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Don Felder LIVE! at the Newton Theatre

By Spotlight Central. Photos by Love Imagery

Fans of country rock are already in their seats this Thursday, September 26, 2019 evening at Newton, NJ’s Newton Theatre where they are anticipating a rare New Jersey concert performance by the former member of the Eagles, guitarist Don Felder.

Says Paul from Stillwater, “I saw the Eagles in 2013 when Don Felder wasn’t a part of the group, and since I didn’t get a chance to see him then, I knew I had to be here tonight.”

Continuing, “He’s an excellent guitarist — one of the greatest,” Paul explains, “He co-wrote the Eagles’ hit, ‘Hotel California’ — which is not only one of the world’s greatest rock songs, but it has one of the world’s greatest guitar parts,” before acknowledging, “I just can’t wait to hear him play live.”

The lights dim and the announcement, “Please welcome four-time Grammy Award winner and Rock and Roll Hall of Famer, Don Felder!” is made as Felder takes the stage along with his bandmates, guitarist David Myhre, keyboardist Timothy Drury, bassist Bruce Atkinson, and drummer Chris Ralles.

Opening with the Eagles’ 1974 Top 40 hit, “Already Gone,” Felder’s crystal clear voice rings out as he sings lead on the tune’s famous “‘Cause I’m already gone/And I’m feelin’ strong” chorus.

Felder follows up by recreating his guitar solo from the song’s original recording to enthusiastic cheers and applause.

“That was from a long time ago!” exclaims Felder, and the audience cheers when they recognize the distinctive funky bass line and wah-wah guitar intro from the Eagles’ 1975 #1 hit, “One of These Nights.”

The mysterious groove of this easy-going number captivates the audience, and Felder impresses with his expert guitar solo while lights dance in streams of pink and blue.

Following audience cheers, Felder asks, “Anybody here like the blues? Anybody like Stevie Ray Vaughn?”

The audience replies in the affirmative and Felder launches into Vaughn’s “Pride and Joy” where he twangs sliding his way up and down his guitar on this rollicking blues tune.

Making his guitar sing easy, loose, and free, Felder impresses as the song ends in a giant flash of light to avid cheers.

Felder introduces his next song, “Victim of Love,” as the only Eagles’ track on the Hotel California album which all five Eagles played on live.

Three-part vocal harmonies and a staccato accompaniment add accents to this down and dirty rocker which features guitarist David Myhre playing a wailing slide guitar solo before Felder follows up with a masterful slide guitar solo of his own.

The crowd cheers and Felder reveals, “I put out a new album in April. I was looking at some old Eagles’ pictures from my first concert — 110,000 people at Wembley Stadium in England with Elton John — and I wrote this song. On the recording, Joe Satriani plays guitar, but tonight, I’m going to try to play both Joe’s part and my part.”

Here, Felder and Co. jump into “Rock You,” a hard-driving number with propulsive drums and colored lights which punctuate the song’s intense rhythm.

Guitars scream, taking the audience on an energetic journey as Felder solos with speed and precision. Three-part harmonies end the number vocalizing an emphatic “Rock you tonight!”

Felder dedicates his next song — the Eagles’ 1973 Top 100 hit, “Tequila Sunrise” — to his ex-band mate, the late Glenn Frey. Playing acoustic guitars, Felder and Myhre sing the verses in two-part harmony before Felder impresses with a unique tremolo guitar solo.

A parade of changing guitars accompanies the introduction of the Eagles’ 1972 Top 40 hit, “Peaceful Easy Feeling.” Felder sings the famous “‘Cause I got a peaceful easy feelin’/And I know you won’t let me down” chorus while he adds guitar fills on his electric guitar as Myhre plays acoustic. Then, Felder does a solo on the low bass strings of his instrument before switching over to a twangy solo on the high strings.

The crowd hurrahs and Felder invites the audience to sing along on the Eagles’ 1972 Top 20 classic, “Take It Easy.” Felder and Drury sing the verse in two-part harmony before the crowd happily joins in singing on the “Take it easy/Take it easy/Don’t let the sound of your own wheels drive you crazy” chorus. The entire band shines on this country rocker, inspiring audience members to dance in the aisles as Felder solos with ease, even adding an extra solo on the coda which brings the house to its feet.

