HUNTINGTON — These rock 'n' roll days it is the band Ona that is firing on all cylinders out of Huntington.
But back in the late 1980s, it was the band Oney - the Chuck Oney-led Tri-State metal and rock band that was raging into the night with big hair and hot licks that burned up stages from Ironton to Huntington and beyond.
Come Saturday, Oney, who now lives in Columbus, is getting the band back together for one-day only as part of the epic rock reunion called Hooligan's Homecoming.
Now in its fourth year, the homecoming is set to blast seven hours of retro rock and metal at the V Club, 741 6th Ave., Huntington from 1 to 7 p.m. Saturday, May 25, with reunited 80's hair bands including Tyrant and Oney, classic Tri-State guitar heroes, Ritter Rock reunions, all star jams and more. The show will be co-hosted by 80's era WKEE Huntington radio DJ Burke Allen.
Admission is cans of food (as many as you can carry) for the Facing Hunger Food Bank, or a cash donation for Little Victories Animal Shelter at the door, which opens at noon. Last year, $904 was raised for Little Victories and 1,401 pounds of food or 1,168 meals was donated to the Food Bank.
The event was started by fellow 1987 Huntington East High School graduates and rockers Nick Tarpley and Thom Boggs who held the first event at Ritter Park to pay homage to the 1980s tradition of Ritter Rock. This show was an all-ages concert series at the amphitheater that featured such 80s favorites as Tyrant, Oney, Ozin, Majesty, Malachi and other 1980s-era bands.
This year, Boggs and Tarpley said they are expecting dozens of musicians coming in from around the country, including players from California, Alabama, Tennessee, New York, Indiana and Columbus, Ohio, among other places.
The 2018 event featured more than seven hours of music by 39 different musicians including West Virginia Music Hall of Fame member, John Ellison, who popped in to jam his hit song, "Some Kind of Wonderful" at the Homecoming.
Drummer Alex Kendall, who has played in a string of Huntington bands including The Heptanes, has not missed playing the Homecoming. As he got to take the stage with some of his local music heroes from back in the day.
"For a lot of young musicians Ritter Rock was the only chance to see live music because you couldn't get into the bars," Kendall said. "So Sunday afternoon you would hike up to the knob and check out the bands. Some of those people I grew up going to see were hiring me to do lights for them, and then it started. They would let me jam with them when I was still in high school, and that is kind of how I got my start in the whole music scene. I am getting to play with some of those guys that really inspired me. I mean you're 12 years old and see a rock band on stage and you're like that is what you want to do. I am getting to see some people that I haven't seen in 20 or 30 years."
Kendall will be playing again with Trace Ritter, a classmate with whom he last played together in the Huntington High School talent show in 1988.
Ritter, who now lives in Nashville, is making his first trip back to play the Homecoming, as he had been based for years first in L.A. and then in Montana as a musician.
Ritter will be playing in the re-united Oney band that will also feature fellow guitarist, Scott Carr, who replaced Ritter in that band. This is the first time that Carr and Ritter have played together with Oney.
An Ashland native Oney said his band, Oney had a great run in the Tri-State from 1987 to 1990 with members coming from Ironton, Ashland and Huntington to form the band that played everything from hair metal and rock originals to covers that ranged from the radio flavors of the day - everything from Poison, KISS and Bon Jovi to The Cure, R.E.M. and Violent Femmes.
Oney said the band started in Jan. 1, 1987 and the band practiced for months for its first big gig that May at the Monarch.
"We were supposed to play The Monarch and they said you next week and they ended up closing before our gig and we had worked forever to get that gig," Oney said with a laugh. "So we went to Rock and Roll Cafe which was near the old Chili Willi's in a basement and they booked us. We played two sets, there was probably 20 people there but they really liked us."
From there Oney the band became Chuck Oney's way of working his way through college at Morehead State University, as the band played regular and decent paying bar gigs mostly in Ironton and Huntington.
"Burke Allen was the DJ at WKEE and so he would interview us and put us on the radio and it was cool we had our following in Huntington which was like an underground bar scene," Oney said. "We opened up for Faster Pussycat and Helix and we were kind of the band if there was a bar show we go the call for it and that was great with us. It was a lot of fun."
Saturday will have some specific band reunions in addition to Oney, including Tyrant (with Eric Smith coming in from Carolinas to play), and Malachi, which they are jokingly calling Mala-kinda, since pivotal member Brian Lusher will not be there.
Saturday's Homecoming will also be spiced with a series of Rogue Dog sessions, all-star jams cross-pollinating players from various bands.
Kendall said that portion of the entertainment is mostly organized online before the show to make sure everyone gets to jam on songs they know or can learn.
"We throw out song ideas and post them and everybody signs up for what they want," Kendall said. "So say I will take vocals on this and someone will take drums. We have some empty slots so just jump in there."
Oney, who is 54, said that first year at Ritter Park he was coerced on stage when a band's lead singer didn't show up and they asked him to sing Black Sabbath.
"They wrote out the words and we opened up with two Black Sabbath songs and that kind of set the tone as to how this thing is going to go down I am singing 'Fairies Wear Boots' with a band that we literally met on stage," Oney said.
For the first Rogue Dogs jam, Kendall is teaming up with his daughter Jillian, a Berea College graduate who lives in San Francisco.
With some rotating musicians including Scott Carr, Bill Patrick, Bub Coster, Billy Drysdale, Ritter and Boggs, the father/daughter duo will roll through such songs as "Heartbreaker," "Dr. Feelgood," "Crazy On You," and "Lay it on the Line."
Interestingly, Boggs will playing a bass that belonged to Motley Crue's Nikki Sixx on their Crue cover, "Dr. Feelgood."
"It is cool enough to share music with my daughter and the fact that she even likes some of the same music I do is really cool but playing together is another level," Kendall said. "The first time we played together, I teared up a little. Getting to play some of the stuff that I was inspired by and getting to share that with my daughter and with our friends is really special."
Oney, who like many of those attending, still plays music, said that the Homecoming has been incredible these past few years in getting to connect with some of the local legends that he knew from back in the day but maybe didn't hang out with.
"It started off as guys who were in rival bands back in the day and we didn't hang out then much because we were rivals, friendly rivals. Like Ron Weatherall who comes up from Alabama, he was in the thrash metal bands, and we liked each other but we played the same clubs and we didn't hate each other, but we never really jammed, we just knew of each other, we never hung out, hung out, and got to know each other, and so it is great to get to do that."
For Those About to Rock
WHAT: Fourth annual Hooligans Homecoming a retro rock and metal reunion with reunited 80's hair bands including Tyrant and Oney, classic Tri-State guitar heroes, Ritter Rock reunions, all star jams and more. The show will be co-hosted by 80's era WKEE Huntington radio DJ Burke Allen.
WHERE:V Club, 741 6th Ave., Huntington
WHEN: 1 to 7 p.m. Saturday, May 25. Doors open at noon
HOW MUCH:Admission is cans of food (as many as you can carry) for the Facing Hunger Food Bank, or a cash donation for Little Victories Animal Shelter at the door, which opens at noon. Last year, $904 was raised for Little Victories and 1,401 pounds of food or 1,168 meals was donated to the Food Bank.
THE SCHEDULE:1 p.m. opening, 1:10 p.m., Mindride; 1:50 p.m. Kill Korp; 2:30 p.m. Rogue Dogs; 4 p.m., Oney; 4:40 p.m., Tyrant; 5:20 p.m., Malekinda; 6 p.m., Rogue Dogs; and 7:30 p.m., Under Social.
ON THE WEB: Go online at www.vclublive.com for more info.