Rachael’s Ride & Start the Conversation a success all the way around!!!

Normally I’d dive right into reviewing a show but the event that took place on Saturday, August 12th deserves to be the focal point of this article. I’m fairly certain if you asked the members of the four bands that performed at Cowboy & Angels/Venue 18 to close out the day would be whole-heartedly behind me.

Grind (an Alice in Chains tribute band), August Burning, Bones of Giants and Silence the Echoes all put forth a tremendous effort but Rachael’s Ride and Start the Conversation were the stars of the day. Each of those events was put on in unison to help raise awareness of the battle against heroin addiction.

Ohio had the highest number of heroin overdoses in the nation last year, 4149, which was up 36 percent from the previous year. Quick math tells us that is just over eleven deaths per day. Those numbers obviously dictate that something needs to be done.

That’s where Ed Schetter and Tim Sarreshteh come into the picture; unfortunately for the wrong reason. Tim had the unenviable task of laying his daughter Rachael to rest just over a year ago when she fell prey to the horrific epidemic.

One cannot imagine what a parent goes through having to go through that situation but I can’t imagine than anyone has handled it with the strength that Sarreshteh and his family has.

Schetter, Sarreshteh and four others sat down and tried to figure out what they could do to help prevent the horrible situation from happening again. Start the Conversation was born out of that meeting and would entail having different speakers delivering talks to educate the public in what can be done or what others have done to overcome their addiction.

To say that the speakers were an overwhelming success would be a vast understatement. Many people that I talked to had a better idea of what addiction is and what they could do to personally help someone in need. Sarreshteh himself stated during an interview with The Rust Belt Chronicles that he will remember one speaker saying ‘good people with bad problem’.

That pretty much says it all because addiction doesn’t hit just one certain race or gender, it doesn’t take into account that you’re the head of a major business or that you’re a single parent working three jobs just to survive.

We as a society need to work diligently to find a way to get rid of the issue all together. In my book, education is the first step. That is absolutely what this day was all about.

Rachael's Ride photos. All photos taken by Larry Ritter/The Rust Belt Chronicles.

Things got started with Rachael’s Ride which left Venue 18 and headed to The Viaduct in Tiffin. I’ve got to tell you it had the hair on my arms standing up seeing over 300 bikes parading along SR 18 especially knowing why everyone was there.

To steal a partial quote from Robert Duvall’s character, Lieutenant Colonel Bill Kilgore from the film ‘Apocalypse Now’, ‘I love the smell of Harley fumes (he actually said napalm) in the morning’, or in this case, the afternoon.

After leaving The Viaduct, the procession headed to Findlay’s Brew U Sports Pub on Main Street. There were so many bikes that we had to park in the Rite-Aid parking lot as well as the lot on the opposite corner.

I headed back to Cowboys & Angels on my own just so I can get a few shots of the bikes coming back in. I also tried my hand at taping it via Facebook Live but being my first attempt I missed the first few droves.

Once the ride was over the riders packed into the Venue 18 to grab some grub and await the night’s lineup of entertainment.

Silence the Echoes out of Findlay opened the night’s festivities with an emotional set. Mike Palmer, the male lead vocalist for the band is Rachael’s cousin. He not only gave a riveting performance but so too did the rest of the band which included Ashley Gomez (female lead vocals), Johnathon Peeler (guitar), Rob Rodabaugh (guitar), John Schumaker (bass) and Todd Roth (drums).

Silence the Echoes during Start the Conversation at Cowboys & Angels/Venue 18. All photos taken by Larry Ritter/The Rust Belt Cronicles.

Surprisingly it was my first time seeing Silence the Echoes but it won’t be my last. If you see their name on a bill near you, you have to check them out. They’re a great band and even better people.

Akron’s Bones of Giants took the stage next, putting in a pair of 45 minute sets. Most of the time it’s tough to watch a band that you have never seen before but this five-piece ensemble from the Rubber City made it easy to get into their music.

