By Chris Oggerino
This year’s Spring Street Vibrations took place on June 1st – 3rd in downtown Reno, Nevada. As with prior years, registration is the first thing that opens at the Reno Ballroom. While not everybody registers and a lot of the event is free for the public, registration does have some nice perks. But, I’ll come back to that as I describe the fun over the weekend.
Starting at noon on Friday, several bands kicked off the event along with about a hundred vendors. This all happens in and around S. Virginia St, between 2nd and 6th Streets. The area is closed to traffic and filled with stages, vendors and fun things to do.
The lineup of bands this year was substantial. In between Circus Circus and Silver Legacy, Arizona Jones kicked things off. Over closer to the Ballroom, Jason King was playing. The Blues Monsters had the big Eldorado stage in the open area just south of the Eldorado. And finally, the Big Heart Band kicked it off down by the Cal Neva.
In addition to the bands, Hollywood stuntman Monte Perlin was just outside Circus Circus running his Globe of Death show. The show kicks off with Monte and his partner, Mike Downey, doing some burnouts and wheelies in the street. Then, in the first show, Mike entered the globe first. The globe is a sixteen-foot diameter steel ‘latticework’ globe that weighs about two tons. Once inside the globe, the rider has to make about three G’s of force at the bottom to make it around the top without falling off!
After Mike does a little bit of riding in the globe, things change from “a little bit exciting” to “absolutely crazy” when Monte jumps into the globe and there’s two bikes in motion. It’s hard to explain exactly what’s going on inside the globe with two motorcycles, in such a small space, defying gravity and well, nobody died this time.
But, I did get a chance to talk with Monte about the show and I think his words might help explain things a little more. First, Monte likes to call it, “The Globe of the Cross” as in the Cross of Christ. And when you watch the show, the most exciting stunt they do is where Mike is going around inside of the globe riding on what might look like the equator. At the same time, Monte is doing a vertical loop-the-loop going upside down on the top, every lap. And if you watch that from the right angle, it looks like they are forming a cross. Monte says, “We call that the cross, in relation to giving our testimony of Christ,” and “We’re just here for anyone that wants to talk about it, I can share how it made a change in my life.”
After my chat with Monte, it was time for one of the crowd favorites: the Slow Bike Races, near the Reno Arch. This is where the goal is to travel about a hundred feet, in a three-foot-wide lane, the slowest. Anybody who’s ever ridden a motorcycle knows that this is both challenging and fun. And, when it gets competitive, well that creates fun for the crowd too. For the past few years, the guy who has won the most is Kenny Saheki.
I managed to catch up with Kenny after watching him win the event. Regarding the win, he said, “Practice, just like anything, whether you’re doing wheelies, or going around the track, it takes a lot of practice.” So, yes, he does actually practice going slow in order to be so good at it. And, being the nice guy he is, he wanted to reach out to you with, “Everyone on a motorcycle, we all have something in common here, so don’t be shy, bring your bike out and compete!” To be honest, he’s got me thinking how I can cover the event as a reporter and also participate in this contest…it just looks fun.
It’s hard to believe I’ve already done all this at Street Vibrations in the first few hours of Friday. The Globe of Death and the Slow Bike Races happen several times over the weekend. And, there are a bunch more bands. For me, I check them all out, find out which one is playing my personal favorite music and spend the most time watching that one.
But, before I could even catch the bands, I joined the folks who registered and went to the VIP party. This year, it was held inside the Silver Legacy at the Rum Bullions bar. What’s interesting to me is that Rum Bullions is actually one of my favorite places to go hang out if I’m in the mood for downtown casino action. They have this nice little “outside” (not really, but it feels like it) area where the free buffet was set up. One really nice thing was that the attendance was perfect. I’m not sure of the exact number. But when you’re having dinner, it’s nice to be able to sit down. So, being in this environment where there were just enough seats for everyone to sit while they ate, the vibe was really nice and I probably sat there a fair bit longer than I really should have.
What forced me out of my seat was that I didn’t want to miss the ceremonial flag raising and Star Spangled Banner Sung by Tamara Evans, the anthem is really nice at this event because everybody stops what they’re doing and respects the flag. At the same time, a four-person color guard marches in carrying the flag, and raises it.