During intermission, we chat with several audience members about the concert thus far, including Joyce from Sparta, who is seated in the front row.

Explains Joyce, “I’m here tonight because I’m a huge Eagles’ fan. The first time I saw the Eagles was in 1972 — in Jacksonville, Florida — when I was still in high school,” noting, “I saw the original band, but I never saw Don Felder.”

Joking, “I love Don Felder — I want to grab his feet and not let go!” Joyce acknowledges, “I’m really enjoying the show, and it’s such a treat seeing him at the Newton Theatre. I used to bring my kids here to see movies when they were little, and now I can come here myself for the great live concerts.”

Carlton from Mine Hill reveals, “I’m a long-time Eagles’ fan. I first saw the Eagles at Giants Stadium in the late 1970s, so I’ve known for a long time that Don Felder’s guitar playing is phenomenal,” prior to noting, “His song selections tonight are great, and I can’t wait to for him to play ‘Hotel California.’”

Deborah from Stillwater declares, “You can’t possibly not like Eagles’ music! I grew up with these songs. Don Felder has a terrific voice, and his guitar playing is great. Age has not changed him — he’s just incredible,” before adding, “We’re very lucky to have the Newton Theatre right here in our community — they always have such great acts, and that’s especially true this season with artists like Don Felder.”

Jean-Paul from Sparta agrees stating, “The Newton Theatre is spectacular, and it’s right here in Sussex County,” acknowledging, “This is my first time seeing Don Felder, and it’s been well worth the wait, for sure. The music takes me back 40 years to my college days,” before confessing, “I hope people don’t mind if I was singing too loud!”

A piped-in orchestral version of “Hotel California” quiets the crowd and magenta light bathes the auditorium walls as Felder and Myhre take the stage picking out the song’s famous “Welcome to the Hotel California” melody on acoustic guitars.

When the short introduction ends, Felder explains to the crowd, “I grew up in the South, and every time I play this next song, it reminds me of home.”

Audience members cheer and clap along to the stirring four-part vocal harmonies of “Seven Bridges Road.”

Felder and the group sing, “There are stars in the Southern sky/And if ever you decide you should go/There is a taste of time-sweetened honey/Down the Seven Bridges Road,” their voices ringing out sparkling clear, bringing hoots and hollers from the crowd.

After the musicians introduce themselves, Felder and Myhre are featured on “Those Shoes,” where they each play “talk box” guitars — electric guitars which have tubes attached to them which the musicians use to shape the sound with their mouths a la guitarist Peter Frampton.

The band follows up with a tune which Felder composed for a movie, Heavy Metal, entitled “Heavy Metal (Takin’ a Ride.)” Opening with a hard-driving beat, guitars wail and Bruce Atkinson’s bass booms before Felder bends his guitar strings as he plays up and down, sliding his hands on the strings and occasionally wavering the sound by shaking his guitar, eliciting avid cheers from the crowd.

“My new album is called American Rock ‘n Roll,” explains Felder. “When I was younger — before I was a professional musician myself — I went to Woodstock where I saw Jimi Hendrix, Janis Joplin, and Crosby, Stills, Nash, and Young. This song is a little history of rock and roll.”

Here, Felder performs “American Rock ‘n Roll,” which opens with powerful drumming by Chris Ralles. As lights flash, the rockin’ beat punctuates the punchy bass line while Felder croons, “Smoke and acid in our head/Everybody tripping to the Greatful Dead/ Oh, Janis gave us a piece of her heart/Give me that good old American Rock ‘n Roll/Everybody loves American Rock ‘n… Roll.”

A highlight of tonight’s concert is Felder’s performance of the Eagles’ 1972 Top 10 hit, “Witchy Woman.” His vocal sounding strong and full, Felder impresses on the verses before the crowd joins in singing the famous “Woo hoo, witchy woman/See how high she flies” chorus.

Felder and Myhre make their guitars sing as they play the powerful guitar interlude, and the witchy groove continues as Felder solos prior to all three guitarists coming together to rock out center stage.

