Rock and Roll Concerts Rule at The Antelope Valley Fair 2009

By Lorraine Kay

Lancaster, CA — This year’s Antelope Valley Fair has a full schedule of rock and roll. With a full week of concerts being offered to the public, four of the seven nights of music feature blockbuster rock and roll bands. Sponsored this year by Lancaster Honda, there is more for your buck starting at 7:30 p.m. every night, from Thursday, August 20 through Wednesday, August 26, with free admission to the grandstand seats with paid admission to the fair,

The concert line-up begins Thursday night with the 2008 American Idol winner, David Cook hitting the stage.  While millions watched him make other people’s songs his own, Cook carefully crafted a persona to match his talent and handily won the 2008 ‘American Idol’ competition. Cook now commands a stage with a promising career ahead of him. Indeed, just one week after being declared the winner of Idol, he rewrote chart history when 11 of his songs debuted on Billboard’s Hot 100 Chart. His first single, Light On, with its southern rock vibe, is dramatically different from the gut-wrenching ballad Permanent. Ticket Prices: Gold Circle: $65, Track: $35, Grandstands: Free with paid admission

Friday night offers a country double concert featuring Clay Walker with co-headliner Lee Ann Womack.  Both Walker and Womack are Texas born and bred.  Both follow the well-worn path of scores of Texas country singers, but are putting their own special imprint on the genre. 

 “So many people in my family sing and just made good music together.  I just decided to take it a little further than the living room,” says Walker. And ‘taking it further’ is precisely what Walker did, considering his several number one hits, including Dreaming with My Eyes Open, Live until I Die, and What’s It to You.  


While some fans have seen similarities between Walker and George Strait, Lee Ann Womack actually sang with Strait.  Womack emerged as a contemporary country artist in 1997 by mixing traditional country with contemporary pop, helping to establish her as a crossover artist.  But it was her There’s more Where That Came From that returned her to traditional country music.  The earlier I Hope You Dance reached #1 on the Billboard Country chart and crossed over to the Billboard Hot 100.  It was the song she was asked to perform at the 2000 Nobel Peace Prize concert and again at the 2004 Republican National Convention. Tickets prices: Gold Circle: $60, Track: $30, Grandstands: Free with paid admission.

Saturday is another double concert featuring 60s/70s War and Tower of Power. With 50 million records sold, to date, and 40 years of performing, the funk band, War, has dabbled in many musical genres, including rock, jazz fusion, reggae and soul.  The band, formed in 1969, had the audacity to name itself War when peace was the slogan in an anti-Vietnam War America.  Founder, Lonnie Jordan, claimed that the band’s goal was to spread a message of brotherhood and harmony.  While some lyrics were political in nature, indicative of the times, their music almost always had a sunny, laid-back vibe.  Certainly, their Cisco Kid and Why Can’t We Be Friends? became virtual anthems. 

Co-headlining with War, will be Tower of Power.  The group began in Oakland, primarily playing in the Bay area.  The name of the band was derived from a sense that “it looked like a name that could mean success.” Especially known for its horn section, some 60 musicians have toured or recorded with the band over its 40 years.  The band has released 19 albums but is probably best known for singles like So Very Hard to Go and Don’t Change Horses (In the Middle of the Stream) Ticket prices: Gold Circle: $50, Track: $25, Grandstands: Free with paid admission

Latin music reigns supreme on Sunday, August 23rd.   Los Tigres del Norte (The Tigers of the North) hit the stage with their norteño-band ensemble, delivering a Mexican style with bouncy oompah beats, powered by accordions, guitars, saxophones and percussion.  Many of their most popular songs consist of tales or corridos (ballads) about life, love and the struggle to survive.  It is their hard-faced reality lyrics that have turned this band and its norteño music into an international genre.   But what gets Los Tigres fans dancing and singing along are songs about the travails of Hispanic immigrants. “Our songs always give hope,” said band member Jorge Hernandez. 

The band has infused its music with bolero, cumbia, rock rhythms and waltzes, but also adds the effects of machine guns and sirens.  With several Grammy’s under their belt and 32 million records in sales, Los Tigres del Norte has gone mainstream.  Or in a word . . . grrrreeeat!

Banda Los Lagos will open for Los Tigres del Norte hitting the stage at 7:30 p.m. Ticket prices:Grandstands: Adults 12yrs and older: $20 Children ages 6-11: $5 (includes concert), Children ages 5 and under FREE. (Click here for information in Spanish)

Concert tickets includes admission and concert ONLY, festival seating.