Tony Gonzales is a seriously gifted front man with a wide vocal range. Scott Rechel (lead) and Stu Brewtall (rhythm) could tickle the six strings. They laid out some colorful riffs as well as beautifully captured string-bending licks. Phil Brewtall (bass) and Terry Merriner (drums) combined to unload a steady thunder from the rhythm section.

Bones of Giants performing at Cowboys & Angels during Start the Conversation and Rachael's Ride. All photos taken by Larry Ritter/The Rust Belt Chronicles.

Bones of Giants brand of hard rock/metal was melodically soothing while interjecting a whole lot of in-your-face power. They deserve any accolades that are bestowed upon them and this big guy gives them two thumbs up.

Autumn Burning was the final band to play before the headliner, Grind, came on. I’ve lost count how many times that I’ve seen these guys rip up a stage.

Like Gonzales lead vocalist, Mike Morehouse, has a vast array of vocal levels. He can be swooning you one second then melt your face in the next. Jared Blazer is a true magician with the guitar while Blake Darling is right there with him on the rhythm guitar.

 Jeff Welch just recently moved from playing the bass to sitting behind the drums. If I didn’t know that fact in advance I’m not sure I would have even noticed. They played without a bassist but didn’t miss a beat. They did announce after the show that they were beginning to search for a thumper to implement into their rotation.

Autumn Burning performing during Start the Conversation and Rachael's Ride at Cowboys & Angels/Venue 18 in Fostoria, Ohio. All photos taken by Larry Ritter/The Rust Belt Chronicles

AB will be releasing their new album in the near future. My recommendation is to pick one up when they become available. Better yet get out and see these guys live. It’ll be time well spent.

Closing the show was a four-piece band from South Carolina called Grind. They are an Alice In Chains tribute band who relives the days of the late Layne Staley, AIC’s original lead man. Grind vocalist, Gary Allen, is eerily spot-on with Layne’s vocals, giving Chains fans a great walk down memory lane. Allen not only has the singing part down but he dresses the part looking like the iconic grunge personality as he appears in the “Would?” video.

Allen is tremendously talented and could be the front man for just about any band he wanted to be, however from a personal point of view, he’s filling the role he has chosen to perfection.

Grind during Start the Conversation/Rachael's Ride at Cowboys & Angels/Venue 18 in Fostoria, Ohio. All photos taken by Larry Ritter/The Rust Belt Chronicles.

In order to have any kind of tribute band there also needs to be instrumental talent and Grind has plenty of that, beginning with guitarist Robert Ray who has an incredible tenacity with the sing-string that equals anyone. It was sheer delight watching him tickling the twine and listening to the amazing sound that transpired.

Billy Price (bass) and David Corbett (drums) may not have had the flare and flamboyance of their bandmates but they sure as hell could match the talent.

It might not have been Layne Staley and the rest of Alice In Chains on the stage at Cowboys & Angels/Venue 18 on this particular Saturday night but you’d be hard-pressed to find another band that would make the originals proud. Grind is an absolute must see for any AIC fan.

By the time that Grind’s set was over this guy was one worn out dog. Despite that fact I wouldn’t have changed a thing. It was an amazing day for such an important cause. If even one life was affected in a positive way it was time well spent.

I can’t give enough kudos to Ed Schetter, Jeremy Schindorff and the rest of the committee that put this benefit together.

I want to especially recognize the strength and love that Tim Sarreshteh and his family showed to others by helping create such a positive event out of something so tragic. It takes a special kind of love to do what they did while facing such a horrific hardship. I’m sure that I speak for the rest of my colleagues at The Rust Belt Chronicles when I say every one of you have our utmost respect. We want to thank you, Ed, Jeremy and all of the other committee members for allowing us to be a part of something so important.

Until next time this is Big L saying ‘keep those horns up and rock on’!! \m/ \m/     





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Larry Ritter About Larry Ritter

Hello my name is Larry Ritter, or “Big L” to most of my friends. I’m a production supervisor for a major manufacturer of auto parts here in northwest Ohio. I received an Associate’s degree from Owen’s Community College where I graduated cum laude honors. I have a true passion for music, sports, photography and riding motorcycles. My love for these things are surpassed by just one thing, family, which includes two sons, a daughter and eight grandchildren.

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