By Lorraine Kay
LANCASTER, CA – August 2011 Rock and Roll legends, Blue Oyster Cult and Foghat will be opening this year’s 10-day Antelope Valley Fair and Alfalfa Festival in the 134 acre Antelope Valley Fairgrounds at 2551 West Avenue H, just west of the Antelope Valley Freeway, Highway 14, this Friday, August 19. The fair itself opens at 4 p.m. with the concert, the opener for the Palmdale Auto Mall sponsored concert series starting at 7:30 p.m. in the Grandstand.
Spanning three decades, Blue Oyster Cult, originally called and recorded as Soft White Underbelly until vocalist Les Braunstein left the band in 1969, has a long and storied history. Having gotten its start in New York in the late 60s with six creative musicians featuring Donald “Buck Dharma” Roeser on guitar, Albert Bouchard on drums, Bruce Abbott, Allen Lanier on keyboards, John Wiesenthal and Andrew Winters on bass, the band has seen some 25 incredible musicians come and go.
Of the originals Lanier, Al Bouchard, Abbott, Wiesenthal and Winters have also been replaced over the years. Today, the current BOC carrying the standard for the 60’s band with new members include original lead vocalist Eric Bloom, Buck Dharma on guitar, Richie Castellano guitars/keyboards, Jules Radino on drums and Rudy Sarzo on bass
The first personnel change was Eric Bloom (formerly the band’s acoustic engineer) who replaced Braunstein on vocals. As Lead Vocalist Eric Bloom’s distinctive vocals are the personality and power that drives Blue Oyster Cult’s harder-hitting songs. On stage, Bloom is a busy man… not only is he lead vocalist, he also handles both rhythm guitar and keyboards as needed. Off stage his songwriting efforts comprise some of Blue Oyster Cult’s best songs.
Lead Guitarist Donald “Buck Dharma” Roeser’s guitar playing is the signature sound of Blue Oyster Cult. One of the greatest guitarists of our time, Buck is the driving sonic force of Blue Öyster Cult, and continues to push his playing in new uncharted directions. A master from the beginning, he plays with an ease and grace that puts most players to shame. An extremely expressive player, Buck doesn’t let any note go to waste. Each has something to say, if you’re willing to listen.
Buck’s talents don’t stop at the humbucking pickups, either. Buck is a gifted songwriter and excellent singer. His smooth vocal style has graced the Dharma-penned hits “Don’t Fear the Reaper” and “Burnin’ For You”. His voice contrasts and complements the sharper-edged style of lead vocalist Bloom. His songwriting juxtaposes alluring chord progressions, melodic textures and fascinating lyrical ideas with the best parts of pop music, to create songs that are definitively “Buck.”
Richie Castellano entered the BOC fold in 2000 as a substitute Front of House engineer. In 2004 he stepped up to filling in on guitar and bass, but since the retirement of Allen Lanier in 2007, multi-instrumentalist Richie switched from bass over to the guitars/keyboards, both of which he’s quite the master!
On stage, Richie is always on the move as a musician and vocalist. His high energy performances start from the first note of every show, and never let up until the house lights come on.
Bassist Rudy Sarzo, who joined BOC in 2008, has had quite the career, playing bass for some of the biggest music stars of the past few decades. Sarzo also adds vocals to the BOC sound. He is the sixth bassist to support the band’s rhythm section with Jules Radino. Original bassist Winters left the band in 1970 and was replaced by Al Bouchard’s brother Joe who held the position until September 1986.
Jon Rogers later replaced Bouchard on bass from March 1986 to 1995, when he was replaced by Greg Smith for the summer of 1995. The band for a time employed three “guest bassists” on a rotating basis: Danny Miranda, Jon Rogers and Rudy Sarzo. Rogers left in 1995, and was replaced by Danny Miranda who was on the bass rotation and guitar from August 1995 to September 2004. When Miranda again left in 2004. Castellano replaced him on guitar and keyboards until Sarzo took a more permanent stand as bassist in 2008.
