Flash Cadillac returns to rock road

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The rock ‘n’ roll institution known as Flash Cadillac is about to fire up the engine and hit the highway again. That’s welcome news to legions of good-time music fans.

When Flash Cadillac frontman Sam McFadin died suddenly of a heart attack in August, the band’s future was uncertain.

But band members eventually decided it wasn’t the end of the road for the Flash Cadillac legacy.

“Thirty-two years later, the Cadillac is not on blocks but still rocking,” says Scott O’Malley, who has managed the Colorado Springs- based band since 1982.

The band has been throwing rock ‘n’ roll parties since they formed at the University of Colorado in 1969 as Flash Cadillac & The Continental Kids.

They showed off their rollicking performances on “American Bandstand,” “Apocalypse Now,” “American Graffiti” and “Happy Days.”

Not only did these appearances secure Flash Cadillac’s place in popular culture, they turned the band into a symbol. Flash Cadillac is the face and sound of vintage music for a generation of Americans.

Sam “Flash” McFadin was an integral part of that sound. The guys took several months off to mourn McFadin’s passing before holding auditions for his replacement. It ended up taking two musicians to fill the hole left behind by McFadin’s voice, guitar and presence.

Denver singer Timothy P. Irvin is taking over the vocals and Rocky Mitchell of Caon City will be on lead guitar.

Over 35 years of performing, Irvin has released six albums with the band Timothy P. and Rural Route III and two solo efforts. He has a long and impressive resume entertaining everyone from kids with his PBS film “Mike the Headless Chicken,” to two U.S. presidents, to hooligans in 1978’s “Every Which Way But Loose.”

Dwight Bement is still on sax and keyboards, Dave “Thumper” Henry is on drums, and founding member Warren Knight plays bass.

After a few months of rehearsals, the new lineup will hit the stage in February. They will play with the Pensacola (Fla.) Symphony Feb. 13 and the Tulsa-based Oklahoma Sinfonia on Feb. 21-22. Flash Cadillac has played hundreds of pops concerts in recent years with symphonies across the country.

Colorado Springs fans will have to wait a little while longer to hear their beloved Flash Cadillac. I’ll keep you updated on when the first Springs shows are scheduled.

QUITE CONTINENTAL: Flash Cadillac’s six-month hiatus led to the formation of a new Colorado Springs party band: The Continental Kids.

Flash Cadillac saxophonist Dwight Bement leads the group, which played their first gig on New Year’s Eve at the City Auditorium. Bement says the band plays everything from Louie Prima swing tunes to Beatles classics.

His only requirements are that he likes the song and that people can dance to it.

Bement didn’t want to stop playing music when Flash Cadillac took an extended break. So he joined the classic rock band BoneDaddy, and they completely revamped their sound. The band picked up some dates that Flash Cadillac had to cancel.

“Essentially what I did was find a band and asked them if I could join the band, then changed all the music they were playing and became the leader, and they bought it,” jokes Bement. “Of course, they were looking to make a change. I wanted to do swing, and these guys have taken to it like ducks to water.”

The rest of The Continental Kids are Greg McLean (guitar), Rob Beardsley (bass), Dno Hall (drums), Chuck Frazier (sax), and Bill Mathews (guitar and keys).

Now Bement has the pleasant problem of juggling his duties in Flash Cadillac with his duties in The Continental Kids.

“Look for us in your neighborhood soon. We certainly want to continue playing and get more jobs,” says Bement, who can be booked through Scott O’Malley at 635-7776. “We all have day jobs, and we’re trying to eliminate that problem.”

WORLD (ARENA) RENOWNED: The World Arena kept pretty impressive company in 2001, making the Top 10 in concert ticket sales for arenas of its size.

“Our sixth-place finish put us in the lofty company of several major market arenas,” says World Arena general manager Dot Lischick.

“The figures prove that the Colorado Springs market will support top quality concerts and entertainment.”

The World Arena’s year was highlighted by a handful of big-time concerts: matchbox twenty, Godsmack, the Pledge of Allegiance Tour with Slipknot and System of a Down, and Sting.

Here are the numbers: The World Arena ended up No. 6 among arenas with 5,001 to 10,000 capacity. The arena drew 121,399 people for 39 concerts and family shows, translating into $2.5 million worth of tickets sold. The results were tallied by Billboard magazine.

The rest of the Top 10 were: Radio City Music Hall; Auditorio Nacional in Mexico City; The Theatre at Madison Square Garden; Kiefer UNO Lakefront Arena in New Orleans; Hersheypark Arena in Hershey, Penn.; Whittemore Center in Durham, Mass.; Paul E. Tsongas Arena in Lowell, Mass.; Aladdin Theatre for the Performing Arts in Las Vegas; and Allen County War Memorial Coliseum in Fort Wayne, Ind.

Our neighbors to the north did well, too, as the Pepsi Center landed at No. 9 among arenas seating more than 15,000 people.

The Pepsi Center grossed $19 million in ticket sales for 38 shows in 2001.

Its biggest moneymakers were Elton John/Billy Joel, Luciano Pavarotti, U2 and Eric Clapton.

The new year is shaping up to be another good one for the World Arena. The Projekt Revolution Tour this week with Linkin Park and Cypress Hill should be the first sell-out of 2002.

And Gerald Levert is coming to the arena on Feb. 13. The Casanova is swooping into town just in time to get those hormones racing for Valentine’s Day.

Levert, 35, is the son of The O’Jays crooner Eddie Levert but has made a name for himself with his big, lusty voice on hits such as “Casanova” and “Taking Everything.”