RECAP of CREATURES FEST 2022
Arrival at the Nashville Airport was exciting with a holiday weekend in full force and people everywhere. It’s a great city for music and I have always been aware of what an exciting town it is from friends that have moved there years ago. After getting our luggage, we were brought to “back entrance” of the hotel, and my room on the 17th floor was a beautiful suite with many windows showing lots of trees, a skyline, and one of the airport runways. We had flowers and chocolates and deserts from the promoters team waiting in our room, and that was a very special welcome for Lisa and I! After some room service dinner, we had a good nights rest, it was finally time for Day One!
Two of the four guitars that I was used for the weekend were shipped ahead of time to a good friend who is also a fan of KISS. He delivered them to my suite, and then we all hit a local breakfast spot that was amazing.
After our return from eating Lisa and I got a chance to see “Expo City” the specific room for merchandise that also had a stage for entertainment, separate from the main event concert room at the hotel. We all know KISS fans love merchandise, and with so many awesome dealers, the event was sure to be a success on all levels.
It was a cooler overcast day, and the gear needed was busy being set up by the outdoor pool for the MTV Unplugged performance which would start late afternoon. The band of excellence musicians many that I knew well, started and were doing great versions from that iconic acoustic KISS performance. I was scheduled to play one song, and I really thought it would be more fun for the fans for me to do three!
“Sure Know Something” with Todd Kerns on vocals, was first, followed like the song order on the CD, “World Without Heroes” with Zach Throne on vocals. “Rock Bottom” was my third song, featuring my wife Lisa on lead vocals, belting out a great vocal performance something that was a first for her with a fully live band on stage. The fans enjoyed the music, and I was especially proud of my wife, as well as my Kiss Kruise band. Brent Fitz was on drums too. Up soon, to perform, we knew who was coming, original guitarist Ace Frehley!The fans didn’t know about Ace being a part of it, and we all stayed to watch the reaction of the crowd as he entered the pool area with his entourage to plug in and do his version of the Rolling Stone’s song “2,000 Man”. The crowd went wild! What a great kickoff concert to start this Kisstoric weekend!
After meeting some more friends of mine in my room, I was very aware of the excitement going on in the main concert room that evening. Peter Criss joining Ace on stage for two songs, and everyone was going wild. Lisa and I even watched some of it on FaceBook live while eating out dinner.
With Day one already a success, will the event keep hitting home runs?
Another good friend in Nashville took Lisa and I out to breakfast, this time in the old Nashville area, so we could see a bit more of the city.
It was wonderful, and fun to get out of the hotel. Upon our return it was time for me to reach out to members of Chris Jericho’s band, Kuarantine since I was going to sit in on one song that afternoon on the Expo City stage.
Chris loves my era of KISS and during the pandemic he created the band Kuarantine with great musicians. I was featured on the video an recording of “Heart of Chrome” so we planned for me to sit in on that song. The band is quite popular doing non makeup KISS songs, and naturally I am quite flattered by that attention.
We got to chat backstage quite a bit, while things were being set up. Chris is always busy with his wrestling and music. It was time for him to perform and I was very impressed on what a showman Jericho is! Being a mega star in the world of wrestling, that would offer some knowledge on how to entertain a crowd. He was quoting many Paul phrases on stage and even his moves reminiscent of 80’s KISS. I got a real kick out of it, and the crowd loved the performance. Check them out if you didn’t know about Jericho’s terrific band.
“The Holy Trinity”
The next event to prepare forgot the most attention, and understandably. Vinnie Vincent has been an enigma for KISS fans for many years, and Saturday night was his show. I was very aware of being prepared to perform “War Machine” with him. Then Ace would preform “Deuce” and then the three of us would play “Cold Gin” together as the final song, hence the wild moniker, “The Holy Trinity”!
About an hour before Vinnie was to start his show, (which I was told was him shredding on his guitar by himself), I got the info that there was no actual drummer as both Ace and I expected. The music file I was shared weeks before to practice the arrangement to, would be used as the drums, and a bass player would be performing with us, Shane Smith.
An even bigger surprise was that I was told Vinnie wanted to showcase Ace and I, so he won’t be playing any lead guitar. I never looked at performing with him as a competition more a meeting of guitarists doing their own style on classic KISS songs. But after I saw Vinnie in person while he was leaving his soundcheck, everything I heard was confirmed from him in his own words. He was cordial and friendly about it all, but nothing I could say to him would convince him to take a solo when Ace or I were on stage.
Ace’s manager John first called me, (we’ve known each other a very long time) and he explained that Ace would like me to stay on stage for Deuce. I said of course out of respect to Ace, and shortly after that Ace and I spoke about what was going to happen. It was quite the conversation, discussing how we could pull it off. We knew without an actual drummer to count off the songs, it could go very wrong. The musician who created the backing practice tracks, Keary Jordan was backstage with us, fortunately to help explain some things, and even do some last minute editing since Vinnie was not going to take a solo on War Machine as I practiced. My only problem was where Keary would be to signal the start of “War Machine”.
Vinnie was shredding as people entered, an unusual and surreal part of the concert. Standing high above the crowd on top of the incredible tank created for the event with eerie blue and pink lighting was dramatic. I was aware the crowd was told not to film or photograph. Something I knew would be hard to completely accomplish. After his solo shredding freeform on his beloved pink Jackson, it was time for “I Love it Loud” which Vinnie did with a backing track. Neil the promoter had other musicians in attendance join on stage singing the chanting chorus. Everyone was having a blast singing along on that great Gene Simmons track.
