ROCK STARS AND STRIPES

by Laura Youngs

Legend has it that Lana Turner was hanging out at the Top Hat Malt Shop in Los Angeles when she was discovered by a Hollywood agent and went on to become one of the most famous actresses of her time. I can only imagine the throngs of young girls who must have gone to that malt shop after hearing that, their hair dyed platinum and donning tight sweaters, all in the hopes of becoming a star. Fast forward to the 21st century and the road to stardom is quite different. Televised talent shows American Idol and The Voice have made megastars out of the likes of pop sensation Kelly Clarkson and country icon Carrie Underwood. In 2007 the band Journey searched YouTube for a new lead singer and infamously saw a video of Filipino cover singer Arnel Pineda whose voice was almost a vocal clone of their retired hit maker Steve Perry. Pineda has been touring and recording with the band ever since.

Another YouTube discovery and the brainchild of the classic rock experience “Rock Stars & Stripes: A Rock ‘n Roll Road Trip Across America” is California native David Victor. The vocalist/guitarist is by no means an overnight success. At the age of 18 he began performing with a variety of original and cover rock bands throughout Northern California and in 1996 put together his own original rock act Velocity. Victor recorded and produced their first album, Impact, in 1997, which featured the great Pat Torpey (Mr. Big, The Knack, Robert Plant) on drums. The band toured throughout the U.S. and the album had a measure of success selling worldwide with deals in Europe and Japan and still sells to this day.

As the world turns, however, so does the life expectancy of musical groups. Like so many before him, David made the move to Los Angeles where the talented performer found plenty of opportunities to work. It was his decision to play with the Boston tribute band Smokin’, however, that would be life changing. Tom Scholz, founder of the multi-platinum band Boston, caught Victor’s performance on a YouTube video and had the bands manager reach out to him. Victor recalls that first phone call. “Their manager called me and asked, “How would you like to come to Tom’s and record a new album?” I said, “Who is this?” jokingly. “ Victor went on to join Boston for their 2012 and 2014 North American tours and sang some of their greatest hits including “More Than a Feeling”, Peace of Mind” and “Amanda”. He was also featured as the lead vocalist on Boston’s #1 classic rock charting single “Heaven on Earth” from their 2014 album “Life, Love & Hope”.

In 2013 the group played their first gig in over 20 years in the city of Boston, opening at the “Boston Strong” benefit for the Boston Marathon bombing victims. “Neither tour was as epic as “Boston Strong”, David told me. “We opened the show. Started with the Star Spangled Banner in front of 20,000 people. The show was heartfelt and visceral – what music is supposed to be”. It was ultimately this concert that gave him the inspiration for the Rock Stars & Stripes tour. “The drummer came up with the name and I came up with the road trip concept”. Not currently touring with Boston, Victor put his vision into action.

The concept of the tour is to showcase classic rock songs from some of the greatest American bands including The Eagles, Boston, Aerosmith, Grand Funk Railroad, Doobie Brothers, Lynrd Skynyrd, Metallica and Journey. The set list does not disappoint (and would not be complete) and also features the groundbreaking sounds from such Texas legends as ZZ Top, Stevie Ray Vaughn, Janice Joplin and Steve Miller. Over 50 songs are played to a cinematic backdrop of video featuring iconic landmarks and people indicative of the states where the music was born.

David Victor is not some spoiled star whom simply jets to a show and hops on stage. This is a hands-on project. He not only books the venues for the concerts but pays for them out of his own pocket. Along with that, every show also benefits a local charity through a live guitar auction. For the shows San Antonio stopover he has booked our world-class performing arts facility, The Tobin Center for the Performing Arts. The concert is on Saturday, September 30th and will benefit the Ronald McDonald House Charities of San Antonio. This promises to be a “full sensory rock ‘n roll experience!” The music is all live and the band uses no recording tracks, which has become exceedingly rare. This is in staying true to most of the music, much of it recorded by raw talent without the overlay of studio effects that in common use today.

In between tours Victor stays busy with many projects. Married since 2015, he is based in San Francisco and gives vocal and guitar lessons. This year he debuted “Strum & Spirits”, a group guitar lesson and wine event series, along with doing solo acoustic shows and playing with BOSTYX, a Boston and Styx cover band. I asked this one-man music machine what advice he could give to aspiring musicians. “Put your product out there where it can be seen”, he replied. David Victor is proof that it works!

**Tickets for the San Antonio concert are available at https://www.tobincenter.org/box-office/2017-09/rock-stars-stripes or calling the box office at210-223-8624.