July 13, 2015

Florida's Finest! Thomas Wynn & The Believers @ DeBauchery

Brevard County Performance Debut.

I could not believe I'd not seen my favorite rising Florida band in almost 3 years. I realized this while I was talking with Thomas Wynn just before the band made their first ever Brevard County appearance at the club Debauchery in downtown Melbourne at the end of June.

I'd first seen this kick ass band about 4 1/2 years ago when they stole (and won) a killer battle of the bands at the Hard Rock Live in Orlando. They were on fire that night, and I instantly became a huge fan.

About a year later I attended the band's "Brother & Sisters" CD release party @ Orlando's Back Booth the week of my birthday in January '12. It was rockin' packed house for an energized performance. The Cd remains one of my favorites, and I play tracks regularly on the radio show I host.

On this particular Saturday evening in downtown Melbourne, Mr.Wynn & crew proved to me that this band is just as bad ass as ever (if not badder), performing 3 sets for the new Brevard blood. Unfortunately I could only stay for two sets, but in the few hours I was there the crowd steadily grew. Most out of their sets dancing and lovin' the band.

The difference for me this time seeing them live, was the other two times I'd seen them the were showcasing their original material. Although this time there were plenty of those, their were some really great covers too. Songs like: Up on Cripple Creek; Into The Mystic; The Shape I'm In, and Gypsy Queen. Nailing the essence of all those great tunes, yet making them distinctly Believers tunes.   

Thomas is not only great songwriter & guitarist (playing my favorite model, the Gibson SG) , he's also an amazing singer. So is Olivia, who sings by her big brother's side. My god, when these two sing, whether harmonizing quietly on a ballad, or rockin' at the top of their lungs, they sound incredible together. Goosebumps time.

The reason I said I thought the band might even be better, is along with the blistering harmonica of Chris Bell, the solid drums and bass of Ryan Miranda & Dave Wagner, there is a new edition to the band: the very talented Colin Fei on keyboards. This is straight forward All American rock & rock band with a folk heart, and a Southern soul. (Thomas and Olivia being direct decedents of original Southern Rock Royalty, after all...their father was the original drummer for the legendary band COWBOY, Capricorn Records label mates of the Allman Bros. 

I imagine Thomas Wynn & The Believers (along with peers like Blackberry Smoke) carrying on the legacy of the likes of Allman Brothers; Mountain; Tom Petty; The Rossington Collins Band; Beck Bogart & Appice; The Black Crowes, Bonnie Raitt, Bonnie Bramblett, and of course Cowboy...with a bit of a contemporary edge. 


The covers that night were great, but I wanted to hear the band's original tunes. It's really hard to pick my favorite tunes from the Brothers & Sisters CD, but along with the covers performed, and some new tunes, the band played several that I play frequently on "On The FlipSide" -  the powerful ballad(?) I Don't Regret, and the epic, growling, gritty guitar howler Black November. 

We were trying to arrange to have Thomas & Olivia in the studio @ WFIT prior to this gig, but being their first time in this area, they decided their time that day may be best used focusing on the gig. Which is good because it looks like they will be coming back to town soon, and I'm promised they will come to the studio, and we'll do something special then.

Thomas tells me that he and Olivia have a CD, and tour of just the two of them coming in a few months, than hopefully soon to be followed by a new Believers disc...and of course lots more live gigs!

Check out the Band!
And please tune into "ON THE FLIPSIDE" w/ Java John:
Saturdays @ 6pm on WFIT 89.5fm, Public Radio for Melbourne Florida
Listen Online: www.wfit.org 

March 09, 2015

Another Park...Another Sunday....

"Cocoa Party In The Park"
Benefit for The Boys & Girls Clubs

(click on photos to enlarge, and scroll thru)

Sunday March 1st, in Riverfront Park, Cocoa Village, Florida was a night I'd been waiting a long time for! When my wife Jennifer and I opened Kool Beanz in Cocoa Village it was at about the same time the park opened, and we always dreamed of bringing some big name concerts there, so I'm  glad it's happening. There have recently been some some bigger and bigger named bands, but none as big as the Doobie Brothers!

I got there late, and was backstage just as Vintage were leaving the stage. I heard two or three of their songs walking up, and they sounded great as ever! I can't believe it's been 10 years since I booked those (then) 15 & 16 year olds for a Jerry Daze concert. Unfortunately I missed the opening band Pidjin completely. But I am hearing great things about them! 

Then the event's coordinator Mike Arnold (of the Cocoa Rotary Club) took the stage with members of the Boy's & Girls Club of Brevard, and presented them with an initial check of $25,000 from the Rotary Club (and all the good folks who bought tickets! The Cocoa Rotary Club did a great job with this event, and they deserve many thanks. 

As the sun went down, and The Doobie Brothers took the stage with their cover of The Byrd's "Jesus is Just Alright with Me", I was transported back 40 years. Back 40 years, and just 5 minutes away, across the Indian River, back to hanging out with the gang at the end of Rivercliff Ln in Merritt Island, at 'the circle'. Hangin' many nights, especially weekends with George, Diane, Mickey, Pat, Tucker, Timmy, Mark, and others.

I was particular I was thinking of Mark Dickson. Mark was the biggest Doobie Brothers fan I had ever known. I'll never forget. A truly dedicated fan! He was a little older than the rest of us, so he had a car. He was always parked at the circle, and he always had Doobie Brothers' 8 track tapes playing!. Mark sadly died very young by crashing his car due to an Epileptic seizure. 
If I may, I'd like to dedicate this gig to Mark. 

The Hubert Humphrey Bridge in the background. 

 After "Jesus is Just Alright" (which I just found out was a cover of the Byrd's cover of the Art Reynolds Singers song), the band ripped into "Rockin' Down the Highway" then "Take Me in Your Arms (Rock Me)", "Depending on You", and my new favorite, long forgot about Doobie classic "Clear as the Driven Snow". That's the one I wanted to hear tonight! That and "Another Park, Another Sunday"...which, sadly they didn't play. 

 The band was great! 1970's members Tom Johnston, Partick Simmons, and (multi-instrumentalist) John McFee were all still at the top of their game, as was recently added member John Cowan. Yeah, that John Cowan, from the New Grass Revival. Awesome.

The Brothers had lots of great songs left in the show, including and amazing "South City Midnight Lady", "Eyes of Silver", (a Sonny Boy Williamson cover) "Don't Start Me Talkin'" and "Black Water". Then they kicked it up a few notches and ended the set with "Long Train Runnin'" and a smokin' "China Grove"! 


When the band came back for the encores, I went back down front as many did. As the Doobies played "Road Angel" from the classic "What Were Once Habits, are Now Vices" album, I crouched down, center stage, and got out my camera. As I did, I hit  the knee of they guy next to me with my elbow, I looked up to apologize, and it was my pal Rocky! Kool. He ended up with a setlist, and some guitar pics (as did I!).
The Doobie Brothers wrapped up their stay in Cooca Village with a tune from "Toulouse Street", the classic "Listen to The Music". EVERYONE was on their feet dancing! A beautiful night in Cocoa Village. Hope there are many partys in the parkmore to come!

Thank you Mike Arnold, 
The Rotary Club of Cocoa, 
and The Doobie Brothers for all your help, and hospitality!

The Doobie Brothers: www.doobiebros.com
Cocoa Rotary Club: www.cocoarotary.org/
Boys & Girls Club: www.bgccf.org 
Cocoa Party in the Park: www.cocoapartyinthepark.com