Sunday, August 23, 2015

Rock & Roll Times 3 at The Oyster Festival

The Milford Oyster Festival is well known for hosting great musical acts. In the past rockers such as Joan Jett, The Marshall Tucker Band and Bret Michaels haven graced their main stage. August 15th of this year was no exception, showcasing a triple bill of bands: The Rembrandts, Fastball, and Gin Blossoms. In a way, it was a flashback to the 1990s as all three groups first found fame during that decade. They’re performing as part of the “Circle of Friends” tour. Opening act The Rembrandts are of course best known for their hit song, “I’ll Be There For You,” the theme song to the TV series Friends, but they delivered a solid set of acoustic-tinged rock, featuring tunes such as “Chase The Clouds Away” and “Johnny Have You Seen Her.” Members Danny Wilde & Phil Solem know their way around a good song, and the crowd enjoyed their solid vocals and fluid guitar work. The California based band wrapped up their portion of the show with the 1990 hit “Just The Way It Is, Baby” and of course, the Friends song, with a touch of the Green Acres theme played at the start as a joke, when they noted "This is a song we wrote for a TV show."

Next up was Fastball, who hit it big with the song “The Way” off their 1998 release All The Pain Money Can Buy. They powered through a fantastic 11 song set featuring several of their hits, including “Fire Escape” and “You’re An Ocean” as well as a deftly played cover of Steve Earle’s “Devil’s Right Hand,” and the rocking instrumental “Tanzania.” Miles Zuniga was marvelous on lead guitar & vocals and was matched by the excellent work of Tony Scalzo on vocals, keyboards & guitar, Joey Shuffield on drums and Lonnie Trevino, Jr. on bass. Not only were they fantastic musically, but they displayed a sly sense of humor as well. The crowd (which was filling up in front of the stage at this point) even did some singing along on “Out of My Head” & “The Way.” After that, the Austin, Texas outfit finished their set with “Always Never.”

Then Gin Blossoms took the stage, and rocked out for the rest of the afternoon.  Singer-guitarist Robin Wilson led the band through a generous selection of their catalog including “Until I Fall Away,” & “Found Out About You.” Wilson continually cajoled the crowd to sing along, clap & raise/wave their hands, and even passed a couple of tambourines into the crowd so people could play along. The Tempe, Arizona rockers (who first broke through with their 1992 release New Miserable Experience) also features Bill Leen on bass, Scott Hessel on drums, and Scott Johnson & Jesse Valenzuela on guitar. The enthusiastic crowd had jam-packed the main stage area by this point, and the group fed off the crowd’s energy, bringing the show to a climax with their hits “Hey Jealousy” & “Til I Hear It From You.” But the fun wasn’t over yet, and the guys returned for an encore that included a killer cover of The Plimsouls classic “A Million Miles Away” featuring a guest appearance by Miles from Fastball! Then the band closed the show with their hit “Follow You Down,” from 1996's Congratulations, I'm Sorry.

It was a tremendous afternoon of music, and all three bands delivered solid sets of well-played rock & roll. As always, the organizers of the Milford Oyster Festival provided solid entertainment, as well as great food and arts & crafts vendors. It’s always a wonderful event. And if you get the chance to see Gin Blossoms, Fastball or The Rembrandts on tour, you won’t be disappointed. Set lists for the bands are below:

Photo by John V
The Rembrandts:

1. Burning Timber
2. Johnny Have You Seen Her
3. Follow You Down
4. Chase the Clouds Away
5. Someone
6. St. Paul
7. If Not for Misery
8. How Far Would You Go?
9. This House Is Not a Home
10. Just the Way It Is, Baby
11. I'll Be There for You

Photo by John V

1. Rampart Street 
2. Sooner or Later 
3. Love Comes in Waves
4. Fire Escape
5. You're an Ocean
6. Devil's Right Hand (Steve Earle cover) 
7. Til I Get It Right
8. Tanzania (instrumental)
9. Out of My Head
10. The Way
11. Always Never

Photo by John V
 Gin Blossoms:
1. Lost Horizons
2. Somewhere Tonight
3. Miss Disarray
4. As Long as It Matters 
5. Found Out About You
6. Until I Fall Away 
7. Dead or Alive on the 405
8. Allison Road
9. Hands Are Tied
10. I'm Ready
11. Wave Bye Bye
12. Til I Hear It from You
13. Hey Jealousy

Gin Blossoms Encore:
A Million Miles Away (The Plimsouls cover featuring Miles Zuniga of Fastball) 
Follow You Down

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