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Voxfest Celebration: The Elk's Lodge
'Designed for both musicians and lovers of swinging sixties rock and roll, Voxfest is incredibly entertaining and educational.'
By Beverly Paterson, The Lance Monthly
(more articles from this author)
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Riverside, California - Saturday, June 1, 2002

To celebrate the beauty and greatness of Vox equipment, Roger Tessier has been holding Voxfest for the past four years. A party that lasts all day long, Voxfest features displays, demonstrations and groovy music, the kind of stuff Lance Monthly readers can never seem to get enough of. This is the third time I've been to Voxfest, and each year promises something new and exciting.

The Psychedelic Gurus were the first band to leap on stage. As their name implies, they do indeed favor music carved of dreamy, surrealistic expressions. A rock solid pop edge also guides their well-executed material, similar to the sort of fare bands such as the Three O'Clock and the Green Pajamas are linked with. The Psychedelic Gurus informed the audience they are in the process of putting a CD together, so keep your eyes and ears open for this eagerly awaited disc!

Following the Psychedelic Gurus was Working Class Hero. Fronted by the amazingly charismatic Tim Piper, who looks and sounds exactly like John Lennon, this almighty tribute band certainly has their stuff down pat. Letter-perfect treatments of "Revolution," "Come Together," "I Want You (She's So Heavy)," "Cold Turkey," "Imagine" and "Real Love" were some of the tunes Working Class hero offered.

Then Gordon Waller of Peter and Gordon fame joined Working Class Hero, which resulted in a steamy, rocking romp. Most people associate Gordon with the clean and tidy folk pop winners he hit the charts with back in the sixties, but he's actually a rough and tough teddy boy, armed with a ruggedly booming voice that resembles Carl Perkins and Elvis Presley at the peak of their blue suede shoes powers. Gordon also wielded a mean harmonica, and the crowd naturally went bonkers!

Speaking of faces from the historical British Invasion, the next band to appear includes Dave Wendels, who played with the legendary Cliff Bennett and the Rebel Rousers. Aptly called Rockability, Dave's band specializes in rockabilly music. Genuine product that is, hard-driving racket that is just as radical now as it was in the fifties! A killer diller combo of the highest order, Rockability nearly split the floor in half with their relentlessly energetic performance. The dangerously tight trio rattled the room with a couple of classic Rick Nelson numbers, complemented by Johnny Kidd and the Pirates' "Please Don't Touch," Elvis Presley's "I Got Stung," the evergreen "Ubangi Stomp," a Charlie Feathers raver and other hip vintage morsels that forced the Voxfest groupies to movie their feet and clap their hands with glee. It's no lie to say Rockability's covers are equally good--if not better--than the original recordings! Then arrived Buckworth, a roots rock band fans of the Flying Burrito Brothers and the Jayhawks are advised to take note of. The band's songs are comprised of stirring harmonies, crisp orchestration and rich melodies. Alternating deftly between an old fashioned hillbilly pitch and a contemporary delivery, the music of Buckworth is warm and friendly.

Roger Tessier's band, the Neat, was scheduled to close the show. Having deservedly gained the reputation as Riverside's best cover band, these live wire fellows focus on cream of the crop sixties tunes. This particular performance entailed smashing interpretations of the Knickerbockers' "Lies," the Byrds' "Turn! Turn! Turn!," the Youngbloods' "Get Together" and two Grass Roots nuggets, "Where Were You When I Needed You" and "Let's Live For Today," plus a hot and nasty garage rock band medley of "Psychotic Reaction," "Little Girl" and "Hey Joe." Holy smokes!

After blowing the audience away with their turbo-charged pizzazz, the Neat brought Gordon Waller on stage, who accompanied them on hair-raising versions of "I Go To Pieces" and "World Without Love." As an added bonus, Dave Wendels of Rockability was invited to participate in the fun, and the gang proceeded to rip into an ear-shattering reading of "That's Alright Mama." The joint was seriously rocking!

Though he didn't perform, Ian Whitcomb attended Voxfest. He signed autographs and sold records, pictures and books. It was a joy to meet him, and he was very charming and cordial. What was especially wild was watching "Shindig!" clips of Ian crooning "Be My Baby" and pounding on the piano, singing "Hound Dog" with him present. You see, Hollywood Book and Poster Company was manning a booth at Voxfest and were viewing videos on a small black and white screen. Too cool!

And we must not forget Jim Elyea's amp demonstration, which is one of the main events of Voxfest. This year, Tim Piper and lead guitarist Don Butler of Working Class Hero were the chosen demonstrators. They tickled us pink, playing snippets of Beatles songs on different amplifiers, showing us how the Liverpool band evolved from "Please Please Me" to "Day Tripper." I must say, this was truly akin to watching John and George in the studio!

Designed for both musicians and lovers of swinging sixties rock and roll, Voxfest is incredibly entertaining and educational. If you haven't been to Voxfest, I encourage you to go. Aside from hearing hours and hours of boss music, you'll also meet lots of nice people. Vox gear rocks and Voxfest rules!

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