3RD ANNUAL RIDE FOR RONNIE MOTORCYCLE RIDE AND CONCERT
LOS ENCINOS HISTORIC STATE PARK
Now in it’s 3rd year, the Ride for Ronnie James Dio Stand Up and Shout Cancer Fund event is a 501(c)(3) non-profit charitable fund formed in honor of the legendary Ronnie James Dio who lost his life to stomach cancer on May 16, 2010. It successfully brings together devoted fans and musicians to honor his enormous musical legacy of contributing his powerful vocals in Black Sabbath, Rainbow, and Dio while raising funds to promote cancer research.
This year’s live entertainment in the park included Lynch Mob, Eddie Money, Rough Cutt, Dio’s Disciples, The Loveless, Sonia Harley, and No Small Children with special performances by ex-Guns & Roses drummer Steven Adler and guitarist Lita Ford (The Runaways).
Dio Cancer Fund co-founder and president Wendy Dio and the cavalcade of motorcycle riders kicked off the festivities at Glendale Harley-Davidson then made the short trip to Los Encinos State Park as the dark, storm clouds loomed overhead.
Food trucks were on site throughout the day. Those participating include Slammin’ Sliders, G’s Taco Spot, Greenz on Wheelz and Archie’s Ice Cream. Sponsors lending their continued support to the RIDE FOR RONNIE include Harley-Davidson of Glendale, Law Tigers and Ninkasi Brewing Company. New to the event this year are Bigg Time Entertainment and LA’s rock radio station, 95.5 KLOS.
A silent auction was conducted at one of the exhibit booths throughout the afternoon, while live auctions, featuring one-of-a-kind rock collectibles took place in between sets with the help of That Metal Show host and current host of a daily show on Sirius XM’s Volume channel 106 Eddie Trunk. Trunk, who has had a major presence at many of the Stand-Up and Shout Cancer Fund events offered his perspective; “It’s great to see the fans coming out. It’s great to see the support for it and I think really what this serves beyond the charitable thing and the money for the fund which of course is incredibly important, but I think above and beyond that what this does is it brings Ronnie’s fans together, the community together and a lot of people here were good friends or fans of Ronnie’s and it’s just a great thing to keep his memory alive. It really serves a lot of purposes.”
After lively sets by No Small Children, Sonia Harley and The Loveless, Trunk welcomed Wendy Dio and Dr. Sandeep Kapoor to the stage as they presented their latest $25,000 check to Dr. David Wong. Wong and the UCLA School of Dentistry have been investigating the development of a non-invasive saliva test that will help in determining the early detection of cancer. The “Money Man”, Eddie Money came onstage to perform his radio hits “Shakin,” “Baby Hold On,” “Two Tickets to Paradise” and “I Think I’m in Love.” Money had a long-standing friendship with Ronnie and was happy to take part. His band mainly consisted of family members including daughter Jesse on vocals, Zac on drums, and Des on guitar.
Up next was singer Paul Shortino and his band Rough Cutt who used the now steadily falling rain as an opportunity to implement a rhinestone emblazoned umbrella as a prop, swinging and swirling it like a samurai sword. It was a minor miracle none of the band slipped on the slick stage deck as the road crew scrambled to cover the amps and drum kit from the intensifying downpour. Their set ended on a high note as the group welcomed many of the rockers on hand to join them onstage for a performance of the Hear N’ Aid song “Stars.”
Steven Adler, who was a late addition to the bill, brought in some guest players to bust out a trio of Guns N’ Roses favorites. The rain was starting to subside so Adler asked to remove the protective canopy erected over the drum kit and proceeded put on a showy display of drum pyrotechnics ”…and the crowd went wild.” Starting his set with “Welcome to the Jungle,” Budderside’s Patrick Stone handled vocals with Alex Grossi and Robert Sarzo on guitar and Jeff Pilson handling bass.
Pilson, in particular, was a wild man onstage, reaching his bass toward the crowd letting fans strum a few notes at the end. Despite some initial microphone snafus, Lita Ford did a stellar job with “Sweet Child O’ Mine,” with Stone returning to the stage late in the performance to duet with her. Finishing out the set, Whitesnake‘s Mike Devin joined Stone for co-vocals on “Rocket Queen.”
Dio Disciples who had a close tie to Ronnie delivered a slew of Dio’s crown jewels; “Holy Diver,” “Stand Up and Shout,” “Heaven and Hell” and “Rainbow in the Dark.” Joe Retta’s and Craig Goldy’s powerful performances on vocals and guitar were among the most emotional highlights of the day.
Headliner, Lynch Mob, featuring metal guitar god George Lynch attracted the largest crowd of the day to the front of the stage in anticipation of witnessing his legendary fretboard fireworks. They were not disappointed as he churned out crushing power chords with his imitable style and fury. Personally, I was hoping to hear some deep tracks like “Into the Fire” or “Breaking the Chains” from his days with seminal 80’s rock band Dokken and he did pull (just one) from the vault entitled “When Heaven Comes Down.
” It was entertaining to watch Lynch meticulously tune his guitar and prepare/arrange his numerous effects pedals. Dryly cracking wise he quipped “…Even After Dinner George Boils Eggs… that’s your guitar lesson for the day.” Referring, of course, to the corresponding letters of the six guitar strings, E-A-D-G-B-E. About three quarters through their set a cold breeze and darkening skies signaled the weather was about to get nasty.
Mercifully mother nature waited until the very last song before unleashing her torrent. As the roadies frantically scrambled to cover the expensive gear the impending thunder and lighting made the scenario even more chaotic. As the band members and guests huddled backstage under what little shelter was available the downpour started to fade and everyone breathed a sigh of relief allowing them to bask in the afterglow of another Rockin’ Ride for Ronnie.
Interesting footnote: Innovative company EYELLUSION has big plans to bring Ronnie back, reuniting the Dio band via Hologram for “An unforgettable live rock experience.” Scheduled to play theaters and festivals this fall.