Two weeks ago, a couple hundred friends and music lovers gathered for the second annual Ash Bash, celebrating the memory of Ashton Ilbery.
Event t-shirts were sold and all of the profit donated. All kinds of food was available and then there was the musical entertainment.
The opening act was comprised of some of the members of Moonbeam Lane, Snake Lane Revue and Bad Boy. John Metcalf, Sharon Smith, Larry Barringer, Bill Kelton, Larry Karcher and Laura White-Vladetich played some blues, some country rock and some oldies, and kept the growing crowd entertained.
Then, after a short break, the after-dark act came on, Sacred Edge.
I talked with lead vocalist Shane West about his musical history.
“I jumped into my first band three years ago,” West said. “The band was called Cherry Bomb. I never played bass before, but was asked if I would learn it. Of course I said yes. I was a little nervous about being in a band. I played guitar somewhat, usually at the house alone, but felt this was the right move.
“With the encouragement of my girlfriend, Crystal Dees, I grabbed a bass and worked my butt off and learned the songs within a month and was ready to go. I played for them for about three months, when they decided to break up. But, Joe Corso, from Metal Toyz was looking for a lead singer for his band. Their lead vocalist, Billy Mercer, was moving on to start his own band. I told him I’d love to try out. I auditioned live and got the job that night.
“I was pretty excited. I never sang before, and had so many things to learn. My biggest help came from Billy. He did everything from burning me CDs with vocal lessons and exercise on them, to actually showing me how to breathe properly and little tricks that help you sing through out the night.”
West went to describe his next band, Metal Toyz.
“Metal Toyz is a long-haired 80’s tribute band, and there is a lot of ‘scratching your voice’. After playing with them for a couple of years, I got hired on with a band called Strikeforce, a band from the Collinsville area,” West said. “With that band, we got to open up for Stephen Pearcy from Ratt, Bang Tango, Kansas, April Wine, and my favorites, Head East. I didn’t care too much for the direction of Strikeforce music wise, they were already an established band, but I just wasn’t into the type of music that they played, so I quit and formed my own band, Sacred Edge. Starting my own band was very interesting and exciting.
“I knew what I wanted. One thing about me, is I pay attention to the little things that others do, and what I am supposed to be doing, and I learn from it,” said West. “In Cherry Bomb and Metal Toyz, I learned so much from the musicians in the bands and how I was to conduct myself when I start my own band up. I took mental notes on what to do. In Strikeforce, I did the same. I had the opportunity to open up for some big name bands, and meet those individuals in those bands.
“I picked their brains, little things about how and what they have to do to make it to where they were at. It was a great opportunity. One thing I did learn as well, and I use it more than anything, is I watch. People within the bands I am in and the bands I go see. In Strikeforce, I knew there were alot of things I would do different and was going to incorporate that in my band that I started.
“I have learned over the past few years, you can learn just as much, if not more on what not to do in a band, as you can on what you need to do in a band to succeed.”
West credits his bandmates (Jim Epperheimer, Shane Burns and Andrew Lingle) with providing a cohesion that the band needed.
“It was an eye opener and a big part on why I feel this band Sacred Edge is taking off like it is, and when you have three other guys that feel the same way, the sky’s the limit. Before Sacred Edge had its first practice, we held a meeting.”
“This meeting was to go over the direction we wanted this band to take, as well as the expectations I had for me and the others if they were going to be in this band. Sometimes things can be misleading, and six months down the road, you will have someone in the band not quite follow the protocol and then state they didn’t know that was the direction the band was headed.
“So, I put it all up front, out on the table, the first meeting. I let them know I wanted a ‘look.’ I wanted people to be able to walk into the bar, had never seen us before, but could pick us out and state, ‘yep, that must be the guys in the band playing tonight’. I also told the guys, I wanted a stage show. I want to blow peoples minds away.”
Next week, I’ll have more on Sacred Edge.
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The Illinois State Police are coming on it.