2019 Street Vibrations Spring Rally: it’s the people!

Story by Chris Oggerino;

Photos by Chris O & Christine Z

We’ve been writing articles about Street Vibrations for several years now. In those articles, you could easily learn what Street Vibrations is. We’ve told you that it’s thousands of bikers coming to Reno to get together and have a great time. We’ve told you that the downtown area of Reno is closed to traffic and there are great vendors, food and several stages with different bands. And, yes, this year, Street Vibrations Spring Rally had all of that. However, this time, I thought I would dive a little deeper on something that I hear a lot at the event. But first, let’s cover the basics.

From June 7-9, there were five stages, over 100 vendors, slow bike races, a VIP party, and so much more. There were 24 different bands. On Friday and Saturday night, there is a ceremonial flag raising performed by the Spanish Springs High School JROTC Color Guard. These high school students wear authentic WWII uniforms and do a wonderful job of respecting our flag. This is also accompanied by the National Anthem sung by Tamara Evans. Bikes are seen all over the Reno area, riding around Lake Tahoe, down in the Carson City area and over the hill to Virginia City. Downtown Reno, on Virginia Street from 2nd to 5th street is closed to vehicle traffic to facilitate a nice environment for eating, shopping and hanging out with like-minded people. Now, let’s meet some of the people involved with this fun event.

We’ve interviewed Randy Burke of Roadshows (that’s the organization that produces Street Vibrations) several times. Each time, his main concern has always been for the safety and enjoyment of the people. And, that concern remains. But, what happens if we dive a little deeper? How pervasive is this concern for the people? Well, great news! But, let’s not hear my voice. Let’s talk to some folks!

As we walked around the downtown area, we had a chance to catch up with some of the vendors. At Leather Headquarters, we spoke with Michael Snyder. He mentioned the weather, because it was great for riders. And he said, “We like the people. It’s all about the people of Reno and the NorCal folks.” In other words, he enjoys talking with the people. What’s funny is that we went to his booth to check it out and talk to him and we literally hung out for quite a while because he was busy. And, I don’t mean busy in a bad way. He was literally talking to people. One guy he talked with, they were looking at pins together and talking about the show and what might look good on the leather vest the guy was wearing. Just watching Michael, you could tell that he really meant it when he said it was about the people. It was a  small sale, but he spent time to really make sure it would make them happy.

Continuing our journey down the row of vendors, we stopped at Russ Brown Motorcycle Attorneys. We spoke with Craig Merrill and he said, “We love coming to this long standing event and supporting riders from Northern California and Northern Nevada.” What’s really cool about Russ Brown is the story of the time he got stranded on the side of the road and how that led to the current volunteer rescue organization that has over two million members nationwide.

That’s two million friends to call if you get stuck – only they do the calling for you. If you’re at a Street Vibrations Rally, the next one being Fall Rally September 25-29, definitely stop by and join up. It costs nothing and it’s good for us riders. At a minimum, ask the folks at the booth about the Russ Brown “stranded in the middle of nowhere” story. I’m not going to tell the whole thing…but let’s just say it would really suck and drive someone to make sure it never happened again.

In a similar vein, we also spoke to the Law Tigers. Candace Cooley was who we spoke with and, again, she said, “This is our way to get out into the community…this is our way to show our support to the motorcycle community here in Northern Nevada.” That’s 3 for 3 of the vendors that are literally telling us that the entire reason they show up is to support the people. To get to know the people, Law Tigers also had a pretty fun game of cornhole running over at Reno Harley-Davidson where they built a custom game to give away. We gave it a shot. Let’s just say that our results indicate we haven’t played corn hole enough!

Speaking of Reno Harley-Davidson, we stopped by there to see what was going on with their anniversary party and guess what they wanted to talk about? We spoke with Mike Oade while there and he brought up the people, “Being the biggest little city in the world, we have a great community, a great family, and they all get together for the Spring-Vibes event!” He also just happened, like Randy, to mention that they really like that the weather was great – supporting safer riding conditions for the people. As we were doing these interviews and talking to all these folks, I found it really fun that every time I tracked down someone to talk to, they were already having a conversation with a couple other folks – with a big smile. Mike was in an office with a couple other guys, and they were laughing, having a good time and generally just enjoying the day. When we asked which one might want to talk with us, they all laughed and pointed to Mike – their best people guy. Later, it was Mike that did the speech and cut the cake at the anniversary party.

OK, so far, yes, we’ve been talking to people on the job. So, we thought it would be fun to talk to some of the great people attending. What a pleasure! The first person I want to mention, we met while at Reno H-D. What an honor. We met Jim Sheble. We were literally standing in the dealership and looking for a friendly face. We saw Jim looking at a bike and said, “Excuse me, would you have time for a short chat?” He smiled and said, “Hello, of course.” After introductions, we asked him what was great about Spring Street Vibrations. He said, “It’s a beautiful day out, I love all of the bikes, and I’m here for the comradery.” He didn’t mention it, but he also happens to be a Vietnam veteran. Thanks for your service Jim, and all veterans!

