Rocktember Day 2 Grand Casino Hinkley, Minnesota 9/7/18

Day two started out with Minnesota’s own Chris Hawkey. Chris was raised on 80s rock ‘n roll so is a wonderful fit for a festival like this. He did play a few originals for the bulk of the material were covers. They did an incredible version of Iron Maiden’s “Wasted Years”, it was definitely crowd favorite. His original material liens much more country so when playing festivals like this you will typically see him do more cover material. It’s sad to think that a metal crowd couldn’t embrace a more country act if the songs are good. I would highly recommend you see him in any setting. The musicianship is always stellar and I like Chris’s attitude. You know they’re all happy to be there and are having fun.

Second in line that day was Kix. They been around since the early 1980s and are celebrating 30 years of one of their largest selling albums “Blow My Fuse”. They had a few hits that were on heavy rotation on MTV including “Don’t Close Your Eyes”. I’ve seen them several times and have always enjoyed them. They’re always full of energy and seem to be having a great time.

Third on the bill was Winger. They were another MTV favorite back in the day. Led by Kip Winger, this four piece band has several hits and a lot of melody. They always seem to be a fan favorite for those of you that may not remember them, their biggest hit was “Seventeen”. The band jokingly change the words on one of the choruses to she’s only 44. As an audience member, I appreciate when bands can laugh at themselves and have fun. They seem truly happy to be there and sounded fantastic.

Second to last was the heavy metal band Stryper led by Michael Sweet. They too have been around since the early to mid-1980’s. They took a little bit different approach though then their contemporaries. They dressed in black and yellow and were considered a Christian rock band. They always sound fantastic when you see them and bring everything they have. Their songs are about God and faith but they’re still well-written metal songs. It’s amazing to me how Michael Sweet still has such an incredible voice after all these years. They are touring behind a brand-new record “Goddamn Evil”. They played several songs off of their new record as well as many of the classics like “Soldiers Under Command” and “Calling On You”. One of their original members Oz fell ill this summer. While he’s recovering, Los Angeles’ own guitar virtuoso Howie Simon has stepped in to fill the role. Howie was able to learn all of the material in a two-week time frame and hit the road. So far he seems to be doing a wonderful job.

The headliner on day two was supposed to just be Scrap Metal but there’s more to the story than this. Most of you reading this may not even know who they are so I’m going to fill you in. The band is comprised of several base members as the foundation. Mainly Matthew and Gunnar Nelson, sons of the legendary Ricky Nelson. They had several hits in the late 1980s. Unfortunately, for a very long time I don’t know if they were taken seriously by the rock community because of their pop sound. If you’re one of those people who dismisses them because of a couple of pop hits, I can tell you that you’re very wrong. You owe it to yourself to check this band out but I don’t think they play very often. They rotate other members who are available at the time over the last several decades.

On this particular night, they were joined by Mark Slaughter of Slaughter fame, Howie Simon on guitar, Mike Vanderhule of Y & T on drums and Gary Corbett on Keyboards. They worked their way through a couple of the Nelson hits including like “After The Rain”. Mark Slaughter performed “Up All Night” among others Slaughter favorites. They brought out Barry Goudreau to perform a few of Boston’s hits like “More Than A Feeling”. Lita Ford joined them to do Elton John’s song “Bitch Is Back” and The Runaways hit “Cherry Bomb”. The end of the evening with an All-Star jam of Led Zeppelin’s “Rock N’ Roll”. They are always a fan favorite here at this festival and I highly recommend you see them if you have the opportunity. There always changing members and songs so it’s different every time. The only thing I would say that they need to improve on would be some Pyro!

It seemed as though originally it was billed that three of the original members of DokkenDon DokkenGeorge Lynch and Mick Brown would be joining Scrap Metal. As it turns out, the fans were treated to a full-blown Dokken reunion minus Jeff Pilsen. They played for just about an hour and worked their way through the majority of the hits as well as many deep cuts. This was a great treat for all the people that were attending the show. It went over very well, and I have always wonder why they don’t just play together? I know that George Lynch has his own bandLynch mob, but you think they could still tour as DokkenDon Dokken did say something to the effect of, “It’s almost impossible to get myself and George to play together”. I don’t know if there’s animosity there are not, but they sure looked like they were having fun.

Review and photos Tommy Sommers