Today woke me up with the most beautiful blue sky and sun. A perfect way to start the final day of the FIRST VALLARTA-NAYARIT CLASSIC ROCK FESTIVAL. Couldn’t ask for more than this especially when you’re at a stunning venue on the beach right next to the Hard Rock Resort in Nuevo Vallarta.
I entered the venue for the last time with excitement for the coming days lineup. But also with a bit of sadness because it was the final day of the Festival. They were just finishing with tuning the sound system so the All Star House Band could begin the day’s festivities. I also could see that the attendance had increased over the first 2 days. The atmosphere truly felt more electric with anticipation. That’s a very good sign!
The All Star House Band members included Elliot Easton (The Cars – guitar), Kenny Lee Lewis (Steve Miller Band – bass), Billy Burnette (Fleetwood Mac – guitar), Jeffrey “Skunk” Baxter (Doobie Brothers & Steely Dan – guitar), Kenny Aronoff (John Mellencamp, John Fogerty – drums), Curly Smith (Boston, Rick Springfield & John Waite – drums), Kenny Gradney (Little Feat – Bass), and, Teddy “ZigZag” Andreadis (Guns’n Roses & Alice Cooper – keyboards). Their performance got things off to a rockin time and many were already dancing in the isles this early in the day.
I can’t say enough about these wonderfully talented men and all around nice guys! Over the last few days, I’ve had the opportunity to get to know many of them and I feel my life has been enriched, as a result. Not in my wildest dreams did I ever think I’d have this opportunity but here I am rubbing elbows with legends and pictures to prove it. Wow!
The festival continued to have sound issues so rather than try and switch everything for a full new band, they decided to have all of the “single” artists that were going to be performing with the All Stars play one after the other. This meant that Craig Fuller (leader singer of Little Feat, founding member of Pure Prairie League) was next on stage. And, he certainly got everyone on their feet, if they weren’t already.
Micky Dolenz of the Monkees didn’t need an introduction. The crowd was beyond ecstatic that he took the stage. From the very first note he sang with the same enthusiasm that I remember from my youth. No disappointment at all. “Last Train to Clarksville”, “I’m a Believer”, “Pleasant Valley Sunday” and several more were appreciated and enjoyed by all.
Steve Augeri (former lead singer of Journey) was quite the presence on stage. His energetic performance of “Don’t Stop Believin”, “Lovin’, Touchin’, Squeezin’”, “Any Way You Want It”, brought the house to a frenzy!
With delight, Foghat brought the energy up a notch. Their “blues-rock” style gave a different edge to what had been playing before. This band has 8 gold records. The crowd rocked to “I Just Want to Make Love to You”, “Slow Ride”, “Third Time Lucky”, “Drivin’ Wheel” and “Stone Blue”. Current members are Roger Earl, Craig MacGregor, Bryan Bassett, and Charlie Huhn.
The Cincinnati, Ohio group of Pure Prairie League (PPL) is true American country rock. “Amie”, “Let Me Love You Tonight”, “If The Shoe Fits”, and “Still Right Here in My Heart”. Current members of the band are John David Call, Mike Reilly, Rick Schell and Donnie Lee Clark. I met them at the Opening Party and they are just some of the nicest guys.
And then can I say….Jefferson Starship is in the house??!!!!!!! Originally formed by several members of the Jefferson Airplane, this group needs no introduction. All you want them to do is play, baby play! And, they did!! “Nothing’s Gonna Stop Us Now”, “We Built This City”, “Sara”, “Ride the Tiger” and of course, “White Rabbit”. With one after another they brought the house down. No words to describe the energy that was flowing through this crowd. Everyone on their feet stomping, dancing, singing. Your body just hummed and shook from the music. Still with them are original members Paul Kantner and David Freiberg. Donny Baldwin, Chris Smith, Jude Gold, and the ever so fabulous Cathy Richardson! Phenominal!!
There was quite a lengthy pause before the last band finally showed up. Much speculation was going around…sound system issues, shut down for going over allowed time, or was the band MIA??Don’t know what the real reason was but they did finally show up in fine fanfare!
So rounding out the day and the absolute final band was Cheap Trick, formed in 1973 in Rockford, IL. Current members are Robin Zander, Rick Nielsen, Tom Petersson and Daxx Nielsen. They played with tons of energy in their hard rock fashion with “I Want You to Want Me”, “The Flame”, “Mighty Wings, “Surrender”, and more. The Japanese press has even gone so far as to call them the “American Beatles” in 2007 and the State of Illinois passed a resolution designating April 1 as Cheap Trick Day.
And so it all must come to an end…sadly. But with the hope that there will be a “next year”. I know the artists are all hoping there will a next year, as so many of them thoroughly enjoyed this venue at this time of year. It truly gave them a time to get away just before the holidays from the nasty winters many live in. But most importantly, it gave them a chance to see old friends in a relaxed, sunny, and congenial atmosphere. You could see how relaxed they were. The only real complaint I heard all weekend from them was the sound system issues. Could have been the fact of trying to have so many incredible bands/artists all in one fun packed weekend.
So, I want to say Thank You to Vallarta Daily News for giving me a chance to live the type of youth I didn’t get a chance at since I was married and raising my kids during those years. Yes, this old music loving broad never had been to a rock concert. But, as they say, the BEST was saved for last. Only I know that the flood gates have been opened up for me. So off I’ll go to see Santana in Guadalajara in March, 2015. Maybe I’ll get a chance to let you know about that concert, as well.
Tricia Lyman is an independent blogger and writer of Lyman’s Journey