There are a few names in today’s music that can be called a legend and John Kay is one of them. As the leader of Steppenwolf for over 50 years, Kay still brings the rock n’ roll energy to the stage in his live shows. Last Tuesday night art Artpark in Lewiston NY, Kay led the latest version of Steppenwolf to the stage for an outstanding show of rock n roll classics.
The mostly gray-haired crowd was sprinkled with some younger fans as Kay took the stage and kicked into a song that is that is the ode to women in “Sookie Sookie.” Immediately, the crowd started to sing along and Kay plowed into “Rebels.” This tune reminded you of the protest era of the late 60’s which Kay related to today’s current political climate. Many of Steppenwolf’s songs are born out of the times when the country was in the turmoil because of the Vietnam War, and upheaval was the rule of the day. Of course this mindset was also the mantra of the “free love” generation and “Rock Me” and “Movin’ On” picked up the crowd to dance and sing like it was 1968 all over again. “Ride with Me” was up next and paid homage to the many motorcycle-riding fans of the band in attendance. It was a peaceful tribute to a lifestyle that hasn’t always been portrayed as civil.

The show really started to pick up the pace when Kay told the story of how when he lived in nearby Buffalo, NY. This is where he was introduced to blues music, specifically the music of Muddy Waters. “Hoochie Coochie Man” saw the band stretch its legs as Kay sang with the passion of a much younger man. The anti-drug anthem “Snowblind” (about cocaine addiction) was up next. This was dedicated to a friend of Kay’s who who could not kick the habit.  Steppenwolf continued to fight the government when they sang “Monster.” Kay was as serious as ever in between song patter about his feelings on what is still going on in the world.

Kay also likes to have fun with his music and closed the show with the biggest Steppenwolf hits “Magic Carpet Ride” and “Born to be Wild.” They were a fitting end to the still relevant protest mind-set that the show carried. In the end, this message was well received I believe.

The encore of “The Pusher” saw Kay deliver once again, the solemn message about how evil drug addiction can be. John Kay and Steppenwolf have been delivering the message for a long time. Sadly that message is not out of date.


Sookie Sookie
Rock Me/Movin’ On
Who Needs Ya
Hold On
Ride With Me
News I can Use
Hoochie Coochie Man (Muddy Waters song)
Magic Carpet Ride
Born To Be Wild


The Pusher

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We would like to thank Mari Has for the credentials for this show and her help for the entire 2017 season at Artpark!'

About The Author Joseph Saccomanno