Brand New Classic Rock!
A mainstay on the Northern California music scene since 1994, II BIG has been through various personnel changes over the years, but the original vision of founder and drummer Ken Ingels has never wavered - these guys come to rock!
Whether they're playing a smoky little bar in their hometown of Ukiah or before 5,000 opening for legendary rockers in the outdoor theatre of Konocti Harbor Resort and Spa in Kelseyville, the dynamic fivesome puts on a show worthy of their status as regional legends. Over the course of hundreds of gigs, II BIG has opened for a veritable who's who of classic rock: Foghat, Blue Oyster Cult, Loverboy, Grand Funk Railroad, Joe Walsh, REO Speedwagon, Ted Nugent, Jeff Healy, Creedence Clearwater Revival and Styx.
The vibe was more AC/DC and Van Halen-like in the early days with the original members, but since the Hansen Brothers, singer and guitarist Aubrey and keyboardist, guitarist and co-lead vocalist Tom, joined in the early 2000s, II BIG has drawn crowds from miles around to hear a sound that Aubrey calls "Brand New Classic Rock." The band is huge on the festival, fair and rodeo circuit, playing everywhere from the Bay Area to Reno and Eureka, where they recently played the Live at the Boardwalk series.
"Although our audience seems to be made up of people of all ages, we're most popular with those folks who grew up with the sounds of classic Eagles, Bob Seger and ZZ Top," says Ingels. "When we play live, we mix in some covers with our originals, anything from Jim Croce to Eddie Money and Marshall Tucker, but whatever we're doing, Aubrey puts a boogie on everything he plays. We're always out there having a blast."
Each of the five current members of brings the passion and perfectionism of the other work in their lives to the incredible band chemistry. The Hansen Brothers are both stalwarts in the construction business, Aubrey a concrete foreman and Tom a sheetrock texture finisher. Guitarist and vocalist Vince Knight is a grocery store owner and entrepreneur, while bassist Roger Vance is a full time musician who worked with Eddie Money for over 12 years. Ingels runs a vineyard business and also works with some of the region's top musicians at his Russian River Studios; he formed the label Russian River Records in 1994 with David Raitt, brother of legendary singer Bonnie Raitt.
"Each individual member of is truly an artist in his own right," says Ingels. "Their other specialties in life tie in perfectly with the artistry they bring to the band. But music is truly our sanctuary, and when we're not out playing, we're enjoying the creative energy we create in the studio. It's just very enjoyable hanging out with these guys. When we say it's 'Brand New Classic Rock,' essentially it's about carrying forward the rich legacy of that classic sound everyone knows and loves."
Aubrey Hansen stands up front with his solid guitar playing and soulful vocals that can bring tears to your eyes, as well as make you get up and dance-transferring the heart of any tune right to the listener's soul.
Tom Hansen, keyboards/vocals, has performed since he was 15. He adds years of professional talent and emotional feeling to the sound of II BIG.
Ken Ingels' drumming provides a solid rhythmic foundation for II BIG's sound with a style reminiscent of John Bonham. Drummers of this caliber are one in a million!
Vince Knight, rhythm guitar/vocals, has performed for many years. His guitar playing talent provides a solid rhythmic foundation for II BIG and his harmony singing adds the full vocal sound to the band.
Roger Vance brings 35 years experience on both electric and upright bass to the II BIG sound. He's played with dozens of big name musicians, touring extensively through the US, Canada, Europe, and the Caribbean....and is here to take any listener on a very good ride.
FACE IN THE GLASS
If you let Foghat work on a bunch of songs by The Doobie Brothers in country versions, then you're gonna get II Big. These cowboy hat rockers sure look cool and they label their music as Brand new classic rock which is right in a way but when it comes to Country rock I prefer Big & Rich. Fans of Bob Seger and The Eagles might enjoy this new album from these 3 way harmony singing dudes. It sounds a lot like it could've been recorded back in the 70's and songs like "Katrina" and "Pack of wolves" are pretty good, but II Big just don't rock as much as I want to.
— melodic.net CD review
The walking bass that is present during the opening track of “Face in the Glass” will undoubtedly remind listeners of the work of Charlie Daniels and The Outlaws, and the insistent quality of the vocals of II BIG will link them to country stars like Garth Brooks. The guitar solo that is present on the track is impressive.
In fact, this issue is worked out by the time that the second track, “Katrina”, starts. “Katrina” continues with the seventies rock sound found during “Thunder Road”, and even includes a little bit of the bass heard during the Eagles recordings and the ropy, bassy vocal stylings of Frank Zappa. The band comes up with a second strong track in “Katrina”, but allows themselves enough space to change and modify their sound in subsequent tracks. By taking two different tacks during the introductory tracks of “Face in the Glass”, a song like “Wooden Ships” can be present and not sound completely out of place. “Wooden Ships” has a funkier sound than either “Katrina” and “Thunder Road”, but does not eschew the same solid foundation that II BIG imbued previous tracks with. After a few tracks in which it was absent from the disc, the country influence that started out “Face in the Glass” is restored during the title track.
This track could conceivably be a crossover hit for II Big, as it has the same piano and narrative structure that early Billy Joel and Elton John had, while having a family-friendly sound that could easily be eaten up by Christian radio. Rather than falling into a rut, II BIG continues to vary their sound as the disc spins on. The Steppenwolf-like “Mountain Girl” is one of the fast songs on the CD, and will undoubtedly get individuals onto the dance floor in droves. II BIG has to be a hell of a bar band, as they can player the slower, somber tracks as well as they can the quicker, harder rocking songs. The energy exerted by this band coupled with the classic rock style present on “Face in the Glass” will ensure that they have a fan base whenever they end up playing that night. Pick it up.
Top Tracks: Vegas, Katrina
— NeuFutur Magazine CD Review
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