It seemed like a usual Wednesday night in Hollywood, CA. The 101 North to Gower Street was crowded as usual and the stop and go of traffic made everyone all too aware it was only the middle of the week, but for some, the anticipation of the evening hung on the minds and lips of the long line of people waiting to get into the Fonda Theater for the record release party of Dig, from Heaven and Earth. Since this was a private event, those in line were all industry related people in their finest black leather, black hair and an array of costumes and women dressed to impress.
“Cirque” type of acrobats with painted faces walked in and out of the line twirling balls on umbrellas as a 15 foot man (on stilts no doubt) glided through the crowd taking the hands of those who would dance with him. As we all finally made it through the front doors, shots of rock celebrities like Sean McNabb (Dokken, Burning Rain), Lorraine Lewis and Nita Strauss (Femme Fatale), promoting legend Gina Zamparelli, Alan Krigger and Nadir D’Priest (London) and Scotty Griffin (L.A. Guns) were being snapped on the red carpet. The front foyer was packed with people mingling, drinking, laughing, drinking, posing for pictures and did I mention drinking? Drinks were on the house but to get one, you had to have a token; but where to get those tokens? From the midget in tails and top hat of course!
Making our way inside the theater, International Champion of Magic, David Minkin strolled through the crowd performing sleight of hand for eager eyes and Dilana had just taken the stage for her acoustic set. For such a tiny little thing, her strong vocals rang through the theater commanding attention; she is someone to definitely catch live.
At 9pm the room filled to capacity, welcomed vocalist Joe Retta, guitarist Stuart Smith, bassist Chuck Wright, Ed Roth on the Hammond and drummer Richie Onori, collectively known as Heaven and Earth, to the stage. The band’s first song, Victorious brought the crowd to attention. Back in Anger and No Money No Love rang through the air like a symphony; or music to our ears. Horns and iPhones danced in the air throughout House of Blues and Man and Machine.
These veteran rockers put on a tight set and seeing them live, you can tell; they are true musicians who know their instruments and craft well and not just another rock n’ roll band. When a band can perform live in front of “industry only” people that speaks volumes about everything; the music, the stage presence the atmosphere and keeping a crowd going because these peers are the ones judging you first; before anyone else in the general public gets to make their opinion known. They slowed things down a bit when Roth did a short jazz piano solo leading into the ballad, I Don’t Know What Love Is. By the end of the night, no one truly wanted to sit down after being fed an electric performance by Heaven and Earth, so the band came out for an encore of Gimme Some Lovin’ before leaving the stage to greet their guests and enjoy the festivities of the party long into the night. Riding home, the thought did occur – we all may live somewhere between heaven and hell but true sanctuary lies within Heaven and Earth; you Dig?
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