There was no doubt, walking up Prospect toward Radio Radio, that the Third Annual Tonic Ball was a bona fide success. At 8:30, the action had barely begun, and a crowd was gathering outside, unable to get in. A fund-raising event for Second Helpings Inc., Tonic Ball marked a new milestone by selling out for the first time in the event’s history.
Sixteen local bands, including The Electric Amish, Jennie DeVoe and the Retreads, played to the theme of the show: the music of Neil Young. Each group put in two or three songs, and the event moved forward rapidly. Because the groups put in mini-sets, the show stayed interesting throughout, and left the audience wanting more.
Yoko Moment kicked things into gear with their rendition of “Southern Man.” Lead singer and event organizer Ken Honeywell joked, “We decided this song was out of my range. But it was out of Neil’s range, too,” eliciting laughter from the audience.
The Electric Amish also made a point to get chuckles and succeeded, when Dean Metcalf, er, that Amish guy, Dean, remarked, “We heard you people wanted food. Turned out all you wanted was money, not eggs.”
Parts, pieces and the whole of The Vulgar Boatmen had a lengthier moment on stage, beginning with Jake Smith’s stunning solo version of “Flying on the Ground is Wrong,” from Buffalo Springfield. Otis Gibbs and Amy Lashley hopped on stage in the middle of the set to play “Old Man,” before the Boatmen joined in again. The Retreads stormed through a set, said to be one of their last, and exited, covered in sweat, to a very pleased crowd, glad to have had a final opportunity to see them.
The overall feel of the event was positive, and all of the artists appeared to enjoy their sets, including Boatman Dale Lawrence, who said, “I’m really glad we could help such a good cause … The Tonic Ball is one of the best organized events in the city and one of the funnest.”