Most notably the band has had quite a succession of drummers since 1981 replacing original drummer Al Bouchard. The several drummers, who unlike Spinal Tap drummers, left of their own accord and in one piece. Rick Downey, who was first hired to be Bouchard’s drum tech in 1973 took over drums in 1981 until January 1985. He was followed by Jimmy Wilcox from April 1985 to September 1986. Ron Riddle came on board in July of 1987 and stayed with the BOC until May of 1991. Chuck Burgi took on the drum position from June 1991 through 1997. John Miceli and John O’Reilly filled-in off and on in 1992, 1995, and 1996. Things settled down for awhile as Bobby Rondinelli joined the band in 1997 through to September 18, 2004. Jules Radino has been the drummer for BOC since 2004 adding percussion when needed.
But personnel changes were not the only item on the agenda. The band went through several name changes before settling on Blue Oyster Cult in 1971, including Oaxaca, Stalk-Forrest Group and the Santos Sisters.
The name “Blue Oyster Cult” came from a 1960s poem written by manager Sandy Pearlman. It was part of his “Imaginos” poetry, later used more extensively in their 1988 album Imaginos. In Pearlman’s poetry, the “Blue Oyster Cult” was a group of aliens who had assembled to secretly guide Earth’s history. Initially, the band was not happy with the name, but settled for it, and went to work preparing to record their first release.
Due to their unique sound and diversity, Blue Oyster Cult has been very influential to many modern bands that span many genres, and are often viewed as important pioneers of several different styles of rock music that came to prominence in the 1980s and 1990s. Many heavy metal bands have cited them as a major influence as well as on many of the harder-edged, psychedelic bands in the modern jam band scene because of their intimate live shows and extended improvisations.
Blue Oyster Cult has been seen as one of the main influences by rock noir bands such as the genre originators Belladonna. Their hit songs “Godzilla” and “Don’t Fear the Reaper” have been covered by a wide variety of bands. Their hit single “Don’t Fear the Reaper” was featured in the famous Saturday Night Live sketch, “More Cowbell”. The original recording was produced at The Record Plant in New York and produced by David Lucas who sang background vocals with Roeser and played the now famous cowbell part.
Also on the bill for Friday’s Grandstand concert and opening for BOC is Foghat, who began their career in 1971 as a bunch of rather unpretentious young Brits with an affection for American blues and ’50s rock ‘n’ roll. By the middle of the decade, they had evolved into a major touring and recording act, playing a pumped-up brand of boogie-rock to arena-size audiences. Their looks grew flashier, their sound fattened and filled out, yet the roots-rock core of the band remained ever-present under the surface.
Foghat’s mid-’70s hits (“Slow Ride,” “Drivin’ Wheel,” “Stone Blue”) were not aimed at the rock purists of the world. They continued to record traditional blues and R&B material throughout their years with Bearsville Records reaffirming their love for unadulterated, primal American music on their final albums with the label.
Band members Lonesome Dave Peverett on lead vocals and guitar), Rod Price on lead guitar, Tony Stevens on bass, and Roger Earl on drums all came out of the vital, close-knit London blues scene of the ’60s.
Over the years, the band went through multiple personnel changes to the extent that there were even multiple versions touring at the same time. Foghat continued to tour until early 1985, when Lonesome Dave retired to England after some 16 years on the road.
The remaining members of the evolved band – Roger Earl, Erik Cartwright and Craig MacGregor – took a brief break as well and along with Jim Robarge on Hammond B-3 & piano, reunited as The Kneetremblers. Billed as “formerly Foghat,” The Kneetremblers played R&B until 1986 when Robarge left the group and was replaced by Eric “EJ” Burgeson on guitars. A few months later, The Kneetremblers, citing both fan pressure and Burgeson’s knowledge of the material (Burgeson had auditioned for Rod Price’s position), began touring as Foghat. This band later became commonly known as “Roger Earl’s” Foghat.
Roger Earl’s Foghat went through a number of players over the next few years. Craig MacGregor continued until the end of ’86, when he departed to record his own music. MacGregor was replaced on bass by Erik’s brother Brett Cartwright of Joan Jett’s band, who stayed until 1989 and was subsequently replaced by Jeff Howell of Savoy Brown. Also departing in 1989 was Eric “EJ” Burgeson, who left to join Craig MacGregor’s band. Burgeson was replaced by Phil Nudelman, who in turn left in 1990 and was replaced by Billy Davis. The final replacement was Dave Crigger, who replaced Jeff Howell on Bass in 1992.
