Huey Lewis & The News rocked Thunder Valley Casino and Resort on Friday, playing to a sold-out crowd of over 3,500 cheering fans.
It was quite impressive watching as no fewer than 10 people (The News) stormed the stage while a booming heartbeat played in the background. As the crowd cheered, Lewis arrived onstage singing “The Heart of Rock & Roll” with the crowd joining in.
The next seven songs were off their new CD, “Soulsville,” which are soul cover songs from the Stax Records catalog. This earned a polite applause from the crowd with some shouts of “Hip to Be Square” and “Heart and Soul.” Starting with “Jacob’s Ladder,” Lewis got a bigger reaction out of the crowd. It was apparent the audience was looking for songs from the early years.
If anyone has seen Lewis perform in concert, then they know he always performs a couple of a cappella songs. Friday’s performance was no different. The audience thoroughly enjoyed the group’s rendition of The Dominoes’ “60 Minute Man” and “Uh-Huh,” both performed a cappella.
About an hour into the performance, Lewis had the audience on their feet with “Heart and Soul” and “I Want a New Drug.” That’s when I realized there was a sizable crowd gathered outside the amphitheater dancing and having a great time in the parking lot. To each their own. They serve alcohol in the amphitheater, not in the parking lot.
With a veteran 10-piece band that includes an awesome horn section, Lewis has a small arsenal at his disposal to perform a very diverse mix of songs. Add to that a 61-year-old voice, which, much like a fine wine, has matured with age. From the moment he hit the stage, his gravelly voice commanded attention and the audience was quite happy to give it.
There were a couple of Sacramento natives in the band. In the horn section was Johnny Colla, who was born in Sacramento and raised in Suisun. He is credited for writing “The Heart of Rock & Roll,” “The Power of Love” and “If This Is It.” Drummer Bill Gibson was also born in Sacramento and is currently living in Mill Valley.
It’s great to see a band like Huey Lewis & The News still going after all these years, although I was a little disappointed that they didn’t stick to their earlier hits. Playing songs from their “Soulsville” CD was nice, but I believe most people, myself included, would have rather had Lewis stick with the hits that brought him here, but, hey, someone has to keep working for a living.
Heart of Rock & Roll
Don’t Fight It
Got to Get You Off My Mind
I Want to Do (Everything For You)
Little Sally Walker
60 Minute Man ““ A cappella
Uh-Huh ““ A cappella
Heart & Soul
I Wanna New Drug
Don’t Let the Green Grass Grow
Never Like This Before
The Power of Love
Bad is Bad
Working for a Living
I was heading out to the Super ’70s Soul Jam at Thunder Valley Casino and Resort Thursday night, so I donned my rose-colored glasses, bell bottoms and platform shoes.
I packed snacks like Big Hunk, Bottle Caps and Screaming Yellow Zongers before leaving. I knew I would get the munchies since I’m such a burnout and can’t leave home without a joint or three (hey, I have a prescription). I was just hoping I could maintain with all that groovy music playing. The last thing I needed was for some narc to rat me out. As for the concert, it was far out, man, and, I should add, dyno-mite!
Right on. I get it. Not everyone can be as hip as the hipsters from the ’70s, but last night at Thunder Valley everyone was hip and just hanging out with the likes of the Dramatics, the Stylistics, the Delfonics, Heatwave, Carl Carlton and the emcee for the evening, Jimmy JJ Walker. The audience was grooving in their seats and boogieing in the aisles. I think there were a lot of sick people at the concert, since many of the people in the bleachers had the same prescription as me.
To start the night off, Walker took the stage. Most people remember Walker from his role on “Good Times” as James Evans Junior, or JJ. In fact, Walker coined the term “dyno-mite,” which became slang for great or fantastic.
Walker started right off with black people versus white people and didn’t let up throughout the evening. He attacked the criminal justice system and how black people are convicted and sent to prison while white people such as Casey Anthony and Lindsay Lohan walk. During a brief break, he told the black people to be back in three minutes, but white people to be back in 10. It was all in good fun and the audience loved it.
Carl Carlton was next on stage, singing two of his most recognizable songs, “Everlasting Love” and “She’s a Bad Mama Jama.” Right away people were up dancing in the aisles and having a great time. Carlton complained about the heat, hoping the sun would have gone down by the time he started, but they got an early start at 7:30, so no such luck.
Lonnie and Brenda Prudhomme dancing the night away at Thunder Valley Casino and Resort. (Image by: Randy Miramontez)
Following Carlton was Heatwave with original lead singer Keith Wilder. They performed a number of their hits, including “Boogie Nights” and “Always and Forever.” When “Always and Forever” started, more couples jumped up to dance, including Lonnie and Brenda Prudhomme (see photo). I think Lonnie was a reluctant participant, but that’s just my opinion.
Wilbert Hart from The Delfronics performs onstage at Thunder Valley Casino and Resort (Image by: Randy Miramontez)
Next up was the Delfonics with founding member Wilbert Hart and longtime member Garfield Fleming. After all these years, they still sounded the same singing their hits “La-La (Means I Love You),” “Didn’t I (Blow Your Mind This Time)” and “Break Your Promise.”
L. J. Reynolds of the Dramatics (Image by: Randy Miramontez)
When the Dramatics took the stage with original band member L.J. Reynolds, they got off to a rocky start. Not all of their songs sounded quite right, but they did hit their stride with “Whatcha See Is Whatcha Get” and “My Girl.”
Headlining the show was the Stylistics with original band members Herbert Murrell and Airrion Love. They performed many of their hits, including “Betcha by Golly, Wow,” “I’m Stone in Love with You,” “Break Up to Make Up” and a medley of all their hits, ending the show with “You Make Me Feel Brand New.”
By the end of the show, the crowd had diminished somewhat due to the late hour, but those who remained were still up and dancing all the way to the last song. Everyone had a great time and just got lost in the moment, remembering years gone by.
The summer concert series at Thunder Valley Casino is in full swing. The complete entertainment schedule is available on their website.