By Brian M. Howle
There are some things about life that are just universal. With the current state of the nation – nay, the world – combined with a hotter ‘n hell/back-to-back packed tropical storm summer here in the south, those of us here along the shores of Shangri la collectively and thankfully welcome the cooler temps that the advent of Fall has brought to bear upon us. Cool, as they say, is good.
That being the case, it’s about to get cool as grits along the Grand Strand.
After a somewhat quiet summer of music tours, things are about to change in a wonderfully major way as three iconic musical powers – each unique and totally different from each other but equally capable of burning down the stage to the delight of ecstatically frenzied fans – ramp up what promises to be a stellar fall and winter season of tours at House Of Blues in North Myrtle Beach. Here’s what we have to look forward to over the next couple of weeks.
An Evening with Trey Anastasio Band
Amongst the faithful who like their rock served up with a healthy helping of long, seemingly meandering free-form jams, there are but a few select names that will bring out the kids in droves. And anyone who knows the genre has a top 3 that will inevitably include Phish, and in doing so, automatically takes their creative and spiritual leader to the altar of grooviness – and that leader is Trey Anastasio.
Trey Anastasio Band hits the road this winter for an Acoustic & Electric Tour starting Feb 18th at the State Theatre in Portland, ME and ending at the Fox Theater in Oakland, CA on March 5th marking the first TAB dates on the west coast since Trey reunited the Classic TAB lineup in 2008. The lineup will once again feature Natalie Cressman (trombone and vocals), Jennifer Hartswick (trumpet and vocals), Russ Lawton (drums), Tony Markellis (bass and vocals), Ray Paczkowski (keyboards) and Russell Remington (tenor saxophone and flute). The show features a full solo acoustic set from Trey along with a full electric set marking the first time that Trey has toured in this format since 1999.
Trey’s band had it roots in his brother-in-law’s Vermont nightclub, Higher Ground. On April 17, 1998, for the second show in the club’s existence, Anastasio put together a band of local Vermont musicians for a one time performance under the name Eight Foot Fluorescent Tubes. Among the five musicians onstage with Trey that evening were drummer Russ Lawton and bassist Tony Markellis. They debuted material that night that became part of the repertoire of both Phish and Anastasio’s solo career.
While active, his bands did not officially have a name. Fans commonly referred to them as Trey Anastasio Band, or TAB for short.
When Phish hit the scene somewhere between 1998 and their debut 2000 album, Farmhouse. Their touring was relentless, and with the signature never-ending sets and jams they quickly developed a huge following of followers. Phish went on hiatus in 2000; Anastasio rolled on with a series of projects and stayed typically busy. Phish announced their reunion in 2002; but in the summer of 2004 they announced their final tour. The band played their final incarnation (to date) in September at the Austin City Limits Music Festival.
In the spring of 2005, Anastasio introduced a new backing band, 70 Volt Parade.
In 2006, it was renamed Trey Anastasio Band.
He has continued to tour and drop in on various gigs and festivals, and is widely recognized as one of the best free-flow jam musicians on the planet. And his more traditional, “structured” stuff ain’t bad, either.
Oh yes, be one of the many happy chilluns that will be chillaxin’ and dancing the happy dance with the Trey Anastasio Band in a memorable evening on Friday, October 7. Doors open 8:00 p.m. Tickets are $39.50 Advance.
In the formative days of what became known as FM rock, there are many names bandied about as the obligatory “givens.” However, there are but a select few whose sound is so unique, so completely original, one only need hear – at most – 3 or 4 notes on a guitar, or 3 or 4 vocalizations to immediately recognize the artist.
Oh yes – possibly in a category all his own, Steve Miller defined what Leo Fender imagined his guitar should sound like. And just to show off, his voice is as identifiable as any to ever grace a recording device of any era.
The arrival of Miller’s infectious guitar-virtuoso riffs signaled the beginning of one of rock’s greatest bodies of work. His first album was released in 1968, and his band featured another guy you may have heard of – Boz Scaggs, on guitar and vocals. Subsequent works over the years have included contributions from the likes of Lee Michaels, Paul McCartney, Lonnie Turner, Les Dudek, Norton Buffalo, James Cotton, John McFee, Joachim Young, Kenny G, and Joe Satriani.
Beginning with 1973’s The Joker, his signature sound struck a chord, so to speak, with audiences around the globe – but he simply exploded onto the American scene as a favorite son in the tradition of Hendrix, Fogerty, and Springsteen.
The Chicago phenom continued to burn his name into legend with the follow-up release, 1976’s Fly Like An Eagle. Hard to convey to younger listeners how incredibly huge this album was. It dominated FM radio, college dorms and 8-tracks in automobiles nearly as much as Pink Floyd’s Dark Side of the Moon.
