There’s an interesting little sub-culture here in Portland. Well, there are quite a few but I’m talking about cover bands, more specifically tribute bands. Bands that dedicate their craft to pay tribute to a specific band, usually from the 70’s or 80’s. They dress like them, learn to sing like them and (usually with the appropriate wig) often even look like them.
I was amazed when I learned just how many of these bands there are here in Portland. Why do they do this? Are they just hacks that can’t think for themselves or are they talented musicians that just want to get out there and play? I was skeptical when I first went to see Appetite for Deception (Guns N Roses) and Shoot to Thrill (ACDC) at the Roseland Theater last year. First let me say that I’ve been to a LOT of shows around town but never have I seen a turnout for a bunch of relative unknowns as I did that night. This place was packed and I’ve since learned that most of these bands have a very solid following. Much of this can be attributed to J-Fell presents, a local promoter that books and promotes these guys very aggressively. J-Fell is also starting to get some very respectable original acts added to their roster.
But my hunch is that they have a following because they can really play. That and many of us old timers really love those original bands and this is…..almost like seeing them live in an intimate setting. Here’s another thing. Remember how I mentioned that J-Fell is starting to get some respectable original acts (scroll up a few sentences if you missed it)? A lot of those bands feature the same people. Geoff Metts, Dain Ryan and Michael Collins from Ants in The Kitchen have formed a great new band called….wait for it…..Metts, Ryan and Collins. Remember the 80’s band Animotion (Obsession)? Lead guitarist & Stone in Love (Journey) front man Kevin Hahn, as well as Shoot to Thrill (ACDC) drummer Kevin Rankin play with them. The Bon Jovi tribute band Steelhorse includes Rankin on drums, Mark Thomas (Appetite for Deception), and The Loyal Order’s Jeff Buehner. The Loyal Order by the way also features Hahn on guitar and Ryan on bass. I know, confusing right? There are so many of these bands that I can’t keep track of them all.
So back to my original question: Are these guys real musicians? Hell yes they are! My only question now is….where do they find the time?