The Chicagoist will be launching later but in the meantime please enjoy our archives.

Wild Saturday Night At Reggie's Features Cactus, Manilla Road

By Casey Moffitt in Arts & Entertainment on Oct 31, 2013 7:20PM

Cactus. Photo via their website.

There are plenty of rock bands that never reached superstardom yet still managed to shape a lot of the music that we hear, but rarely do we see two of those bands playing at the same venue on the same night. That's something we can look forward to Saturday night at Reggie's as Cactus plays the Music Joint and Manilla Road headlines the Rock Club.
In the early 1970s there were a handful of American rock bands playing heavy, blues-based rock following the lead of British counterparts like Cream, Led Zeppelin and Black Sabbath. Mountain was probably the most successful, along with Blue Cheer and Dust. Cactus was right there with them.

Formed in 1969 by the former Vanilla Fudge rhythm section of drummer Carmine Appice and bassist Tim Bogert, they were joined by guitarist Jim McCarty and singer/harp player Rusty Day. They released four albums between 1970 and 1972 before fading away. They reformed in 2006 minus Day, who was machine gunned to death in 1982 in what appeared to be a drug deal gone bad, replaced by former Savoy Brown frontman Jimmy Kunes and the band released the album V, that same year.

Since then, the band has been intermittently playing gigs and touring on occasion.
Cactus was dubbed "the American Led Zeppelin" by Creem magazine back in the day. McCarty's blazing guitar licks and Appice's wild drumming were the hallmarks of the act, including Appice's unusual use of the double kick drum.

Appice and McCarty are the only two original members of Cactus who will be performing Saturday night. Kunes still fronts the band, and it rounded out by harmonica player Randy Pratt and Pete Bremy on bass. Oddly enough, it was Bremy who also replaced Bogert in Vanilla Fudge.

Manilla Road, out of Witchita, Kansas, got its act together in 1976 and have proclaimed themselves the inventors of "epic metal." The music is very metal and quite epic, so the description fits. Manilla Road has released 17 studio efforts in that time, including Mysterium, which was issued in January.

Manilla Road. Photo via their website.
The only founding member left is guitarist/singer Mark "the Shark" Shelton, and is complemented by Bryan "Hellroadie" Patrick on vocals, Josh Castillo on bass and drummer Andreaus Neudarth who is flying in from Germany for the show.

Manilla Road has had its share of lineup changes over the years, and persisted as a band for quite a while. Shelton and the band took a hiatus in 1992, but started playing local gigs again in 1994. It wasn't until 2000 when Manilla Road regained its footing on the European festival circuit, and began recording new music.

Manilla Road found much more success in Europe and has influenced more bands out there than back in the States. The band rarely tours the U.S., spending most of its time in Europe. Norwegian black metal band Deathrone referenced Manilla Road in its tune "Raised in Rock" on its 2007 release F.O.A.D. That same year, Germany's Solemnity Music honored the band with its release of The Riddle Masters: A Tribute to Manilla Road, featuring 18 bands from around the world playing classic tracks from the band.

Manilla Road headlines Alehorn of Power VII, a fairly regular gathering of metal bands organized by Greg Spaulding of locals Bible of the Devil. A reconstituted Bible of the Devil makes its return to a Chicago stage at the showcase. It has been nearly a year since Bible of the Devil has played in town. The band parted ways with vocalist/guitarist Mark Hoffman, and now Nate Perry takes over frontman duties while the band added Chris Grubbs (Hay Perro) on guitar. The bill also features High Spirits and is rounded out by Harbinger and Ancient Dreams.

It should be a wild night over at Reggie's. The rare appearance by Manilla Road is going to be something to see, as well as having the chance to watch Carmine Appice and Jim McCarty work in an intimate room like the Music Joint. The choice of shows to see might come to ticket prices. The Alehorn of Power will cost you $20, while seeing Cactus is going be a hefty $50.