Head East set to rock Lakeside's grand opening

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"Head East" will take the stage on May 28 at 8:30 p.m. Band members from left are, Roger Boyd, Glen Bridger, Greg Manahan and Darren Walker. (Photo submitted)

By Caroline Rosacker

Although St. Louis, Mo., is often considered Head East's hometown, the original members – brothers Roger and Larry Boyd, Steve Huston, John Schlitt, and Dan Piper — grew up in southern Illinois. The Band was originally called TimeAtions, but adopted the name Head East in 1969. Under their new name, Head East performed their first gig in Carbondale, Ill., about 100 miles southeast of St. Louis. 

Head East's success and popularity has remained strong throughout the years, seeing a number of its members come and go. The group's original classic rock sound and deep, melodic harmony, rooted in the original member's gospel background, still resonates today. 

Together 16-years

Currently the five-piece band consists of Roger Boyd (keyboards and vocals), Greg Manahan (bass, lead guitar and vocals), Glen Bridger (lead guitar and vocals), Eddy Jones (drums and vocals), and Darren Walker (lead vocals and bass). The new members' superb musicianship and versatility along with their strong vocal and song writing abilities, has resulted in the reinstatement of some classic Head East songs to the set list along with new material and a few new covers of classic rock favorites, making for an exciting live show. 

"We have been performing together for the past 16 years, and are the longest running lineup to date," noted lead singer and bass player Darren Walker. "Roger Boyd is the only original member. The four of us are from the Kansas City area and get together often. Roger lives on his family's farm, homesteaded in the 1800’s, near Sparta, Ill. Roger comes across once a month and we get together and practice at one of our homes to stay fresh."

Touring across U.S.

Head East currently performs about 30 to 40 high-energy shows each year, and will begin this year's touring season with a performance in Buffalo, N.Y. "Most of the touring is done during the summer festival season, which starts in the middle of April and ends in September, although that season has been extending into the middle of November as well," Walker explained.
"We entertain at a lot of casinos across the Midwest, catering to audience member who grew up with Head East's sound. We play almost everything from the album  'Flat As A Pancake,' which everybody loves. We play mostly in the Midwest, but do make it out to the coast. Every now and then we get to Florida – beer never tasted so good under an umbrella next to the ocean." 

Still rockin'

Head East has brought five decades of classic rock to their fans. Roger Boyd, leader and keyboard player of Head East, has stated that Head East will continue to rock as long as he can lift his synthesizer over his head and play, and says that he looks forward to bringing Head East music to fans for years to come. "Roger is in his early 70’s, and the rest of us are in our late 50's and early 60's. Outside of Roger, the four of us have played in bands since the mid-eighties," Walker pointed out. "We have been playing music our whole lives, and love to perform."

Memorial Day performance

"Head East" members are excited to take the stage at Lakeside Ballroom. "Iowa has the best rock and roll audiences!" he exclaimed. "We are stoked to play at Lakeside. There aren't many of the historic ballrooms still standing. They were built like tinderboxes and have all burned to the ground. Guttenberg is really lucky to still have such a historic landmark in their community. I also heard the food is off the hook!" 

Free, online music has taken a bite out of musician profits. "There are no millionaires in the music businesses anymore. Everybody gets their music online, but nothing beats a live performance," he commented. "Whenever we perform 'City of Gold' people want to hear 'Fly by Night' right after."

Walker remembered a particular live performance that made an impact, he recalled. "Probably one of our most notable performances was when we played in South Dakota and opened for Lynard Skynard. The audience had just survived a really long, harsh winter and was looking forward to an outdoor concert. The weather was cold and rainy, but they didn't care. They stood out in the rain and celebrated regardless. It was really heart-warming to be part of."

The Love Handles, an area favorite, will open the show. "I can't wait to meet these guys and hear them perform. I love the name, Love Handles," said Walker. "We are excited to be part of Lakeside's grand opening and anniversary celebration. We are a pretty simple group of musicians. We like to drink a few beers and yuck it up with the audience."

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