REO Speedwagon – Shellabration 2011

If standing in the front row and meeting REO Speedwagon last summer was an incredible experience, then words will not be able describe my experience at this year’s Shellabration event in Fort Dodge, IA. However, with the help of some pictures, I will try to arrange words into sentences, sentences into paragraphs, and paragraphs into a way of expressing the amazing experience of building the stage and working security for the concert.

It all started on Friday at 8AM as many volunteers, including four friends and myself, took an empty Oleson Park Bandshell and created a large covered stage, decked out with your typical concert lighting and sound system. Saturday morning we helped load in REO Speedwagon’s equipment. From drums and risers, to guitars, amps, and Neal Doughty’s Hammond organ, we helped set up all of this equipment.

Here’s what I’m talking about:

Oleson Park Bandshell: Friday Morning

Friday morning at 9:30

Oleson Park Bandshell: Saturday afternoon

Saturday afternoon at 3

Nearly 14 hours on Friday and several more on Saturday went into creating this event on-site, not including the many months of work that went on behind the scenes to organize personnel, advertisers, etc.

Rain was in the forecast for the night, but luckily for us, Mother Nature was an REO Speedwagon fan on this night as it turned out to be a beautiful night for a rock concert. The gates opened at 5:30 Saturday evening, and the local band Saucy Jack kicked off the show at 6 and HipKnosis took the stage around 7:30, and REO finally a little after 9:20.

REO in Fort Dodge

REO Speedwagon performing their 1981 #1 single, "Keep On Lovin' you"

REO Speedwagon played for about an hour and a half. Their set-list began with six songs from their chart topping 1981 album, Hi Infidelity, as they are celebrating the 30 year anniversary of the bands rise to stardom. “Don’t Let Him Go” was their opener, followed by their first #1 hit single “Keep On Lovin’ You,” “In Your Letter,” “Someone Tonight,” “Tough Guys,” and “Take it on the Run.” After wrapping up the Hi Infidelity nostalgia, they busted out other big hits including “Keep Pushin,” “Golden Country,” and their second #1 smash hit “Can’t Fight This Feeling.” 1970s rock songs “Son of a Poor Man” and “Like You Do” came next in the setlist, followed by “Time for Me to Fly,” “Back on the Road Again,” and my personal favorite “Roll With the Changes.” The band left the stage after rolling with the changes, only to come back for an encore including “Ridin’ the Storm Out” and their closer “157 Riverside Avenue.”

Anyone at the concert could have told you how the concert itself was, but not many experienced all I did before the concert and after. It was extremely neat to see exactly how much work goes into preparing for a concert this size, and we were rewarded after the show. Along with the four friends I brought, we all had the chance to meet the band backstage after the show for pictures and autographs. I had the chance to meet the band last August at the Iowa State Fair, but it was cool to see my friends have the same opportunity this time.

Words can only go so far in describing exactly what I had the chance to do, so here are several pictures from the two day extravaganza.

Our crew: Brant, Michael, Stevie, Aaron, and me

Starting to unload REO's equipment

Neal Doughty's Hammond Organ and keyboards

Kevin Cronin's guitars

Bruce Hall's bass picks

REO's tour bus, or THE REO Speedwagon

Kevin Cronin enjoying some HipKnosis

Kevin Cronin and Dave Amato

Imagine standing on stage with your all-time favorite band. Well, for half the concert, I was pretty dang close.

REO's bassist, Bruce Hall

Here I am standing with Kevin Cronin, REO's lead singer

If you want to see all of my pictures from Shellabration 2011, check them out on Facebook.

A lot of work went into getting this event off the ground (literally), but in the end, it was completely worth it. Before, during, and after the concert all had something special about them, and this will be a weekend I’ll remember forever.

Shellabration 2011 was a huge success as almost 6000 people made it to the concert, practically tying it with their previous record set back in 2005 when the Beach Boys were headlining. 30 years after striking gold with Hi Infidelity, REO Speedwagon is still rocking, and are still extremely good at it. I’ve heard nothing but good things from the concert, but that’s very common for an REO show.

My 2011 REO Speedwagon experience is in the books and I’ve now seen them three times, met them twice, and worked with them once. At the rate they’re still going, I may very well get to add to those totals over the next few years.

This REO Speedwagon concert as a whole was amazing, and hopefully my words and pictures truly show how amazing of an experience this really was. Until next time, keep pushin’.

