Rave-Ons ‘Rock on,’ Poolside at Sea Shell

By Sandra Weyant | Aug 07, 2019
Photo by: Sandra Weyant

Beach Haven — Here’s something to rave about: The Rave-Ons serenaded guests alongside the pool patio and bonfire at the Sea Shell Resort and Beach Club with timeless Buddy Holly hits and rock ’n’ roll classics Friday night. Listeners were captivated by the distinctive voices of singer and guitarist Todd Meredith and lead guitarist and vocalist Jeremy Renner.

The Rave-Ons, a Buddy Holly tribute band aptly named for one of the late legend’s songs, formed in 2011 after the original group performed “The Buddy Holly Story” at the El Dorado Casino in Reno, Nev. Meredith loved it so much, he was determined to keep the fun going by booking gigs at bars and clubs in New York City. The band enjoys bringing the music of Buddy Holly and The Crickets back to life through their performances all over the country.

“Rave On” was the inspiration behind the band’s name because they felt it captured the energy they like to bring to the stage, as well as the type of music they play.

“‘Rave on!’ is kind of like the ’50s slang term for ‘rock on!’, so it just makes sense,” Meredith said.

Alongside Meredith and Renner, The Rave-Ons are complete with bassist and singer Jacob Callis and drummer Matt Watson, who is currently touring with the musical “Aladdin.” When Watson is unavailable, local drummer Shawn Ryberg takes his place.

Meredith began singing at a young age and was always a member of the church and school choirs. He got his first guitar at age 16 and taught himself several chords, but it wasn’t until he was cast in his first Buddy Holly musical in 2007 that he really put it at the forefront.

“I definitely envy our lead guitar player, Jeremy Renner, who started playing at a very young age and had the discipline to practice for six to eight hours a day. I wish I had gotten into it sooner,” he said. “If you start as young as you can and if the desire is there, you will have some success. I just always wanted to make an honest living doing something that I love, and I’ve been very lucky to be able to do that.”

In addition to The Rave-Ons, Renner writes original music and tours as a solo acoustic performer or with his own group, the Jeremy Renner Band. Callis has also been a member of Renner’s band for the past decade. Watson has been a percussionist for more than 17 years, and has a diverse performing background, from drum corps and percussion ensembles to pit orchestras and cover bands. He is also a show band drummer for Princess Cruise Lines.

The Rave-Ons are inspired by Holly’s accomplishments and the countless rock ’n’ roll artists he has influenced over the years. Even though they live and breathe Buddy Holly, they play tunes by several different artists from a variety of genres.

“I’ve always loved ‘Johnny B. Goode’ – it’s the best rock ’n’ roll song of all time and such a fun riff and solo to play. After Tom Petty passed, we played ‘American Girl’ for a while,” Meredith said. “The band recently added a double shot of Stevie Wonder to the repertoire that Jeremy sings: ‘Signed Sealed Delivered’ into ‘Superstition.’ That’s always a ton of fun. You can’t be sad when you’re listening to Stevie Wonder.”

When Meredith performs solo, one of his favorite songs to play is “No Diggity” by Blackstreet. But he grew up listening to The Beatles and Billy Joel and admires the passion and stamina of these musical icons.

“As a musician and performer, we can only hope to still be able to play music at a high level and jump around the stage at that age. Having that kind of longevity is definitely impressive and inspiring,” he said.

Callis is a fan of jazz and idolizes musicians such as Ron Carter, Ray Brown and Charles Mingus, but he is also influenced by rock ’n’ roll greats such as Paul McCartney and Carol Kaye.

Back in June, The Rave-Ons performed at a theater in Illinois and took advantage of some free time to compose 10 original songs, and they are eager to continue working on new tracks once the summer is over.

“We had a very successful writing session, and we hope to get in the studio and start recording a full-length album at some point next year,” Meredith said. “We’re thinking it will be a fairly eclectic roots rock ’n’ roll album that’s tied together by the early rock ’n’ roll influences that inspired us to form the band.”

But the music is also inspired by their personal lives and furry friends. Meredith recently acquired a Boston terrier puppy, and he wrote a song from the dog’s point of view that might be featured on the new Rave-Ons album. Meredith is also going to release an EP of five original songs he wrote over the years.

“I always wanted to record my songs, but I never had enough time and never thought they were worthy of being recorded. I had a little bit of free time, so I said heck with my insecurities and gave it a shot this year,” he said.

The EP is called One Track Mind and will be available at the end of August on toddmeredith.com.

—Sandra Weyant

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