- Published on Thursday, 27 November 2014 17:34
Every year as Summer nears its bitter end, Chris Fest, the annual celebration of its namesake's birth, provides a late season bright spot of top notch local music and beer soaked fun, all for charity, friends, and good times. The man known to many simply as “Tice” annually presents a remarkable lineup of bands from all reaches of Western New York and beyond.
Hazily I recall the first time I attended this Niagara Falls rite of passage a few years back when it was held at the Brickyard in Lewiston. The moment I walked under the tent I remember thinking it was too good to be true. Perfect weather, amazing local musicians, and all the beer you could drink, deadly Strawberry Blonde. I met friends that day who would come to share this incredible quest we call All WNY Radio (the first time I ever saw Skat Man Jones, he was singing about sticking his chicken wing in your blue cheese while gesturing vulgarly – the stuff of legend). The band lineup blew me away and I was honored to be then and thereafter a special correspondent at Chris Fest. Unfortunately after taking some great photos of all the bands I proceeded to drop my camera off the back of a boat into Chautauqua Lake the next day.
In the years since that fateful day, the festival has grown and changed its home to Honey's in Niagara Falls, USA, near the 190 on the Boulevard, and home to an increasingly bizarre but delicious list of chicken wing flavors as well as an uncanny support for local music. I happily accepted the invitation from Tice to again cover the festival and made my way guitar and camera in hand.
So there it was I began my Chris Fest experience with Dark Eyes 55, a straight up hard rock band from Lockport, NY, led by Drew Richter and Aaron Anson, who were once kind enough to stop by the All WNY Radio studios during Anson's morally-victorious but ultimately doomed campaign for Mayor of Lockport. Dark Eyes 55 brings enormous presence and energy to their show, and even with the bright August sun in their eyes, they stayed true to form. Drew is a powerhouse vocalist with tremendous range, and as if that wasn't enough he kept the performance very interesting - doing calisthenics on stage and sometimes climbing large stacks of PA speakers - challenging fate, the gods, Nick Wallenda, et al.
Next up was the captivating and silky smooth Zak Ward, formerly of Son of the Sun and currently tearing it up as a solo artist. Zak's sound and stage presence is so polished and yet his demeanor so polite and unassuming, he instantly brought the crowd to attention as he introduced himself as Peter Heuer (more on that particular gentleman later) and then laid on some good old fashioned vibes. Armed with only a guitar and harmonica, Zak filled out the stage and the room amply, and even threw in a crowd pleasing SOTS classic for good measure.
At this point it was my turn to perform – yikers! A true Gonzo journalist must perform in the show being covered, I've learned through the ages (side note: this is Noah's first story ever). But how do you follow the inimitable Zak Ward? I've watched Zak perform for years and have been awed each time. We welcomed him on the Noah's Ark Show so long ago it seems like the 1900's (of course they didn't have internet back then, kids). So what did I do? Long story short, I introduced myself as Zak Ward, told weird stories about how I was a time traveler from the 1840s or 1850s, was handed many, many beers, and played some new stuff and some celebrated oldies from Dream American (released in May). Also I borrowed Zak's telephone cord and espoused the virtues of cheap oil changes (only $16.99 OMG!!!).
Leaving the stage, I learned the following act had canceled due to a tragic illness concerning the grizzled throat of the cherished vocalist. These things do happen, and thankfully and most fortunately Tice was able to secure the services of Tapered Creek, a contemporary folk rock ensemble from Niagara Falls, made up for the day of three of their five members, Jillian Holody, Billy Fortier, and Chris Deuel. Vocally enchanting and disarmingly folksy, the band played an up tempo and groovy set. Acoustic guitar syncopation provided a nice clean backdrop for their powerful vocal harmonies.
At this point I had yet to hang out in the green room, so I headed in to make a sandwich. Pickings were slim, and everyone seemed mostly concerned with separating the different colors of M&Ms. After devouring some of the green ones, I ran into the gentle and scholarly Peter Heuer, of Zak Ward and Stinky Pete fame, and also the frontman of the powerful No Wounded Soldiers. Pete was kind enough to let me check out his newest darling baby Gibson, a gorgeous cherry red marvel, lightweight but with a deep almost spiritual chant like tone. Pete got the most out of his rig, using a dazzling array of effects anchored to a monstrous pedal board that he gracefully tapped throughout each song during the performance. I can't say enough about the rhythm section of this band either – barefoot and white shirt clad, the bassist and drummer Brent Feuz and Tom Filosofos, respectively, are constantly in the pocket, raising the intensity of each song into rollicking crescendos.
As the glorious Summer Sun set along the Boulevard (rendering my crappy camera useless), the legend of Whisky Reverb became manifest. Whisky Reverb is a band well known in the Falls, a town that embraced them in the very beginning, before the rest of Western New York caught on. Fronted by a three headed monster of diversely talented and captivating performers Jim Candytree, AJ Amherst, and Megan Brown, this night was a showcase of Whisky at their best. I was totally blown away by how their sound has grown while maintaining the unique identity they've forged for themselves over the years. Each member perfectly complements the other, sharing the lead, passing the torch, and igniting the spirit of the night. Shaman AJ called upon the Great Soul to give the capacity crowd an experience they would remember, while Scotty Harrington and Tony Bales kept the rhythm humming along in lock step. Rag Love rained upon us all as Candytree and Brown harmonized beautifully and new additions Mike Cassidy and Wade Benford added their own nicely fitting pieces to the puzzle. The stage presence and musicality of Whisky Reverb is unmatched in Western New York. As I left the Rag Family to hunt down a late night snack, I felt nothing but gratitude for a fantastic night at Chris Fest X.
To see all of Noah's pictures from CFX, check out the All WNY Radio facebook page.
To hear samples of the days performances, check out Noah's podcast at allwnyradio.com.
- Published on Monday, 17 November 2014 20:12
Skat, Buff, and the Don talk about the upcoming WWE PPV Survivor Series, last week's raw, Wrastling, Sluts, Firetrucks, Istanbul (not Constantinople) and Rando Callrissian....
- Published on Monday, 17 November 2014 20:07
well Skat aint here so.....fuck it
- Published on Monday, 17 November 2014 20:02
Yowza, Yowza, Yowza,
Tonight on the show, Ben is back bitches! He's here to talk all about Buffalo, music, substances, and everything else we could think about!