Sunday, November 15, 2009

Tesla Still Reigns as Modern Day Cowboys

Tesla! How I love thee! Let me  count the ways...

3. My dog-who was named after Tesla.

But Wait! Before you go off reading my proclamations, let me share with you a little story.
A little "LOVE SONG" about Tesla.
To really understand we must go back many, many years ago.
Twenty three to be exact. I was sixteen years old. And a music nut.
Go figure.
What, you aren't surprised?

My cousin Marc and I, along with my best friend Jenny and Marc's friend ,Steve loaded into my Chevy Cavilier and drove an hour south to Montgomery to take in a David Lee Roth show. Marc and I were huge Van Halen fans and felt it necessary to do some investigative work on Dave's new show on the heels of his split from VH. Besides, I had a thing for guitars and guitarist and the incredibly talented Steve Via was now filling the slot of Roth's lead guitarist. I couldn't miss the opportunity to hear Via play. Also on the ticket that fateful night was a new musical act, one that I was at the time unfamiliar with, one by the name of Tesla. My cousin had actually heard them and was impressed with them, so I was equally eager to give them a listen.
When we got into the small arena, my friend Jenny and I went our own way, while Marc and Steve went theirs. Jenny and I made our way to the front of the stage.
Remember when concerts were general admission?
Those were the days when elbowing, crawling over and under, being doused with blood, sweat, tears and beers was real rock and roll. REAL ROCK and ROLL, people!

And endurance of those less than ideal situations could very well earn one a spot in front of all the action. As was the case with Jenny and I. We parked ourselves at stage left, where one Steve Via would be playing shortly. After a short while, two guys came over and began to chat it up with Jen and I. They introduced themselves as Tommy and Frank. Nice guys, shared some laughs and  small talk-mostly about the evening. We all agreed we were eager to see an incredible show. After about 45 minutes they said they were going to go and they'd be back a little bit later. "Suit yourself," I thought...."the shows about to begin. You don't want to miss it."

Moments later the lights dimmed and the crowd began to cheer loudly.  Jen and I clapped and jumped up and down with anticipation. We could see figures on the stage in front of us and just then the lights shown brightly onto the stage. I looked over at Jen, who like me was stunned. She looked back at me confused. Before us, onstage was the very Frank and Tommy that we had just been sitting with moments earlier. Frank was directly in front of both of us. He took great delight in our bewilderment. As it turned out Tommy and Frank were none other thanTommy Skeoch and Frank Hannon of the opening band, Tesla.  After the Tesla show, Frank and Tommy came back and sat with us again to watch the David Lee Roth performance. After the show then invited us "to party on the bus". Being the nice girl that I was and not knowing their full intentions, we politely declined. I know my mom is so proud of me. LOL! I regret I couldn't locate my cousin Marc to chaperone or I would've in a heartbeat. Who misses the opportunity to hang with such a great musical artist. Me. Good girl. It was a fun and memoriable night though.
A few years later (1990) the guys were in town again for another show. I met the whole group (and their roadies) at the mall. I had my little neighbor (Will "the Thrill) in tow and we snapped this picture of us with lead singer Jeff Keith.

Through the years, with every album and no doubt my own "personal" experiences with the band I have always had an infinity for the band Tesla. The music has a sound all it's own, most notably due to the strong lead guitar of wickidly talented Frank Hannon  and the raw emotionally charged voice of singer Jeff Keith. But it was also the content of the songs, the lyrics. Tesla wasn't just some 80's hairband that was dependant on songs about unrequited love and lust to put them on the charts. They wrote from the heart, drawing from what would be more controversial topics at times, while others were songs of prevailance and overcoming adversity. Modern Day Cowboy and Private Ledbetter are two songs that are about subjects found in headlines. I appreciate their willingness to write about such passionate subjects, knowing it might not get the airplay deserved, whether I agree or not with all of their political ideals or not. Like Tesla, I am a proud American and I think something can be said for pouring your heart out into a song about topics that are usually discussed on govermental steps or headline news. I applaud the band for it.

As mentioned in my "count the ways" above, I named my dog after the band. My husband put his foot down when I suggested naming my daughter after the band (Tess). When we found out they were going to be in town at the wonderful facility of Workplay, my sweet "Big Daddy" purchased tickets for us to attend, " an anniversary gift", he said.  And to make the evening even more fun, my cousin Marc went with us( as did  his friend Gary, who has an affiliation with drummer Troy on a musical colaberation in a Christian rock band) . We also met a highschool friend of ours and his wife, Robert and Carmen at the concert. Will (my neighbor ) was also in attendance.

To say the night was awesome would be an understatment!!!! Jeff Keith still has his musical chops, not slacking in the least. And Frank Hannon was just as impressive as the first time I heard and saw him. Frank is truly a gifted guitarist. Sadly, Tommy Skeoch is the only member who has left the band. He was replaced by "new kid on the block" Dave Rude, a thirty four year old guitaist who is out of San Fransico by a band of his own name, The Dave Rude band. I cannot fully express how impressed I was with Rude's talent. He is an amazingly gifted, very charismatic  and animated guitarist. He reminded me of a young Ted Nugent (madman). I  really became a fan of Mr. Rude's through this performance, so much so I couldn't wait to get home and read and listen to more of his own musical work.
I love to see artist so visably passionate about what they do, and Rude's stage performace is a full on expression of that. He feels his music from the pic of his guitar to the heels of his converse sneakers. One senses that it is a passion that extends beyond the performace, it is more of an emotional connection with everything in the room from the intrument he plays, to the crowd to the mood. This was Rude. For me, that enthusiasm is contagious. What a incredible show!!!! And to be sharing it with friends that also had a special connection to Tesla, it was a moment in my life that I will forever remember.

Here are some moments captured through my photography of our night reunited with Tesla.

Jeff Keith
Frank Hannon
Dave Rude
Brian Wheat
Troy Lucceketta

(You can find and hear some Tesla tunes on my playlist. Scroll and play. :)
** I got a guitar pics that night, personally handed to me by two of my guitar heros-Frank Hannon and Dave Rude. It's going into my memory box.


Laura @ the shorehouse. said...

Ah....General Admission shows...

I love that you are still true to your rock & roll roots...good for you! Me, too. Keeps me young. ;-)

Jane said...

What a great story! It's wonderful that the band is still together and I bet that you are their #1 fan. What fun memories!

Doc said...

That is an awesome story. I actually had a similar experience with I was a kid meeting Mike Love of the Beach Boys (my Dad's hero) when I snuck backstage at a concert.
I would probably say that I have the same connection to the Coral Reefer band (and Brother Jimmy of course) having met and gotten to know Peter Mayer a few years ago. I love people that are passionate about their music as well.

Kristy said...

Love the story.. I have been waiting on an update. Glad you had a good time..

Dawn said...

LOVE Tesla! Love will find a way!!!!


The Quintessential Magpie said...

Sounds like fun, Leigh! And I loved the story of your friendship with the band.


Sheila :-)

Anonymous said...

Mamma is soooo proud you didn't take that offer and get on that bus!!!!
You're good kid!!
Your Mamma

jennifer said...

One thing for sure, your life is not boring!! What AWESOME photos!

Kirby3131 said...

I love posts like this, where we (your bestest blog friends) get to learn a bit more about the kid in you. I love that you named your dog Tesla and that you were considering Tess for your daughter! Love it.

How fun that you met the boys at the concert and I'm proud of you for not going on the bus. Whew! I would have totally gone on the bus and immediately regretted it lol