2016 Ventures Fan Fest DVD Set Review
Apologies to Tom for the delay in getting this review online. However, sometimes life sets your priorities.
I had the pleasure of viewing all three DVDs in the main FanFest set, and I have to say that (except for a few minor disc menu glitches - which may have been caused by my old home DVD player) I was very impressed by the overall improved quality. This was evident in the editing, the visual clarity, and the sound quality. When I turned up the volume on the TV, it was like I was right there listening to the great music.
The disc menu glitch that I mentioned was mainly that (on my almost 10-year old DVD player) the colored highlights that should have overlapped the chapters appeared offset, either slightly below or above, from the stationary text. However, that didn't really hinder the playability of the discs, just a minor distraction.
The Pickniks started off the presentation with a high-powered mix of some of the classic Ventures tunes that we love so much. Bob Spalding joined in at one point on "Bumble Bee" and "Walk Don't Run," which also featured young Ventures fan Danny Roberts on drums. He was given a very much deserved round of applause and a memento of his participation.
Next, some of the celebrities in the audience were acknowledged. They included Mike Bogle and his wife, Bob Spalding and his wife, Fiona Taylor, new Ventures member Luke Griffin, and Dave Towers and his wife - traveling all the way from the UK. The fan who had traveled all the way from Japan for last year's FanFest was also acknowledged as being in attendance again this year.
Ken Arnold's band was next up with another group of instrumental classics. (Sorry, I didn't record the name of all of the individual songs.) Bob Spalding again joined in on "Diamond Head." Vic Hines' band was up next, and they were followed by Rich (didn't catch his last name) and Walt Stagner. Overall, all of the music was well-played and the sound came over quite well on the DVD video.
This grouping started off with John Stapleson and his group, followed by a set from Bob Spalding, Luke Griffin, and Les Fradken. That included Bob discussing and then playing Johnny Smith's original jazz version of "Walk Don't Run" and a unique reggae version of "Pipeline." Our host Tom Baltaeff then took the microphone for some welcome remarks and announcements. This set ended with an informative Q&A session with Bob Spalding, Fiona Taylor, Luke Griffin, and Mike Bogle in the "hot seats."
The final disc in the set maintains the high picture and sound quality of the others. The musicians in this last grouping included Bob Dowd, Piece of the Action, Ghose Kanad, Les Fradken, and a second set by The Picniks. The disc ends with comments from Fan Fest attendees, both musicians and audience members.
Not taking away anything from Tom's herculean efforts in putting on and documenting the annual Fan Fests, I think I enjoyed watching this set of discs more than any of the others. A big part of the reason is the greatly improved video and sound quality of the recordings. Kudos to Tom, the musicians, and anyone else who had a hand in putting on the 2016 Ventures Fan Fest.
Arnold van Beverhoudt, Jr.www.sandcastlevi.com