Summer Motion kicked off under perfect weather conditions Thursday with a sing-along audience as the opening night bands paid tribute to the Eagles and brought home a deluxe case of southern-style boogie and rock.
Members of the band 7 Bridges: The Ultimate Eagles Experience said their goal for the night was to provide the Ashland audience with a “close-your-eyes” experience, portraying members of the legendary band without trying to mimic their appearance.
“It requires a level of professionalism. We use no harmonizers. We don’t use background vocal tracks. They (The Eagles) have nine members. We have six,” said singer/guitarist Jason Manning, who tackles Glenn Frey’s on-stage and studio parts. Manning said the multi-faceted band they honor was a multi-genre and multi-generational band, “with four lead singers,” making their job as a tribute band even more challenging.
Each of the band’s members, Manning, Keith Thoma, Bryan Graves, Blake Hall, Tony Haan Jr. and Vernon Roop, are musicians, performers and producers working from Nashville, Manning said. Asked about the toughest part of covering a band whose songs are so ingrained in every audience member’s memory, they cite everything from the difficulty in defining the band’s sound, as well as learning the two and three-part guitar solos.
“I think it is picking out the harmonies, because everybody thinks they know how to sing it,” said drummer Keith Thoma, who portrays Don Henley.
Opening their set with “The Long Run,” 7 Bridges held the Ashland audience tight with a set that included “Life’s Been Good,” featuring Haan in the place of Joe Walsh, along with Graves on “I can’t Tell You Why,” and Thoma on “Witchy Woman.”
After giving the riverfront crowd outstanding renditions of “New Kid in Town,” “One of These Nights,” “Peaceful Easy Feelin’,” The James Gang’s “Walk Away” (featuring a crowd-pleasing cowbell contribution by Roop), many in the crowd seemed to know what was coming next when Hall strapped on a white, double-neck Gibson guitar, leading to a much-appreciated rendition of “Hotel California.”
Joking that the bassist had to strip to his underwear and jump in the Ohio River if he failed to hit the high note at the end of “Take It To the Limit,” the band kept the energy high, and their clothes on, as they launched into “Seven Bridges Road” and “Life in the Fast Lane,” before leading the audience through a sing-along encore of “Take It Easy,” as the final rays of sun faded from beneath the clouds on the other side of the city’s twin bridges.
The Georgia Satellites, made up of Rick Richards on lead guitar and vocals, Bruce Smith on bass and vocals, Fred McNeal on guitar and vocals, and drummer Todd Johnston, kept the energy up at the Port of Ashland through the end of the evening, starting their set with “Open All Night,” and “Battleship Chains,” and saving their 1986 hit “Keep Your Hands To Yourself” for the show’s finale.
Summer Motion 2014 continues today and tonight with vendors, carnival rides and exhibits during the day, and performances by Exile at 8 p.m., Foreigner’s Lou Gramm and the Juke Box Hero Tour at 9:30 p.m., followed by fireworks to conclude the evening.
TIM PRESTON can be reached at