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Jammin with Midnight Special

The classic rock groove is common in the local band scene. Sometimes too common. More often than not, when I hear a band start playing a set of 70’s hits I cringe. I have heard 100’s of jacked up versions of Journey, bad impersonations of Boston and sad covers of Styx. Don’t even ask if I hear any good Zeppelin or god forbid, Queen. I’ve felt true sympathy for 46 year old singers trying to pull off Freddie Mercury vocals with scarred Marlboro Red vocal cords and whiskey breath. I’ve seen Zeppelin painfully covered (with much enthusiasm) so poorly it was laughable. The sounds of the 70’s are harder to pull of by a live local band than you’d think. Many studio effects and mixing went into those classic albums. The 3-D all encompassing sound on the album version Boston tunes are candy coated with hundreds of hours of studio work. Yet, that studio version is what the audience compares the local band to. If you cover Boston, you had better be really good, or you’ll look really pathetic.
Enough classic rock band bashing. Let’s applaud the ones that kick ass. Like Midnight Special. Their story is cool. On their band bio page (midnightspeciallive.com) they explain how it all got started.

“On a frigid New Years Eve show in 1976 when two local Cincinnati bands where scheduled to perform together. All seemed like just another Happy New Year’s show with the slight exception that only ONE member from each band had showed up! So just who where these two prompt and punctual professionals you ask ? Well non other than founding members Gregg St.Charles and Joey Von Richter who then scrambled to collect enough pocket change to make a few calls to find some other musicians to help cover the night.
Well, what went down on that special night was nothing short of a belated Christmas Miracle, for on that magical night was forged the beginning of a band that would come and go for the next 33 years...”
The band toured the national festival-opening act circuit until 1982. They enjoyed regional success on Polygraph Records with the release of “Eye to Eye” and “Dixie Normous”. They even claim they are the first band in documented history to have “FREEBIRD” screamed out at a concert event.

These guys don’t just cover the 70’s, they never left the 70’s. It’s like a tribute to your “former self” show. They don’t strain to pull it off either. The pure accuracy of the hits covered is enough to hold your attention. If not the energy. Midnight Special rolls through Journey, Styx, (Sir) Elton John, Boston, Wings, Cheap Trick, Steely Dan and Deep Purple with ease and confidence. Then they hit you with cool medleys from Zeppelin, Pink Floyd, Queen and Boston. 15 minutes of skillfully woven highlights from past album hits. I love medleys.
The whole band ( Mike Skimmerhorn-Lead Vocals/Rhythm Guitar, Gregg St. Charles-Bass/Vocals, Joey Von Richter-Lead & Acoustic Guitar/Vocals, David Kern-Keyboards/Piano/Vocals, Punkie Mc Donald-Drums/Percussion/Vocal) reeks of pro experience. They could choose any of the bands they cover and tour as a tribute band. Especially Boston, Zeppelin and Journey (although the Van Halen stood out loud & proud).

Midnight Special has the soaring high note vocals, searing 6 minute guitar solos and acid test synthesized keyboards to reproduce the 70’s sound in it’s true entirety. They even still play on their original vintage equipment from their last tour “Endowed & Proud! 82” . That seals the deal. Midnight Special is the Cincy “70’s Hits” tribute band if there ever was one.
Midnight Special has several good videos and audio tracks online at midnightspeciallive.com not to mention pics & more.
See the live show at J&B’s Tavern Dec. 11 and Charlie’s Throttle Stop Dec. 10. It’s a “Magical Musical Journey” to the 70’s & 80’s.

 

 

 

 

 

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