Saturday, August 23, 2014

Cheap Thrill - Summer's Last Blast August 22, 2014

The end of summer can be a depressing time for many.  While the end of summer signals the end of vacations, and many outdoor recreational events, it also can be the start of many great things.  The end of summer signals students of all ages going back to school, the start of football and the impending MLB playoffs and it also allows the opportunity to get in a "Cheap Thrill" or two in.

Courtesy of Scott Thomas
Dubuque, Iowa is the home to a small two day festival called "Summer's Last Blast."  The name is emblematic of exactly what it sounds like, one big party.  Summer's Last Blast is two days of outdoor music, dancing, eating and simply fun.  Over the two days of August 22 - 23 2014 "Blast-goers" are exposed to great local food, some local bands and a band named "Cheap Thrill." 

Cheap Thrill is a band made up of some excellent musicians from "Cinderella," "Collective Soul,"Staind," and "Devil City Angels."  The founding members of the band are Eric Brittingham (Cinderella) and Brandon Gibbs (Devil City Angels) and they are joined by special guests Joel Kosche (Collective Soul) and Sal Giancarelli (Staind).  What Brittingham brings to the table is not only years of experience on bass, he brings the sound of Cinderella a band he has been part of since it first began.  His achievements within Cinderella, a band that is arguably one of the most important hard rock bands of their era, are incredible.  While Brittingham has the music of Cinderella engrained in his musical DNA he is the consummate professional and he displays that on his ability to perform the music of the other bands that they play during their set impeccably.  He demonstrates professionalism, excitement, humor and stage presence that should be a template used by anyone in the craft.

Fans of hard rock should understand why Joel Kosche and Sal Giancarelli are called special guests.  Both men are excellent musicians (Kosche - guitar and Giancarelli - drums) and have been part and parcel of two bands that are superior to many of their modern contemporaries.  Kosche is one heck of a great talent, and watching him on stage is a treat.  He is as demonstrative as any performer I have ever seen at lead guitar.  He has excellent stage presence and his hold on the music he performs is incredible.  Its really fun to watch a performer play music they played with another band (Kosche was a member of Collective Soul 2001 - 2014) because it adds that little extra flavor that only they can impart.

Drummers are an interesting breed.  Drummers are the backbone of any band as they have to keep the beat and keep it strong.  While knowing the music of one band can be daunting Giancarelli has to know the music of several and he is excellent at it.  Within the darkness that can fill the music of a band that some would consider alternative metal (Staind), lies a band that has had number one hits in the genres of Alternative AND Rock proving the capabilities of such a great performer as Giancarelli.

Brandon Gibbs (L) - James White (R)
© 2014
Frontmen are a special breed of performer.  They have to be charismatic, great performers, and they must command the stage while being the focus of the stage.  Brandon Gibbs IS that man in Cheap Thrill.  While Gibbs is all of those things he is much, much more.  Much like the other performers I have already mentioned Gibbs has a role unlike the others.  To describe Gibbs one could say that he is the engine that powers the band.  Add to the formula the fact that Gibbs also plays guitar on every song, he is also charged with the task of keeping the crowd moving inside the performance itself.

As I mentioned earlier Gibbs and Brittingham are founding members of Cheap Thrill and they are proud to announce another project they have formed called "Devil City Angels."  Rounding out DCA are some other excellent musicians that include more rock royalty: Rikki Rockett - drums (Poison) and Tracii Guns - guitar (LA Guns).  Think of the roots that this band has for a moment, its really scary (in a good way).  Brittingham, Rockett and Guns have been / are members of three bands that were the foundation of hard rock ("hair metal" if you will) and are three of the greatest talents of their genre.  Its exciting to think that this band will be performing original music and based on the little taste the attendees of "Summer's Last Blast" were given with the performance of one of the new songs this band may achieve incredible success quickly.

Inside Devil City Angels will be a large venue band that can open, appear or headline ANY show or festival.  Its impressive when you look at this band and the performers that are merging and you think how perfectly the fit.  I would be hard pressed to come up with a band that can write music better, as the number of number one hits that these men have created is terrifying.  Performing that music would fit into a similar category for that matter.  Guns is a beast at guitar and his resume' includes LA Guns and Guns 'n' Roses (two bands no one has ever heard of before right?) and Rockett has been the drummer for Poison since its inception.

These four men have another advantage from nearly every new band today, they know how to deal with huge personalities.  Gibbs is one of the nicest people I have met in music today.  His calming, steady presence will act as a binder that will allow for continuity and focus.  Rockett has been part of a band (Poison) that features massive personalities (Bret Michaels and CC Deville) and the experience of Guns makes him another anchor.  With Brittingham at bass the band has an unbreakable backbone and when coupled with the other three performers this band will flat out rock!  I can't wait to see this band AND I can't wait to hear their new record!

Summer's Last Blast opened up the Town Clock Plaza in Dubuque, Iowa on August 22nd, 2014 to one heck of an amazing "blast."  Despite the heat and humidity a gentle breeze began to form as Cheap Thrill took the stage.  Granted the breeze came from the fist pounding and dancing of the denizens that flocked to the rumbling of the music at the stage.  Cheap Thrill came prepared with a level of energy that only great performers can.  With the formation of the band "Devil City Angels" one might think that Cheap Thrill might melt away like an ice cube on the concrete street that surrounded the Town Clock Plaza last night but don't worry about that happening any time soon.

The fan base that Cheap Thrill has amassed all over the country and the love for their fans they will be back.  Gibbs, Brittingham and their "Special Guests" will be coming back to a venue near you and get ready for for the rumble that lies just beyond the horizon.  That rumble is the sound made by the Devil City Angels, they'll be coming to a city near you with an attitude only afforded to rock royalty.  Hold on tight, its going to be a fun ride.

Great job as always!

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