It’s rare and refreshing when a rock band gets back together for the right reasons.
Far too often when former rock and rollers announce “We’re getting the band back together” you immediately know that translates to “Man, we really need some cash.” In the case of Boston’s Del Fuegos, it was simply a matter of wanting to turn up the guitars and have some fun.
As a nod to the venue’s 10th anniversary, the Kent Stage will give a $10 discount for the Del Fuegos show to those who say “I read about it in Kent Patch” when buying tickets at the door tonight.
The group was formed in Boston in 1980, part of fertile rock and roll scene that included bands such as the J. Geils Band and Aerosmith. Signed to the influential Slash Records in 1980, the garage-style rockers broke out commercially with the release of their second album, Boston, Mass., which featured the hits Don’t Run Wild and I Still Want You.
Extensive airplay on MTV, critical acclaim and constant touring expanded their fan base. The band's admirers included Tom Petty, who appeared on the group’s third album and featured the Del Fuegos as an opening act on one of his tours.
But their commercial fortunes started to wane towards the end of the 1980s, and by the end of the decade the group had called it quits. Guitarist and singer Dan Zanes went on to enjoy huge success as a children’s and family performer, earning a Grammy Award for Best Musical Album for Children in 2007.
Guitarist Warren Zanes, Dan’s brother, earned a doctorate from the University of Rochester in Visual and Cultural Studies and served as Vice President of Education and Programs at the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in Cleveland from 2003 to 2006.
Drummer Woody Giessmann started Right Turn, an addiction treatment program, and bassist Tom Lloyd, who also earned a Ph.D., now works as an investment analyst.
For this group of over-achievers, a Del Fuegos reunion was not top-of-mind.
According to Warren Zanes, the seeds for a reunion tour were sown when the band reconvened for a few hometown shows last summer. The Boston shows were wildly successful, the group played well and everyone had a blast. But those gigs, benefits for Giessmann’s drug and alcohol recovery work, were not part of some master plan.
Before the rehearsals for those shows, Zanes said he actually needed to relearn the old tunes.
“I found myself without any records or CDs having to buy all of our music on iTunes,” Zanes said with a laugh. “I forgot to get reimbursed for that, incidentally.”
The timing felt right, and the four started discussing other shows. “Twenty years is a good distance to put between yourself and the territory of youthful dreams,” Zanes said.
The band members handpicked the cities they remembered best from years of touring. The brief 11-city tour has included stops in New York, Chicago, Minneapolis and Cleveland. It wraps on Sunday in Concord, N.H.
The band’s no frills straight-forward brand of rock and roll has aged well. It's energentic and unprententious music that doesn't go out of style.
“There is something that’s really satisfying about turning an amplifier up loud and playing meat-and-potatoes rock and roll,” Zanes said.
Zanes certainly knows a thing or two about rock and roll. After his stint at the rock hall, he took a job working for Springsteen guitarist Steve Van Zandt. Zanes is the Executive Director of The Rock and Roll Forever Foundation, a non-profit organization involved in developing a rock history curriculum for schools. He is also working on an authorized biography of Tom Petty and has released three well-regarded solo records.
Friday’s concert is one of a slew of notable shows booked for the Kent Stage’s 10th anniversary, a milestone that will be celebrated all year. On Saturday, bluegrass legend Ralph Stanley brings his Clinch Mountain Boys to town for a night of serious pickin’ and grinnin’. Other upcoming shows include the Psychedelic Furs, Guster, Cowboy Junkies, Leon Redbone, Judy Collins and Men at Work’s Colin Hay.
Kent Stage owner Tom Simpson, who is still feeling the good vibes from his recent sold out Glen Campbell show, says to expect more big concerts to be announced soon, including headliners for the Kent Blues Fest and the Kent State Folk Festival.
“We’re just getting started,” Simpson said. He acknowledged the 650-seat venue has had its up and downs over the past decade, especially weathering the recent serious recession.
But Simpson is looking forward to the new developments in the city. “Great things are happening in Kent, and we plan to be here and be a part of it.”
Tickets for the Del Fuegos are $20.50 at the box office. Doors open at 7 p.m.