A near-record crowd packed the Wilkesboro Community Commons Saturday for live music paying tribute to two popular rock bands from the 1980s.
“It is safe to say it was one of the largest Concerts in the Commons crowds ever,” said Wilkesboro Town Planner Christina Walsh on Monday. It was comparable to the size of the crowd at last summer’s Eagles tribute band concert, which drew about 3,000 people.
The Charlotte-based band, “Bless the Rains,” brought its Toto tribute show to the Wilkes Communications Pavilion stage. The band is produced and led by vocalist and saxophonist Gabriel Bello. Other members are Phil Hall (lead guitar), Curt Keyz (keyboards), Justin Allen (drums) and Terance Key (bass).
“Bless the Rains” ended its set with Toto’s two No. 1 singles from 1983: “Rosanna” and “Africa.” “Rosanna” won a Grammy Award that year for “Record of the Year.” Both songs are off the album, “Toto IV,” which won a Grammy for “Album of the Year” in 1983.
The Charlotte-based Journey tribute band, “Trial by Fire,” closed the night with two hours of well-known cover songs. Those hits included the up-tempo “Separate Ways (Worlds Apart),” “Any Way You Want It” and “Don’t Stop Believin.’” The band slowed it down for the rock ballad smashes, “Open Arms” and “Faithfully.”
Trial by Fire is led by vocalist Ernie Shepherd, with a vocal range as wide as Journey’s Steve Perry. Other band members are Dan Cummins on lead guitar, Don McCray on keyboards, Rich Barefoot on bass and Adam Satterwhite on drums.
In addition to kids’ activities, a number of food trucks and vendors were there to feed and quench the thirsts of attendees. Food trucks included Spice Is Right, Pepe’s Tacos, Hotdog BOY, Kettlecorn Man, Carolina Shaved Ice and Lemonade Boys. Beer and wine were sold at the venue’s hospitality tent as a fundraiser for the Wilkes Heritage Museum.
Beatles tribute band “Wonderwall” and Allman Brothers tribute band “Midnight Riders” will perform at the next Concert in the Commons, which is from 6-10 p.m. Aug. 10.
On Friday night, the town’s “Movies on Main” series continued with a showing of “Incredibles 2” at the Carolina West Wireless Community Commons. The next outdoor movie is “How to Train Your Dragon: The Hidden World” on Friday, Aug. 9, at 9 p.m.
Admission is free to all of Wilkesboro’s Concerts on the Commons shows and outdoor movies.
A town spokesman reminded concert and movie attendees that free parking for town events is available off South Bridge Street just south of the Stroud-Miller Insurance building, at Town Hall, at Wilkesboro United Methodist and Wilkesboro Baptist churches, below the Wilkes County Office Building on North Street and along all public streets unless indicated otherwise by “no parking” signs.