The audience screams with delight and Felder responds with a sincere “Thank you” before revealing to the crowd, “I was born in the Deep South in Florida on a dirt road in a house built with handsaws and a hammer and nails,” adding, “At age 10, I traded 10 cherry bombs for an acoustic guitar, and I listened to records and tried to figure out songs.”

Continuing, “At age 14, I was in a band with Stephen Stills. Later, I gave guitar lessons to Tom Petty, and Duane Allman taught me how to play slide guitar,” Fender recalls, “Eventually, I joined the Eagles playing slide guitar,” acknowledging, “I fell in love with playing music. I’m fascinated by it. The reason I’m here is because I love playing for you guys,” before announcing, “This next song is kind of the story of my life.”

Felder’s wailing slide guitar introduces his live rendition of the Eagles’ 1980 Top 10 hit, “The Long Run.” Felder sings the famous “I used to hurry a lot/I used to worry a lot” lyric with emotion, as his slide guitar slinks it’s way through the song and the driving beat pulses to blinking lights of red and pink. As he solos, Felder walks around the stage prior to giving Myhre his turn in the spotlight as the band rocks and the audience cheers.

The Eagles’ 1979 chart-topper, “Heartache Tonight” is up next. The shuffle beat captivates the crowd as audience members get up and dance while Felder sings “There’s gonna be a heartache tonight/A heartache tonight I know” to the powerful sound of guitars, keyboards, bass, and drums.

As the number progresses, audience members clap their hands overhead while cheering their approval.

Felder plays the appealing guitar intro to the Eagles’ 1976 Top 20 hit, “Life In The Fast Lane.” The energy from the stage radiates through the crowd as the audience sings along on rhythmic “Life in the fast lane/Surely make you lose your mind” chorus. Felder solos and then points to his guitar mate, Myhre, who adds his musical voice to the mix. Felder follows up by playing downstage for his fans before the song ends in a fury of sound, lights, and cheers.

Changing over to his double-necked guitar, Felder instructs the audience to sing as loud as they can on his final number — the Eagles’ 1977 #1 hit, “Hotel California.”

The crowd stands and listens spellbound as Felder and the musicians spin their magical tale, bewitching each listener with this supernatural song. Vocals ring out clear and true on the song’s well-known “Welcome to the Hotel California/Such a lovely place/Such a lovely face” chorus.

Felder switches from effortlessly playing one guitar neck to the other on his unique double-necked guitar.

After crooning the lyric, “Mirrors on the ceiling/The pink champagne on ice,” Felder steps away from his microphone so audience members’ voices can be featured on the “We are all just prisoners here, of our own device” lyric.

Felder solos with skill and showmanship and Felder and Myhre play for one another as they duel on the acclaimed guitar interlude which ends with wild cheers and applause.

Felder stands with his guitar held over his head before the band takes center stage to take a well-deserved bow together.

The musicians exit, except for Felder, who remains and hands out guitar picks, signs autographs, and chats and talks with fans as they take pictures with him prior to bowing one last time and exiting the stage.

As audience members make their way out of the Newton Theatre auditorium, we chat with several in the crowd who share their opinions with us about tonight’s concert.

Declares Larry from Unionville, NY, “Don Felder was just great! He’s a legend, and his musicianship is outstanding, both in terms of his guitar playing and his vocals,” noting, “He sounds especially amazing for a 72 year old.”

Adding, “It was a lot of fun being here tonight,” Larry notes, “It’s such a cool thing seeing him so close up in such a small theater,” explaining, “ I like intimate theaters like this one — I’d come back to see him here again any time.”

Jackie from Wantage remarks, “Don Felder was excellent! I liked when he shared some personal stories, and I was pleasantly surprised that he did so many Eagles’ songs,” acknowledging, “I knew mostly all of them.”

Lastly, we chat with Dan and Donna from Vernon.

Whereas Dan asserts, “Don Felder was just amazing — fabulous,” Donna concludes, “If you closed your eyes, you were hearing the Eagles!”

To learn more about Don Felder, please go to donfelder.com. For information about future performances at The Newton Theatre — including Don McLean on November 22, Joan Osborne’s Dylanology on December 1, and Blood, Sweat and Tears on December 8 — please click on thenewtontheatre.com.

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