Wow, what a line up for the 2019 Spring Jam in Chesterfield, Missouri.
This show was announced earlier in the year and I really wanted to go but wasn't sure I could make it happen. Then a good friend of mine from Midland Texas, Nic Hartley contacted me and said "Dude, you gotta meet me in St. Louis for this show." Nic and I have been online music pals for well over 10 years, so we figured this would be a perfect setting for us to meet in person, since we are big fans of every band on the bill.
I headed to St. Louis Friday morning from Ohio and Nic headed in from Texas. We met up at our hotel, which luckily enough ended up being right next door to the Chesterfield Amphitheater where the concert would be held on Saturday. The first thing on the agenda was a quick lunch at the legendary Blueberry Hill Restaurant and then record shopping at the equally legendary Vintage Vinyl Records right down the street. Turns out St. Louis is an amazing record store town and we also hit the Record Exchange on Saturday. Could have spent days in both spots. I will be returning to St. Louis for more record shopping at a later date.
Friday evening we hit up the Paul Stanley/Gene Simmons-owned Rock & Brews Restaurant. This was my first trip to a Rock & Brews and I was pretty impressed. Great rock and roll atmosphere, good food and excellent staff. The walls were full of images of Kiss and other classic rock artists. They even had a Kiss Pinball machine!
It had been a long day so after a couple "Love Gun" IPA's, it was time for some sleep to prepare for the epic show that awaited on Saturday.
Saturday morning we headed downstairs for a quick breakfast before getting ready for the day’s events. As we were waiting for the elevator to take us back up to the ninth floor, the doors opened and an Angel appeared! It was Punky Meadows, who was staying at our hotel. Punky stepped out of the elevator and greeted us with a smile and a handshake. He is a super nice guy and one of my favorite guitar players. He pretty much went into retirement after Angel's original run came to an end in the early 80's, so this was a pretty big deal to have this moment with him.
We soon figured out that all the bands on the Spring Jam bill were staying at our hotel! More on that later.
We had purchased a meet & greet with Angel, so we headed over to the Spring Jam around 3pm to make sure we were there in time for the event. Once inside we checked out the merch tables, grabbed something to drink and headed to the meet & greet area.
ANGEL MEET & GREET
The Angel meet & greet started a little late but it wasn't a big deal because there were so many cool people hanging around to talk to, it made the experience really fun. People had come in from all over the country to see this show. We met other people from Texas and Ohio as well as people from Illinois and Tennessee. This line-up was a real dream come true for a lot of people.
Our turn to meet Angel came up midway through Enuff Z' Nuff's set, which kinda bummed me out but not really. We could still hear Enuff Z' Nuff rocking out
All the members of Angel were there but everyone was focused on meeting Punky Meadows and singer Frank DiMino as they are the only two original members in this current line up. Punky and Frank were both very inviting to fans, took several photos and signed autographs for everyone.
During my time at the meet & greet I mostly talked to Punky. I told him that Sinful was my favorite Angel album and he replied with a very enthusiastic "Mine too!" but he also said that he was very fond of White Hot, and technically you can't wrong with either one. I told him Sinful connected with me the most because it is pure power pop with crunchy guitars and he agreed. Very cool guy, who seems genuinely excited to be back out doing these shows for the fans and he also said they are almost done with a new record. Very exciting news!
The guys from Starz were also hanging around during the Angel meet & greet and were gracious enough to take pictures and sign stuff for fans that asked. Very nice guys as well.
I missed some of Enuff Z' Nuff's set due to hanging with Angel but I did manage to see a good portion of it.
They opened their set with "Metal Heart," a song from their latest album Diamond Boy. Bassist Chip Z'Nuff and the band looked and sounded great. I was excited to see guitarist Alex Kane back in the line-up. Alex spent some time in Enuff Z'nuff back in the 80's before they got signed. Alex is an excellent player and great showman.
