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The Chase Walker Band: Hot music on a cold night

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The Chase Walker Band rocked Riverside on Saturday, December 21 at 8:00 to 11:10 p.m. in conjunction with the famous Riverside Festival of Lights at the Mission Inn. The band and fans braved the California cold as group took the outdoor stage adjacent to the ice skating rink. The Riverside winter wonderland rung with the sounds of blues rock and holiday hits thanks to the tuneful teen trio. Specifically, The Chase Walker Band consists of 15 year-old Chase Walker (vocals and lead guitar); 14 year-old Matthew “pocket for days” Fyke (drums) and 15 year-old Randon Davitt (vocals and bass).

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Bereft of his femme “photog”, the sparkling Miss Sparks, your all too often penned-up penman braved the fearsome freeways of the land of fruits and nuts once more to witness the boys’ seasonal show. By the time he had negotiated through the holiday hysteria and maneuvered like a spawning salmon through the pedantic pedestrians to a front row seat, the band was preparing to break into their version of the seasonal standard “Merry Christmas, Baby” by Lou Baxter and Johnny Moore.

There was a mix of folks at this all-ages appearance. There was a stage-diving Kris Kringle and folks who were single, Santa hats and chicks with tatts. There were people with puppies and cocoa slurpin’ yuppies, ice skating antics and near frozen fanatics as the band performed always aware that they were singing even if their mics had failed because they could see their vocals puffing out before them in the crisp night air.

Regular readers know that your rather reclusive writer only occasionally attends events and when he does the point is to enjoy the event. So don’t expect an in-depth analysis or even a perfect playlist. It’s all about the overall experience and not a detailed documentation. Just be happy to hear holiday highlights, boys and girls.

Memorable moments included their rousing rendition of ZZ Top’s “Jesus Just Left Chicago” and a blues-edged version of Tracy Chapman’s “Give Me One Reason” which actually brought some folks to their feet. They played three sets including other cover cuts such as Hank Williams’ “Jambalaya (On The Bayou)”, Joe Bonamassa’s “Blues Deluxe” and Run Rudolph Run”.

Walker made a playful, wonderfully politically-incorrect “waiting on a woman” poke at guest artist Leilani Kilgore before the singer-guitarist stepped up to the mic to add a woman’s touch to two tunes— Joe Bonamassa’s “Stop” and Freddie King’s “Going Down”. It was a nice touch to the Christmas concert.

Their final set included their take on the Howlin’ Wolf hit “Who’s Been Talkin’”, an interesting, “keyboardless” cover of The Doors’ “Hello”, Johnny Marks’ “Rockin’ Around The Christmas Tree” and The Allman Brothers’ “Soulshine”. They closed with their own version of the college classic “Shout” by The Isley Brothers complete with some offstage frat house frolics by Walker and Davitt while Fyke kept things anchored onstage.

Again The Chase Walker Band proved that some of today’s youth is capable of more than tagging street signs and playing “vidja” games. Still, your Christmas chronicler should really stop harping on how this group gives kids today a good name. After all, being praised by a parental penman might not be considered “cool” or “fresh”, “da sh*t” or [fill in the blank] and music is a youth industry. Let’s just say The Chase Walker Band rocks and be done with it, mmmkay?

My name is Phoenix and . . . that's the bottom line.


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