Jennings: Let’s take a closer look at Rockin’ the Downs series

Feb 10, 2019

Batavia Downs announced earlier this week its third annual Rockin’ the Downs series featuring eight national recording artists with tickets still starting at just $10. As was the case last year, the Batavia series offers an incredible value for concertgoers. This year, you can purchase a general admission season pass for all eight concerts for just $60, and they are offering new VIP packages as well.

Even at $10 or less a ticket, you should know what you are paying for, and so here is a look at each of the shows and why you may want to consider attending one or more of them. I have seen five of these artists already, some of them multiple times, dating back to 1984.

Survivor

Date: Friday June 21

Genre: Classic Rock and 80s Pop

Best Know Songs: “High on You,” “I Can’t Hold Back” and “The Search is Over”

Most Popular Song: “Eye of the Tiger” from “Rocky III”

What to Expect: Current Survivor lead singer Cameron Barton wasn’t even born during Survivor’s heyday, but he is still able to nail the vocal lines on the band’s biggest hits. Survivor is a great choice to launch the series, because they have a pile of familiar songs well beyond their monster hit “Eye of the Tiger.”

QueensrŸche

Date: Friday June 28

Genre: Progressive Metal

Best Known Songs: “Queen of the Reich,” “Jet City Woman,” and “Empire”

Most Popular Song: “Silent Lucidity,” the song many people thought was by Pink Floyd the first time they heard it.

What to expect: These guys are road dogs, they are incredibly tight. They know how to appeal to their fan base and how to put on a great show. The core of the band’s lineup includes longtime members Michael Wilton on guitar and Eddie Jackson on bass. Lead singer Todd La Torre replaced Geoff Tate in 2012 and has been getting fantastic reviews from fans of the band.

Kim Mitchell

Date: Friday July 5

Genre: Canadian Rock

Best Known Songs: “Patio Lanterns,” “All We Are,” “Rock and Roll Duty” and “That’s the Hold.”

Most Popular Song: “Go for a Soda,” which dominated FM radio when it came out in 1984.

What to Expect: In my opinion, Kim is the best live performer in this year’s lineup. Kim’s former band, Max Webster, was gaining popularity around the same time as Rush, but for some unknown reason, Max Webster failed to achieve Rush’s level of commercial success in the United States. After Max Webster split, Kim embarked on a solo career and is well known around these parts. Every time I have seen Kim, dating back to 1985, people around me are blown away by his performance.

Steve Augeri (Former Journey Lead Vocalist)

Date: Friday July 12

Genre: Classic Rock

Best Known Songs: “Lights,” “Don’t Stop Believin,” “Be Good to Yourself.”

Most Popular Song: “Any Way You Want It.”

What to Expect: Augeri had some huge shoes to fill after Journey’s Steve Perry left the band. Even though Augeri recorded a few albums with Journey, his show focuses on the Perry era material that he sang during his eight-year tenure in Journey from 1998-2006. He left Journey because of some medical issues that impacted his voice, but those days are way behind him. In addition to Journey songs, you can also expect some other classic rock numbers.

Gin Blossoms

Date: Friday July 19

Genre: 90s Alternative Rock

Best Known Songs: “Hey Jealousy,” “Found Out About You,” and “Allison Road”

Most Popular Song: “Follow You Down”

What to Expect: The band’s magnum opus, “New Miserable Experience” propelled the Tempe Arizona based band into the national spotlight in 1993 on the strength of the lead single “Hey Jealousy.” Even though the band was not able to repeat the success of “New Miserable Experience,” they have more than enough great songs to fill out a set.

Kenny Wayne Shepherd

Date: Friday July 26

Genre: Blues Rock

Best Known Songs: “Deja Voodoo,” “I’m a King Bee” and “Shame, Shame, Shame”

Most Popular Song: “Blue on Black.”

What to Expect: I interviewed Kenny back in 2012, and he was one of the nicest guys I have had the honor of interviewing. Kenny emerged on the scene around the time of Joe Bonamassa and Jonny Lang, and they are this generation’s Beck, Clapton and Page. Kenny’s show is for anyone that loves the blues, especially in the style of Stevie Ray Vaughn. He has an amazing backing band and always puts on a stellar performance.

Tanya Tucker

Date: Friday Aug. 2

Genre: Traditional Country

Best Known Songs: “San Antonio Stroll,” “Delta Dawn” and “What’s Your Mama’s Name”

Most Popular Song: “Strong Enough to Bend” was her last number one single.

What to Expect: The Batavia series is one of the few soft ticket series that is brave enough to book a country act. It’s even harder to catch traditional country stars because the genre is dominated by bro-country, so an opportunity to catch a living legend like Tanya Tucker under the stars will make for a special evening.

Theory of a Deadman

Date: Friday Aug. 9

Genre: Alternative Metal

Best Known Songs: “Not Meant to Be,” “Lowlife” and “Rx (Medicate)”

Most Popular Song: “Bad Girlfriend”

What to Expect: These guys put on an old-fashioned hard rock show. Lead singer/guitarist Tyler Connolly has incredible stage presence, and the band barrels through a barrage of songs that sound like Nickelback with a harder edge. I’ve seen them multiple times, and these guys will end the concert season with an exclamation point!

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Thom Jennings is a contributing music columnist for The Daily News.

By Thom Jennings, Batavia Daily News