Banging On the Drum All Night at the bergenPAC
A Feature Article by Rich and Laura Lynch

The bergenPAC is a cool venue not just because they recently upgraded their air conditioning system but mainly for the great and varied concerts that they host. Case in point was the Bonzo Bash with its All-Star lineup. The drum fest celebrated the birthday and music of John Bonham on June 1st, 2013.

Bonzo Bash 2013 Is a Blast at the bergenPAC

John Henry Bonham was born May 31, 1948. John as the drummer for Led Zeppelin was praised for his passion, power and speed. He was a hard hitting player who used the heaviest and longest sticks (trees) yet John could calm the thunder if a song called for a softer tempo. Bonham is considered to be one of the greatest rock drummers of all times. John who died in 1980 at the young age of 32 is still influencing drummers and musicians today.

The Bonzo Bash is the brainchild of Brian Thomas Tichy and Joe Sutton. Their idea was to obtain a replica of John's kit with a gong and set it in the center of a stage. Next, invite an impressive list of drummers to the event. Lastly, put together a house band aptly named The Moby Dicks.

The three day celebration that took place in New York and New Jersey, May 31 through June 1, 2013 was hosted by Carmine Appice (Vanilla Fudge) and Eddie Trunk (That Metal Show). Each drummer using the Bonham kit played one of their favorite Led Zeppelin songs.

Bonzo Bash 2013 Is a Blast at the bergenPAC
Brian Thomas Tichy - Bonzo Bash founder and master of ceremonies.

The drums were really the focus of the evening. With the drums in the center fans could clearly see the kit and the drummer. Also, for much of the concert a bright light shinned down on the drums. The rest of the stage lighting was dimmer thus drawing attention to the kit yet the songs were still engaging in their entirety.

This exclusive event was also cool because it attracted a wide age bracket of fans including youngsters who were interested in seeing and learning from their heroes. This fact was not lost on Brian who gave a drum head signed by many of the drummers to a kid sitting in the front row. At the end of the concert this child was invited on stage for a picture with all the drummers. Now, how cool is that?

Around eight thirty we saw a man on stage right. He was hunched over carrying a bale of sticks. He was the man from the Led Zeppelin IV album cover. He slowly shuffled across the stage making his way to the kit. Losing the coat, hat and sticks we saw Brian Thomas Tichy. He opened the celebration with an impressive version of the "Immigrant Song". Afterward he greeted the crowd and introduced Jerry Gaskill from King's X.

Bonzo Bash 2013 Is a Blast at the bergenPAC
Mike Portnoy is consistently recognized as one of the world's finest drummers.

"So glad they brought this to our backyard," declared Eddie Trunk. He welcomed Ron Lipnicki to the stage who rocked on "The Song Remains The Same". Legend Carmine Appice strolled out. Appice said that back in the 60's when John Bonham first saw Carmine's kit with its 26 inch base drum that John wanted the same. Bonham got that kit and it became his standard setup. Throughout the evening Carmine shared drumming stories and jokes that many of the guests were Italian and from Long Island.

Steven Wolf who has worked with many pop artists such as Britney Spears and Pink proved that he was a power player also with his potent interpretation of "Trampled Under Foot".

Bobby Rondinelli chose "Kashmir" and with The Moby Dicks he delivered all the might and mystery required for the song. The Moby Dicks were a solid supporting team. Lead singer Chas West resembled Robert Plant with his shoulder length blond hair and vocal style. Chas made it a point to include Plant mannerisms into his performance adding to the impact of the music as a whole.

After a short break, Van Romaine went for the funky James Brown inspired "The Crunge". Mike Cartellone was heavy on "Houses of The Holy". Jo Jo Mayer picked "Good Times Bad Times". He played with precision so much so that even the cow bell stood out.

Bonzo Bash 2013 Is a Blast at the bergenPAC
Chad Smith of the Red Hot Chili Peppers added some red hot drumming to an already thunderous night.

Guest singer Russell Allen (Symphony X) assisted West on a number of tunes adding more excitement to the event. What also made the concert interesting was that each song - though true to the original - incorporated subtle changes with each artist putting their own signature on it.

