Frank House will always remember the first concert of his life: Journey and Loverboy in 1981. It was Journey’s “Escape Tour” led by the ’80s sports hype-up number “Don’t Stop Believin’” and the gleaming love ballad “Open Arms.”
“After that concert, I was hooked,” House says. “I loved what I heard, I loved what I saw, so I’d come home and put on [Journey’s Escape album], lie on my bed and sing along with all these great Journey tunes.”
Little did House know, that first concert would turn out to be his professional destiny. After time spent in various bands, including an outfit that spent some time signed to Capitol Records, House was discovered by an agent who had seen him participate in a regional karaoke contest.
The agent, who had managed a Styx tribute act, approached House about starting a Journey tribute act.
“I was hesitant at first, but I started to do some research and saw that there was a real market for tribute acts,” House says. “I was always an original guy, but I made the switch over to tribute acts.”
House makes it clear that there’s a difference between cover bands and tribute acts.
“We try to give the audience a visual as well as a musical experience of Journey,” House says. “We wear the appropriate attire to present the show.”
In House’s case, he sports a leopard skin cut-off T-shirt with acid wash jeans, “Cortez” Nikes and a full wig that covers his short blond hair.
“It just brings people right into the vibe of a Journey concert,” he says. “It’s pretty cool – we all try to bring it.”
While Journey Revisited (7:30pm Friday, Aug. 30 on the Payton Stage) has been replicating Journey’s live performances since 2011, it’s been nearly three years since House joined the band as the vocalist who takes on all Steve Perry’s parts (he started out in Departure, a Sacramento-based Journey tribute group). Journey Revisited keyboardist Kevin Jachetta takes on all the Gregg Rolie vocals.
“Kevin is a dead ringer for Gregg Rolie’s vocals,” House says. “And he can also play the part.”
The five-person tribute covers all the Journey favorites, from “Don’t Stop Believin’” to “Any Way You Want It.” And they do it without using any pre-recorded backing tracks or digital enhancements. Journey Revisited rocks the live sound of the “album-oriented rock” era.
As far as House’s favorite tunes, he’s partial to the side of Journey that challenges his vocal range most. Also, those songs that yield audience participation are some of his favorites.
“Don’t Stop Believin’” is at the top of the list. “Wheel in the Sky” is another hit House never tires of bringing to audiences, especially since the outfit delivers the live version of the song, which is more challenging than the straightforward studio version.
“It’s been a really cool ride and I’m going to ride this wave for as long as I can because I’m having a really good time,” House says. “I love the music and we play with some really great bands – we are coupled with other tributes and we are seeing a lot of success.”
And that is the case during the Monterey County Fair. Other tributes Journey Revisited is sharing the bill with this weekend: Garth Guy (Garth Brooks) and Carrie Underwood Tributes (7:30pm Saturday, Aug. 31 on the Payton Stage).
But the music lineup is not all devoted to the tribute genre. Mitchell Tenpenny (7:30pm Thursday, Aug. 29 on the Payton Stage) opens the Monterey County Fair with his original brand of buzzed Nashville country, with hits like “Alcohol You Later” and “Drunk Me,” which was nominated in 2018 for Breakthrough Video of the Year at the CMT Music Awards.
“Drunk Me,” the debut single off Tenpenny’s debut studio record Telling All My Secrets, is the recollection of a protagonist’s attempt to emotionally get over a fallen relationship while consuming alcohol.
“Drunk me, can’t get over you,” Tenpenny sings through a whirlwind of hurt and defeat.
“People say you go and drink them off your mind,” Tenpenny told iHeartRadio. “I think that’s not what happens; the concept came around that idea. I quit drinking so I could finally get over you.”
“Drunk Me” definitely hit the hearts of a big portion of listeners: It made it to No. 39 on the 2018-19 U.S. Billboard Hot 100 and climbed all the way to No. 6 on Billboard’s U.S. Hot Country Songs.
As for local acts, there’s not many Monterey County bands that have been doing it for as long, and as successfully, as the Chicano All Stars (7:30pm Sunday, Sept. 1 on the Payton Stage and 9pm at the Turf Club).
Even though the outfit has been performing for over 25 years, their music isn’t easy to define. The veteran musicians call their unique and popular sound “a blend of Latin, reggae and a collection of genres defined simply as old-school.”
In other words, these are songs from the heartbeat of the past five decades, sounds that are instantly familiar. The rhythm-heavy vibe of the songs is the kind of music that’s supposed to bring people together.
MONTEREY COUNTY FAIR Thursday, Aug. 29-Sunday, Sept. 1. Monterey County Fair and Event Center, 2004 Fairgrounds Road, Monterey. Music is free with fair admission. montereycountyfair.com