It was time for me to join Vinnie on stage. I purposely wore a headscarf covered in ankhs which I always called the “Vinnie Vincent headscarf”! I pointed it out to the crowd, and was trying to show Vinnie, but when I saw how high up Vinnie really was on that tank I am not certain he understood. And he had his KISS makeup on! I had no idea he would do that. The crowd went wild and suddenly I was hearing a kick drum doing a beat, but I didn’t know where to look for my signal. So what a rocky start I had for “War Machine”! Of course I have learned to land on my feet with all my years performing, and eventually I was with the drum track. I did my solo including all the bridge parts as well that Vinnie asked me to do. The ending was special with us playing some harmony guitar for the “Black Diamond” part reminiscent of my Animalize tour with KISS.
Now it was Ace’s time to come on stage and the crowd finally got to see the three of us. Once the drum track started Ace forgot that “Deuce” was his first song! So repeatedly, we had to stop and let the drums begin again, as Ace was so far away and the tank in-between us, it was hard to communicate with each other.
I loved Ace’s quote on stage “I can play anything, I just need a drummer ”. That was priceless and lended to my other word to describe this meeting of KISS guitarists, “insane”! Deuce finally started correctly with the three of us playing along, and Ace taking the solos. Ace and Shane shared lead vocals, I even started doing some of the rocking moves with Ace at the end of the song, to the fans delight.
We had one more song to perform, “Cold Gin”. At least we were able to start that song together with the drum track, and it was tight. Toward the end of the song, sadly Ace’s guitar amp went out, and it sounded like only me and the drum track with Shane’s bass. I didn’t hear Vinnie at that point. Ace gave me a nice shout out saying to the crowd when I was riffing “Bruce Kulick lead guitar”. Moments like that make the chaos and oddness all worth it.
So the “Holy Trinity” with all it’s surreal glory was now part of KISSTORY. Although many things were controversial for a concert evening featuring Vinnie Vincent, my take away was still positive. I know how much it meant for the fans to see us all perform together. It was certainly a dream come true for many in attendance. Vinnie did perform, something many were betting against.
Bruce Kulick concert / Meet and Greet / Lunch Experience
Sunday was my day to perform, do my meet and greet and a “Lunch Experience”. It started early around 10 AM, and it was great meeting my fans in person. The staff decided that we should first do the photos and they were very professional looking. Then it was time to sign items for each in attendance. Some fans had some great photos and unique memorabilia for me to sign. They shared stories with me and expressed their appreciation for Lisa and I. Lisa’s glittery artwork was quite a hit. I was so proud of listening to my fans tell her how much they enjoyed her singing and how awesome her art is.
Next event for me to was my Lunch Experience. Courtney Cronin Dold, warmed up the group and a fine buffet of yummy looking food was nearby for them to enjoy.
She interviewed me about my reactions to the Holy Trinity concert and we discussed how I have been celebrating Revenge and looking forward to the upcoming KISS Kruise. After taking photos and signing of items, they all left with a smile.
I had to head to the next room where the special photo op that some fans purchased for “The Holy Trinity” was set up. Ace, Vinnie and I, s had a little chat, without the madness of last nights concert. Vinnie brought a guitar and Ace said, “wait, should we all have our guitars?” I thought it wasn’t really necessary, so Vinnie gave his back to his handler, and we began taking the group photos. Everyone was in a great mood knowing what a success the weekend had been so far.
Now I was off to soundcheck, and Peter Criss requested to play with my band! We were aware he could do one or two songs with us, and he decided he would sing “Hooked on Rock and Roll” from his 1978 solo LP. He wanted to play his drum kit. After much discussion on how to make this happen, it was decided to have both from kits on the stage like MTV Unplugged. Peter’s kit was near the keyboards, played by his Musical Director Alex Salzman. The giant cat statues used for Peter’s photo sessions, were guarding his drum kit. It was a prop that both Todd Kerns and I would tease on stage during the performance.
The evening was special. Peter sat in with Australian band Sister’s Doll. I know the brothers from some of my own tours down under, and they are super young musicians to work with. Quiet Riot’s set was well received by the KISS crowd, and they sounded terrific.
It was finally time for my bands performance and I had told everyone in advance, I wanted to celebrate the 30th Anniversary of Revenge. After my 2 min intro tape of Revenge collage music, like the intro in the video I created for the Anniversary, I kicked off the set with “Unholy”.
We kept going in sequence of the release, stopping after “Spit” for Peter to join us for his song. I politely asked him “are you ready sir”? He said yes, so he counted it off and another KISStoric moment was created. My band was so excited to perform with Peter, and it’s moments like this that are unique and special for us as well as the KISS fans.
After the crowd cheered Peter’s performance, we thanked him, and it was time for my band to get back to Revenge. God Gave R N Roll To You was next and an appropriate place to start up again. We continued through the album and by Carr Jam, instead of having Brent do an Eric Carr drum solo, we made a left turn into “Sword and Stone” the unreleased KISS song I co-wrote in the late 80’s with Paul Stanley and Desmond Child. KISS fans know it and love it and we ended that song with the tricky riff that ends Carr Jam.
Our encores were Kulick era KISS hits, “Tears are Falling” and then “Crazy Nights, into “Turn on the Night” ending our show with a huge thank you and shout out to the crowd. We ended the wild weekend on a high note.
I did take a moment during my show to extend my gratitude to Neil Davis and his staff for creating an event for KISS fans that was memorable and very special. The Creatures Fest team, the Sonesta hotel staff, and the production crew, helped make the event an unforgettable weekend for everyone.
Thank you to all the fans for making my time at Creatures Fest another moment in KISSTORY. KISS fans are THE BEST!
I would like to personally thank my “team Kulick” for helping me at this huge event. My manager, Mark Abbattista, Peter Cory from KLA, Shaun Hagglund from Fan HQ, Jennifer Collins and Danielle Todd, Dave (DJ) Johnson from my GFR family.