The Elton John Experience – Sioux City

Saturday nights may be alright for fighting, but this Tuesday night was right for rocking as Elton John performed live in Sioux City for the very first time. In front of a packed house at the Tyson Event Center, Elton John showed his musical prowess to the over 8000 in attendance.

“It took us 41 years, but we finally made it here to Sioux City.”

Sir Elton and his band took to the stage just after 8:00 and rocked the house for nearly three hours with many classics including Saturday Night’s Alright for Fighting, Levon, Tiny Dancer, Philadelphia Freedom, Goodbye Yellow Brick Road, and Daniel to Rocket Man and I Guess That’s Why They Call it the Blues. The midsection of the concert was dominated by his more recent music.

Sad Songs Say So Much, Sorry Seems to be the Hardest Word, Candle in the Wind, and Don’t Let the Sun Go Down on Me, Bennie and the Jets, and The Bitch is Back led to the finale, Crocodile Rock. Elton and the band left for a few minutes until he came back to the stage, signed autographs at the front of the stage, and sat back down at the piano to play one last song. He thanked the crowd for coming to the show and said “This one’s for you,” a line from “Your Song.”

Aside from the classic hits and new songs, the most awe-inspiring moments were when he simply played his piano between songs. How anybody can be such a genius on the keys is yet to be seen, but his piano playing is second to none. He is simply amazing, and his voice still sounds great as well. Tickets weren’t exactly cheap, but everybody certainly got their money’s worth. It’s not everyday that someone gets to see a legend in the act.

I grew up listening to Elton John, so this concert really took me back to my childhood. My parents have told me stories of my four year old self listening to Elton John and singing along for hours on end. My nineteen year old self did just that last night. After meeting REO Speedwagon three days before moving to college, seeing Elton John a week before my freshman year of college wraps up is a great way to end the year.

From my seat in section 100, row H, seat 1, we had a great view of the action. Check out all my Elton John concert photos on Facebook.

Is it Summer Yet?

It’s been over a month since I blogged about anything, but there is one thing that will always get me to blog; finding out that I’m going to an REO Speedwagon concert. I’ve seen REO live twice in the past two years, and I’ll get the chance to see them again on June 25, this time only an hour from where I’m from! REO Speedwagon is headlining the 10th anniversary of Shellabration in Fort Dodge, Iowa.

I saw REO at the Iowa State Fair this past summer and also saw Night Ranger and Grand Funk Railroad at the 2010 Shellabration, only this year I’ll be able to do both again at the same time. Tickets will be on-sale for $25 a piece for the next few months, so find out how to get your tickets here!

Well I figured I might as well post a little somethin’-somethin’ for you all, so here it is. Nothing like starting off 2011 with a little REO news, eh?

I’ll leave you with a video I put together from the last time I saw REO at the 2010 Iowa State Fair.

REO Speedwagon on DirecTV

REO Speedwagon performed at the 2010 Moondance Jam Rock Festival this summer, and for the first time, it was recorded for TV broadcast. A partnership between Blaze TV Production and DirecTV’s “101 Network” is bringing this festival into your home, but only if you have DirecTV. For more information about the Moondance Jam Rock Festival, Blaze TV, and DirecTV’s “101 Network,” click here.

If you’re like me and don’t have DirecTV but you love REO Speedwagon, I stumbled upon the videos from this broadcast as they were posted on Youtube by Rnastershake. Here they are! Enjoy.

Don’t Let Him Go

Keep On Lovin’ You

Take It On The Run

Like You Do

Can’t Fight This Feeling

Time For Me To Fly

Back On The Road Again

Roll With The Changes

I hope you enjoyed these as much as I did!

My most viewed Youtube videos

I began making Youtube videos during my freshman year of high school, mainly for school projects. The summer following my freshman year, I made three music videos for songs off of Big & Rich’s album “Between Raising Hell and Amazing Grace.” Before being taken off Youtube for copyright issues, these three combined for over 54,000 views on my first Youtube page. Since you can’t watch them on Youtube anymore, I decided I’d post them on my Facebook page for your enjoyment and my humiliation. Enjoy 🙂

My Big & Rich ‘Loud’ Muzik Video” – 50,000+ views

My ‘High Five’ Muzik Video” – 3000+ views

My ‘Radio’ Muzik Video” – 1000+ views

With a digital camera, a new laptop, and a lot of free time, this Big & Rich fan had a good time in the summer of 2007.

