Reprinted from 2011 January More Sugar
"The uneditied version"
by Chris Fragette
35 Years, is a long time for anything especially a rock band. I have been following The Sundown Band for a good 25 of those years and they have been entertaining us with the best sounding southern rock this fan as ever heard and I know my southern rock! Sometimes they do it better than the bands they are covering. If you are a southern rock fan and you donít know who or what I am talking about, then I donít know where youíve been hiding for the last 35 years. These boys have been rockiní it up and down the east coast performing over a 1500 shows, hundreds of private parties (including mine for the past 10 years), Theyíve opened for big names like The Outlaws, The Marshall Tucker Band, Molly Hatchet, Mountain, Rick Derringer, Blackfoot, 38 Special, Foghat and many others. They have had interviews and articles in magazines and newspapers like More Sugar Magazine, Full Throttle Magazine & The New York Times.
The Sundown Band has paid their dues over the years with some grueling tours. They share a loyalty with their fans. And over the years that fan base has grown.
As many bands that have been together for this long, Sundown is no different and has had its share of lineup changes over the years. The 2011 Sundown Band is made up of founding member Ronnie Pauls, as well as Steve Mitchell, Keith Michaels, Fred Andreassi & newest member Pete Gallinari, which I think is firing on all cylinders.
This year, 2011, Sundown will be celebrating their 35th Anniversary and the history of the band, which dates back to April 1976, when original members Ronnie Pauls, Bobby Carroll, Jay Fee & Chris Fee played their first high school dance. For several years after that the band had a few different members on Rhythm/lead Guitar, and for one year had a front man/lead vocalist named Chris Votos, whom most of you may remember from the Crazy Horse Saloon in New Rochelle. The band also employed a female vocalist, Joanne Fatabina, who in 1979-80 covered Rossington/Collins material to perfection. Other members that appeared in the bands line up from 1976 where drummers Craig Wiener & Nat Andreassi; keyboardist Steve Avidible; bass players Johnny OíConner, Bert Carey, Gary Gorney & Jim Bellis; and guitar players Lou Merola, Steve Fields, Lee Wachter, George Ennis, & Jimmy Bognatz. In 1981 Ronnie hooked up with keyboardist/vocalist Jimmy Milito who became the driving vocalist in Sundown for the next 30 years.
In 1988 old time friend of Ronnieís, Steve Mitchell, joined Sundown and has been playing searing hot guitar ever since. In 1998 Keith Micheals stepped in to cover a weekend of shows that the existing drummer wasnít available for, and joined for good. In 2010 after bassist Jim Bellisís departure, Fred Andreassi rejoined the band after a two year retirement. And in August 2010 longest member besides Ronnie, Jimmy Milito decided to retire from performing, and was replaced by Pete Gallinari.
All the musicians above made up the history of the band, but through it all, there were several people behind the scenes and on the front line that dedicated their time and musicianship to helping Sundown through the years such as sound men, Chris Grecco from Max Sound, Tarik S. from Prime Time Studios Tony Demarco from Stellar Sound, and fill in musicians like Pete Ronda, Paul Curtin, Steve Digiovani, George Neske, John Polito, Dr. John Felicissimo, and crew members Ronnie Road Crew, Josh White, Mike Witkawski, Tim & Lori (lighting),Kristen P, Merchandise., Security by The Beast & Greg P. & drivers Chris Phillips, & Greg Bohmert. Photographers like Tod Gay and Ronnie Gross, contributed many great shots over the years for advertisements. Most of all the art work and designs where created by John Polito @ Vendetta Graphics. And the original Sundown logo was created by Ronnie & graphic artist Don Passwork. I am sure many more people were involved and they were all appreciated as well.
