Kim Simmonds & Savoy Brown 50th Anniversary with special guests the Venus Mars Project

by Chris Ricci

In recent years, classic bands and artists have decided that a great course of action is to settle old differences and play nostalgic shows with classic lineups to give fans a flair of the past and a reminder of how the band used to sound. However, there are still champions in the industry that, after decades, still continue to innovate and experiment without any signs of stopping because, honestly, the passion behind the music is truly the driving force that fans love. There are some examples from the past 20 years that people can get behind, ranging from The Foo Fighters to Bob Mould, but there are very few bands that can safely say they’ve spent fifty years innovating, evolving, and rocking without an end in sight. Savoy Brown is safely in a league of their own.

Guitarist Kim Simmonds, born in 1947, had been playing guitar since he was very young. But, after a few years and listening to several classic blues artists on heavy rotation, Kim wanted more. “My earliest influences that made me form Savoy Brown as a band were Muddy Waters and later on Paul Butterfield.” In 1966, Savoy Brown were formed, and the rest is history. Over the decades, the lineup has changed time and time again, and English publications felt that this combined with the focus on the blues in general, was one of the reasons why Savoy Brown never hit a huge stride in England and Europe. However, here in America, Savoy Brown and their members are hailed as some of the most important people in the genre as a whole. The members of Savoy Brown have gone on to work with a wide variety of bands, ranging from Fleetwood Mac to Jethro Tull, but Kim’s consistency as an artist with his core band never seems to falter. “What keeps me going is the fact that once I've climbed a mountain, so to speak, I want to go and find another mountain to climb” he said.

Legends will meet legends in Beverly this weekend, as Savoy Brown are slated to play the legendary Larcom Theater. Massachusetts has always held a special place in Kim’s heart, and the focus on the cities surrounding Boston is no coincidence. “I used to only play Boston in the 60's,” he said. “but now I've found that a lot of the original fans have moved away so now I play the towns surrounding Boston.” The suburbs also have a rather nostalgic feel for Kim as well. “I loved Boston and the surrounding areas,from the beginning, because it reminded me of London and England.”

The English legends will be joined by a local band that is already making ripples outside of Massachusetts. Formed in 2013, the Venus Mars Project is a labor of love between guitarist Peter Tentindo and singer Jacyn Tremblay who are no strangers when it comes to the stage and the industry itself. “I came from a very theater heavy background growing up, “said Jacyn, “and at a certain point in college, my gears switched to more of a pop/r&b sound and that was when I was in the all girl group Jada.” As for Peter, his guitar work has caught the attention of some classic rock icons. “I've had the pleasure of opening up for some of my heroes like Alice Cooper, Heaven & Hell, and Queensryche with my old band, and had the pleasure to back Jimi Jamison (former lead singer of the band Survivor) as his backing band leader on a few occasions.” Hearing the combination of “pop/r&b” and artists like Alice Cooper seems like a very odd combination indeed, but the results are quite remarkable. “There's something so freeing about the unpredictability of the rock world while still having some gloss and polish of the pop music world,” said Jacyn. “What we are doing in Venus Mars Project feels like the truth for us. It's genuine, real, and Peter and I are having a blast creating that energy together!”

Compared to most contemporary rock bands, the energy of Venus Mars Project is positivity mixed with heavy guitar riffs, a combination that showcases not only their talents, but also their feelings on the industry in general. “We see life similarly. We believe that when you are creating something true. It comes from YOU. We aren't afraid to make music about what we truly feel and experience in life” they said. “One of our goals is to make music that is accessible and fun, but also to be thought provoking. We truly love performing our songs and reaching people with them.” Both Jacyn and Peter are Danvers natives, and they certainly haven’t forgotten their roots. “The North Shore is our home for sure. We love it here!” they said. “While there are many opportunities that exist outside of Massachusetts, it's good to have a home base. In this age, you can live anywhere in the world and still do what you do as an artist. We have some great resources for being seen and heard all over the world without leaving the area.”

The prospect of not only playing with Savoy Brown, but also at the Larcom Theater resonated with both of them, and this is an opportunity they’re nothing but elated for. Thanks to Peter Van Ness and gimmeLIVE, Venus Mars Project will be able to share the stage with an icon and show off their amazing chops in a live capacity that’s a once in a lifetime moment. “Peter is a great supporter of ours and we are grateful to share the stage with such a talent as Savoy Brown!” they said. “That band has a tremendous history, and we look forward to catching the band's set and getting even more inspired for our next shows!” As North Shore natives, they’re acutely aware of the significance of the theaters in Beverly, especially compared to playing a run-of-the-mill club in Boston. “There's a certain vibe that comes from performing in a classic theatre, as opposed to a rock club stage. You think about the history and the various kinds of shows they put on in back in the day and it's pretty amazing,” they said. “There's a level of elegance that went into the construction of theatres like the Larcom. We are very excited that both The Larcom and The Cabot are keeping entertainment alive here in the North Shore area, and we're excited to be a part of it all!”

Fans of music and casual listeners alike are in for a treat this coming weekend, and Kim Simmonds promises that this will be a Savoy Brown show like no other. “To new listeners, the band is a complete surprise because we do old, new and future material,” he said. “In many ways it's a shock to people to see a veteran act with one foot in the past and one foot in the future.” As for the classic fans? “they get to see the old songs presented with the same zeal as from the 60's and 70's. Every night those old songs are played differently. New life is breathed into them and once again they come alive. We don't simply play tribute to the past.” If nothing else, the things that both Venus Mars Project and Savoy Brown want is to entertain as well as hopefully spark an interest in those that might want to take a leap and follow their dreams when it comes to music. “Opportunities for artists in this area are different than they used to be,” said Peter and Jacyn. “Clubs just don't have budgets anymore or prefer cover bands who will play up to 3 hours a night over original acts. We do our best to work around it.” They continued by adding that “. We are determined to seek out great performance opportunities and places that believe in the fair treatment of the talent they hire. We are all about putting on the best show for our audience and we stick by that!” As for advice from a man who’s been doing it non-stop for fifty years? Kim Simmonds kept it very forward: “The band work is a pleasure because I do what comes naturally and I can show my talent with the electric guitar (hopefully!) and years of experience leading a band” he said: “If you want a long career, be focused in the music you want to play.”