You can try, but just like Rock and Roll…YOU CAN’T STOP 80s IN THE PARK!
The 80s in the Park promoters and crew have faced more adversity than most events and have always seemed to persevere. After the hurricane pushed the 2017 event clear into February 2018, all focus immediately shifted to the big 2018 event, slated for Sept.
Issues with the city and the location caused a disruption merely 8 weeks prior to the event. Do you think the 80s team accepted defeat and figured they would try again next year? NOPE! They did the honorable thing and refunded everyone’s money while they worked on resurrecting the show. (How often do we hear about these events screwing over ticket buyers? Way too often, but not these guys, they did the right thing…because they actually appreciate their supporters).
Shortly after, the big announcement was made…. GAME ON! The show was moved to Space Coast Harley Davidson and the bands were booked and the tickets started selling again. We Rock for Autism has been at the last four 80s in the Parks, we have seen Wickham Park, Melbourne Auditorium and International Palms Hotel. This is our fifth 80s in the Park, and by far, our favorite location. There was plenty of room, a huge stage, a great sound system, food and merchandise vendors, a meet and greet area for general rock merch and band merch. It was a long, bright, hot weekend of great bands, great music and amazing people.
The event started on Friday night with Burning Star and headliners KIX, the music and the crowd were in full effect. Saturday featured a full day of music and started with some cover bands and tribute acts. Iconic comedian and That Metal Show host, Don Jamieson hosted the event. Don is always so cool, a real genuine guy.
As the sun started heading to the west, rockers Nova Rex took the stage and began to Turn it Up Loud! Original singer, Kevin Tetz, joined the band onstage playing guitar and sharing vocal duties with Adrian Adonis. Bassist Kenny Wilkerson was full of energy and leading the crowd into full fits of a rock and roll frenzy. Big congrats to Kenny and Monique…Kenny proposed to her the previous night on stage at their show at the Hard Rock Daytona Beach! This was a great blazing set of classic Nova Rex hits and songs from their Rockstar Roadshow CD. Then, Sunset Strip and glam legends, Pretty Boy Floyd hit the stage and blew the crowd away. They played several hits from their Leather Boyz with Electric Toyz debut (including a great rendition of Wild Angels, dedicated to their late drummer Ben Graves). The crowd sang along to the old school glam hits as well as tracks from Pornstars and the new CD, Public Enemies.
The sun was set, and the lights were bright when headliners Firehouse took the stage. These guys are total pros and super great guys. Shortly before their set, I was able to spend a little time in their trailer as they signed the We Rock for Autism guitar and took some pics with it. Every year we bring a guitar to be signed by the bands and then auction it off to raise money for our music therapy programs. Firehouse’s set was, well…on fire. They played tons of great hits and had the crowd singing along to songs like Don’t Treat Me Bad and Love of a Lifetime. CJ brought his daughter on stage and she sang with the band too. They were loud, and the songs and vocals were spot on. Everyone had a great time!
Sunday morning came along quick and it was time for one more day of rock! There were some great bands during the early part of the day playing cover tunes and keeping the crowd pumped. Then, Angles of Babylon came out and treated the fans to a set of heavy, well written tunes. Not only did they play a great set, they stopped by our booth and signed the guitar…another great bunch of guys.
Gary Moon formerly of Night Ranger played a great set, everyone really seemed to enjoy hearing lots of their songs too. Earlier in the day, Ron Keel stopped by the booth and signed the guitar and took some pics. Ron “Metal Cowboy” Keel, is a rock legend. From Steeler to Keel, he has been a major force in the metal world (and a really nice guy). Ron played a solo set, with an acoustic guitar and a microphone…that was all he needed. What a pro this guy is…sounded amazing. Ron Keel was a treat for all the fans that stuck around to check him out.
We raffled off an acoustic guitar signed by Quiet Riot (along with a Metal Health album), that was donated by Michael “Rockin’ with Michael” Spooner, on Sunday as well. And, The Art of Gene roamed the crowd in all of his Gene Simmons glory, taking pictures with the fans and helping out We Rock for Autism. Both signed the We Rock for Autism guitar that will be auctioned off.
All in all, it was a great weekend. We got to hang out with old friends, like Stevie Rachelle (Tuff / Metal Sludge) and made lots of new ones. The guitar was signed by members of Firehouse, Pretty Boy Floyd, Ron Keel, Nova Rex, The Knight family, Stevie Rachelle, Angles of Babylon, UFO, Don Jamieson and many more. The We Rock for Autism guitar will be auctioned off and proceeds will support We Rock for Autism.
As the festival ended, we packed up our booth and headed home. I can’t help but end with a MAJOR thanks to Kyle and Richard. The last five 80s in the Park shows have provided We Rock for Autism with exposure to more and more people than we ever thought possible. It has allowed us to gain support from some of the biggest names in the rock world and it has helped us make connections with some great people, that otherwise, would have never been possible.
To all that we have mentioned and to all that we have not…you all are a major part of our journey and mean the world to us. So, thank you all…and we look forward to seeing you next year.
YOU ALL ROCK!
We Rock for Autism