(Personal Note: This album, combined with Linda Ronstadt’s Hasten Down the Wind, ”spoke” to me and was the impetus that brought me to Myrtle Beach.)
The Steve Miller Band is one of the biggest selling recording, touring and catalog artists of all time, having sold more than 50 million albums worldwide throughout its career. SMB’s Greatest Hits 74-78 compilation reached prestigious Diamond Award certification with sales of more than 13 million units sold.
Recently, The Steve Miller Band and Miller’s new imprint Space Cowboy Records announced a worldwide partnership with Roadrunner/Loud & Proud Records. Recorded at film producer George Lucas’ infamous studios at Skywalker Ranch, BINGO! is the band’s first studio album in 17 years. A true return to Miller’s roots, BINGO! echoes his early years in the Chicago music scene and features carefully chosen and crafted tracks performed in distinctive Steve Miller Band fashion.
Early reaction from fans and industry insiders are comparing the album to Miller’s 1968 masterpiece SAILOR. BINGO!, is the first of two albums that were recorded together as a complete body of work, the second of which will be offered next year via the new label partnership.
These recordings feature longtime Steve Miller Band member Norton Buffalo, who sadly passed away in 2009. Norton began his tenure with Miller on 1977’s Book of Dreams.
Listen up: This is Steve Miller’s first – and most likely only – appearance at House of Blues, so don’t miss what will be a seminal show for the ages on Saturday, October 8. Doors open 7:300 p.m. Tickets are $57.50 Advance; $60.50 Day of Show.
Styx with The Dirty Guv’nahs
Spawned from a suburban Chicago basement in the early ‘70s, Styx would eventually transform into the virtual arena rock prototype by the late ‘70s and early ‘80s, due to a fondness for big rockers and soaring power ballads. The band – founded by brothers Chuck and John Panozzo – was heavily influenced by lead vocalist and keyboard wiz Dennis DeYoung, who wrote almost all of the lyrics along with most of the music. James Young’s distinctive guitar style complimented the style, along with guitarist John Curulewski.
The band released four albums with great potential but modest success. On the eve of the tour in support of 1975’s Equinox, original guitarist John Curulewski abruptly left the band, and was replaced by Tommy Shaw. Shaw proved to be the missing piece of the puzzle for Styx, as most of their subsequent releases throughout the late ‘70s earned at least platinum certification (1976’s Crystal Ball, 1977’s The Grand Illusion, 1978’s Pieces of Eight, and 1979’s Cornerstone), and spawned such hit singles and classic rock radio standards as “Come Sail Away,” “Renegade,” “Blue Collar Man” and “Fooling Yourself.”
1981’s Paradise Theater became Styx’s biggest hit of their career (selling over three million copies in a three-year period), as they became one of the U.S. top rock acts due to such big hit singles as “Too Much Time on My Hands”. It also marked the first time in history that a band released four consecutive triple-platinum albums.
Styx went on hiatus until a full-on reunion tour in 1996. But drummer John Panozzo fell seriously ill at the time, which prevented him from joining the proceedings — as he passed away in July of the same year.
Although grief-stricken, Styx persevered with new drummer Todd Sucherman taking the place of Panozzo, as the Styx reunion tour became a surprise sold-out success, resulting in a whole new generation of rock fans being introduced to the grandiose sounds of Styx.
Now comprised of original members Tommy Shaw and James “JY” Young on guitars/vocals, along with Lawrence Gowan on keys and lead vocals, Todd Sucherman on drums and Ricky Phillips on bass (along with the occasional surprise appearance by original bassist Chuck Panozzo), Styx continues to conquer the planet, one venue at a time.
Oh, and in the “Damn! It just gets even better!” category, you’ll want to make sure to get there early to catch opening band The Dirty Guv’nahs, who are wildly billed as one of the hottest, equally original sounding bands to roll out in quite some time. They’re on this tour in a support role for a reason, kids: make that ticket give you every penny’s worth and be sure to hear these boys as they whet your appetite for Styx.
The stage at House Of Blue was made for a show like this, with Styx rocking out our own Paradise on Friday, October 14. Doors open 8:00 p.m. Tickets are $32.00 Advance; $35.00 Day of Show.
Don’t get too complacent after these three shows, though. Upcoming shows include J. Cole, O.A.R., Colbie Caillat, Anthrax, Testament, Queensrÿche, Los Lonely Boys, Josh Turner and more.
Like I said, it’s about to get cool as grits along the Grand Strand.
For info on all shows, call 843-272-3000; for tickets call 1-877-598-8497; or visit http://www.livenation.com .
This article was also published in Alternatives NewsMagazine and Coast Magazine, October 6 – 22, 2011 Issue.