The Appice Brothers “Drum Wars” @ B.B. King Blues Club (8/1/2011)


Artist: The Appice Brothers: Drum Wars
Venue: B.B. King Blues Club (New York, NY)
Opener: n/a
Date: 8/1/2011
Label: Independent Tribute Artist

August had only just started today and the venerated B.B. King Blues Club was ready to give us something that was sure to be an additional blast of summer heat. Tonight legendary drummer Carmine Appice would do epic battle with his younger brother Vinny in an event that was listed as “Drum Wars”. The premise was going to put the brothers in a face to face throw down to see who the true master was and who was still the apprentice to the craft. In addition to the guys showing off their respective percussive prowess they would perform a number of songs that helped to make them famous over the years. Music fans who are in the know will likely recall how Carmine Appice was a founding member of not only Vanilla Fudge and Cactus, but also had worked with Rod Stewart and performed with many excellent Metal acts such as Blue Murder, King Kobra and even the Michael Schenker Group to name a few. I also have a fondness for some of the work he did on Paul Stanley’s solo album from back in 1978 and on Beck, Bogert and Appice. Vinny is most recognized for being a member of Black Sabbath Mark 2 with the day by day missed Ronnie James Dio. He went on to tour with Dio as a solo act and continued to be the thunder behind the singer in the Heaven and Hell group that BSM2 had become in today’s music scene before Ronnie would pass away. It would surely be interesting to see how this evening played out.

I guess I should have expected that this would be a sit down show and that was alright when I thought about it since it would let the audience tap along with the mighty drummers on the tables. I’ve driven my family and friends crazy with this for years so it would be fun to be able to do it without incident this evening. There was no opener for the gig and I guess that was because there was no space to put anyone else with the two massive drum sets on the stage. The show started when an at the time unknown figure came out and announced that we would witness a great battle and from there it was on as Carmine and Vinny Appice began a dueling drum solo that ran a little over ten minutes. Maybe it was longer but I was finding myself so enthralled by the skills of Carmine and the power of Vinny that I lost track of the elapsing time so you’ll have to pardon me on that. Carmine would be the one who spoke the most to the crowd and he is almost a resident of this venue having played here with Cactus, Vanilla Fudge and his own SLAMM project on numerous occasions. Hell, I remember how Carmine even got up on stage when Lita Ford performed and kicked some ass on one of her tunes for the attending crowd. Carmine would introduce some talented musicians who would take the stage and then they began delivering some tunes that helped move the respective careers of these drummers forward. The first songs we got were a couple of Dio tunes in “Holy Diver” and “We Rock” and I had to say that this singer Jason Spoor really did a great job. Had the proper register and fire in his lungs that they needed.

The odd choice of the “Flintstones Theme” was next and then Carmine took a powerful solo. There was a lot of back and forth this evening and while it had some kind of structure this was perhaps the loosest performance that I had ever seen. Clearly this was being done for the fun of it and the overall love of the music they had done over the years. “Bark At The Moon” began the Carmine drummed tracks and this was a great one but I did have my issues with the revisionist look at “Do You Think I’m Sexy” which was done by Rod Stewart and Carmine. I felt the song would have been best received without any tampering but oh well. A little Sabbath with “Lady Evil” was next and then Vinny took a solo spot. The final number would be “Crazy Train” which Carmine had done on tour with Ozzy for the “BATM” album. I liked it but felt that it might have been cool to find the guys jamming a little Cactus or Fudge to educate those fans who might not be all that up on it. One of the coolest parts of the night was during Carmine’s solo where he stood up and played the snares on the bottom of his snare drum. I had never seen that done before and it’s great to see the Master still creating and inspiring so many years later. In the event you were wondering about the setups they used, each drummer was playing a DDrum kit but Carmine’s had two bass drums and Vinny an extra floor tom. Both sets sounded fantastic.

In the end this was a lot of fun for me since I used to knock around on the kit myself, but it was clearly one of those events that was really geared to a specific demographic and apparently not much else. I felt the band was solid and hope that I see some of these players again and while some might dispute the shows “winner” I am giving that title to Carmine. Sorry Vinny. This is a great show if any kind of drumming is on your interest level. If and when it rolls back through town you should check it out.

The Band: Artie Dillon (guitar), James Caputo (bass), Chris Taylor (guitar), Jason Spoor (vocals).

Set List:
1. Dueling Drum Solos
2. Holy Diver
3. We Rock
4. Theme from The Flintstones
5. Carmine Solos
6. Bark At The Moon
7. Do You Think I’m Sexy (done heavy)
8. Lady Evil
9. Vinny Solos
10. Crazy Train

Great to see these drumming giants name up in lights on the marquee.  Of course in this particular case I think I would have added “Drum Wars” to spark the curiosity of passerby.

Drums Like Thunder

You’ve seen me post images of the show posters in the recent past so I am going to keep doing that.

Let There Be Drums

There was not a lot of merchandise on sale this evening.  Only this shirt.  It was still cool though.  I probably should have bought one but didn’t manage to.

The T-Shirt For The Show

Here’s a shot from farther back in the venue so you could see both full drum kits before the full of the audience were sitting at their tables.  I guess this made sense as a seated show.  Let’s you tap on the table in unison with Carmine and Vinny when it came down to it.

The Drums Of Devastation: Vinny & Carmine's Kits

As I note in my full on concert report this was a fun event but surely one that was geared towards a particular crowd.

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