Rock n’ Roll House Party
By Misti Spicer
A major Portsmouth music event Sun Spot Tanning Salon’s Rock n’ Roll House Party will come to an end on Saturday, April 6th with “The Final Riff” at the Vern Riffe Center for the Arts. Steve Hayes, morning announcer and General Manager of Hometown Broadcasting Portsmouth, and event organizer made the announcement on Wednesday on his radio show.
“For twenty years it’s been a pure labor of love between us and Shawnee State University to create these shows that in the beginning was designed to be only a one-night event. After you looked at all of the major artists we have had under the banner of Rock n’ Roll House Party, we honestly started running out of original acts we could bring in that still maintained the quality we demanded,” Hayes said. “The end comes much like that of a beloved TV series. You never want to see it just fizzle and fade. That’s why we made the decision to end it now while we are still relevant and what better way to do so than on the 20th anniversary of its birth!”
Hayes said the series began on Saturday, April 8, 2000 when Hayes and Carl Daehler, former director of the Vern Riffe Center for the Arts booked the “Sensational 60’s” lineup featuring Gary Lewis and the Playboys, Mitch Ryder, Mark Lindsay, The Shangri-Las, and Billy Kramer.
“It was supposed to be a one-shot deal, and that was it, but after the show everybody just raved about it, and wanted to know when we were going to do another one,” Hayes said. “So, the next year we brought in Johnny Rivers and Three Dog Night and our band The Trouble Makers opened up for the first two years. Then we decided to do it again and again, and again.”
Hayes said this year’s lineup features Motown drummer, singer, and group founder Peter Rivera and the hits of “Rare Earth”. Also appearing will be the super-group from the 70’s “War”. Hayes said there will also be a special surprise guest who legitimately should be in the Rock n’ Roll Hall of Fame.
“We’ve never done this in the history of the 20 years of doing Rock n’ Roll House Party, but we’re going to have a surprise mystery guest that nobody will know until he comes out on stage, and does his thing,” Hayes said.
Rare Earth was one of the first acts signed to a Motown imprint that would be dedicated to white rock acts. The group had several Top 40 hits in 1970 and 1971 including remakes of The Temptations “I’m Losing You” and “Get Ready” which peaked at number four on the U.S. Billboard Hot 100 chart. Other big hits of their career include “Born to Wander”, “I Just Want to Celebrate” and “Hey Big Brother”.
“Peter Rivera with Rare Earth has been here before. He was with the Classic Rock All Stars. He opened for Dennis DeYoung. I think that was in 2009 or 10,” Hayes said. “He’s kind of redesigned his show. Because he was the voice of Rare Earth and the drummer, you’re going to hear all of the great Rare Earth songs.”
Rare Earth will kick off the 20th edition of Rock n’ Roll House Party. Hayes said the mystery guest will follow and War will close out the final House Party show.
“I’m sad to see it end, but in another way I’m kind of relieved that we were able to pull it off for 20 straight years and not really have a clunker. There will be other shows coming, but under the umbrella of Rock n’ Roll House Party this will be the end of that,” Hayes said. “It opens up more possibilities to do other things outside the genre of rock and roll.”
Also performing that night will be the group War which was originally called Eric Burdon and War. War is an American funk band from Long Beach, California. Their hits include; “Cisco Kid,” “Why Can’t We Be Friends,” “Gypsy Man,” “All Day Music,” “Slippin’ Into Darkness,” “Spill the Wine,” “Low Rider,” “The World is a Ghetto,” among many others. The group was nominated for the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2014 but was not inducted.
Tickets for the Sun Spot Tanning Salon’s Rock n’ Roll House Party 20 “The Final Riff” start at $35 and can now be purchased at the McKinley Box Office or by calling 740-351-3600. Tickets may also be purchased online at vrcfa.com.
Hayes said the event will once again feature a pre-party in the Selby Lobby of the Vern Riffe Center for the Arts prior to the concert. Fans will have the opportunity to get a free tee-shirt and enjoy free snacks provided by Sodexo.
“We are going to have a special commemorative final year tee-shirt and some other surprises too,” Hayes added.
The post party will once again be held in the Holiday Inn Downtown who along with Sun Spot Tanning Salon has been a generous sponsor of the event over the years.
“Jeff Albrecht with the Holiday Inn Downtown has always been great with hosting the artists. We couldn’t have done it without him,” Hayes said.
The fans who have attended the shows in the past are another important reason why the concert series has continued for so long and Hayes appreciates their support.
“I think over the years we’ve really had some of the best rock and roll icons from that era, and I think we are going to close out with a big one,” he said.