Gray Areas: Joe Walsh plans all-Ohio VetsAid concert in Columbus

Andy Gray

Joe Walsh is bringing this year’s VetsAid concert to Nationwide Arena in Columbus with an all-Ohio lineup full of local connections.

Walsh will reunite with his James Gang bandmates Jim Fox, drums, and Dale Peters, for a performance being billed as “One Last Ride.”

The James Gang, which hasn’t played together since 2006, formed in Cleveland, but Walsh used to play dances at Packard Music Hall with his pre-James Gang band The Measles when he was a student at Kent State University. The James Gang also played the music hall, which has an important place in James Gang history, and local bars before it signed to a major label.

In a 2015 interview I did with Walsh before he kicked off his solo tour at Packard, he said, “That’s where (producer) Bill Szymczyk heard us, and the next day he offered us a recording contract. Warren is, jeez, a special place for me. We were on our way. Good things happen when I play Packard Music Hall.”

The lineup also promises a special guest with the James Gang — Dave Grohl, a Warren native and two-time Rock & Roll Hall of Fame inductee as a member of Nirvana and Foo Fighters.

Walsh also talked about Grohl in that 2015 interview.

“Dave told me, he said Nirvana was a bad James Gang. ‘We modeled ourselves after you guys, but we weren’t any good.’ I said, ‘Dave, you did pretty damn good for stinking.'”

With Foo Fighters scrapping its 2022 touring plans following the death of drummer Taylor Hawkins, this may be one of Grohl’s only live appearances this year outside of the Hawkins’ memorial concerts in London and Los Angeles.

Also playing the benefit will be Nine Inch Nails, The Black Keys and The Breeders.

Trent Reznor recorded Nine Inch Nails’ “Pretty Hate Machine” in Cleveland, but he grew up just over the border in Mercer, Pa. During the peak of NIN’s popularity in the ’90s, there were occasional Reznor sightings at Eastwood Mall in Niles.

The Breeders were formed in Dayton by sisters Kim (The Pixies) and Kelley Deal. The same year Walsh played Packard, I saw Kelley Deal at Suzie’s Dogs & Drafts in Youngstown as part of the duo R. Ring.

I’ve got nothing local on The Black Keys, but they started only an hour away in Akron.

In the news release announcing the show, Walsh is quoted as saying, “It all started in Ohio. Picking up my first guitar as a kid in Columbus set me on a musical journey to Kent State, Cleveland and then the world. Now it’s a great privilege and humbling opportunity for me to share the stage once again with my original James Gang buddies and with this absolutely incredible group of Ohio rock legends.”

Walsh started VetsAid in 2017 to raise money to support veterans groups the help those who served in the U.S. Armed Forces.

In-person concerts were held 2017 to 2019 featuring such acts as Don Henley, James Taylor, Zac Brown Band, Keith Urban, Sheryl Crow and Jason Isbell & the 400 Unit, and the event will be at Nationwide Arena on Nov. 13 after two years of livestreamed events due to COVID-19.

This year all net proceeds will go to veterans groups with Ohio ties. Tickets go on sale 10 a.m. Friday through Ticketmaster.

Ticket prices haven’t been released but at least the money goes to a worthy cause.

Andy Gray is the entertainment editor of Ticket. Write to him at agray@tribtoday.com.


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