Daily Independent (Ashland, KY)

Local News

July 4, 2013

Rainy day doesn’t curb riverfront enthusiasm as Summer Motion opens

ASHLAND — Even though the Fourth of July fireworks were a full day away, all eyes were on the skies during the first evening of Summer Motion 2013 as a slow-moving storm system threatened and dampened an otherwise enthusiastic crowd gathered for a headline performance by the band LoverBoy at the Port of Ashland on the Ohio River.

As the rains came in waves, crowds gathered at the entrances of Fat Patty’s as well as The Lamp Post Cafe in anticipation of the evening’s excitement. Building on that energy, guitarist Larry Whitt, accompanied by his band Blue Eyed Soul, warmed the semi-soaked crowd and infused high-energy blues and soul-laden vocals as the evening sun set on the riverfront.

Summer Motion President Cade Mahan welcomed the umbrella-shielded audience to this year’ event, citing the “outstanding talent,” lined up for the night as well as the days ahead. Summer Motion volunteers, many wearing “In Memory of Gary McKenzie” badges, helped late arrivals find seats in the VIP section. Kicking his band’s set off with Eric Clapton’s “Before You Accuse me,” Whitt and bandmates launched a an uptempo set which gave the audience full excuse to express their rock and roll mindset. As guitarist Bobby Burnett offered a slide guitar solo, audience member Angela Vinson said she had essentially lost control of her knees and pelvis, declaring her love for the band’s percussionist.

“If he weren’t married, I would marry Tom Berry,” Vinson said while dancing next to the sound technician’s tent, providing a perfect introduction to the band’s performance of Sam Cooke’s “Bring It On Home To Me.”

Whitt switched to an acoustic guitar for tha band’s next song, and dedicated his rendition of “Magnolia,” to his wife, Karen, who was seated at the front of the crowd in the VIP section.

Whitt, a 1977 graduate of Paul G. Blazer High School,  said the crowd’s enthusiasm was tangible from the stage, noting he felt the same energy as he remembered when the summer festival began 25 years ago.

As the ladies in the crowd displayed their 1980’s hair (and cleavage), Whitt and bandmates Bobby Burnett, Tom Berry, Dewey Frye and Jack Brent maintained their groove with the B.B. King classic “The Thrill is Gone,” which included an unforgettable dual-guitar exchange between Whitt and Burnett.

“This is all from right here. This is Ashland, Kentucky y’all,” Whitt said as he introduced his band and explained their local roots.

Watching the band from the edge of the sound table, Scott Martin, who will be the drummer when The Chase opens for the band Styx on Friday evening, said he was extremely pleased to be witnessing Whitt and band on stage.

“I love me some Dewey Frye ... and Tom Berry,” Martin said.

As Mayberry Deputy David Browning worked the crowd and handed out autographed photos, he also watched for chances to pop up in various video cameras he found pointed toward the stage by unsuspecting photographers.

Following a short break, members of the band LoverBoy took a commanding presence on the big stage, entering the spotlight as a 1980’s style keyboard intro roared through the massive speakers on each side of the stage, tearing into their hit “Notorious” as the audience welcomed them to the riverside.

“Y’all ready to party? I can feel it,” said lead singer Mike Reno, who appeared slightly more experienced and well rounded since the band’s string of video-friendly songs which aired on MTV and propelled the band to s string of hit songs.

As the evening’s rain picked back up, the band refused to lose momentum, bringing the audience along as they barrelled through fresh-sounding renditions of songs including “The Lucky Ones,” and “Queen of the Broken Hearts.”

Summer Motion 2013 continues today with performances by Southern Push, and headliner Sawyer Brown, followed by the annual fireworks display above the Ohio River.

TIM PRESTON can be reached at tpreston@dailyindependent.com or (606) 326-2651.

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