In 1990, Lonesome Dave reactivated Foghat as “Lonesome Dave’s Foghat” with new players; including guitarist Brian Bassett of Wild cherry guitarist and later Molly Hatchet, drummer Eddie Zyne of Hall and Oates, bassist Stephen Dees also from Hall and Oates and later, bassist Riff West of Molly Hatchet, hitting the U.S. club circuit once more. Lonesome Dave’s Foghat also included performances by Rod Price.
The two versions of Foghat toured separately from 1990 until 1993. The original Foghat was reformed in 1993 when Tony Stevens and Rod Price rejoined, and things were patched up between Dave and Roger.
Lonesome Dave Peverett, Rod Price, Tony Stevens, and Roger Earl, the original founding band members, toured with their studio CD, “Return Of The Boogie Men” and the follow-up live CD “Road Cases” (with Bryan Basset replacing Rod Price in 1999) until Lonesome Dave’s untimely death in 2000. They had returned to the basic blues/rock sound of 29 years ago. Even at their peak as hitmakers, that was the essence of the band’s sound. They remained true believers at heart.
Tickets are available for all of the Palmdale Auto Mall concert Series events at the fair box office or online at www.avfair.com. Admission for the Blue Oyster Cult and Foghat concert is – Gold tickets- $50, Track side- $25, or Grandstand: FREE with paid admission.
The 10 day celebration that begins Friday, August 19, and concludes Sunday, August 28, 2011 is a 71 year Antelope Valley tradition. In addition to the Palmdale Auto Mall concert series there will be innumerable other events including; exhibits, motorized events, bull riding, carnival rides, great food, free grounds entertainment and much more! Traditional events like the Rural Olympics, Jr. Livestock Auction and Home Arts exhibit competitions continue to involve the community in one of a kind, fun events.
All concert tickets include admission into the Fair. Grandstand gates open at 6:15 pm for patrons with special needs, and 6:30 pm for general public. Grandstand seating is included with the purchase of general admission for all concerts, except for Larry Hernandez/La Banda “MS” concert on 8/21 and Miranda Lambert/Randy Rogers Band on 8/23. Grandstand seating is available on a first come, first seat basis. Concert ticket stubs can be redeemed AFTER that night’s concert for 1 FREE Ferris wheel ride. One per person and cannot be combined with other nights.
General admission is Adults (12 & older) – $9.00, Juniors (6-11) – $7.00, Children under 6 – FREE with paid adult, Seniors (62+) – $7.00 and Active Military – FREE with Military Service I.D. (dependents must show I.D.). Parking is $5.00. Special discounts are available for special events as follows:
FRIDAY, 8/19, Open 4 to midnight – 1 FREE Parking and Admission, 4-5pm – PLUS 1 FREE ride, 1 FREE game. Carnival tickets: PRE-sale “10 Rides for $10” FunPass and PRE-sale $30 unlimited rides wristbands purchased on-line ARE valid. “10 Rides for $15” FunPasses and $35 unlimited rides wristbands available for purchase on-site and in carnival. $20 Vallarta rides wristbands are NOT valid today.
SATURDAY, 8/20, Open 2 to midnight –Palmdale Auto Mall Concert featuring Trace Adkins and Williams and Ree – 7:30 p.m. Admission for this concert is – Gold tickets- $75, Track side- $40, or Grandstand: FREE with paid admission. Rotary Club of Lancaster BOOK DRIVE, 2-4pm – Bring 1 NEW or 3 gently used book(s) suitable for use in an elementary school library and get 1 FREE admission ticket, redeem at main gate, receive 1 FREE ride. Carnival tickets: $30 PRE-sale ride wristbands purchased on-line ARE valid. $35 rides wristbands available for purchase on-site and in carnival. “10 Rides for $10 & $15” FunPasses & $20 Vallarta rides wristbands are NOT valid today.