MONDAY – the fair’s second country music offering is a triple-header featuring country music star Keith Anderson, whose debut album Three Chord Country and American Rock & Roll produced a total of four hit singles on the Billboard Hot Country charts.  Anderson also co-wrote the number one country hit in 2007, Lost in This Moment.  With a degree in engineering and a pro-baseball offer from the Kansas City Royals in his hip pocket, Anderson, instead, followed his muse as a singer/songwriter.

As lead singer, rhythm guitarist and harmonica player for the group, Trick Pony. . .Heidi Newfield isn’t new to audiences.  But her solo career as a country artist only began in 2008, when she debuted with the single Johnny & June.  It was her yearning to evolve that led the diminutive blond, famous for her explosive voice, rambunctious stage antics and unruly curls, to begin her solo journey. 

Completing the evening’s triple-header, will be Jason Michael Carroll. He will share his deep-valley baritone voice with Newfield and Anderson.  As a child he was not allowed to listen to secular music.  Unsurprisingly, his musicality came in a rush, yielding top 40 country hits like Alyssa Lies, Livin’ Our Love Song and I Can Sleep When I’m Dead. Ticket prices: Gold Circle: $60, Track: $30, Grandstands: Free with paid admission

Getting back to rock and roll, Tuesday offers the legendary California band, The Beach Boys. Often called America’s Band, the venerable Beach Boys have been around since 1961.  The core quintet of Brian Wilson, brothers Carl and Dennis Wilson, Cousin Mike Love and Al Jardine, along with band mates David Marks and Bruce Johnston, were all inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1988.

With thirty six U.S. Top 40 hits, (the most of any U.S. rock band) and fifty six Hot 100 Hits,  Rolling Stone magazine listed The Beach Boys as one of the 100 Greatest Artists of All Time.  Over the years, band members have changed. The deaths of Dennis and Carl Wilson and the notable mental illness of Brian Wilson have led to various touring groups.  But coming to the Antelope Valley Fairgrounds will be band originals, Mike Love and Bruce Johnstone.  It was Love who retained the rights to the Beach Boys name subsequent to the many legal battles between members of the group.  Today the staying power of surf rock or baroque rock, as some term it, is self-evident.  One thing can be said; for sure. . . those attending this concert will feel the Good Vibrations.

Begun as a four-man band in 1973, Pablo Cruise secured a fan base following hits like Whatcha Gonna Do When She Says Goodbye? and Love Will Find A Way.   This led to fame and the inevitable question, “Who IS Pablo Cruise?”  The quartet always answered, “He’s the guy in the middle.”  Like many groups, Pablo Cruise has seen its members come and go.  It took some 20 years for three of the original four members to reunite and perform as though it’s the first time they’ve ever played.  The lively I Go to Rio is but one of their audience-participation staples.Ticket prices: Gold Circle: $50, Track: $25, Grandstands: Free with paid admission

Wednesday – The Lancaster Honda Concert Series concludes with the rock giants, Foreigner and The Guess Who.

Formed as a sextet in 1976, British journeyman Mick Jones gathered two fellow Brits and three Americans and called the group, logically, Foreigner.  A mere 50 million albums later, this group can rightfully claim its title as one of the premier hard rock bands in the world.  Born in the creative stew of the renaissance 70’s, Foreigner’s thrilling mix of blustery blues and impeccably fashioned pop continues to captivate generation after generation of music fans.  Rock classics like Cold as Ice and Waiting for a Girl like You and the subsequent, gospel-inspired I Want to Know What Love Is will captivate any audience.

Continuing the foreign theme, The Guess Who originated in Canada.  Their offering of blues rock and jazz rock adds to the texture of a 70’s concert evening.  They were the first Canadian rock group with an American hit, American Woman.  Like the unusual name-origins of many bands, the record label that produced the band’s first album wrote the words “Guess Who?” on the cover, hoping to mislead unsuspecting buyers into thinking they were a British band.  The name stuck even though their ‘invasion’ was from Canada rather than Great Britain. Since radio D.J.’s insisted on calling them The Guess Who, despite the revelation that they were really Chad Allen & the Expressions, they had little choice but to stick with the new name.  Nonetheless, they continued to produce hits like 1969 ballad, These Eyes. Ticket prices: Gold Circle: $65, Track: $35, Grandstands: Free with paid admission.

Tickets can be purchased on line at, or at the ticket box office.