Continuing along with people, we spoke with Ben Hedberg and John Douglas at the VIP Party. We were at the party, thinking we should talk to some folks. And, we had the idea to get with some folks from out of Reno. These guys were so friendly and nice that two different people told me, “Hey, you should go talk to those friendly guys from Oregon.” They rode down from Portland, Oregon. When we found them, they invited us to sit down at their table and talk. It was a pleasure.

One thing John mentioned, beyond their obvious enjoyment of people was, “I’ve come here several times, but I’d never been up and out, around Tahoe and the outlying areas like Virginia City. It’s just phenomenal.” If you’re wondering about the VIP Party, which is awesome, stop by Registration this fall and talk to them. It’s well worth doing VIP registration,  as the party is just one of many benefits.

So, we’ve met some of the great people that make this event so fun. And there’s a couple more we’ll get to in a minute. But, can we just talk about two super-fun moments! For this feature, our team coverage is switching over to Chris Oggerino’s recount of the Slow Bike Races. For the second time, I decided it would be fun to compete in the Slow Bike Races. Last time, I did better. Didn’t lose once. But, I didn’t have to race against Kenny, the reigning champion.

This year, first race, Kenny. Think, “deep sunk feeling inside.” So, since I’ve interviewed him a bunch of times and he’s such a nice guy, he says, “I’ll do one-handed once we get going.” And he did. And, it was cool because I was winning. But one thing you learn in slow bike racing. If you try too hard, you fail. Which I did. I dabbed about half way down the track and gave it to him when I was easily six feet behind him. Oh well, I did two more runs and won both of those. Next year, Kenny, I’m going to be coming for you!

OK, back to our team coverage! One more thing we want to talk about is our headline band, Beer Drinkers and Hell Raisers. This band, out of the bay area, is billed as the ultimate ZZ Top tribute band. Their show is easily the most attended and they totally rock ZZ Top really great. We had a chance to catch up with them before the show and they’re truly great guys. The bass player’s name is Corn Bread. Yes, you read that right. I got the impression he feels like this show is just living the dream. From being a kid and seeing ZZ Top at the Cow Palace, this is full circle for him. He said, “Now we get to emulate it ….this is the **it here. It’s just cool. Bikers and ZZ Top go hand in hand.”

Another band member Tim Narducci plays guitar. Also, completely chill, about fifteen minutes before going on stage, Tim was stoked to be doing this gig. We asked him, what’s cool about Street Vibrations and he said, “It’s the gathering of people, the vibe, the bikes, the beer, we love it!” The final member of the band is drummer Carter Kennedy. What a nice guy. If you follow him on Facebook, you’ll see he’s a good family man. And, if you talk to him, he’s likely to say, ”Hey, what’s your info, let’s connect.” When asked what he thought was cool about Street Vibrations, he answered, “The vendors and the crowd we play for are the best!” Not only do these guys rock the house; they also enjoy it. And, you can tell they’re having a good time, which makes it even better as you watch their show.

Also playing to appreciative fans over at the Red Dog Saloon In Virginia City were the Fryed Brothers Band. Although Harry is the only Fryed brother with the band since Tommy’s passing in 2013, it’s still the Fryed Brothers Band with Tommy totally there in spirit. Especially on the song “I Ride”, inspired by his days as a kid and the title track of the documentary film by the same name. Playing this and several other original hit songs in their gig, it was another great feel good time. Their sis Barb who handles their schedule was there too as our team member Christine Z joined the fun to shoot some photos.

There’s one final thing we’d like to talk about. New for this year in downtown Reno was the Burning Ninja show. A cross between martial arts and fire performance, there are two performers. Dressed like ninjas, they use things like nunchucks, hula-hoops, three-section staffs along with flips and fire breathing to entertain the crowd.

Did I mention these things are on fire?! Moving fire like this is mesmerizing – especially for kids. While the adults enjoy the show and clap, the kids’ eyes get big and show an even greater depth of their enjoyment. We had a chance to talk with B. Ninja after the show and guess what he talked about? “What I like about Street Vibes is it feels like my kind of crowd!” and “Doing this right under the Reno Arch was an amazing opportunity and I’m super thankful to have performed for Street Vibrations.”

Spring Street Vibrations is, according to the numbers, the smaller event compared to Fall Rally. But, it didn’t feel small. It felt nice. There were plenty of people, bikes and a good time for all. A lot of these same great things will be there on September 25th – 29th. We hope to see you there.