Niagara Gazette

July 18, 2013

JENNINGS: Hip at the Harbor a highlight

By Thom Jennings
Niagara Gazette

Niagara Gazette — It is one of the slower weekends of the summer for music possibly because it is typically the hottest week weather wise in Western New York.

Over the next few days the big names are coming to Darien Lake, including an event dubbed as the “Americanarama Festival of Music” featuring Bob Dylan and Wilco tonight at Darien Lake.

Bob Dylan made the news recently because he fired guitarist Duke Robillard only a few months after Robillard took over guitar duties from Charlie Sexton, who has returned to take his spot back. Uncut Magazine reported that Dylan was frustrated that Robillard was stepping on Dylan’s harmonica solos by coming in too early.

As for Sexton, people who grew up watching MTV in the 1980s may remember Sexton’s hit “Beat’s So Lonely.” Sexton released the hit when he was just 16 years old. In 1992 he joined a group called Arc Angels, which featured the surviving members of Stevie Ray Vaughn’s Double Trouble. They only produced one eponymous album but it was a great one.

While we are on the subject of fired guitarists, we can jump ahead to Tuesday at Darien Lake when they will be hosting Bon Jovi. The band appeared in Buffalo at the First Niagara Center in February of this year with guitarist Richie Sambora, who left the tour shortly after the Buffalo performance for “personal reasons.”

Sambora’s spot is being filled by Phil Xenidis, better known as Phil X. What is interesting about Phil X is that he used to be the lead guitarist for Triumph. Phil X played guitar on Triumph’s final studio album entitled “Edge of Excess,” and toured in support of the album.

Phil X’s stint with Triumph was short-lived, as may be the case with his time in Bon Jovi — this is the second time he has taken over guitar duties from Sambora. It has been reported that Richie and Jon have patched things up and Sambora hopes to return to Bon Jovi in September. In the meantime, you can catch Phil X at Darien Lake with Bon Jovi.

On Friday at The Outer Harbor is the best show of the weekend in my humble opinion. It features The Tragically Hip and Grace Potter and the Nocturnals. I don’t have to sell anyone around here on The Hip so I will just comment that I don’t understand why Grace Potter continues to open for other artists. Maybe she needs the exposure, but at this point in her career she should be headlining instead of having to play short sets on double bills.

Lockport’s Friday free show is The Pink Floyd Experience, the west coast version of The Machine. The band’s stage show is supposed to be more impressive than The Machine’s and includes a flying pig. If it’s hot outside maybe some sizzling bacon will fall on the crowd, and everything is better with bacon!

Also on Friday at Darien Lake is The Jonas Brothers. Nick, Joe and Kevin Jonas are three brothers from New Jersey whose gained popularity with the help of The Disney Channel. The network produced two movies featuring the brothers and a television show.

Whether you like their music or not, The Jonas Brothers have done a great deal of charity work and have avoided getting embroiled in scandals. In other words, they are actually good role models for their young fans, a rare thing these days.

On Sunday Toby Keith will be at Darien Lake, and as much as I would like to spend my birthday with Toby Keith, I will say this about one of his shows I attended. The show was great, lots of fun lots of pyrotechnics. The drunken fools in the parking lot, well it made me wonder if Darien Lake officials should ban Red Solo Cup carrying amateur drinkers.

Thom Jennings covers the local music scene for Night and Day.