Zito 77 - Rock Over America - September 23, 2011
When I heard about Danny's Birthday Bash I knew that I had to be there to see just what the night would bring. Luckily the cold that had me in bed a few days earlier eased up enough so I could grab my camera, and see just who would be a part of Danny's big night. I knew that it was going to be a late start, so we hit Vamp'd right around 10, just in time to see Burn Unit take the stage.
Burn Unit is from Las Vegas, and does all kinds of covers. Usually a band will stick to one genre or era when choosing what to cover, but Burn Unit was a pleasant surprise. Guy (vocals, guitar), Eric (guitar), Roger (bass), and Kelly (drums) are a tight band with years of playing behind them. You can see that each has a say in what they're going to play if you read the bios on their website. Guy definitely has a great energy moving around the stage, hopping up on speakers, and getting the packed house involved in the set.
Burn Unit's highlights for me included Lit's "My Own Worst Enemy", Soundgarden's "Wicked Garden" and Rush's "Red Barchetta". Let me say this for the record, and save the hate, I do NOT like Rush. In fact I will change the radio if it comes on, but I actually really liked the cover that Burn Unit did. I guess the difference for me is in the vocals. The fact that they moved seamlessly through the night from classic rock songs to rock that's more recent is testament to the skill. Burn Unit is a lot of fun, and I'm sure that I'll be seeing them again.
After Burn Unit's set we went out to the patio and ran into a few friends, and as always met some new interesting people. That's usually the case when I spend some time at Vamp'd. It's one of the most laid back crowds around and always diverse. It makes the time between sets go really quickly. I also ran into Guy who was nice enough to acknowledge a lowly member of the press. Actually he was very nice, and I always appreciate that.
At about 11:30 Zito 77 took the stage. It was my first time seeing Zito 77 live, although with the truly impressive line up I've heard the music of members from other projects. Danny took the stage to the cheers of well wishers, and we were on our way to seeing some more great music. For those of you who don’t know the line up for Zito 77 it is Danny “Count” Koker on vocals, John Zito and Stoney Curtis on guitar, Barry Barnes on bass, and Paul DiSibio on drums. John and Barry also do vocals for the band. With such a stellar line up of talent you know that it's going to be a great set, and with the celebratory feel in the air they didn't disappoint.
I was in heaven when the band launched into "LA Woman" being a huge Doors fan, and Danny does a great job on the vocals. Stoney and John have an amazing chemistry between them, and for once a bass player was having just as much fun on stage. Barry doesn't sulk on the stage and play a heavy bass line, he has fun! Paul is as intense as any other drummer, but has a great time and a lot of skill. Luckily for me the band also played "Roadhouse Blues" and "Break On Through" later in the set.
The set was actually really diverse, and kept the crowd quite happy. "Sunshine Of Your Love", "Rocky Mountain Way" and "War Pigs" were all great. Done without a hitch, and you actually forget that your watching a band playing covers. The vibe was great with people dancing and having a good time, while some, myself included, were mesmerized by John Zito and Stoney Curtis laying down riff after riff that just puts goose bumps on your arms. Going in I knew that both were phenomenal, but live was something completely different. They even paid tribute to "The King" with "Suspicious Minds" and again I found myself groovin' to a song that I'm really not fond of.
There were a few surprises during the set. Paul Shortino hopped up on stage and sang "Rocky Mountain Way" with the band. What fun! Paul is as good as ever, and didn't take away from Danny's vocals, instead he added a great harmony that the song needs. I couldn't help but laugh when Paul bowed to Danny saying he wasn't worthy. I'm sure Danny was a little red, but that could have been the stage lights. For the last song of the set Carmine Appice and Paul joined the band, and the sound was just amazing. Carmine is so intense behind a kit that you have a hard time taking your eyes off of him.
Danny's birthday party was one that the entire city of Vegas was invited to, and with so many people there it ended up being a whole lot of fun. There were faces in the crowd that I knew, and some new ones that I'm sure I will see again. It was a great night of music with two truly talented bands, and it made it a birthday that I'm sure will be remembered for years to come. I wish my birthdays were as big of a bash as his was!!
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