When you see that Beloit Riverfest is just around the corner it's always a sign that the summer is kicking into high gear. This year is no exception, but I'd have to say that just looking at the musical entertainment they have lined up, this might be the best year ever! A lot of the focus is on classic rock acts, and they have some of the legends in the field, but they also manage to bring in some newer music, too.
While Beloit Riverfest always has other draws besides the music, this year's lineup is so strong that it seems appropriate to break down each day one at a time and look at the acts that will be featured. We'll get to the non-music drawing power after that. Thursday July 13th the main stage at Riverfest will feature both Head East and Tesla. Head East was quite well known in the mid to late 1970's. Probably the best known hit from this central Illinois outfit was "Never Been Any Reason." If you were a fan of radio in the '70's and don't recognize that title, sing the following and you'll get it, "Save my life, I'm going down the last time." That track and quite a few others were hits for the band. As someone who has seen them live many times I can tell you that they never disappoint. Their brand of catchy hard rock laced with keyboards and killer vocal harmonies always entertains. If they were the only act on the bill for that night it would be a killer show, but sharing the stage is Tesla. While Tesla came a bit later (at the height of hair metal) their sound leans towards the same period that was the heyday of Head East. The song that they are probably best known for is "Signs," which is actually a cover of a Five Man Electrical Band tune. While their acoustic rendition of this number (from their Five Man Acoustical Jam album) was their biggest hit, like Head East they have had a number of tracks that have charted. None of them are probably as easily recognizable as the one biggie, but I'm sure as you are sitting at the show (you are going, right?) you'll find yourself thinking, "I remember that one."
Friday Night (the 14th) will see two bands that were really heavy hitters making it to the Riverfest main stage - Loverboy and REO Speedwagon. Both bands racked up a series of mega hits, and neither is a stranger to the Stateline area. I can attest to having seen both of them (on separate occasions) at the Rockford MetroCentre in their hey day. Canadian band Loverboy released such radio favorites as "Turn Me Loose," "The Kid Is Hot Tonight" and "Working For The Weekend." When it comes to REO Speedwagon, it seems like in the late 1970's and early 1980's these guys, along with a handful of other bands (including one that plays Riverfest on Saturday night) pretty much owned the airwaves. Like Head East, REO hailed from central Illinois. The group released such a string of hits that it becomes quite difficult to choose just a few, but here is the short list: "Keep On Loving You," "Take It On The Run" and "Keep The Fire Burning." These guys in many ways represented the sound of pop-rock of the early '80's better than just about anyone.
The three bands that take the stage on Saturday are no strangers to the area and are also acts that truly dominated rock radio in the 1970's and 1980's. First we'll look at Foghat. These guys have always created their own brand of gritty, but catchy, bluesy rock - the style that was so popular in the 1970's. They are another act (in fact all three of these are) that I had the opportunity to see at the Rockford MetroCentre. As pretty much everyone they have this year Foghat have had their share of hits. Just to list off a few of their radio cuts we have, "I Just Want To Make Love to You," "Slow Ride" and "Fool For The City." The Outlaws were another hit maker from the 1970's, but with a southern twist. Their sound is heavily rooted in the south and has a lot of country twang, but yet they rock out enough to make it with the rocker crowds. Their list of hits includes "Green Grass and High Tides Forever" and a powerful cover of "(Ghost) Riders in the Sky." The final outfit on the agenda for that Saturday is another who alongside REO Speedwagon and a handful of other acts dominated radio in the '70's and '80's. This time around we're talking about the Chicago based band Styx. The group were megastars of the arena rock era and just like REO had so many hits it's difficult to name off just two or three without feeling like you're leaving something out. To throw out a few, though, I would have to mention "Mr. Roboto," "Too Much Time on My Hands" and "Renegade." The group basically started off as a progressive rock outfit, but migrated to more hard-edged arena rock over the years. Their most recent release is a collection of covers entitled The Big Bang Theory.
Sunday night is rounded out by a five-band line up that includes Trapt, Silvertide and Shinedown. Relative newcomers Trapt have captured attention and fans with their own brand of hard edged modern rock. Silvertide, while still a modern band have made their legacy by crafting their own brand of retro hard rock. Their sound fits on this night's bill, but it would have been a good addition to the fare of any of the other evenings' shows - that's how much their sound is rooted in the hard rock of the 1970's. Another hard rocking act, Shinedown have a more modern texture, but still some of that retro edge. I suppose you could almost look at them as the middle ground between Trapt and Silvertide. All in all it will make for a rocking show to end the weekend's main stage entertainment. The thing is, Riverfest is more than just main stage entertainment.
If you are interested in checking out more than just music, Beloit's Riverfest will definitely have something for you. Whether you want to spend your time buzzing around on the various carnival rides, or sample the various foods and beverages that will be on hand, you'll find plenty to keep you occupied. There will also be clowns, wandering artists and face painters around for the festivities. While there have been no official announcement of names and dates yet, Riverfest typically features other live music on smaller stages throughout the event and the course of the weekend. The event is held in Riverside Park in Beloit, as the name of the location suggests, right on the Rock River. For more information you can stop by their website at www.beloitriverfest.com or give them a call at 800-4-BELOIT.