Orange County favorites, Gunboat Kings, opened for guitar legend, Gary Hoey and his “Ho Ho Hoey” tour at the infamous Coach House on December 15, 2017.
Gunboat Kings are a cross-over rock and blues group of talented individuals that have been entertaining audiences for more than 10 years on both a supporting and headlining basis. It is a guarantee that if they are scheduled to perform in support of a national touring act, the venue will be filled before the GBK downbeat. As I have said before, fans may come for the headliner but sometimes the opening act is a tough act to follow.
Personally, I have been a fan from conception back in the days when they came together under the name, Night Creatures, which eventually evolved into, Seventh Sons, and have now been performing and recording under the, Gunboat Kings, name for several years now. There has been a change in the line-up, now and again but there has never been a change in chemistry, stage presence and the passion they have for their craft and for the music they write.
Performing mostly originals, all of which usually have a back story held close to their hearts, GBK, mixes it up with high energy, classic, rock and blues.
Gunboat Kings are currently in the studio writing and recording new music for an upcoming CD, and have recently broken into the international market, thanks to many of the online resources now available to independent artists and musicians. They have seen their fanbase grow rapidly over the last couple of years and with the upcoming CD, I am sure we will continue to see them grow in popularity beyond the confines of the Southern California area.
Before their performance on the 15th, I sat and chatted with Elden Lisalda and Nick Calandrino about their new music and what we can expect to see from GBK in the near future. You can find our video chat/interview, along with a re-published written review and article of their show earlier in 2017 when they opened for Blue Oyster Cult, directly below.
As always, my eyes and ears were glued to the stage and GBK once again wow’d the crowd with fan favorites and a glimmer of what we will be hearing on their upcoming CD.
You can follow GBK on social media by searching “Gunboat Kings”, find music videos on reputable music service sites and keep up with breaking news and their performance schedule on their website: www.gunboatkings.com
Gunboat Kings are:
Elden Lisalda: Lead vocal, guitar, saxophone
Nick Calandrino: Lead guitar, vocals
Tom Bellone: Keyboards, Hammond B3 organ, vocals, lead vocals
John Sleeger: Bass
John Wilkinson: Drums
John Gulack: Keyboards
By: Siege / BackStage360
An Interview with the GUNBOAT KINGS
(March 31, 2017 article opening for Blue Oyster Cult)
There is a reason beloved local rockers, the Gunboat Kings, have been entertaining music lovers for over a decade; they never fail to deliver in a big way!
Based in Orange County, California, the Gunboat Kings opened to sold out crowd, at the famed Coach House in San Juan Capistrano on March 31, 2017.
Maybe the crowd came to see headlining act, Blue Oyster Cult, but they certainly ventured out early enough to catch the Gunboat Kings. When the lights went up and GBK started their set, the venue was already filled to capacity and our local talent did not disappoint.
This, well-seasoned, six piece, predominately original rock ensemble, has captivated crowds in some of southern California’s most famous and infamous, intimate capacity venues for more than 10 years, with no plans of slowing down.
Consisting of six professional artists, Nick Calandrino (lead guitar and lead vocals), Tom Bellone (keyboards, Hammond B3 organ and lead vocals),
Elden Lisalda (guitar, saxophone and lead vocals), John Sleeger (bass), John Wilkerson (drums) and John Gulack (keyboards), the band produces a rich full sound that grabs their audience and keeps them engaged throughout their set. It is not uncommon to look around the room and see their fans singing along and considering that GBK is not known as a cover band, that in itself tells the story of how much fun these gentlemen are to watch perform.
The original music they bring forth is a variety of classic rock, jazz, blues and R&B and according to their website; they toss in a bit of “Philly soul” just for good measure.
This is not just your average and commonplace band. They are not satisfied with one of this or one of that. One keyboard player is not enough, so they enhance an already great thing by adding another! It’s not enough for lead singer, Elden Lisalda to just sing so he adds in his guitar and mind-blowing sax skills to the mix. John is nothing short of perfection sitting behind that drum kit especially when it comes to a drum solo. Mid set, no advance notice just lets loose and keeps the audience engaged for a perfect amount of space and time. There is neither over achievement or underdoing, just a simple and timely placed solo and then back again.
GBK opened their 45-minute set with two of my favorite originals; “Love is Pure” and “Those Green Eyes”, a beautiful song that was written by Elden Lisalda in honor of his lovely red haired, green eyed wife, Jeanette!
Not willing to just perform and then leave the stage, GBK is in constant interaction with their fans and audience. They bring the room completely into the experience by way of storytelling and mentions of the musings that inspired their songs and music. By the end of each performance, you walk away knowing a touch of personality that lives within each one. Throughout the set, they took the time to say “hello”, introduce the players, and maybe tell a bit of the backstory that influenced their songwriting.
Mid-set came the song “Two Dozen Years”, beautifully vocalized by the songwriter, GBK’s, keyboardist, Tom Bellone. “Two Dozen Years” tells the story of how Tom came to know his adult son two dozen years after he was born. It is a lovely tribute to a father and son and as a spectator it was hard pressed to find a dry eye in the audience. I have heard this song many times over the years and the story never fails to hit me in the heartstrings and Mr. Bellone delivers it with eloquence and grace! A sampling from “Two Dozen Years” speaks of the sadness and regret that lay within a parent that was robbed of knowing his child for so long; “Two dozen years, my son is grown. You think perhaps I should have known. Enough regrets to call my own, wishing I could turn back time”. You can find the full version of “Two Dozen Years” and several other original GBK songs on YouTube and various other reputable music service websites.
Before relinquishing the stage to the headlining act, GBK ended the set with a wonderful rendition of Jack Bruce’s, “We’re Going Wrong” and Vanilla Fudge’s, “Set Me Free”.
The talented musicians that are the Gunboat Kings are everything that makes independent artists the real powers behind the thrones. Yes, you may come for the headliner, but sometimes the opening act shines just as bright!
I had the opportunity to interview members of the band via email. Please find our informative interview in this issue of the magazine.
Keep up with Gunboat Kings’ happenings and concert dates on social media and on their website, www.gunboatkings.com.