SUNDAY, 8/21, Opens 2 to midnight – Vallarta Supermarkets Concert featuring Larry HERNANDEZ AND La Banda “MS” – 6:00 p.m. Adults 12+: $20 until 8/18 (as of 8/19: $25). Youth 6-11: $6 (as of 8/19: $7) NO FREE Grandstand festival seating with admission. PRE-sale ADMISSION tickets for Adult (12 and older): $20 – (a $5 savings off adult ticket price of $25 as of 8/19). Includes Fair admission and festival seating. NO FREE Grandstand seats. No service charge for concert tickets sold at A.V. Vallarta Supermarkets. There is a 10% service charge for tickets sold on-line and at the Fair Box Office and A.V. Mall cart. Sales of this ticket at Vallarta end 8/18.
PRE-sale Youth (6-11 year old): $6 Graceful Giving Youth Admission concert ticket (includes Fair admission). As of 8/19 Youth concert ticket: $7.00. Sales of this ticket at Vallarta end 8/18. • Children (5 years and under): FREE Fair admission and concert.
Carnival tickets: $20 Vallarta rides wristbands ARE valid today. $30 PRE-sale ride wristbands ARE valid today. $35 wristbands are available for purchase on-site. “10 Rides for $10 & $15” FunPasses are NOT valid today. Tickets also sold at all A.V. Vallarta Supermarkets with NO service charge! $20 UNLIMITED Rides Wristbands will be sold thru END of Fair on 8/28. ONLY valid on Thurs., 8/25 or Sundays 8/21 or 8/28 and can ONLY BE PURCHASED AT A.V. VALLARTA SUPERMARKETS thru END of Fair 8/28. $20 wristbands NOT sold on-line, on-site at the Fair or at the A.V. Fair Mall cart.
Grace Resources Canned FOOD DRIVE, 2-4pm – Bring 5 cans of food and get 1 FREE Fair admission (does NOT include admission to 8/21 concert or Demo Derby, (tickets are required for these events) and 1 FREE ride pass at Main Gate. Games cost $1 each until 9pm only.
MONDAY, 8/22, Open 4 to midnight – Palmdale Auto Mall Concert featuring Sublime with Rome – 7:30 p.m. Admission for this concert is – Gold tickets- $75, Track side- $39, or Grandstand: FREE with paid admission.
Special deals 8/22: KIDS DAY – Kids 11 & under FREE admission. SENIOR DAY – Seniors (62+ yrs): FREE admission. Grounds open at 2pm for seniors, 4pm for public. Seniors ride Carousel/Ferris Wheel FREE ALL day. FREE lunch 2-3:30pm or while supplies last. Food Specials: Seniors ONLY discount until 6pm at participating concession stands. SPECIAL-NEEDS CITIZENS DAY – FREE admission Special needs citizens and 1 caregiver. Grounds open: 2pm (4pm for public). FREE lunch 2-3:30pm or while supplies last. Carnival Tickets: “10 Rides for $10” FunPasses and PRE sale $30 rides wristbands ARE valid. “10 Rides for $15” FunPass AND $35 rides wristbands are available to buy on-site. $20 Vallarta rides wristbands are NOT valid today.
TUESDAY, 8/23, Open 4 to midnight – Palmdale Auto Mall Concert featuring Miranda Lambert and Randy Roberts Band – 7:30 p.m. Admission for this concert is – Gold Circle- $80, Track side- $65, or Grandstand – $40. NO FREE Grandstand seats for this concert. Carnival Tickets: “10 Rides for $10” FunPass and $30 rides wristbands are valid. “10 Rides for $15” & $35 rides wristband available for purchase on-site. $20 Vallarta rides wristbands are NOT valid today.
WEDNESDAY, 8/24, Open 4 to midnight – Palmdale Auto Mall Concert featuring Goo Goo Dolls and Michelle Branch – 7:30 p.m. Admission for this concert is – Gold Circle- $75, Track side- $40, or Grandstand: FREE with paid admission. Carnival Tickets: “10 Rides for $10” FunPass and $30 rides wristbands are valid. “10 Rides for $15” & $35 rides wristband available for purchase on-site. $20 Vallarta rides wristbands are NOT valid today.
