My first exposure to Xes Whiskey (pronounced Excess Whiskey) was while listening to the morning show on 93.3 The Bone and Xes Whiskey were the morning's guests on the show with Cindy Scull and Robert Miguel. I came into the show part way through, having missed their intro and Paul ("The Van Halen Guy") was ripping through a version of "Eruption" from Van Halen's 1979 debut album. Paul's performance was flawless, leaving me impressed enough to call the station and arrange to cover the following day's Pre-Van Halen concert party at House of Blues in Dallas.
What a treat that turned out to be. Paul, Ricky and Ken make up Xes Whiskey, a local Van Halen tribute band. These guys, surrounded by family, friends and fans put on a show that exhibited nothing short of balls-to-the-wall energy, virtuoso performances and a crowd-pleasing style. Their repertoire ranges from the early "Diamond Dave" testosterone-fueled unrefined, edgy hard rock that defined Van Halen all the way through the "Van Hagar" years where the band, as a result of age, experience and Eddie's writing, mellowed, exhibiting more refined arrangements. Paul, Ricky and Ken reproduce the entire VH catalog faithfully (with the exception of Eddie's later keyboard work.) If you couldn't see them you wouldn't know it wasn't the "real thing" on most songs, which I think is the highest compliment I can pay to any Tribute Band.
During their second set, Paul and Ricky took their performance to the audience, mingling with young and old alike, working the crowd like Jon Bon Jovi. Paul's interaction with the crowd extended all the way down to the littlest fans, allowing the kids to play his guitar during the solo (see the slideshow for these pix).
These guys are pros, they're nice guys and a lot of fun. If you get the chance to see them live, don't miss it.
Click on the photo for the full gallery.