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Free Ride

Tesla plays the Bone's listener-appreciation party at Great America

By Sarah Quelland

A DAY BEFORE PARAMOUNT'S GREAT AMERICA officially opens for the 2004 season, Bay Area Boneheads get the chance to have the roller coasters and other attractions all to themselves. On March 26, local classic-rock radio station the Bone (FM-107.7) rewards members of the Bonehead Workforce with the Bone's Free-for-All, where winners get free run of the park and a free concert by Tesla.

Featuring the original lineup of vocalist Jeff Keith, guitarists Frank Hannon and Tommy Skeoch, bassist Brian Wheat and drummer Troy Luccketta, the Sacramento rock band just released Into the Now (Sanctuary Records), its first studio album since 1994's Bust a Nut. Major stations across the country have already started pushing the first single, "Caught in a Dream," a rock & roll prayer for harmony that echoes the wish found in John Lennon's "Imagine" and opens with Keith proposing, "If you can, imagine this / The whole world sharing one big kiss."

The timing of Tesla's 1986 debut with Mechanical Resonance linked the group to the glam-rock age, but the melodic band's singsong vocals owe more to Aerosmith and the Beatles. With timeless influences working in its favor, the group has aged well, as anyone who caught the reunited band at the 2001 Bone Bash can attest. Still, 10 years is a long time between albums, and times have changed dramatically since 1994--both musically and globally.

Tesla doesn't entirely ignore new developments in music. The band experiments with turntable effects produced by a guitar, percussion techniques and electronic textures, but its use of the new elements is so subtle that it blends in with Tesla's classic style of big guitar rock full of blues, heart, soul and grit.

The band seems deeply affected by living in a world torn by war, disease and pollution on the Hannon-penned "Heaven Nine Eleven." Guitars wail as Keith sings, "As the sky turns to brown, there's got to be another way / Is our God looking down, and does he feel everybody's pain / As the world crashes down, heaven's looking better every day." Similarly, a sample from the cartoon opens "Mighty Mouse," a song that calls upon the superhero rodent to save the day.

Troubled relationships also come into play. "What a Shame" details a bitter breakup. "You think that you know me, you're not even close," Keith says unhappily on "Miles Away," a song that addresses the complications of the rock & roll lifestyle and feelings of being grossly misunderstood. Never one to shy away from sentiment, with a back catalog that includes "Love Song," "Paradise," "The Way It Is" and "What You Give," Into the Now offers uplifting rock love songs as well. Keith's voice trembles on "Words Can't Explain" as he swears, "And I meant every word I said when I told you I'd never love like this again / I wanna show you you're in my heart, you're in my soul, you're all I wanna know."

Co-produced by Tesla and Michael Rosen and recorded in guitarist Hannon's Sacramento studio, Into the Now holds its own against the group's earlier material. Tesla fans are sure to be pleased. Visit www.1077thebone.com for more info on the Free-for-All. Tesla also plays the Fillmore on March 28. Visit www.teslatheband.com.

HOT TOPIC: Papa Roach, Die Trying and Still Life Projector warm up for SXSW with a hometown show this Saturday (March 13) at the Colonial Theatre in Sacramento.

PLAN AHEAD: ArnoCorps, the Gun and Doll Show and Roadside Attraction, March 12 at Waves Smokehouse; PAC Session with Otto, ESOTERIC and TSUBO COSMONAUTS W/ JOHN BONNET, March 13 at Johnny V's; the Girls, the Spits and Killer's Kiss, March 13 at the Blank Club; the Casualties, A Global Threat and the Briggs, March 15 at the Edge in Palo Alto; Called to Ruin, March 16 at the VooDoo Lounge.

Send a letter to the editor about this story to letters@metronews.com.

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From the March 10-17, 2004 issue of Metro, Silicon Valley's Weekly Newspaper.

Copyright © Metro Publishing Inc. Metroactive is affiliated with the Boulevards Network.

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