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Thu, Sept. 19

Rock returns to Thunder Valley in form of Great White

Vocalist Mitch Malloy, lead guitarist Mark Kendall and the rest of the band Great White are set to headline the second and final day of the 2019 Thunder Valley Motorcycle Rally at Riverfront Park. Photo by Neil Zlozower

Vocalist Mitch Malloy, lead guitarist Mark Kendall and the rest of the band Great White are set to headline the second and final day of the 2019 Thunder Valley Motorcycle Rally at Riverfront Park. Photo by Neil Zlozower

If You Go ...

• What: 2019 Thunder Valley Rally

• When: Friday-Saturday, Sept. 20-21

• Where: Riverfront Park, Cottonwood

• How Much: $20 for weekend pass

• More Info: thundervalleyrallyaz.com

COTTONWOOD — When the first bluesy hard-rock guitar chords and high-energy vocals fill the autumn air at Riverfront Park on Sept. 21 at the Thunder Valley Rally, the band on stage will be at a venue that’s not typical for its members.

“We don’t get to play a lot of smaller shows,” guitarist and founding member Mark Kendall told the Verde Independent in an interview. “We like those because the energy is amazing. We also like to see several generations out there enjoying music at the same time.”

Kendall, along with rhythm guitarist Michael Lardie and drummer Audie Desbrow, are the members who’ve been with the band for nearly all of its 30-plus years of existence. Bass player Scott Snyder is in his second decade with Great White; singer Mitch Malloy was added in 2018.

Malloy replaced Terry Ilous, whose seven years with the band followed the long tenure of Jack Russell, the singer who is the voice of most of the band’s radio hits, such as “Rock Me” and “Once Bitten, Twice Shy.”

Kendall said Malloy has fit well into the band’s hard-rock, bluesy style, which Great White now conveys in shows that last about 90 minutes.

The Sept. 21 show, set for 8:30 p.m., will headline the second and final day of the 2019 Thunder Valley Rally, which takes place mainly in Cottonwood’s Riverfront Park and other locations in the Cottonwood area. The band 38 Special is the headliner on Friday, Sept. 20 at the rally.

Kendall said he’s excited to see that style embraced by younger listeners.

“We were in Sweden, and we had these guys in their early 20s come up to us and talk with us,” Kendall said. “They were dressed the way we dressed back in the day. It’s great that younger fans can embrace that, especially music that doesn’t use auto-tune or a lot of technology.”

Russell has continued to tour as the singer of acts that usually bear his first and last name to distinguish those tours from Great White. Kendall doesn’t like to think of his band as a “version” of Great White, as there are three main, longtime members, and fans who see the band at the Thunder Valley Rally will hear many of the radio-era hits.

He appreciates younger musicians, such as 23-year-old Josh Kiszka of Greta Van Fleet, who he says “just go out and sing and play instruments.”

Great White was a fixture on pop and hard-rock stations from the mid-1980s through the mid-1990s. The release of Nirvana’s single, “Smells Like Teen Spirit,” on Sept. 10, 1991, symbolized the beginning of the end for “hair bands” in popular culture, as their type of rock was replaced by grunge and “alternative” genres at the forefront of Western pop music.

That didn’t stop Great White from recording and touring, sometimes at large venues. Teaming with other 80s bands like Ratt for multi-act tour kept them in large amphitheaters, along with headlining in nightclubs and the budding casino scene.

Casinos are the heart of their touring venue list in 2019.

The band was on stage at the 2003 Station nightclub in 2003 in Rhode Island, when pyrotechnics at the start of its show led to the death of 100 people, including Great White Kendall, along with rhythm guitarist Michael Lardie and drummer Audie Desbrow, are the members who’ve been with the band for nearly all of its 30-plus years of existence. Bass player Scott Snyder is in his second decade with Great White; singer Mitch Malloy was added in 2018.

Malloy replaced Terry Ilous, whose seven years with the band followed the long tenure of Jack Russell, the singer who is the voice of most of the band’s radio hits, such as “Rock Me” and “Once Bitten, Twice Shy.”

Kendall said Malloy has fit well into the band’s hard-rock, bluesy style, which Great White now conveys in shows that last about 90 minutes.

The Sept. 21 show, set for 8:30 p.m., will headline the second and final day of the 2019 Thunder Valley Rally, which takes place mainly in Cottonwood’s Riverfront Park and other locations in the Cottonwood area. The band 38 Special is the headliner on Friday, Sept. 20 at the rally.

Kendall said he’s excited to see that style embraced by younger listeners.

“We were in Sweden, and we had these guys in their early 20s come up to us and talk with us,” Kendall said. “They were dressed the way we dressed back in the day. It’s great that younger fans can embrace that, especially music that doesn’t use auto-tune or a lot of technology.”

Russell has continued to tour as the singer of acts that usually bear his first and last name to distinguish those tours from Great White. Kendall doesn’t like to think of his band as a “version” of Great White, as there are three main, longtime members, and fans who see the band at the Thunder Valley Rally will hear many of the radio-era hits.

He appreciates younger musicians, such as 23-year-old Josh Kiszka of Greta Van Fleet, who he says “just go out and sing and play instruments.”

Great White was a fixture on pop and hard-rock stations from the mid-1980s through the mid-1990s. The release of Nirvana’s single, “Smells Like Teen Spirit,” on Sept. 10, 1991, symbolized the beginning of the end for “hair bands” in popular culture, as their type of rock was replaced by grunge and “alternative” genres at the forefront of Western pop music.

That didn’t stop Great White from recording and touring, sometimes at large venues. Teaming with other 80s bands like Ratt for multi-act tour kept them in large amphitheaters, along with headlining in nightclubs and the budding casino scene.

Casinos are the heart of their touring venue list in 2019.

The band was on stage at the 2003 Station nightclub in 2003 in Rhode Island, when pyrotechnics at the start of its show led to the death of 100 people, including Great White guitarist Ty Longley, and injuries to 230 others.

The fallout included prison terms for the bar owners and band manager, nearly endless financial obligation discussions and victims’ families requesting the band not discuss the fire at all in interviews.

Kendall said the band plans a setlist each night. A tour is a work in progress, so some songs might be added or dropped on any given night, for a variety of reasons.

“You might hear ‘Call It Rock & Roll’ in there, or lots of other stuff from one of our 14 albums,” Kendall said.

Kendall said the band’s music is particularly embraced by riders of touring bikes, such as those who like to attend events like the Thunder Valley Rally.

“Not only is it nostalgic, riders tying it to memories, but it’s just good riding music,” Kendall said. “There’s something super healthy about getting out on the road, and meeting up with friends or new acquaintances, having barbecues, things like that.”

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