Back in the early 1980s - before Sony released their first CD player and Michael Jackson became a household name with 'Thriller'; and back when our area was still known as the Tri-Cities and live music percolated from clubs that sprouted like mushroom caps throughout the dirt and concrete of each of those cities, a timeline ran through the late 1990s that can definitely be considered a 'Golden Age' of area entertainment.
One of the most successful and popular bands of that era was an outfit known as Mirage. Started by vocalist Jim Davies in 1983, the band enjoyed a 15-year run at area clubs, secured numerous Rock Awards at The Review's 2nd & 3rd Music Awards Ceremonies, and packed clubs nightly with full-throttled and highly vocalized set lists that spanned a wide variety and range of contemporary Rock 'n Roll.
With over 30-members performing in Mirage over their 15-year timespan, the group is planning a Reunion Show that will take place at Bemo's in Bay City on Friday, May 18th, promising to pack the house with a lineup that includes Davies along with former members Tom Behmlander (later part of Dr. Rock, Buzzcoat & Trip Zero); Jeff Poirier (currently with The Sinclairs); Gary Poppe (later part of Negative Earth and currently with Trigger Happy; and Bill Silverthorn(later part of Jedi Mind Trip & Maybe August).
Indeed, past notable members of Mirage form a laundry list of top-flight talent that has emerged out of our area over the years, including Joey Ortega, Donny Brown (the Verve Pipe), Kirk Kilpatrick, Chris Shannon, John Cashman, Ruben Munioz, Paul Hughes of Steel Wheels and Scott VanDel, to name but a few.
The genesis for this Reunion actually began a year ago when Jim's daughter told him she was going to get married. "She came up to me and said the one thing that I want from you at my wedding is to have your old band play, because I've heard so much about it yet have never heard it," explains Davies. "My first reaction was, 'Wow - that was 15 years ago - I'm not even sure if everybody is still alive!" he laughs. "But basically I called the last group of people that I'd played with and they all agreed it sounded like fun."
When asked what he felt made Mirage such a popular group in the area, Jim quickly responds: "We were a bunch of goof-offs and acted up and had fun when we played. But we always had good musicians and more importantly, good singers. We always could handle four or five-part harmonies and a lot of bands never seem to get that mix. But apart from the music, we would act up on stage. And when you're having fun, the people will have fun."
Adds Jeff Poirier: "I agree that it helped to have us go off on tangents and do goofy stuff. We would play something like 'Row Row Your Boat' and then come back and blow people away by nailing a Boston song. But you never knew what to expect. I especially enjoyed when Donny Brown would pull his 'Tony Nevada' lounge singer take-off. It was more of a show than just music."
As a top-flight vocalist, Jim says that he would always select musicians that could sing over their other abilities. "I've always felt back-up vocals are important. Without it half the music is missing, especially with Pop songs. I wanted to be able to pull off showpiece songs by Kansas and other artists with really good harmonies. We'd have a chance to get really good musicians that didn't sing, but I always chose to opt for those that could do both. It was always important to me."
After Mirage disbanded in the late 90s, Jim started a trucking company and dropped off from music, although Jeff swears that he still has the pipes for the job. "It got to a point with me where a lot of young bands were popping up that had big hair and lots of lights and not much talent," explains Davies. "When it got to be more about what you looked like than what you sounded like, that was my cue to pack it in."
As for the reunion sessions, both Jim and Jeff say that the band is sounding like they never missed a beat. "It was awesome," states Jeff, "chemically everything is there. Actually, Gary Poppe was instrumental in getting this show together. After the wedding gig we did for Jim's daughter he was saying, 'The Public has to see this. We need to pull it off."
"We probably weren't supposed to have more fun than the Bride," laughs Jim, "but I think we did."
For the reunion line-up, Jim assembled the musicians that were most handy. "I don't know where a lot of the old members are anymore," laughs Jim, "so we're pulling together the best forces that we can."
"One night we should try to get all 30 former members together in a bar and just jam," concludes Jeff. "Like this upcoming reunion gig, we don't need to make a big deal about it, but I'd like to see that happen."