RokIsland Festival – Day 2 – Thursday – 1/19/23

As was announced the week prior, due to circumstances out of the festival’s control, Thursday evening headliner Vince Neil and Norwegian rock band Wig Wam were not able to perform at this year’s Rokisland Fest Instead, the festival welcomed Slaughter and Lynch Mob to the line-up and issued a statement from Vince Neil which read as follows:

“Hello RokIsland Friends, I am sad to report that yesterday I was diagnosed with Covid. I am okay but this thing is really kickin’ my ass. All that being said, I am unable to perform at RokIsland Fest next week. I would like to extend my sincerest apologies to the RokIsland Fest organizers and most of all my friends and fans. I am disappointed to say the least. I was so looking forward to this show. I am hopeful that I will have the opportunity to make this up in 2024. In closing, I wish all the attendees of RokIsland Fest 2023 a fun and exciting time with all the other amazing acts.” – Vince Neil

We join the festival in wishing Vince a speedy recovery and hope to see him back on stage very soon as Motley Crue and Def Leppard hit the road starting the weekend of February 10 and 11 at the Mark G. Etess Arena at the Hard Rock Hotel & Casino in Atlantic City, NJ.

We plan to connect with Glam from Wig Wam to discuss the band’s upcoming album Out of the Dark next week, and get the scoop on their cancellation.  Be sure to follow us @ThePureRockShop our social channels for the interview.

Similar to the intimate vibe with Enuff Z’ Nuff the day prior, VIP event patrons were introduced to the comedic antics of the Eric Martin Band which features frontman Eric Martin on lead vocals and guitar (Mr. Big), Steve Brown on guitar (Trixter, Tokyo Motor Fist, Wizards of Winter), PJ Farley on bass (Trixter, Fozzy), and Ben Hans on drums (Kip Winger). We say comedic, because these guys always like to joke, and if you don’t believe me, we have interviews in our archives with Eric and PJ to prove it…

While there were some entertaining exchanges of instruments and everyone but Ben took the lead on vocals at least once, this truly is Eric Martin’s band (wink wink). But, we will continue to tease him with titles like ‘Trixter light’ (because he gave us that idea) and ‘Trixter Big’ given that have his bandmates hail from the band Trixter and “Give it to Me Good,” will always be a crowd favorite.

The set included stripped-down versions of many Mr. Big classics like “Superfantastic,” “Shine,” and “Alive and Kickin’,” the later of which allowed Steve Brown to showcase his fast fretwork on the song made famous by Racer X himself, Paul Gilbert (because it wasn’t exactly an acoustic show, as one would have thought at first glance).

There were some expected sing-alongs like “To Be With You,” and the Cat Steven’s cover “Wild World,” and the set concluded with lots of fan participation as the audience was invited to get off their feet and treat this intimate gathering like a real rock show.  That energy continued on both Friday and Saturday night when the band returned in full force at the Smokin’ Tuna after parties, but not before we encouraged Steve and PJ to jam with their friend Greg Smith who was getting his own unofficial after party going nightly at The Backyard Bar on Duval (see below).

Lynch Mob featuring Mr. Scary himself, George Lynch (Dokken) on guitar, was fronted by Gabriel Colon, who was joined by Jaron Gulino (Heavens Edge, Tantric) on bass, and the only guy pulling double duty that night, Jordan Cannata (Tokyo Motor Fist, Slaughter) on drums. We hear that Jimmy D’Anda (ex-Bulletboys) will return sometime in March, but fans didn’t seem to mind watching the heavy-hitting Jordan visit the stage twice. In fact, there is quite an outpouring of support for the man with the best socks on the stage in the Rokisland Facebook group.

We really felt for these guys, especially Gabriel and Jaron who could be found taking the majority of the afternoon sun in as it reflected off their black leather ensembles.  One could see Gabriel laboring to sing through the heat and Jaron said that it was probably the most difficult show he’d ever played. Despite the challenges from the heat and humidity, the set offered up energetic renditions of all of our favorites like Lynch Mob’s “River of Love,” and “Wicked Sensation” and Dokken classics like “Mr. Scary,” and “Into the Fire.”

As we reported at Monsters on the Mountain and at Jergels earlier this year, the current Quiet Riot band features Jizzy Pearl (Love/Hate, Ratt, LA Guns), drummer Johnny Kelly (Danzig, Black Label Society) (who joined the band following the loss of Frankie Banali), and returning bassist Rudy Sarzo (Whitesnake, Dio, Manic Eden). Sadly longtime guitarist Alex Grossi (Hookers & Blow, Beautiful Creatures) had taken ill prior to the festival. So, the band was joined by guitarist Christian Brady (HellYeah) on Thursday.

