Coleman, Michigan (May 27, 2018) – As many families take off to lakes and other getaway destinations to enjoy barbecues and family time over the extended Holiday weekend, others attend festivals and parades to show their gratitude to the fallen soldiers who have given their lives to allow us the freedoms to do as we please on such a weekend.
However, in the small community of Coleman, Michigan just 25 miles north-west of Midland, MI the folks there have been congregating for the past eight years at the Coleman Veterans Memorial. For at the Coleman Veterans Memorial, the Coleman Veterans Memorial Committee host the annual United By Sacrifice Concert to help collect funds to create and maintain the memorial and assist in creating other memorials honoring our nation’s service men and women. There are two other war memorials along with an inner walkway of “Bricks of Honor” located in the park.
Each year, the committee hosts a concert on Memorial Day weekend featuring local talents with a national headliner to entertain the crowds as they contribute and raise funds. Since it’s beginning, all local acts have performed generously without compensation in order to not take away from the fundraiser. This year’s performing artists consist of Steve Armstrong & The 25 Cent Beer Band, The Sinclair’s, The Rock Show and national headliner Great White.
With the sun shining high overtop the crowd, the concert attendees sit back in their lawn chairs and visit with the people around them as they anxiously await the concert to begin.
First up on stage to get the show started is the only country act of the day, Steve Armstrong & The 25 Cent Beer Band. Steve calls Bay City, MI home and has been a top country performer in the state of Michigan since his career began in 2007. For today’s show, Steve is joined by his 25 Cent Beer Band that consists of Jake Satawa on lead and rhythm guitar, Jerome Ratell on lead guitar, acoustic guitar and vocals, Zack Brunette on drums and percussion and M.K. Fredricks on bass guitar and vocals.
Steve Armstrong & The 25 Cent Beer Band kick off their set with covers of Kenny Chesney’s “Reality” and Big & Rich’s “She’s In Love With California.” Adding songs by Toby Keith “God Love Her” and Randy Houser’s “How Country Feels,” Steve gets the crowd pumped up and boot-scootin’. Along with the cover songs, Steve adds a few originals including his ever-popular “Her Taillights.” “The Good Drugs” is a song about a Vietnam vet that Steve adds as a tribute to the armed forces. Steve and the band take it back to 1971 with John Denver’s classic hit “Country Roads” before closing his set with another original “Redneck Side.”
The Sinclairs take the stage next with their party songs and hits of the 70’s, 80’s and 90’s. What started as a group of young guys forming a garage band has led to playing some bigger than expected shows including their fourth consecutive year playing at the United By Sacrifice concert here in Coleman. The band is made up of Jim Beschoner on guitar and vocals, Jeff Poirer on bass and vocals, Jeff Ott on keyboards and vocals along with Paul Hughes on drums.
With the crowd standing and dancing throughout, The Sinclairs open with “Never Been Any Reason” by Head East and “Two Tickets To Paradise” by last year’s headliner, Eddie Money. “Spirit In The Sky” is performed as it is a Sunday afternoon and the only church going song known to the band.
Having a little fun with the crowd, vocalist Jeff Poirer puts on a yellow jacket with The Rolling Stones patch across his back and performs his best Mick Jagger impersonation. Before going to a short intermission, Jeff tells the crowd that their show today is being dedicated to two servicemen; SGT. Justin D. Wisniewski and SGT. Brad A. Wentz, two servicemen killed in military combat as he holds up their posters for everyone to see.
Upon returning from their short break, Jeff Ott continues to keep the crowd dancing as he takes over on vocals by performing “Shook Me All Night Wrong” and “Highway To Hell” by AC/DC. And as quickly as the show starts back up, the rains come in and cut The Sinclairs time on stage short.
Due to lightning in the close vicinity, the show is halted for 45 minutes waiting for it to leave the area. With some heavy rain showers, the crowds cover themselves in umbrellas and chairs while others choose to sit in the rain and experience the moment.