Four JROTC color guard students, from Spanish Springs High School, perform the Flag Raising Ceremony. One of the interesting visuals of this ceremony is that they wear authentic World War II uniforms. I had a chance to catch up with the group after they raised the flag and finished getting their pictures taken with several fans.
The four students in the ceremony were, Joseph Planck, Samantha Miller, Harrison Janes and Ryland Hanski. Joseph is heading off to the Navy. Samantha was the commander this year. Harrison Janes, prior commander, handed off the lead role to Samantha at this event and is headed off to the Marine Corps. For Ryland, this was his first time.
I’m a little bit proud of these kids, since we’re all from Reno, and can happily say they raised our flag honorably. The crowd loves these kids and I really enjoy seeing some of our youth taking the flag and the national anthem forward like this. For Joseph and Harrison, thanks for your upcoming service and be safe!
After the Flag Raising, there was another Slow Race competition, which Kenny won again. And then there were more bands to check out. On stage for the evening lineup were Moz Motley Blues Band, Beer Drinkers and Hell Raisers, Rick Hammond, Nevada Hazzurd, Flock of 80z, and Journey Unauthorized. Journey Unauthorized and Beer Drinkers and Hell Raisers, a ZZ Top cover band, were the most popular on Friday night. I’m not sure which band had the biggest audience. Both were pretty popular and playing great songs.
For me, and many, Saturday is the biggest day, which starts off with a motorcycle ride. At this event, there was the official ride for the Poker Run. And there were other rides too. The official ride goes from downtown Reno, over the hill into Virginia City, down to Genoa and back. That’s a great ride with really nice stops. I think most people stop along the portion of the ride to Virginia City at the lookout for a view of the city from up high. Another fun stop along with way is the Harley-Davidson dealership in Carson City. They usually have something fun going on during the event and this time there was a stunt show in the parking lot. It’s always fun to see what a Harley can do with the right rider on it.
While not officially part of the event, I noticed a lot of riders headed out over Mt. Rose to see Lake Tahoe, one of the most beautiful lakes in the country. At the summit, if you hike up the hill just a little bit, there’s a world-class view of the lake and meadow you ride through on the way over the mountain.
In addition to the riding most folks do on Saturday, the downtown area is still buzzing with all the same activities as on Friday: Vendors, bands, and tons of food. I stopped by the Russ Brown Motorcycle Attorneys booth because I had heard about something they were doing. They have created an organization which you can join for free called BAM: Breakdown and Legal Assistance for Motorcyclists. You fill out a form, get a card and you are a member. If you break down, or need help, you can get free help from one of the million or so volunteer members. As a member, you may get a call/text and, if you can help out, great. It’s not mandatory. It could be as simple as helping someone out by delivering a little gas to a member in need along the road in your area. Or, you might be the one to get help someday. I joined.
Throughout the day, there were some of the same bands as Friday and some new bands, such as, New Wave Crave, Jason King and the big daddy headliner band, Skynnyn Lynnyrd. Skynnyn Lynnyrd is just awesome. Clearly, by the name, you can tell what songs they play. What you can’t know, until you see them, is just how good they are. The crowd is fully engaged, singing along and dancing to the music. And, as one might expect, they closed the show with Freebird. This year, there was so many people live-streaming the end of the show, I couldn’t get bandwidth to do it. And yes, I tried. That’s full-on concert awesomeness!
I could keep writing about how much fun this was. But, in the interest of space, I’ll wrap up with a little bit about the people that put this on. The organization that puts this on is called, Roadshows, headed up by Randy Burke. They’re a hard working small group of people with a mission to make sure that people coming to this show have a good and safe time. It’s kind of funny because I talk to Randy about the event every time just to find out what’s hot and his thoughts. He did explain that, Spring Vibrations, as he calls it, “This is the little brother of the big Street Vibrations, where we get about 50,000 participants. This gets about 10.” And as he told me about what was going on, he did again mention the weather, “We have about 100 vendors, we got 5 stages, 13 bands, stunt shows, headliner acts and, God bless us, great weather!” You see, first and foremost in Randy’s mind, when you have thousands and thousands of bikes cruising around: Good weather is safe; Good weather is fun. And Randy really wants us all to have a good and safe time.