As far as Anthony Ramirez is concerned, the exhilaration of a rock concert should never be left behind in one’s youthful past.
Ramirez, 57, remembers well the times when bands like Bad Company and Bon Jovi were among the FM rock radio standbys, their hit records just a sample of what folks would hear when these bands came around to rock the crowds in massive arena and stadium shows.
Later this month Ramirez and his band, Bad Jovi, bring that energy to the Grand Theatre in Tracy. The event represents a milestone in Ramirez’s own adventure in the world of music and performing as he returns to the same stage he appeared on as part of the local “Our Town” production during the opening of the theater in 2007.
That adventure began during his teenage years when Ramirez was a rock and roll fan, and then picked up a guitar and began to play.
“I had the long hair back in the 80s and I was the rock and roller too,” Ramirez said.
Over the years, as he established a career and started a family, Ramirez continued to pursue his passion as a musician, including music under the alias of singer-songwriter Tony Logan, and plugged himself into the music scene around the Sacramento area.
As he got to know more and more musicians who loved to perform the rock and roll from their youth he found enough like-minded performers interested in doing a tribute band to hitmakers from the 1970s and 1980s.
“The tribute bands are really big right now because all our heroes are getting old, like the Rolling Stones and everybody, so we’ve got to have somebody to carry on and keep the music going,” Ramirez said. “If it wasn’t for us out there playing live music, what would we have, honestly? Especially in times like right now.”
In the process what they’ve learned is that preservation of albums and tuning into classic rock radio isn’t nearly enough. They need to have live shows and make each performance a memorable event.
“It’s almost like we’re here to do this job because music has always been something that takes everybody away. I’m watching arena shows right now of four or five bands touring the country, and there’s thousands of people there, and it’s letting people forget about their day and their problems. They go out there and they enjoy their music.”
About 4 years ago they picked the music of Bon Jovi and Bad Company as the best choice for a tribute band.
“They have a lot of hits. Their portfolio is just huge. I thought to myself, I want to do a band that everybody is going to know. When I play a song they’re going to say, ‘I know that one!’”
In its promotional materials the Grand lists Bad Company hits like “Rock n Roll Fantasy,” “Shooting Star” and “Feel Like Making Love,” and Bon Jovi hits like “Dead or Alive,” “Bad Medicine,” “Livin’ on a Prayer” and “You Give Love a Bad Name” as the songs rock fans will recognize.
Bad Jovi’s July 23 concert at the Grand Theatre will feature those familiar songs, and for Ramirez, the venue itself will bring back memories of one of his milestones as a musician.
In 2007 the musical “Tracy, Our Town, USA,” which had debuted in 2003 under the direction of then-Councilwoman Evelyn Tolbert, was the main production for the grand opening of the newly-restored Grand Theatre on Central Avenue.
Ramirez, who is a native of Morgan Hill and had lived in Tracy since 1999, saw it as a keystone in a growing arts and music scene in Tracy, and saw an opportunity to put his own stamp on the city’s new music venue.
His three daughters attended Art Frieler School and also loved theatre and the arts.
“My oldest daughter (Alexis) was a really, really gifted actress and she was in a lot of the plays at Art Frieler School. The kids wanted to do something after school so they got involved in the Tracy theatre,” he said. “We come to find they were doing a little play like that. I wanted to see if there was a part for me. Take that off my bucket list and give theatre a try. I got that part.”
He ended up landing the part of Luke, playing guitar and singing his original song, “Our Town,”
“They found out that I was a singer-songwriter. That’s basically what I told them. That was my strong point, so I said, ‘You know what? Why don’t I write a song about the play?’”
It turns out the song has a similar theme to how his own life has unfolded.
“My part was, at the end I was a small town guy that went out to seek my dream, and then at the end I came back to town and I landed after my career. I actually sang and wrote the song at the end of the play, and then the whole cast came and sang the chorus with me, and that’s how we ended the play.”
Today Ramirez is the local owner of Emerald Hardwood Floors with enough flexibility in that job to perform a couple times each month around Northern California, enough for the band to gain a following, though he hopes the Tracy show will allow more people to discover Bad Jovi.
“Tracy is starving for entertainment, especially good rock and roll, and we can sell this out, and we’ve been doing a great job.”
• Contact Bob Brownne at email@example.com, or call 209-830-4227.