My REO Speedwagon Concert Experience

Me with REO's lead singer Kevin Cronin

There comes a time in many lives where someone meets their idol(s). Whether it be athletes, musicians, politicians, or whatever, the simple act of meeting a hero is a monumental moment in life. Well I had that chance this week.

On August 17, REO Speedwagon, along with Pat Benatar, made a stop at the Iowa State Fair as part of their 2010 “Love On The Run” tour.

I bought my tickets within minutes of them being released, so as my pictures will show, I had pretty good seats to say the least.

Pat Benatar, along with her husband Neil Giraldo, took the stage around 8:45 as the sun set behind her. Her hour plus performance was jam packed with her biggest hits including her opener “All Fired Up”, “We Belong”, “Love Is A Battlefield”, “Hell Is For Children”, “Promises In The Dark”, “Shadows Of The Night”, “Hit Me With Your Best Shot”, and the song that she said put her on the map back in 1979, “Heartbreaker”.

While I obviously at this concert because of REO Speedwagon, I was pleasantly surprised and entertained by the now 57 year old rock star. Her vocals sound just as good now as they did back in her prime. Of course I wasn’t around in her prime, but from what I’ve heard, she’s still got it.

Her portion of the show wrapped up right at 10:00 and the stage crew began prepping the stage for the headliner of the night: REO Speedwagon.

No caption is necessary to show how awesome these guys are.

Just after 10:30, the lights dimmed as a 1980 “Hi Infidelity” album promo came over the sound system. This entire tour for REO is a bit of a

nostalgic one as their most prominent album, the aforementioned “Hi Infidelity”, was recorded 30 years ago. The promo ended as a 1980 radio DJ introduced a new single by REO Speedwagon called “Don’t Let Him Go”, the first track off the new record.

Bryan Hitt, Neal Doughty, Bruce Hall, Dave Amato, and Kevin Cronin took the stage. The show had begun.

They obviously opened Don’t Let Him Go, followed by their first ever #1 single, “Keep On Lovin’ You.” They followed those two up with “In Your Letter” and “Take It On The Run”, also off of this album, which turned out to be the best selling rock album of 1981.

They continued with a crowd favorites “Keep Pushin” and “Golden Country”. Now it was time to get the sold out crowd on their feet and singing. Their second ever #1 hit “Can’t Fight This Feeling” did just that.

They did some “Like You Do” from the mid 70s, some “Time For Me To Fly” and “Back On The Road Again” before “ending” the concert with my personal favorite “Roll With The Changes”. They all left the stage but for everyone familiar with and REO concert, there was more to come. After about 30 seconds of darkness, the band reappeared as Bryan Hitt banged the giant gong for all it was worth. A storm was brewing; it was time for some “Riding The Storm Out”. After surviving the storm of rock and power, a trip to “157 Riverside Avenue” was in store.

Bruce, Dave, and Kevin. And a hand.

Amazing lead vocals and harmonies, breathtaking guitar solos by Dave Amato, massive bass slappage from Bruce Hall, stunning organ and keyboard work by the band’s founder Neal Doughty, and simply amazing drumming by the “Hitt Man.” They rocked and they rolled, and they certainly didn’t disappoint.

My second REO Speedwagon concert adventure was in the books, but the fun wasn’t completely through. By knowing the right person, I obtained a meet and greet pass to do just that after the show with the band. It was nearly 12:30 when they finally let us backstage, but the wait certainly didn’t disappoint me.

I first got my picture taken with Neal Doughty and got his autograph, followed by Bryan Hitt, Bruce Hall, Dave Amato, and finally the lead singer Kevin Cronin. To my surprise, Kevin had heard of me before! He referred to me as the “little rock radio dude.” I didn’t disagree .

If you’re interested in seeing my pictures from the REO portion of the concert (which I

Neil and Pat

know you are), go for it! For you Pat Benatar fans out there, click here!

The 70s and 80s have come and gone as times have changed, but the Illinois based REO Speedwagon has proven once again, that they can indeed roll with the changes. And I love it!

Night Ranger / Grand Funk Railroad Tonight

Tonight is the big night! I’m going to Fort Dodge for “Shellabration 2010” featuring Hell or High Water, Grand Funk Railroad, and Night Ranger. I’ll be sure to post pictures and videos next week, but I’ll also be posting some to my twitter live from the concert tonight, so follow me!