping that we get a crowd and by the looks of the turnout, a modest 600 fans showed up donning KISS t-shirts and some even in make up to celebrate KISS.
Nothing changed with our set list opening with "Psycho Circus" and we did manage to perform two songs that were left off of the set from the previous show. Those two songs were "Parasite" and "I Was Made For Lovin' You" which included an impromptu chorus by the Twinsburg/MR.SPEED Army as the song opened. As darkness fell around the stage it became more difficult for us to find faces beyond the stage with the lights in our eyes. But voices can't be silenced by the darkness and even through the last chorus of "Rock And Roll All Nite" the echoes of the fans singing along with us still resonate.
Before we left the stage we asked the crowd if we had served them proudly as a tribute to KISS...they responded unanimously that we had. The chant "MR.SPEED, MR.SPEED, MR.SPEED" began and I asked if they wanted us to return in 2017. There was no mistaking their devotion to us and if I were a betting man I'd say that there's a good chance that we'll return to once again rock the park next year. We set the bar for the remaining bands to reach...rock on Twinsburg!
Blog Entry, 06.05.16 •
Ohio Bike Week - Sandusky, Ohio|
Finally...our first show of 2016 was last night in downtown Sandusky, Ohio. Killer weather, bad ass bikes and 1500 rabid fans was exactly what the doctor ordered. It felt great for us to hit the stage at 10 PM and find so many KISS fans staring back at us. Many had never seen us before and always gives us enough of a reason to show them why we're there.
We opened the show with one of the two new tracks that we've worked up in our down time, 1998's "Psycho Circus". We had a little apprehension about opening with this track but once we cut loose with it the fans went crazy. There is no better feeling than when we get to see and feel the reaction to a song that we've worked on and added to our show. As "Firehouse" came to its climax Jim stepped to center stage with smoke billowing around him and his torch firmly at arms length. A few tense moments were followed by an orange burst of flames that rolled into the night air and extinguished them self into a cloud of smoke. Halfway through the show we debuted our second new track which first appeared on Hotter Than Hell back in 1974. The song was "Mainline" and much to our surprise there were quite a few fans in the crowd that knew the song and they lyrics too. That's worth noting as there are many times when we perform a lesser known track and we can see fans making up their own words as the song moves along. So even after the smoking guitar during "Shock Me" and the bottom heavy rumble of the blood solo during "God Of Thunder" we rolled through song after classic song. Fan favorites "Detroit Rock City", "Beth" and "Rock And Roll All Nite" finished out the set and the show in true MR.SPEED style. The confetti launchers worked perfectly last night and the crowd did more than show their appreciation for our first and aptly named kick ass show of the year.
We'd love to think that we would return to the Ohio Bike Week in 2017 but only time will tell. Until then we've got our sites set on Twinsburg, Ohio next Friday and the opening night of their Rock The Park series. It's been two years since we've been there but we're cocked and loaded for one rock and roll party...
Blog Entry, 04.24.16 •
NBA Playoffs - The Palace Of Auburn Hills, Detroit, MI|
Opportunities like this don't come along very often...or maybe they will from here on out. We put this together with the Detroit Pistons very quickly and were thrilled to be a part of the event. Even though we're based out of Cleveland and playing in Detroit we were still celebrating KISS for the fans in attendance. From the moment we arrived we were treated with the utmost respect and kindness by everyone associated with the Pistons and the Palace. There were close to a dozen stage hands to help us load in and get set up.
Our accommodations during the game were amazing. You can't beat a suite at center court for an experience like this but that's what they gave us. It also doubled as our dressing room. So periodically during the pre-game and even the game itself we performed three different KISS classics. Those songs were "Detroit Rock City"..."Rock And Roll All Nite" and "Shout It Out Loud". Honestly it was an amazing feeling to know that we were rocking for KISS in front of over 18,000 fans. Maybe many of them weren't there to see us but there was no denying that they heard us when we played.
Even a few Cleveland fans made their way to our section of the arena and told us that they had seen us before, some multiple times which made us feel great. As the game came to an end we loaded out and brought the show back home. This was really an experience that none of us will ever forget. We want to thank everyone from the security staff that kept us safe to the sound crew that made it all so easy to rock out and everyone else in between that gave us this shot...YOU ALL ROCK!