Sundown has over 1500 performances in their 35 year career at many Night Clubs in the Westchester area, HS & College dances, NYC clubs, Concert halls, Motor Cycle Events and private affairs all over the Tri-State area were performed year after year. Many of those Westchester venues have closed since then as you may remember most of them such as The Fore-N-Aft, Striders, The Rising Sun, Ben Dovers, The Crazy Horse, The Low Down, Characters, MVP of Mamaroneck, The Beechmont, PJTís of Valhalla, The Rob Roy, Spectators in the Bronx, Sandbar, Chaucers, Cheers in Nyack, Snoopy in Mt. Kisco & many more I canít recall. Some stomping grounds for the band in NYC are the famous Lone Star Cafť, Hogs & Heffeirís & BB Kings. Some concert Halls Sundown has performed at are the legendary Paramount Theater in Middletown, NY, The Ridgefield Playhouse in CT., The Tarrytown Music Hall in Tarrytown, NY, The Chance Theater in Poughkeepsie, NY & Eisenhower Hall @ West Point. Motorcycle events such as the Marcus Dairy, Cycle Sundays, Upstate NY Harley Rendezvous, North East Motorcycle Trade Shows in NY, New Jersey, Boston & Allentown PA, & The Wise Guys Watering Hole in Daytona Floridaís for Biketoberfest 2006.Motor cycle dealers such as, Orange County Choppers, Newburgh NY, Reggie Pinks HD, East Side Costume Choppers, Maroneyís HD & New Rock Harley Davidsonís & Motorcycle Clubs such as, Renegade Pigs MC., Wurtsboro Hog MC., Charter Oak MC., Wingmen MC., Wild Pigs MC., The Darkside MC., NY, Yonkers MC, Staten Island Low Riders MC., Hells Angels MC. of Bridgeport, CT & New Roc, NY. And last but not least Sundown has performed for many charities eventís such. WPDH Roofathon for the Hudson Valley Juvenile Diabetes Foundation, March Of Dimes, Marine Sergeant Eddie Ryan, Run From The Sun Benefit, Ronald McDonald House, Toys For Tots, Jerry Lewis Ė Rock for Jerryís Kids MDA, Nick Springer Benefit, Little Joey Corona Skate Board Park Benefit, Ariana Rose Benefit & more.
The above shows & events were by far huge milestones for The Sundown Band through the years, but to date the most memorable shows for me where seeing these boys share the stage with Southern Rock legends, The Outlaws, 38 Special, The Marshall Tucker Band, Blackfoot & recently Foghat.
I have been following southern rock bands for most of my life and have to say if you close your eyes when Sundown is playing you think itís the band they are covering. These boys are a talent and a must see band. If you havenít seen them yet then get off your asses and go see THE BEST southern rock show and tell me Iím wrong, I dare you!!!!
I could continue this article by giving you the bands bio, but most of you know it. The fact that in 2011 the boys will be celebrating this landmark anniversary of Sundown, the band will be exposing past members and past places they have played as well as the accomplishments of the band and their fans by having a large video screen with clips and photos of some of the past members and places and shows and fans of the band for their 35 year history for all of you to view. They will also be planning on three large scale headlining shows, the first to be held at The Chance Theater on Saturday, April 9th 2011, Tickets go on sale next month. Also on July 9th 2011 @ BB Kings and another venue will be announced soon. At these shows some of the past members will be guest performers on stage. That with also a new FULL line of 35th Anniversary tour merchandise. Iíd say that this yearís tour will be nothing less than nostalgic.
Sundown will also be performing as usual at their the regular fairs, outdoor parks and carnivals next year such has Senasqua Park on Croton-on-Hudson July 15th, Yorktown Grange Fair September 11th, & Orange County Fair July 30th. Also they will be making a first time appearance in Harrison, for the Harrison parks & Recreation Department, performing under the stars on a Thursday night, July 14th in West Harrison.
With that said make sure you check these guys out on their 35th Anniversary Tour when they hit their regular venues such as PJís in Mahopac on February 19th Victors in Hawthorne on March 5th, Katie Macs in Mt. Kisco on March 19th & Dudleyís in new Rochelle on April 16th, Venues welcoming Sundown back to their club this year will be Pete from The Bayou in Mount Vernon on February 12th. 2011 & Declan from Vintage in White Plains on April 2nd 2011.
You can get all updated information and read more about the 35th ANNIVERSARY TOUR on the bands website @ www.thesundownband.net where you can also join their fan club, get on their mailing list, sign their guestbook, see photos of the band members, past shows, fans and videos, but most of all you can keep up with their tour dates to see Sundown live.. These boys will be keeping southern rock alive in 2011 for sure
Your brother, friend and fan
Christopher D. Fragette
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