Props to Christian who took it in stride as the band immediately had sound issues as they kicked off the set, and Jizzy was left to entertain us as we anticipated the continuation of the evening.  I for one don’t think that I’ll ever tire of watching Rudy Sarzo pound on that bass, from his two handed finger tapping to his hair flipping twirls, he was by far one of the most energetic entertainers of the festival.  Iconic Slade covers,”Mama Weer All Crazee Now” and “Cum On Feel the Noize,” the anthem, “Metal Health (Bang Your Head),” and even a little Love/Hate rounded out their set. We wish Alex the best and hope to see him with the band this May at M3 Rock Festival in Baltimore, MD.

Slaughter members Mark Slaughter on vocals and guitar, Dana Strum on bass, and Jeff Blando on guitar seem to have a rotating list of drummers in their pocket.  As noted earlier this night’s choice was Jordan Cannata who managed to leave us in awe with his drum solo once again, despite playing a full set just hours earlier with Lynch Mob.

As the stage art indicated, Slaughter is most definitely ‘Still Sicking it To Ya’ some thirty-three years later, and the set brought us back to our teenage years with classics like “Fly to the Angels,” “Mad About You,” and the theme of the week for pretty much everyone “Up All Night, Sleep All Day.” But what I must point out is that from my vantage point in the pit, behind the board, and in the crowd, this was by far one of the best sounding Slaughter shows I have ever heard, and I’ve seen dozens of Slaughter shows everywhere from the tiny little Cove at Geneva on the Lake to outdoor festivals and even cruises like Monsters of Rock.

Following the set, we caught up with the Slaughter band and learned a bit more about that new bass Dana showcased during the set as it was clearly a departure from his custom-designed V-shape basses from Arbor Guitars.  He tells us the new addition is a custom-made Bluesman Vintage Superbird bass, and that Mark actually spent quite a bit of time overlooking the creation of this new instrument to ensure that it met his specifications.  Other notable Bluesman Vintage owners include Derek St. Holmes (Ted Nugent) and Glenn Hughes (The Dead Daises).

The evening closed with 38 Special, a classic band with sales in excess of 20 million, but probably not a band on the playlists of most attendees looking for hard rock of the late eighties and early nineties.  Some may have been left scratching their heads wondering if they knew any 38 Special songs, but as the evening went on, that question was soon answered.  The band is most known for arena-rock pop smashes like “Hold On Loosely,” “Rockin’ Into the Night,” and of course, “Fantasy Girl.” So, it didn’t take long for them to win-over the crowd as their sang along to the songs that they learned on the radio. 

The current lineup includes Guitarist/vocalist Don Barnes, keyboardist/vocalist Bobby Capps, drummer Gary Moffatt, bassist Barry Dunaway, and guitarist Jerry Riggs.

The crowd migrated to the Smokin’ Tuna for some fun with the Bulletboys at their official afterparty before we headed to the Off The Road/On The Road ’23 jam at The Backyard Bar on Duval for some late night fun hosted by Greg Smith (Ted Nugent, Tyketto, Wizards of Winter).

Featuring the jams that kept life music alive during Covid lockdown, the show brought favorites from Greg Smith’s extensive career and other classic jams featuring lots of notable guest musicians and attendees after the Rokisland Festival Thursday through Saturday.

The Thursday (onto Friday morning) jam session hosted by Greg Smith (Ted Nugent, Tyketto, Wizards of Winter) on bass and vocals, included bandmates Jason M Hartless on drums (Pop Evil, Eric Martin Band, Ted Nugent), and Lou Franco (Pretty Poison), with appearances from Trixter’s Steve Brown and PJ Farley and Shot of Poison’s Frank Pupillo, while the audience included members of Lynch Mob, Jetboy, Extreme, Black ‘n Blue, and others throughout the week.  Talk about the place to be!

Check out our preparty coverage here, Wednesday coverage here, and be sure to stop back soon for more event recaps from Friday and Saturday performances at Rokisland Festival, and an interview with Wig Wam!

Follow us @ThePureRockShop for more local concerts including Kings of Thrash, Enuff Z’ Nuff, Queensryche, Ugly Kid Joe, Riki Rachtman, The Winery Dogs, and That Arena Rock Show, as well as festival coverage in 2023 including more from the Rokisland Festival in Key West, Monsters of Rock Cruise, M3 Rock Festival and more.

Coverage by Editor and founder Kara Marie Uhrlen.  All event photos by Kara Uhrlen and The Pure Rock Shop. Contact us for licensing information.