• Ron RoXtar*

REO Speedwagon down home rock n roll in Malone NY

August 5th 2018

Respected rock journalist Mitch Lafon introduced REO Speedwagon and the members of the band made their way onto the stage minutes later, opening with Don’t Let Him Go. The down-home rock ‘n’ roll image, and performance of REO fit perfectly with this down-home Malone crowd. Lead singer Kevin Cronin wore blue jeans and a white t-shirt. However it was the sunglasses, chains around his neck, several guitar changes, and still high-pitched vocals that made you realize he’s got it going on more than just fronting a local bar band.

Guitarist Dave Amato and bassist Bruce Hall made their way around the length of the stage throughout the show. Amato and Hall occasionally played side by side, joined in once in a while by Cronin. Original REO member and keyboardist Neal Doughty switched from a keyboard /organ to a piano on the opposite side of the drum kit depending on the song. Drummer Bryan Hitt kept the beat going with a drum kit that had silver arched cymbal stands. They were all genuinely enjoying each other’s company.

REO played an hour and 20 minutes of hits like Take It on the Run and Keep on Loving You along with interspersed well-known album tracks such as Tough Guys. At one point in the show Hall sang lead vocals on a rocking lengthy Back on the Road, which was one of the evening’s best moments. Surprisingly they played their biggest commercial single Can’t Fight This Feeling early in the set. Instead of playing guitar, Cronin walked around the stage and even reached out to touch a fan’s hand. He also spoke plenty of in-between song banter and showed he’s got a good sense of humour. One thing you know he’s not repeating every night is when he told the crowd that the first success REO had outside of the midwest was in upstate New York. He joked that next year Amato and Hit will be celebrating their 30th year as the ‘new guys’ in the band.

There was a tribute to original guitarist Gary Richrath (who passed away two years ago) before playing Poor Man. Another tribute came in the final song of the night with a cover of Tom Petty and the Heartbreaker’s Listen To Her Heart. The production and stage moves of REO were never over the top, or boring. The fact is it all fit together just right in the down-home aura that makes up the Franklin County Fair.

REO Speedwagon setlist : Don’t Let Him Go / Music Man / In Your Letter / Keep on Pushin’ / Can’t Fight This Feeling / Tough Guys / That Ain’t Love / Take It on the Run / Poor Man / Time For Me to Fly / Back on the Road / Ridin’ the Storm Out / Keep on Loving You / Roll With the Changes / Listen to Her Heart

The Franklin County Fair in Malone NY is a fun little getaway for the day, night, week-end or longer. An event that attracts upwards of 75,000 people over a ten-day period. Hard to believe, but this is the 168th Franklin County fair.

There is a variety of rides to choose from that can swoop you from side to side or spin you around. Sometimes you can be on a ride that will swoop and spin you at the same time. The kids can jump inside inflated trampolines of Spider-Man or Tweety bird. They have  two ferris wheels and everyone’s favourite, the bumper cars. For the more rugged at heart you can always take a try on the mechanical bull and see how long you last.

Scattered throughout is your choice of fair food. Everything from burgers, pulled pork sandwiches and pizzas to footlong corn dogs, fried dough, funnel cakes, and even deep fried Kool-aid. Being so close to the Canadian border there’s also poutine and maple syrup at selected kiosks. Merchants are busy selling everything from t-shirts to hot tubs or even off road vehicles. Some kiosks provide face painting, caricature drawings or lego building.

According to sales manager Kim Kiser one of the best and most attended events is the

Demolition Derby that takes place on Monday, August 6th and Saturday, August 11th. Anywhere from 60 to 70 cars in a barrage of car bashing fun.

Realizing how close and easy it is for their neighbours of the north to drive down they’ve got Canadian day on Wednesday, Aug 8th, eh. Where Canadian money is accepted on par for the gate entry fee and parking only.

Hometown day is Thursday, August 9th, which is also seniors day. Those who are 62 and older receive a mere $2 entry fee. Yes, you read that right only $2. What could be better than that? How about on the the same day at 4:30 is the Miss Franklin County Fair Pageant 2018. Ooh la-la. Wait, can you believe there’s more than that all on the same day? 7:30 pm is the Hometown parade followed by the YMCA Franklin County Has Got Talent Finals. After all that is a closing set by The Northmen.

If your woman thinks you’re tractor’s sexy then make sure to be there on Sunday, August 12th, and double your competitive spirit with two tractor pulls. For the early birds there is one at 9am by the Adirondack Tractor Puller’s Association and it all comes to an end at 5pm with a Tractor Pull by New York State Tractor Puller’s Association.

There’s much more to see and do. Make sure to get on down and experience it for yourself.


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