July 23, 2010
By David Huff
Axe - Rock 'N America 2010
Not Defined by Hair Bands
When Axe busted out of Gainesville, Florida the first half of the ‘80s, they clearly proved the music industry was not just defined by hair bands, make-up and power ballads. Their first two recordings, the 1979 self-titled debut and 1980’s Living on the Edge¸ brilliantly melded their melodic pop leanings and straight ahead metal sound. Their pièce de résistance was Offerings, released in 1982, which featuredtheir hit anthem “Rock n’ Roll Party in the Streets”, and the Ronnie Montrose penned “I Got the Fire”. They followed that effort the following year with Nemesis, another display of hard rock grit mixed with pop sensibilities. Sadly, following an extensive tour with Motley Crue, guitarist Michael Osbourne died in an auto accident. Bobby Barth was critically injured and faced months of grueling rehab. Barth recovered physically, but mentally was another story. Blaming himself for his friend’s death – and wondering why he was still alive – the guitarist slipped into a deep depression. Axe simply dissolved.
Fast forward 23 years to 2007. A group of musicians are playing together in the small enclave of Texas Old Town, Texas. Among those performing – Bobby Barth. For the past two decades, his life’s been nothing but a roller coaster ride of high’s and lows. Currently playing in a reformed Blackfoot, the band’s road manager asks him to check out his band. Instead of just watching, the guitarist jumps in and starts playing, and playing, and playing. Then there came an epiphany. Instead of letting his old band Axe languish in music history as a footnote, why not bring it back to life? The others agree. Bob Harris, the group’s original keyboard player, even accepts an invitation to join his former band mate. Rehearsals began, the lineup is solid.
The 2010 version of Axe is Bob Harris, keyboard/vocals); Brad Banhagel (lead vocals/guitar); David Landes (lead guitar/vocals); Mike Milsap (bass); Scott Misner (drums); Alex Salinas (keyboard).