THURSDAY, 8/25, Open 4 to midnight – FIGURE 8 RACE and Trailer Race – 7:30 p.m., presented by All Valley RV. Reserved Grandstand tickets are $20. Tickets include admission to the fair. NO FREE Grandstand tickets with paid admission for this event. Kiwanis Jr. Livestock Auction, 9am – (R. Rex Parris Show Arena) Auction Buyer’s breakfast, 8am. JLA (Kiwanis) BBQ, 6pm, Heritage Park: $10 ticket required. Buy BBQ dinner ticket at Admin Office or call Entry Office at 661-948-6060 ext. 226. Carnival Tickets: $20 Vallarta rides wristbands ARE valid today. “10 Rides for $10” FunPasses and $30 rides wristbands purchased on-line also valid today. “10 Rides for $15” FunPass AND $35 rides wristbands available for purchase on-site.
FRIDAY, 8/26, Open 4 to midnight – Sponsored by Cullen Insurance – PROFESSIONAL BULL RIDERS – 7:30 p.m., Grandstand – Admission – Gold Buckle $50, Reserved Grandstand $20. NO Free Grandstand, ticket is required. Ticket includes admission into the Fair. 4 to 5 p.m. only – FREE Parking with avfair.com coupon and 1 FREE ride, 1 FREE game. Carnival Tickets: “10 Rides for $10” FunPass and $30 rides wristbands purchased on-line are valid. “10 Rides for $15” FunPass AND $35 rides wristband available for purchase on-site. $20 Vallarta rides wristbands are NOT valid today.
SATURDAY, 8/27, Open 2 to midnight – sponsored by Calandri Sonrise Farms – RURAL OLYMPICS and Fireworks – 6:00 p.m. FREE with paid admission. Festival seating: first come, first seat. Fireworks Show after Rural Olympics. Rotary Club of Lancaster BOOK DRIVE, 2-4pm – Bring 1 NEW or 3 gently used book(s) suitable for use in an elementary school library & get 1 FREE admission ticket, redeem at main gate, receive 1 FREE ride. Carnival Tickets: $30 PRE-sale ride wristbands purchased on-line ARE valid. $35 rides wristbands available for purchase on-site and in carnival. “10 Rides for $10 & $15” FunPasses & $20 Vallarta rides wristbands are NOT valid today.
SUNDAY, 8/29, Open 2 to 11 p.m. – sponsored by Cullen Insurance – DEMOLITION DERBY- 6:00 p.m. Reserved Grandstand $20 at the gate. NO Free Grandstand admission, ticket required. Ticket includes admission into the Fair. Grace Resources Canned FOOD DRIVE, 2-4pm – Bring 5 cans of food & get 1 FREE Fair admission (does NOT include admission to 8/21 concert or Demo Derby. Tickets are required for this event) & 1 FREE ride pass at Main Gate. Games cost $1 each until 9pm only. Carnival Tickets: $20 Vallarta rides wristbands ARE valid today. $30 PRE-sale ride wristbands ARE valid today. $35 wristbands are available for purchase on-site. “10 Rides for $10 & $15” FunPasses are NOT valid today.
OTHER SPECIAL DEALS! BEST deal! Save $15 when you buy $20 UNLIMITED Carnival Rides wristbands at any A.V. Vallarta Supermarket through the end of Fair, 8/28 or while supplies last. $20 rides wristband are valid on 8/21 or 8/25 or 8/28 ONLY. “10 Rides for $15” Funpasses valid M-F ONLY. Sold on-site daily in Carnival ONLY. $35 Unlimited rides wristbands (+2 free games). Sold until 9pm nightly, but valid for rides all night. Carnival ticket package prices: 40 tickets: $20, 100 tickets: $50, 200 tickets: $100. The number of tickets required per ride and game varies according to the ride ( 3-15 tickets per ride) or game (6-10 tickets per game).
There will be NO entry to the Fair one (1) hour prior to closing. Barns close at 10 p.m. and Exhibit buildings close at 11 p.m. nightly (with the exception of Sunday, 8/28 when the buildings close at 10 p.m.). All buildings are ADA accessible.
For more information visit www.avfair.com, or call (661)948-6060.