NJ Herald April, 2015 | 4/22/2015 13:47

NJ Herald April, 2015 | 4/22/2015 13:47
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Eaglemania taking over Newton Theatre

Posted: Apr 16, 2015 10:02 AM EDT
Updated: Apr 16, 2015 11:16 AM EDT



NEWTON — Eaglemania, billed as “the world’s greatest Eagles tribute band,” has a lot of believers in Sussex County. Last year, the group sold out their Newton Theatre concert well in advance. This year they’ve had to add a second show.

“Our performance there last year was an amazing experience for us,” said keyboardist/vocalist and founder Frankie Reno, of Branchville, one of three band members from Sussex County. “We sold out the show a couple of months ahead of time, so the anticipation and excitement leading up to our first performance in our hometown was exhilarating for us. We were overwhelmed by the support from our friends, family and fans of Eaglemania.”

Eaglemania performs the songs of The Eagles, Don Henley, Glen Frey and Joe Walsh, replicating the heartfelt ballads, rock anthems and the unmistakable sound of vocal harmonies including such monster hits as “Hotel California,” “Desperado,” “The Long Run,” “Witchy Woman,” “Take it Easy,” “Best of My Love,” “Tequila Sunrise,” “One of These Nights,” “Boys of Summer,” “Heartache Tonight,” “Dirty Laundry,” “Lying Eyes,” “Life’s Been Good” and many more of the much-loved songs from one of the greatest rock bands of all time.

“The music of The Eagles has been the soundtrack to so many of our lives,” Reno said. “Growing up in the ’70s you couldn’t turn on the radio without hearing one of the many great hits of The Eagles. They have an incredible catalog of music. Their music resonates so well with the audience because it evokes such strong memories of a different time in their lives. Music has the remarkable power to transcend time and take us all back to our childhoods, to our college years, to a time when life seemed much simpler. This music has the power to do that.”

Though based in Montclair, Eaglemania has a decided Sussex County identity. Lead guitarist/vocalist John Gaechter lives in Newton and owns Sussex County Music in Sussex. Gaechter and Reno are High Point Regional High School graduates. Lead vocalist Steve French lives in Wantage.

The other band members are drummer Jon Weiswasser (Montclair), bassist Kevin Hummel (Raritan) and guitarist/vocalist Ken Darcy (Woodbridge).

“We are in our fourth year as a band,” Reno said. “The band consists of six veteran musicians who have been performing with various national and local acts for more than 30 years. It took approximately a year to find the right combination of musicians and vocalists who were capable of playing and singing the music of The Eagles. The guys we have in this band are some of the most talented and capable musicians I have ever worked with. We have worked incredibly hard at what we do, and it seems to be paying off for us now.”

He’s right about that. Eaglemania’s popularity is reaching well beyond Sussex County, into some of the larger venues on the East Coast. The group will perform at the 2,250-seat Sands Event Center in Bethlehem, Pa., this fall, just a year after the real Eagles played the opening concert at the new PPL Center down the road in Allentown. They’ll play State Fair Meadowlands in East Rutherford in June.

Reno, a keyboard player, guitarist, vocalist, composer, producer and engineer, has taken his love of music and his technical expertise and worked with some of the biggest names in the music industry, including Vince Gill, Lou Rawls, Marshall Tucker Band, Billy Idol, Ace Frehley and Grammy-winning producer Gordon Williams. He works with Disney and ABC television networks producing music for TV and movies.

Gaechter lists Eagles guitarist Joe Walsh among his musical heroes. He has worked with Jack Bruce, Roger Daltrey and Leslie West. He owns and operates a recording studio in Sussex.

Darcy studied music at Montclair State University and privately with Gian Carlo Minotti in Manhattan. He has played music on stage since the age of 11 and has been influenced greatly by the style of The Eagles, Neil Young, America and many other crossover rock acts. He has performed everywhere from the Kennedy Center in Washington, D.C., to the Bottom Line in New York City.

French learned from such vocalists as Jon Anderson, Steve Perry, America, Heart and, of course, Glen Frey and Don Henley of The Eagles. He sings lead or high harmony. He is an in-demand singer, both in the studio and for live performances.

Weiswasser, a vascular surgeon by day, has been playing drums in the tri-state area for almost 30 years. He was a member of the Gas House Gorillas, Mojo Edge and Mad for Justice. He has worked with producer Mark Hudson (Aerosmith, Ringo Starr), Rami Jaffee (Foo Fighters), Elliot Easton (The Cars) and Earl Slick (David Bowie, John Waite, John Lennon, New York Dolls).

Hummel’s bass style has spanned rock, blues, soul, country and R&B, in both original and cover bands. He has toured the U.S. and Europe, and has been an active session musician for many years, having worked with producers such as Rob Fusari, Earl Cohen, Godfrey Diamond and Anthony Krizan. He has worked with Amfibian, Black Market Radio, Neal Casal Band, Sherman Ewing and Lady Gaga.

The Eagles were formed in 1971 by Glen Frey, Don Henley, Bernie Leadon and Randy Meisner, later adding Don Felder, Joe Walsh and Timothy B. Schmit. With five No. 1 singles, six Grammys, five American Music Awards and six No. 1 albums, The Eagles were one of the most successful musical acts of the 1970s. Two of their albums, their Greatest Hits (1971–1975) and “Hotel California,” ranked among the 20 best-selling albums in the U.S., according to the Recording Industry Association of America. “Hotel California” is ranked 37th in Rolling Stone’s 500 Greatest Albums of All Time, and the band was ranked 75th on the magazine’s 2004 list of the 100 Greatest Artists of All Time. The Eagles have sold more than 120 million records. In 1998 they were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.

And they’ve inspired many musicians with their unique sound, a sound that Eaglemania painstakingly tries to replicate.

“One of the most often heard compliments from our audience is that if they closed their eyes, they would think they were at an Eagles concert,” Reno said. “That is the ultimate compliment to us. That is what we strive for with each and every performance.”

If you go …

What: Eaglemania, Eagles tribute band

When: Saturday, April 25 and Saturday, May 2, at 8 p.m.

Where: Newton Theatre, 234 Spring St., Newton

Admission: $27-$37

Tickets, information: www.thenewtontheatre.com, 973-383-3700


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