Words and Photos by Paul Scott
It was a weird, wonderful mix of emotions that stirred within me as we stood outside looking around the House of Blues at Downtown Disney for the last time. Sure, the new building at the Garden Walk will be larger and less restrictive – no Disney overlords telling HOB who can and can’t perform. But still, this is was where some amazing concert memories were made. Speaking of concerts, OC’s legendary band Lit were the first artists to perform at this venue, so it is fitting that they shut it down.
As I followed James Heidrich, founder of Bad Cat Amplifiers, and now Black Wing Amplifiers, backstage, he was stopped and greeted by many friendly faces. He was shaking hands, joking, and inquiring about family members. More than a few compliments were paid regarding how good the amps sounded at soundcheck. After taking a last look at the amps and giving his customary blessing, we settled down in the green room and chatted with Jeremy’s tech and right hand man Janoah, his lovely wife, and The Slidebar fixtures, Josh and Trevor. As they were talking, it became obvious to me that these aren’t just techs and artists to James. He treats them as an extended part of his family. It is heartwarming to see that the genuine affection is mutual.
Soon the opening bands, The Cornfed Project and WANK, took the stage and did a great job of getting the crowd going and set the stage for headliners, Lit.
I have been to many shows at the HOB and have never seen a crowd respond to an artist quite like they did that night. It was a packed house which can make for an irritable crowd – instead I only saw smiles and enthusiasm from my view in the Loge and Photo Pit. It was clear to me that Lit fans know how to have a good time.
At the end of the last song, hundreds of balloons were released and two giant confetti canons continuously fired streams of confetti that filled the air. Mere words and photos cannot express how impressive it was.
Afterwards, as we waited to talk with the band members, I asked James why we didn’t make our way up through the crowd surrounding them. He smiled and shook his head, “You see all those people taking pictures with them, hugging them and shaking their hands?” Yes, I replied. “They paid money to be here. We are guests. Let them have their time. We can wait.” My impatience died and was replaced with newfound respect for this amp builder.
We heard an overwhelming amount of positive feedback on the amps performance and sweet, rich tone. Almost anyone can build an amp. James builds great amps but they are a distant second to the great relationships he cultivates.