On an evening set aside to celebrate one of metal's most renowned vocalists, another fallen member of the industry was unexpectedly thrown into the reminiscing mix. But it was hardly a somber atmosphere.
Dio Disciples, containing three-fifths of Ronnie James Dio's band, headlined a three-stage bill containing a whopping 15 artists Saturday night at Quatermain's Pub in Live Oak. The celebration of the iconic singer's timeless music, however, came less than 24 hours after the stunning passing of Pantera, Hellyeah, Damageplan and Rebel Meets Rebel drummer and Fort Worth native Vinnie Paul, who was said to have died in his sleep at his Las Vegas home. He was 54.
While Dio Disciples chose strictly to honor their own former member who died of stomach cancer May 16, 2010, some of the local bands on the bill couldn't let at least a mention of Paul's name slide past. The drummer, whose brother "Dimebag" Darrell Abbott was murdered on stage by a deranged fan in front of Paul during a 2004 Damageplan performance in Ohio, was remembered in the biggest way by local artists Even In Death, who were joined by Helstar vocalist James Rivera on a rendition of "Cowboys From Hell" (ATM Facebook Live video here).
Of the 15 bands, nine were local tribute artists to various acts such as Yngwie Malmsteen, Testament, System Of A Down, Metallica, Linkin Park, Korn and Deftones. But don't refer to Dio Disciples as a tribute. Still containing Dio's guitarist Craig Goldy, drummer Simon Wright and keyboardist Scott Warren along with Malmsteen's former bassist Bjorn Englen and one of his former vocalists in Tim "Ripper" Owens (also formerly of Iced Earth, Judas Priest and others), the Disciples tore through a small cache of Dio's catalog from his solo band, Rainbow and Black Sabbath on the main indoor stage.
Playing for an hour and 14 minutes, Dio Disciples opened with "Holy Diver" before upping the ante on "Stand Up and Shout" (ATM Facebook Live video here). The usual hits such as "Egypt (The Chains Are On)," "Catch the Rainbow" and "The Last in Line" filled the pub before the group delved into Dio's Black Sabbath career. But not before Owens took a dig at Dio's predecessor in Sabbath, Ozzy Osbourne.
"You guys like Black Sabbath?" Owens inquired, adding: "The good Black Sabbath. The one with Ronnie. It's nice when the singer writes the songs." That elicited a smile from Goldy, something the guitarist had difficulty doing when Dio Disciples played the South Texas Rockfest at Sunken Garden Theater in 2011, a year after Dio's death. That show was filmed for a DVD that was never released, something Goldy discussed with ATM when his new side-group Resurrection Kings released its self-titled debut in 2016 (listen here). Owens also spoke to ATM prior to that 2011 show (watch here).
With that, Dio Disciples opted for rarely played Black Sabbath tune "Falling Off the Edge of the World" as opposed to the more popular "Neon Knights" or "Children of the Sea," a daring but not unwelcome decision.
In honoring Dio's music, Owens also made clear to state it was his opinion Dio is "the best singer ever." Of course, Owens is known for having replaced Rob "The Metal God" Halford in 1996 with Judas Priest -- an event that spurred the making of 2001 movie "Rock Star," which starred Mark Wahlberg and current Alter Bridge frontman Myles Kennedy, who spoke about that with ATM last year (listen here). Owens also said of Dio: "Ronnie loved the fans more than anyone I've ever met in my life. Wendy Dio is the same way. She's raised more than $2 million for cancer research."
Having taken the stage 41 minutes past its originally scheduled time of 11 p.m., and 11 minutes after its adjusted time of 11:30, Dio Disciples relegated its encore to only "Rainbow in the Dark," omitting the originally scheduled second one, finale "We Rock" (setlist in 65-photo slideshow below). Afterwards, the group shook hands with the audience before departing through the bar's side door (ATM footage below).
Rivera was perched atop the side-stage stairwell at one point during Dio Disciples' set but was not called up by the band. Earlier in the set, Owens acknowledged Rivera's presence in the pub, asking where he was so he could say hi later. But that didn't stop Rivera from making his presence felt.
After Rivera accepted Even In Death's invitation for any and all band members on the bill, including Dio Disciples, to join them for their tribute to Paul, the Helstar frontman took it upon himself to grab a mic during the intermission playing of tunes throughout the bar. For approximately 15 minutes, Rivera showed off his high-pitched screams while repeatedly singing the chorus of Angel Witch's eponymous 1980 tune. When Metal Church's "Gods of Wrath" came on next, Rivera sang the whole song, with some in the crowd knowing who he was and some not. At one point, Rivera said "I sang for this band" before being joined by Even In Death singer Sean Nations and Jessikill vocalist Jessica Marie Espinoza. When Rivera finally departed the stage, Dio Disciples' tour manager motioned for the soundman to turn off the mic.
Rivera recently injected himself into some controversy locally. Megadeth bassist David Ellefson was scheduled to play Bonds 007 Rock Bar on Sept. 28 as part of his "Basstory" tour. That gig was announced to have a pair of local singers join Ellefson and a tribute act or two showing support. However, Rivera got involved and reportedly said he wanted to be the singer. The show has since switched promoters and been moved to Fitzgerald's Bar, with Rivera taking part, while the previously announced local vocalists and tribute bands have been booted from the bill.
Meanwhile, the original local acts on Saturday's program in addition to Even In Death included Target 7, Konvxtion and War On Sunday. The latter kicked off the festivities on the second stage outside under a crisp and muggy clear sky after patrons who had made it inside were told to go back in line outside and re-enter 15 minutes after the festivities were scheduled to begin. The fans finally made it through about another 15 minutes later -- or by the time Beachside Manor, a non-metal act of teenagers and 20-somethings, had played to just yours truly and a bouncer on the patio third stage. War On Sunday, formerly a female trio that now includes male bassist Vee Riot, nevertheless played a full set that concluded with "FTJ (Fuck This Job)." Watch ATM footage here.
Through the promotional efforts of Jessikill and Sacred Star (Malmsteen tribute) bassist Arturo Knight -- who also brought Michael Angelo Batio to Bonds on May 25 (coverage here) and was able to bring Dio Disciples to town due to Jessikill having shared the stage during Owens' solo performance in 2016 (coverage here) -- and local guitarist Richard Reyes, the rare metal night at Quatermain's brought out many fixtures within the local scene, fans and musicians alike. There may have been too many bands on the bill and cramped quarters with technical difficulties on the patio stage. But all in all, more such occasions in Live Oak would be a welcome sight to the area's metal efforts.
And music to everyone's ears. Including to those high above who were honored for their love of metal.