For the past 20 years, On the Waterfront has prided itself in bringing established musical acts to the Rockford area. This year the festival boasts big names like Willie Nelson, Jethro Tull, and Cheap Trick. They do, however, feature lesser-known musicians who are on the verge of stardom. This Labor Day weekend, blues/rock band, Franky Perez and the Highway Saints, will be shaking up Rockfords downtown district.
The band is currently touring the country to promote its debut CD, Poor Mans Son. Perez, the Las Vegas-born lead vocalist, wrote all of the records 18 tracks. He also co-produced the effort and even plays every instrument on certain songs. His complete control over the project yields an album that gives the listener a glimpse into his personal feelings and experiences.
The disc opens with Two Lost Angels, a midtempo rocker that details Perezs struggle to break into the L.A. music scene. He also pays homage to his working class roots with blue-collar anthems like Cecilia and Class Act. The group adds a shot of pure blues on Cold Hard Rain, which begins as a haunting, melancholy number and culminates with a blistering guitar solo.
Perezs greatest strength is his ability to convey heartfelt stories without sounding cliché. This is most notable on his current single Something Crazy, an empowering acoustic strummer that addresses the realities of domestic violence.
A few of the bands slower songs, including the forgettable Beautiful Mistakes and Forever 17, tend to drag on a bit too long. These, however, remain exceptions on a CD filled with well-crafted material that will appeal to listeners of all generations.
Be sure to catch Franky Perez and the Highway Saints when they play On The Waterfront at 7 p.m. on Sunday, Aug. 31. Until then, you can purchase Poor Mans Son by visiting www.franky-perez.com.