Reckless in Vegas plays Finnegan’s Wake in Avon
Avon CO, Colorado
AVON, Colorado ” It was just after 11 p.m. on a February night in 2003 when Michael Shapiro, then the lead guitarist for a band called Trip, heard screams coming from outside his tour bus. Thinking a fight had broken out in The Station in Warwick, R.I., the club he had just finished playing, he curiously stepped off the bus. What he saw next made a lasting and painful impression on his life and musical career.
“I was just blown away,” he said. “All of the smoke billowing out of the building and all of the people running. … It was just surreal.”
The fire, caused by the pyrotechnics of the headlining band, Great White, claimed the lives of 100 concert-goers that night in a blazing stampede for the one available exit.
After the fire, Shapiro got back on the horse, released a solo album and subsequently toured with Live. But once again, Shapiro found himself in the tangles of his rock-star lifestyle.
“I kind of went off the deep end,” he said. “I was drinking quite a bit, so I left the band I was with and moved to San Rafael (Calif.) to start over. It was a really tough decision.”
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Today, Shapiro is touring again, this time with a developing project dubbed Reckless in Vegas. The group will play tonight at Finnegan’s Wake in Avon.
The name Reckless in Vegas refers to Shapiro’s previous life.
“I was living pretty recklessly for a while with no regard for how precious life is,” he said. “I’m really lucky to have my friends and family and the ability to play music, and I’m just really grateful for it.”
The rock trio has been together for more than a year and released its first EP in October. Shapiro said the band ” Shapiro on guitar and vocals, Espen Skaar on bass and Carter Kennedy on drums and vocals ” has been focusing a lot on “getting back into the groove,” writing songs and recording them. This tour, the band will feature a few new songs that it plans to put on its first full-length album.
But a new tour with a fresh band is not without its stresses. They will begin the road trip with bass player Skaar, who has only been playing with the band since December.
“I’ve got the pre-road jitters,” Shapiro said. “I haven’t toured in a while. We’ve got this RV and a trailer that’s been sitting for over a year, and I’m just trying to get it all ready.”
Despite the hardships, Shapiro has known since he was 6 years old that music was the only path for him. He said he was very heavily influenced by his father, who, although he only played air guitar, was very into rock ‘n’ roll.
“He took me to a Santana show when I was 6,” Shapiro said. “I looked at him and said, ‘This is what I want to do.’ Then when I was 11, he took me to a Van Halen show and I saw all the girls going googly over Van Halen, and that kind of solidified it for me.”
At age 16, he started a cover band called Kiss and Tell, and when the lead singer didn’t show up one night, he took the mic. Even though his band told him he wasn’t good enough to be a singer, he said he kept on fighting for it, and he hasn’t stopped yet.
“I couldn’t get that out of my soul,” Shapiro said. “No matter what I say, I can’t shake it. I may never make it, but I’ll die doing what I love.”
The tragedy of that February evening in 2003 remains with Shapiro to this day, but a show last year helped spur the healing process. After only two rehearsals, the reunited Trip flew to Rhode Island and played a benefit show on the fifth anniversary of the fire.
The highlight for Shapiro was seeing his former manager, who sustained serious burns to his hands the night of the fire, get on stage and play guitar.
“It was amazing,” Shapiro said. “The survivors and the families of people who were lost showed up, and they were in good spirits. For me, it was a great experience to be with the people who are still recovering. But there are a lot of people in pain and hurting and in anger, and I hope they can find their way to recover.”
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Who: Reckless in Vegas
Where: Finnegan’s Wake in Avon
When: 10 p.m. Thursday
More information: Call 970-748-4610