Before heading back to the meet & greet, I got to hear "Kiss The Clown" from the band’s 1989 debut album and the title track from Diamond Boy.
As the Angel meet & greet was winding down, I could hear the band launching into probably their biggest hit "Fly High Michelle," so I started making my way back around to the stage area. Starz singer Michael Lee Smith was sitting in a chair in the backstage area singing every word to "Fly High Michelle”! I stopped to say a few things to Michael but he continued to sing "Fly High Michelle" right to me, lol. He followed with "such a great song " and it is.
Made it back to my seat for the band’s other big hit and set closer "New Thing." Props to lead guitarist Tory Stoffregen for nailing the solo in this power pop gem.
Pretty short & sweet set for a band that has a bigger catalog than probably all the bands on the bill put together but they made good use of the time they were given.
I spoke with Chip several times throughout the day, including back at the hotel after the show. Chip is a cool dude that I first met way back in 1990 and he has always been amazingly cool to me and full of great stories. I could talk to him for days.
Enuff Z’ Nuff Set List:
Kiss the Clown
In the Groove
Baby Loves You
Fly High Michelle
After a quick set change Starz hit the stage.
I've been a huge Starz fan pretty much all my life. They were managed by Aucoin Management who also handled Kiss. When I was a kid any band that had a Kiss connection was cool in my book.
Starz released four albums on Capitol Records and scored a Top 40 hit with the song "Cherry Baby" from their album Violation. The band split up in 1979 after leaving Capitol Records and have reformed with different line- up’s throughout the years.
The current membership up of Starz includes three original members, Michael Lee Smith on vocals, Richie Ranno on lead guitar and drummer Joe X. Dubé. Alex Kane from Enuff Z' Nuff joined the band on second guitar, which was a cool surprise.
Starz played a solid set of fan favorites that leaned pretty hard on their self- titled debut album. "Detroit Girls," "Tear It Down," "Pull The Plug" and "Live Wire" all made an appearance in the set. They also played their big hit "Cherry Baby" followed by one of my favorites, "Violation".
I wish their set would have been longer because there were so many great songs they didn't have time to squeeze in, but hopefully I will be seeing them again very soon.
If you don't know who Starz are and you love classic 1970's rock & roll, do yourself a favor and go seek out their records.
Starz Set List:
Tear It Down
Rock Six Times
Where Will It End
It's a Riot
Another quick set change and it was time for Angel!
By this time Nic & myself had made some great new friends and managed to get a seat upgrade to the third row, which eventually turned into the first row. Angel has an amazing die-hard fan base and they showed up in St. Louis ready to rock.
Angel is another band that I've loved for decades and they also have a Kiss connection. They were label mates with Kiss, both bands were on Casablanca Records.
Angel were sort of portrayed as the "anti-Kiss." Kiss were "the demons" of rock, while Angel were "the angels."
Angel had a pretty elaborate stage show featuring lasers & fog and the band members dressed all in white, making them look very angelic.
I saw Angel on April 5th, 1978 in Huntington, WV, on the same bill with Blue Oyster Cult and The Godz. It was during their White Hot tour, which was the commercial peak for the band. White Hot was the band’s fourth and most popular album but they never really had a breakout hit in the US. They followed White Hot with one last studio album Sinful and the live album Live Without A Net in 1980.
Angel were a great concert draw during their original run but just couldn't seem to make a dent on the sales chart with their records. In a perfect world they would have sold millions.
They took to the stage in St. Louis with a little less fanfare than they did in 1978, but they were once again wearing their all-white outfits, Punky Meadows is back on guitar and Frank DiMino was center stage singing like a day hadn't passed since the 70’s.
Like Enuff Z' Nuff and Starz before them, Angel had a shorter set but managed to give the crowd a solid roster of fan favorites and a couple surprises.
