On Sunday February 20, fellow ROCKEYEZ staffers Brian Rademacher, Mark Balogh and myself were all cordially invited to attend a very special event fundraiser for AUTISM SPEAKS at one of my favorite clubs in New Jersey, Mexicali Live in Teaneck. Sponsored by Chrisya Enriquez and EventZen, The evening would unite several of the area's finest cover bands including ROCKHARD, our old friends ROCK KANDY, a VAN HALEN tribute band called COMPLETELY INCHAINED, local favorites SLIPPERY WHEN WET(can you guess they were a BON JOVI tribute band?), and very, very special guest and NO covers here, the original... the one and only TED POLEY! Now how could we miss a night like this and for such a worthy cause no less?
The show actually began at around 2:00pm in the afternoon, but due to some unforeseen circumstances, we were not able to make it all the way up to Teaneck until just about 4:00 or so completely missing both ROCKHARD and ROCK KANDY which was a real disappointment. As we entered the venue, though, we were greeted by some very familiar guitar riffs and keyboards flowing through the speakers... could it be? No, of course not... while the familiar keyboards to the VAN HALEN mega-hit "Jump" echoed through the room, we approached the stage to find COMPLETELY UNCHAINED already rockin' the house.
Lead vocalist Eugene Henricksen strutted his stuff in true David Lee Roth fashion as the band cranked out "pre-Hagar" VAN HALEN favorites like "U Really Got Me," "Ain't Talkin' Bout Love," and "Feel Your Love Tonight." Guitarist Johnny Roggio certainly impressed as he did his best Eddie Van Halen imitation matching him lick for lick and especially shining on "Dance The Night Away" and their closer... a tremendous rendition of "Hot For Teacher." All in all, a really fun set but while I did like the band, I wasn't overly impressed with their version of David Lee Roth's solo hit "Just Like Paradise." Musically, the band was hot and tight but after hearing all the old VAN HALEN classics, I just didn't think it fit in well... as my partners agreed.
Next up was SLIPPERY WHEN WET, these guys were really a lot of fun as well. While he doesn't exactly sound like Jon Bon Jovi, lead vocalist Mike Parkes certainly has the whole look, feel and stage presence of a young, mid-80's Jon with all the heart and energy to match. As I mentioned, though... while he doesn't exactly "sound" like Jon, he definitely has all the personality and inflection which combined with his own vocal prowess produces a very natural and unique twist to these classics.
Equally impressive was guitarist Chris Radicci who did an awesome job filling some big shoes of the incredibly talented Richie Sambora. For some reason, though... all of us couldn't keep our eyes off of bassist Ronnie Parkes and drummer Tommy John... we knew we had seen these guys before... even had pictures with them from last year's MelodicRock II event and it was driving us all crazy because we just couldn't remember! Finally we caught up with Ronnie and just came right on out and asked him... of course! Both Ronnie and Tommy were not only the pulsating rhythm section for SLIPPERY WHEN WET but for Kivel Records recording artists FARCRY as well! DUH! We should have known... especially after running into FARCRY guitarist Pete Fry in the crowd after the show as well! How could we forget the band that literally nearly stole the show that rainy afternoon in Elgin, Illinois just shy of a year ago? Now THAT's a band I REALLY would have like to have seen on this bill!!!
SLIPPERY WHEN WET's set list certainly did not disappoint as they mixed in hit after hit after hit into their 60 minute set... and a few obscurities and surprises as well. From old favorites like "Livin' On A Prayer," "Bad Medicine" and "You Give Love A Bad Name" to more modern hits like "It's My Life" or "Who Says You Can't Go Home" to absolute classics like "Runaway," these guys really shined taking control of the stage almost as commanding as the real BON JOVI. The one thing we really didn't get though was... in such a short set, why would you interrupt things with a drum solo? Not that it wasn't good, but with such limited time I would much rather have heard maybe a track off of "7800 Degrees Fahrenheit" or something. Oh well... maybe next time... was still a killer show which ended with my all time favorite Bon Jovi track "Blood On Blood" which was really great to hear live.
A short time after SLIPPERY WHEN WET exited the stage, it was time for ROCK KANDY vocalist and the evening's MC Ian Chris to take the stage along with newest ROCK KANDY female lead vocalist Cat to call out the winning numbers to those lucky fans holding tickets for the raffle prizes donated by many local sponsors... the grand prize being an autographed guitar donated by Dee Snider and TWISTED SISTER... a very cool prize indeed. Then, after a few words of thanks to the crowd for this awesome turn out in support of such a worthy cause by Chrisya Enriquez herself, it was time for the main event.. a very special appearance by our old friend Mr. Ted Poley!
This is the first time I have gotten to see Ted with his new touring band and without the incredible Vic Rivera. I can't say I wasn't a bit skeptical at first as I had come to know and love all of the guys in Ted's old band from Edward Faust behind the skins, to Vic to Eddie Campbell. But fortunately there was another familiar face up there on stage in our dear friend Doug Odell still hammering away on bass for Ted which made things seem just a little more familiar. So... as I said, we weren't sure exactly what to expect as Ted was now being supported by drummer Dennis Leeflang (EPICA/ Lita Ford), keyboardist/ guitarist Paul LaPlaca (Chris Caffery) and ripping guitarist Steve "Maz" Mazza (DETROIT CHEETAH) but after just hearing a few songs in Ted's "abbreviated" set, we knew things were gonna be JUST FINE!
This was definitely different for sure as Ted and company erupted right out of the box with a killer version of the DANGER DANGER hit "Bang Bang." Ted, as always, was in great voice but what a difference in the aggressiveness behind the songs! Mazza is just insane on the strings and his edgy, thick chords really add an additional heavy element to these songs which are already rich with flavor. This was followed by another typical Ted "live" favorite "Shot O' Love" but what came next really took us by surprise as Ted and the band reached WAY back into the Poley archives and pulled out a real gem in the ballad "One Step From Paradise" which I haven't heard Ted perform live in years... very cool surprise which actually gave LaPlaca his moment to shine as well.
Now speaking of surprises, anyone remember the DANGER DANGER "Cockroach" CD? Well, Ted even found himself another little gem from there in a much richer and fatter version of "Sick Little Twisted Mind." Very cool treat for all the Ted Poley die-hards. This lead up to a show-stopper in a thundering execution of "Tokyo Nights" right before the band closed out their short set with... come on... now what Ted Poley set would be complete without "Naughty Naughty?" Joined by Ian Chris and a couple of other guests, Ted and company shut down the night with another familiar Ted Poley anthem only with this band, it took a bit of a different direction really making this song I have heard over a thousand times before sound new. Very well done all around and kudos to all the guys who are now along with Ted for this next chapter.
All of us would like to thank Ian Chris, Cat, Pete Fry, Doug Odell, MAZ, SLIPPERY WHEN WET, COMPLETELY UNCHAINED, Ted Poley, and all the other artists and musicians who dedicated their time to making this such a successful event. We would also like to send a very special thank you out to Chrisya Enriquez for having us along for the ride and especially all the fans who came out to support Autism Speaks... if you would like to make a donation to the VERY worth cause, just follow the links to either their homepage or facebook at the top... check 'em out and lend a hand.