By Kyle Ober
The 35th Annual QuickCheck New Jersey Festival of Ballooning didn’t disappoint when it was all said and done, meaning Sunday when the Balloon launches, both Am/Sunrise and PM/Sunset were quite wonderful. In fact, the PM launch was absolutely spectacular. All the balloons went up practically at once ascending to a cloudless perfectly blue sky making it a magical sight.
It is a sport that is completely weather dependent and unfortunately Friday AM rather foggy and by the time it burned off for a green, ok to launch flag, there were minimal participants. Saturday was rained out in the morning hours and winded out in the PM slot. But Sunday, assuming you believed the heavens would yield at at some point, much less paid attention to the weather report, was entirely worth the wait.
On the music front … I had the pleasure to catch George Thorogood who was completely enjoyable. Unfortunately I had to miss Pat Benatar although I heard she was superb.
George Thorogood is something of an American icon, in the world of Rock ‘n Roll at least, with a solid core following dating back to 1974. Ahh … old guy, some millennials might say! Okay, he’s in his 60’s .. and rocks his butt off .. and still sounds amazing as he exudes the essence of one of the badder boys of Rock ‘n Roll, evidenced by his scintillating stage show with a signature attitude as well as sneer. His hits, you’re probably singing to this day and don’t realize he penned such as “I Drink Alone”and “Bad to the Bone”, along with “Get A Haircut” and get a real job! And I’m betting it’s his voice in your head when you’re in a bar throwing back a few to “One Bourbon, One Scotch, One Beer” even though it’s really a John Lee Hoooker tune.
Growing up in the era of The Beatles and The Rolling Stones, Thorogood was inspired to pick up a guitar at the age of 15 and give it a go. The rest is history as they say.
It didn’t come easy for Thorogood. His newly formed boyhood dream encountered the reality of a harsh music business when all the major record labels turned him down. He kept plugging, playing a bluesy style similar to Robert Johnson and Elmore James as an acoustic act and after a few years into it went electric, with a 3, later 4, piece band. His signature Blues Rock sound was solidified with the addition of a soulful saxophone. By way of a fan who knew somebody at a smaller label, Thorogood, on the verge of giving up, got signed to Rounder Records.
His debut, a now classic album, took off and soon went gold. Sixteen studio albums later, including 6 gold and 2 platinum, Thorogood is still rocking hard with over 100 shows a year and just released his first solo album, Party of One, on Rounder Records. if you have seen him in concert before you know the quality show he puts on and it hasn’t changed. If you’re of a younger generation and perhaps have only heard his name in passing, you owe it to yourself to go see his show and realize you’ve probably been singing his songs, or the ones he popularized, for years at your neighborhood bar and that they have become anthems and part of society’s fabric. I assure you, it won’t be a disappointment … that’s assuming Rock ‘n Roll is a part of your DNA.