What would you get if you put Orleans together with Rick Derringer (McCoys, Johnny Winter), Felix Cavaliere (Young Rascals), Alex Ligertwood (Santana), Jimi Jamison and Ronnie Hammond (Atlanta Rhythm Section) on the same stage at the same time? Dream band? Supergroup?
Well, for a lot of us, all of the above, but it’s actually a very real group known as RPM (Rock and Pop Masters) who are helping keep classic rock alive by performing it regularly for audiences made up of three generations of appreciative fans.
RPM recently played Weston, Florida where our friend Jim Smith doubled as crew boss and gig reviewer.
RPM – Rock & Pop Masters
From Jim Smith
Weston, Florida – March 1, 2008
Guide Rating –
I got a call from an old friend who needed a favor a few weeks back.
Seems she was involved in a local Rotary Club and they were preparing for their 4th Annual free concert in the Regional Park in two weeks. The 2008 gig was going to be their biggest ever with a crowd of 5,000 to 8,000 expected.
Free show meant “volunteerism” — something inside my wheelhouse for a worthy cause and this was a rock ‘n’ roll show. That met my criteria. So, I contacted the show promoter.
You Could Call It a Supergroup
The gig sounded interesting — a whole bunch of classic rockers Rick Derringer (McCoys, Johnny Winter), Felix Cavaliere (Young Rascals), Alex Ligertwood (Santana), Ronnie Hammond (Atlanta Rhythm Section) and Jimi Jamison, backed by the 2008 edition of Orleans. It sounded like an old fashioned Alan Freed show in Cleveland, or one of the legendary Apollo or Paramount gatherings of yesteryear.
I was “in” even if that meant running the volunteer stage crew who augmented a rather slim professional stage crew. Manual labor was on the agenda and it had been over 20 years since I lifted an amp, set up a drum kit and percussion. “This should be interesting,” I thought as I walked on the stage at 7:30 AM on the day of the show.
I had some reservations about the show in general. After all, it was a bunch of players who, in their day, had what it took. But, I’ve had the misfortune of shelling out top dollar in the past year to see headliners who fell way short of their best career efforts.
And, to top off my foreboding, this was a free gig, in a regional park in South Florida’s very own version of Stepford. I was prepared to be underwhelmed. But, what the hell? It was a concert and a bunch of these guys (Felix and Rick, Orleans) had been early heroes and influences. And the rest of the bill was once formidable, too. It was a roll of the dice.
The Table Was HOT!
The show exceeded all possible expectations, and if I had forked over the going rate for a concert ticket in 2008, I still would have been satisfied.
Orleans rocked steady. Three Hoppen Brothers — Larry, Lance and Lane — anchored the show with sidemen including drummer Charlie Morgan (ex-Elton John Band), guitarist/vocalist Gerry Riggs (ex-Pat Travers Band) and bassist/vocalist Barry Dunaway (ex-Yngwie Malmsteen).
Standouts had to include EVERYONE. There truly wasn’t a runt in the litter. Song after song sounded as if the original band was backing the original lead singer.
Best of all, these guys were having a ball. It was reminiscent of the Senior PGA Tour in some respects — guys who had paid their dues, been there/done that, lived life in the fast lane, and were now just jazzed to be playing their music and…sounding as good, if not better, than ever.
It was one of those three generational audiences, complete with grandparents, kids turned parents and younger kids/grandkids. The hardest part was trying to figure out who was having a better time, the crowd, the band or me! This realization rang true at 1:20 in the morning as I helped to load the last piece of sound gear on the last truck, and rubbed my very sore back.
Run, Don’t Walk!
So, if you see RPM/Rock & Pop Masters coming to a venue near you anytime soon, RUN, don’t walk to the box office. And, don’t be surprised if the core lineup of lead singers varies from the show in Florida. They have a deep bullpen of closers, and you never can be sure just who might be grabbing a microphone, an axe or a pair of drum sticks.
If you like classic rock, this is a must see. I was so blown away by Orleans that I’m headed up to Long Island to see them in April. Just don’t tell my kids. It’s a surprise!
by Jim Smith
The RPM (Rock & Pop Masters) Band
Larry and Lane make good use of all those trumpet lessons on tunes like
“People Got to Be Free!”
Jimi Jamison (L) bears down on
“So High on You”.
Larry (above) surveys the scene and thinks “This is all very good!” 🙂