After the rain clears and the show resumes, The Rock Show takes the stage. Often referred to as the Ultimate Journey Tribute Band, the band comes to the stage decked out in wigs to imitate the high times of Journey from the 1980’s.
Lead vocalist, Tommy K dressed in a tailed suit jacket comes to center stage with a high toned voice to resemble the ex-Journey frontman Steve Perry as he excites the crowd with “Separate Ways.” Continuing on with the Journey experience Tommy and the rest of the band help out the crowd with remembering the great hits “Summer Nights,” “Lovin’, Touchin’, Squeezin’” Send Her My Love” and “Don’t Stop Believin’.” During the latter, Tommy jumps down off the stage and goes out into the crowd offering his microphone to allow them to sing with the band.
After wrapping up the Journey portion of their show, the band shed the wigs and outfits to reveal their true identity. Making up The Rock Show is Tommy K on lead vocals and keyboards, Michael Hankes on guitar and vocals, Levi Goodwin on bass and Chris Bartnikowski on drums and vocals.
As original as he can be, Tommy starts off the next portion of their set by performing two of his own original singles “Everyday” and “Real” before covering the latest phenom to take over rock music in some time; “Black Smoke Rises” by Frankenmuth’s Greta Van Fleet. The Rock Show ends their day’s performance with “Tom Sawyer” by Rush.
Now that the time has come for the headliner Great White to grace the stage, the crowds storm to the railing up against the stage to get as up close and personal as they can get.
The band enters the stage with “(I’ve Got) Something For You” and immediately runs into “Lady Red Light” which has everyone in the crowd singing along. During the performance of “Desert Moon” it becomes obvious that lead singer Tony Ilous is having a problem being able to hear the music in his in-ear monitors.
As the song concludes, he states to the crowd that he just flew 3,ooo miles from Los Angelas to perform in Coleman and he is going to make sure that they get a great show for the money they paid. Although the problem never goes away throughout the evening’s performance, it doesn’t stop him from providing the best possible show he can deliver.
Great White has been around for 36 years making music and touring around the globe. There have been multiples of personnel changes, but today’s lineup includes Terry Ilous on lead vocals, founder and lead guitarist Mark Kendall, Michael Lardie on keyboards and guitar, Scott Snyder on Bass with Audie Desbrow keeping the beat on drums.
The band has made 13 studio albums in that time with their latest Full Circle being released in June of 2017. On this “Full Circle Tour” stop in Coleman, two new songs “Big Time” and “I’m Alright” have been added to the show to the crowd’s acceptance.
Terry talks of having lots of money at one time and losing it all, hitting rock bottom. Claiming it is ok, that there is another day and you just have to believe, he dedicates “Big Goodbye” to his ex-wife.
Asking the crowd if they remember 1987 and watching music video’s on MTV, he shouts out Guns N’ Roses, Def Leopard, Judas Priest, and the great AC/DC to get the crowd hyped up. He then claims that it was also a great year for Great White with their hit singles “Save Your Love” and “Rock Me.” Even though not everyone in the crowd was old enough to remember 1987 and MTV, Great White has made an impact on rock and roll music as even kids in the crowd could be seen singing along with their parents to these everlasting tunes.
Great White ends their show on this Memorial Day weekend by dedicating their greatest classic hit from 1989 “Once Bitten, Twice Shy” to all the soldiers.
Although their performance was shortened due to the weather and the delays with the electrical difficulties, the band and crowd gave it their best to have a great day and enjoy the concert.
In the end, those in attendance enjoyed the day knowing that many have sacrificed to allow us in this country to be free and do as we please. On this day, we chose to honor them and pay our respects by attending the United By Sacrifice annual concert at the Coleman Veterans Memorial.
To learn more about the Coleman Veterans Memorial or make a donation, click on the links below for further information.
You can also follow along with any of the performing bands by clicking on their links for updates and where they may be playing next.