The biggest surprise of the night was the inclusion of "Mirrors," a song from the band’s second album Helluva Band. Considered a deep cut by fans of the band, it was quite a treat. The set also included signature songs such as "Can You Feel It," "Don't Leave Me Lonely," "Feelin' Right" and "The Tower." The highlight of the night for me was "Wild & Hot," a song from the band’s 1979 album Sinful (my personal favorite).
Even though Angel currently only has two original members , it doesn't really seem to matter. The new line-up that Punky & Frank have put together sound great and really capture the vibe of their music. The coolest thing is watching how much fun Punky & Frank are having. They really seem to be having as much fun as their fans.
Angel Set List:
On the Rocks
Can You Feel It
Wild and Hot
Don't Leave Me Lonely
Ace Frehley doesn't really need much of an introduction. I'm sure if you are reading this, you know he is the one and only original Spaceman of Kiss!
Ace is out supporting his latest studio album called……… Spaceman, although he only included one song from that record in the set.
His set started with "Rip It Out" from his 1978 Kiss solo album. The rest of the set was a mix of Kiss classics and select solo tracks. No super-rare deep cuts but he did do "Hard Times" from Kiss' 1979 album Dynasty, which I had never heard him do before. He also did "Rock Soldiers" from the first Frehley's Comet record, a song he had dropped for years.
The Spaceman was in great shape and sounded great, both on guitar and vocals. Ace has an all-new backing band that he picked up last year and I can't say enough good things about these guys. They are also Gene Simmons’ touring band when he does solo shows. These guys hail from Nashville and they know the Kiss catalog better than Kiss does. Ace's shows really benefit from having these guys on stage with him. They are all great players and singers. I think it gives Ace a bit more confidence to be playing with such talented musicians. There are certain parts in the set I could tell Ace was focused on delivering a good vocal while the other guitarists were picking up the guitar parts.
Probably one of the best Ace solo shows I've seen in a long time.
Ace Frehley Set List:
Rip It Out
Rockin' With The Boys
New York Groove
Detroit Rock City
And just like that, the night came to an end.
We headed back to the hotel not really sure what we wanted to do. We were exhausted but still ready to roll if something came up.
We ran into Joe X. Dube from Starz in the hotel lobby and chatted with him briefly. After milling around for a bit we noticed that Chip from Enuff Z' Nuff was hanging outside having a smoke, so we went out to say hello again and we ended up chatting for over an hour. As we were talking with Chip a van pulled up and Ace Frehley got out along with a couple of "his guys." For some reason he looked over at us, about 15 feet away, flipped us all off and shouted an expletive our way. I'm sure it was just Ace's way of being funny, no offense taken.
We said goodnight to Chip and decided maybe we would try to say hello to Ace, wasn't looking to bother him for a pic or an autograph , just a hello and we'd be on our way. He was in the lobby with "his guys" and as we approached one of them turned and said to us "Don't do it guys, just don't." I'm not sure what he thought we were going to do but he didn't want us to do it. During this time Ace never looked our way once. The guys ushered him into the elevator and they were gone.
It was kind of disheartening in a way but mostly I thought it was funny. Ace is a cool cat and I know he's not always down for social interaction. I get it, I understand. I'm only sharing this because I see the humor in it, not to take a stab at Ace.
Hard to find the words to sum up my whirlwind trip to St. Louis to see this epic event. Mostly I'd like to thank my friend Nic Hartley for asking me to go along with him and for sharing this amazing experience with me. It almost felt like we were attending the World Series of Rock and it was 1978 all over again.
I guess the best way to end this is with a quote from my new friend from Nashville…….
"Wow.....what an incredible night. Music is my soul food and tonight I was fed well." - Juanita Copeland
Scott Carr is a guitarist who plays in the Columbus, OH bands Radio Tramps andReturning April. Scott is also an avid collector of vinyl records and works at Lost Weekend Records. So...if you are looking for Scott....you'll either find him in a dimly lit bar playing his guitar or in a record store digging for the holy grail.
Check out some pics and videos of the event below…………