Tichy thanked his parents who were present for "letting him make a boat load of noise" as a kid and thus becoming the player that he is today. Brian welcomed John Hummel who with The Moby Dicks performed a heavenly version of "Stairway to Heaven". Liberty Devitto propelled an energized "Misty Mountain Hop".

Mike Portnoy mentioned the sense of improvisation that Led Zeppelin had in their live performance. Thus, he played a dynamic "Dazed and Confused" that took a tantalizing turn into the hippy anthem "If You're Going To San Francisco" before returning to the daunting "Dazed" terrain. Chad Smith of the Red Hot Chili Peppers with the band sizzled on "Heartbreaker".

Brian Thomas Tichy closed the set. His drum solo during "Achilles' Last Stand" was mind blowing as he slammed the cymbals and skins with his bare hands. His movements were forceful yet fluid and made for a feisty finale or so we thought. The event ended with an expansive "Moby Dick" in which all the drummers were playing percussion with many of them going to the kit for a quick fill and that closed the concert on a very cool note.

Bonzo Bash 2013 Is a Blast at the bergenPAC
Brian Tichy as the Led Zep IV icon; Jerry Gaskill; Liberty DeVito; and, Eddie Trunk shows off his metal skills.

This was the eighth Bonzo Bash event performed and there are hopes to expand the series. No matter, a new legacy was loosed this night as Tichy announced the first ever Bonzo Bash Founder's Legend Award presented to KISS drummer Peter Criss who supplied a prepared statement to accept the honor. In addition, the All-Star cast surprised co-host Appice with his own induction into the this new club of exclusive stick men.

Opening for the drum fest was Rob Bailey and Mike Tichy. The two armed with acoustic guitars performed a fine pick fest of Led Zeppelin classics including "No Quarter", "D'yer Mak'er" and "Thank You". Their set was a pleasant bonus to the Bonzo Bash and speaking of bonuses the bar at the bergenPAC stayed open late so that fans could meet some of the drummers who stayed after the show to mingle.

The bergenPAC is a cool venue that is central located in Englewood, New Jersey . It is an Art Deco-styled theater with fine acoustics. The bergenPAC supports education and hosts a wide range of events. Upcoming concerts at the theater include Vanilla Fudge, Buddy Guy, Awesome 80's, Sweet, Rick Springfield, Melissa Etheridge, Happy Together, Great White, Wynonna, Todd Rundgren, George Thorogood, Lynyrd Skynyrd, Cheap Trick, The Water Boys and Randy Travis. Please check for a complete list of their events.

The Moby Dicks: Chas West - vocals | John "JD" DeServio - bass | Rob Clores - keys | Brent Woods - lead guitar | Brian Thomas Tichy - supporting guitar

The All Star Lineup: Chad Smith (Red Hot Chili Peppers) | Michael Cartellone (Damn Yankees) | Joe Franco (Good Rats) | Jonathan Mover (Aretha Franklin) | JoJo Mayer (Nerve) | AJ Pero (Twisted Sister) | Mike Portnoy (Dream Theater) | Bobby Rondinelli (Rainbow) | Matt Starr (Ace Frehley) | Brian Thomas Tichy (Whitesnake) | Steven Wolf (Alicia Keys) | Jerry Gaskill (King's X) | John Hummel (Matt O'Ree Band) | Johnny Kelly ( Danzig / Type O Negative) | Ron Lipnicki (Overkill) | Van Romaine (Steve Morse Band) | Danny Schuler (Biohazard) | Chad Szeliga (Black Label Society) | Liberty Devitto (Billy Joel)

Bonzo Bash 2013 Is a Blast at the bergenPAC
Carmine Apprice accepts his honor; Chas West provides that Zeppelin look;
Tichy on double duty; and Russell Allen gave a shot of Adrenaline.

Related Links: For more information on the BONZO BASH and the other organizations mentioned please visit the following links - Brian Tichy - Bonzo Bash | Eddie Trunk | Carmine Appice |

(Originally Published on June 02, 2013)




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