By Brent Michael, Rock At Night Tampa Correspondent
Venue: Ferg’s Sports Bar, St. Petersburg, Florida–February 23rd, 2020
So the last time I was at Ferg‘s was a long time ago – and the Sports Bar part hasn’t changed much. I soon found out that they had turned the empty lot next door from parking (much of which was moved across/down the street in other lots) had been turned into a concert venue! Had nothing better to do, so I thought I’d settle in and see who showed up. Well the first band to pop in was called Down from Trees, which is Brian Bray, Eric Ihlenfeldt and Brian Olmsted, an all-original rock band from the Tampa Bay Area in Florida. In 2015 when singer/guitarist/songwriter Brian Bray met bassist/vocalist Eric Ihlenfeldt, then added drummer/vocalist Brian Olmsted in 2017. Within three weeks of the grouping they were in the studio and began working on the “Upright” CD to be released in Jan 2018. I happened to chat with Brian Olmsted and his lovely wife about all sorts of things, but mostly how I thought the band had a nicely balanced and unique sound. This no doubt comes from Olmsted’s metal drive beat, while Ihlenfeldt crafts the bottom from a host of prog/folk/alt/pop influences and Bray powers the guitar with heavy rock/blues/alt and insightful lyrical contemplation on the human experience – which I had a chance to talk about with him after the entire show was over. Progressive lyrics like “If you want war, get ready for the fire” synchronized with my view of the MAGAts waving their paper swords and screaming for our military to get involved in another endless war. All three members sing which adds a rich layer of choral ala Beatles, Yes, and even Alice In Chains, giving the music a higher dimension. The music includes bluesy-grooves, soulful power and pop sensibilities – while at keeping a rock heart. The resulting sound is a true combination of classic and modern rock., and made me glad I got there early! Look them up!
Next up was a band called Panco, which coincidentally is lead by a guy named Mike Panco – amazing coincidence that. Panco – the man, not the band, though it’s easy to mix them up – is a shredder when he needs to be, and a showman that keeps the band looking lively. Not that the rest of the band were slouches – I just can’t find out what their names are! Okay, take that back, the singer is Malissa Myers, but otherwise, no name listed for bass player or drummer. I’m sure they have names, though they may be “hired guns” and not regularly play with the band. But they held up their end, providing a solid rhythm foundation for Mike and Malissa to build their crystalline castles on – or maybe chrome is a better word. They fit right in, and left me anticipating the next level (?) Which was…
Yes, Gui-Tara herself it the stage and promptly…ran into technical issues. Yes, even the pros have them! Quickly resolved, she soon graced us with guitar artistry on a level seldom seen in guitarists – and Tara also plays acoustic, bass, drums and piano, as well as composing music and lyrics. Of course, having played alongside such notable as Vinnie Appice, Phil Soussan (also part of Last In Line) and more, one would expect no less than a stellar performance, and Tara didn’t disappoint! Neither did her supporting band members, Matthew Denis Noel Jasso Logan Nikolic Music. And now we come to the band that’s last in line – another amazing coincidence, their name is also Last In Line!
Last in Line
No secret who the members are here. The drummer, Vinny Appice, younger brother of the famous Carmine Appice of Vanilla Fudge and many other bands, has made his own reputation playing with Dio, which formed after Ronnie James Dio and Vinny left Black Sabbath. Also from Dio is Vivian Patrick Campbell, who came to prominence in the early 1980s with them. He has been a member of Def Leppard since 1992, and was recently inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame as a member of that band. Campbell has also worked with Thin Lizzy, Whitesnake, and others. Bass guitarist Phil Soussan has played in bands fronted by Ozzy Osbourne, Billy Idol, Vince Neil, Johnny Hallyday and John Waite; he has also played in bands featuring Jimmy Page, Steve Lukather, Edgar Winter and Richie Kotzen, as well as a membership in Beggars & Thieves. frontman Andrew Freeman has sung and played guitar for a number of bands, most notably punk rock group The Offspring and hard rock guitarist George Lynch’s Lynch Mob. Their set was a mixture of Dio classics like “Heaven and Hell,” “A Rainbow in the Dark”, and of course “Last in Line,” and newer material like “Devil in Me” and “Landslide.” His ability to belt out vocals while mimicking the late Ronnie James Dio was, I’m sure, among the reasons he was recruited into the band.
All in all, an awesome show for metal and hard rock fans!
Corrections/mea culpas: Okay, a couple things were called to my attention: Tara Lynch does name her bandmates in her Facebook posts, because they change and I guess it wouldn’t make sense to put them on her website/Facebook page. I corrected that with links to her awesome bandmates – sorry guys!
The next thing I’ll have to blame on an old, stroke-addled brain malfunction. For some reason, my gray cells renamed the guy who plays drums with Quiet Riot, from Frankie Banali to Carmine Appice. Don’t ask me how, but this wasn’t poor research, just a brain fart on my part! I swear I’ll never rely on my memory again! Also corrected.