Reunion tours are becoming commonplace around the rock and roll circuit. On the international scale, Pink Floyd, the Doobie Brothers and Eagles have all done it. Locally, Simon Falls returned to the stage, abandoning the bongos and acoustical sounds for electric guitars, keyboards and a full drum set, as they hammered out favorites on a cool night Oct. 8 evening at Keene Mill Plaza in Springfield.
The reunion performance was led by singer-songwriter Max Brooks, who forged his own path this summer with an acoustic set on Saturday mornings at the same location. This time around, the reunion included former Falls members Tommy Beekman on lead guitar and keyboard, Dean Christesen on drums, and newcomer Justin Moore on bass. It was kind of an impromptu night with no strings attached.
“We’re not taking donations, but if anyone wants to buy us a drink,” said Beekman, indicating his preferred beverage was a black and white mocha. With the music starting at 8 p.m. and most of the surrounding businesses closed, the performance was intimate.
“We like being able to set up there,” said Brooks.
Kathleen Christesen, Dean’s mother, was in the audience. She liked the setting where the teenagers were just hanging out, sipping coffee, and “not out on the streets.” The show gave off a sense of community, like she’s seen at Jammin' Java in Vienna, where some band members have played in the past.
“I think it’s great for teenagers,” said Christesen.
Julia Baldino, 15, was enjoying the night of music too. She heard about it at West Springfield High School last week, and liked the fact that “you don’t have to pay or anything.”
Cesar Tejada, a visitor from Peru, was just walking by and decided to stop. Teenagers outside listening to music made a good, community atmosphere, he said. “I like it.”
THE SIMON FALLS band traces its roots back to guitar classes at West Springfield High School. They branched out to acoustic performances at the same shopping center, as well as a battle of the bands competition at Fair Oaks Mall in 1994. Then each musician left the comfortable nest of the band to experiment with different music genres. Brooks continues to write songs, using a variety of acoustic instruments at open mike nights at Jammin' Java and Stella’s in Alexandria. Christesen and Beekman are toying with jazz and are looking for colleges with jazz programs. Last summer, the band hammered out a few acoustic songs on a street corner in Old Town Alexandria. The original bass player, Bryan Case, is off in college so he was replaced by Moore, who they knew from school.
The Oct. 8 gathering in Springfield was Brooks’ idea and the other guys were supportive. “We play with him when he needs us,” said Christesen. Brooks was appreciative, and liked the way the sounds just blended in.
“It was cool to hear the other guys add their stuff,” Brooks said.
While the band did play an original favorite, “Ultra Mellow,” Simon Falls dug into its collection of cover tunes to keep the audience entertained. Some of the songs they played included “All These Things I’ve Done” by The Killers, and “Bubble Toes” by Jack Johnson. Christesen admitted “the covers are always the crowd pleasers.”
The covers seemed to generate a greater response from the crowd as well.
“You recognize them,” Baldino said.
“I got soul but I’m not a soldier,” Brooks sang.