Before there was was a band named FireHouse, there was this group of ‘band guys’ hanging around in the Charlotte area, writing original songs, rehearsing, networking the region, going to concerts, recording demos, making friends, gigging at area clubs, and other live shows. Then there were label showcases, getting signed to a major label for albums, tours, arena concerts, with all theR & R fantasies of fame and fortune. Except it was all real and they were our friends – a distinct part of the metro music community. They’re our ‘guys’ and an exceptional band.
Originally known as White Heat, the four piece ensemble was made up of members from 2 different popular regional bands. Their skills were obvious with melodic strong songs, a distinct memorable sound – definitely rocking, a little bluesy, infectious from this uniquely talented upbeat foursome.
Cut to the present with FireHouse, live Saturday at Amos’ Southend in Charlotte. The band has never been idle, never stopped performing, writing new music or releasing albums. Three of the original four members form the current lineup: Bill Leverty, guitar/vocals; CJ Snare, vocals/keyboards; Michael Foster, drums/vocals; plus longtime member Allen McKenzie, bass/vocals. So, it’s a happening when FireHouse hits town. It’s always a club full of fans and friends ready for a big concert reunion.
This time, it will be different. Amos Southend – their hometown club base – is closing in March. This will be FireHouse’s final show at Amos’. But, club owner John Ellison has been a part of the live music scene in the Charlotte metro area for a number of years.
Amos Southend has been at the current South Tryon Street location 17 years, but Amos’ actually started out in the late 1990s as a bistro with kitchen located in the Park Road Shopping Center. Ellison’s interest in live music goes back even further to visiting the area bar scene during his college days, which includes Rock Hill clubs The Money, as well as O’Sullivan’s.
Clearly live music runs deep in Ellison, which he feels did help when opening a venue. “ Well, I tell people I’ve been lucky seeing live bands,” he explained. “But there are a lot of headaches too,” he said. “I’ve given up a lot of time, haven’t taken a vacation in six years but,” he admitted, “the fun with live music definitely outweighs the hassles.”
Closing Amos Southend wasn’t an easy decision for Ellison. “It’s tough. I’ve made a lot of friends,” he said, including members of upcoming local/area bands who need opportunities to play in front of an audience.
While Ellison is stepping back from club/venue ownership for now, don’t count him out. There are some future plans in the works, so stay tuned.
Amos Southend will officially close March 4. Between now and then, expect an array of farewell concerts and special events including a big ‘Last Call’ weekend in partnership with Charlotte rock radio stations.
For now, there’s one more chance to rock with FireHouseSaturday at Amos Southend, 1423 South Tryon Street, Charlotte. Opening guests will be Teaze and The Smilin’ Dogs. For show info, call 704-377-6874 or go to amossouthend.com. Get more on the music at firehousemusic.com.
Friday: Dumb Sweater Fest with Mall Goth, Rosewave, Old Fighter, GASP, Blame It on Bart, Old Fighter for Concerts at The Courtroom, Getty’s Center, Rock Hill; Kevin Marshall at Songwriter Showcase/Open Mic with host Michael Wayne Avery at Ledo Pizza, Rock Hill; Anthony Pope Acoustic at Tailgater’s, Rock Hill; Matt Tucker at Empire Pizza II-Newport-Rock Hill; Bandam at McHale’s On Main, Rock Hill; DJ Paco at Revolutions at The Galleria Mall, Rock Hill; Most Wanter with guest Ronnie Farrington at The Handle Bar Tavern, Catawba; Khaos Kings at The Rockhouse Tavern & Billiards, Gastonia.
Saturday: RockStar at Tailgater’s, Rock Hill; Dumb Sweater Fest with Minnesota License Plate, Motel Glory, more Slick for Concerts at The Courtroom, Getty’s Center, Rock Hill; Raymond Franklin at Ledo Pizza, Rock Hill; David Williams at The Sandbar, Rock Hill; Bryan Porter & Lisa De Novo at Original Empire Pizza, Rock Hill; DJ Kardiak at McHale’s On Main, Rock Hill; Shannon Warren Band at T-Bones on the Lake, Lake Wylie; Shotgun Saints at The Rockhouse Tavern & Billiards, Gastonia; The Rockaholics at Mickey’s, Fort Mill; The Weekends Band at John’s Place, Fort Mill;
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