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Drummer: Night Ranger show to be 'high energy'
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Night Ranger drummer Kelly Keagy (above) said the band is ready to rock Celebration 2013 Wednesday night at the Martinsville Speedway. The band had several hits during their more than 30 years on the road, including “Sister Christian,” “When You Close Your Eyes” and “(You Can Still) Rock In America.” (Contributed photo)

Thursday, June 27, 2013

After more than 30 years on the road, Kelly Keagy and his Night Ranger band mates have one goal every night they step on stage: keep it exciting.

“Our songs never get boring. I just find I never want to be in the situation … and I’ve seen it before, where guys are just going through the motions. I want to be the guy that people are saying, ‘They are playing with a lot of fire,’” said Keagy, Night Ranger’s drummer. “I think it makes a difference that you have this idea in your head that it’s the first time you’ve played a song. You have to keep it fresh. It’s gotta be on fire.”

Armed with a play list of hit songs and platinum albums, Night Ranger will headline Celebration 2013 at Martinsville Speedway on July 3. The free-to-the-public event will begin at 5 p.m. when the carnival rides open.

The entertainment will start at 7 p.m. when Project 4, a Roanoke-based band, takes the stage. Night Ranger will play at 8:30, followed by the area’s largest fireworks display.

Night Ranger formed in the early 1980s in the San Francisco area and sky-rocketed to stardom in 1983 with its album “Midnight Madness,” which included hits “Sister Christian,” “When You Close Your Eyes” and “(You Can Still) Rock In America.”

Those iconic songs will loom large in Night Ranger’s set list at Celebration, but Keagy said writing and performing new songs is what keeps the band young after so many years of performing around the world.

“We just try to find new ways to keep it fresh and for us, that means we have to keep making records,” said Keagy, who also is one of the group’s lead singers, in addition to his percussion duties. “A lot of bands that have been together for 30 years find it harder and harder to keep making records, but you have to keep doing that. If you stop being creative, creativity will die. Every so often we have to make a record and write new songs … that keeps the fire going for us.”

Night Ranger’s first live and acoustic album, “24 Strings and a Drummer” was released last October. It is working on its 11th studio album for a 2014 release. It is difficult for the band to find studio time, though, because it still performs more than 100 shows a year, as it has for more than three decades.

“At our shows now, people who grew up with us are bringing their kids with them and turning them on to us,” Keagy said in a recent interview. “Our shows are really high energy, and that’s why the kids like them. We always want to make our shows seem like one of the best shows you’ve seen all year.”

With all successful bands, the key is the music, the songs. And Keagy said Night Ranger’s powerful hits such as “Sister Christian” continue to strike a chord with fans everywhere.

“There’s just something to be said about a good song, either the lyric or the melody or the structure of the song,” Keagy said of Night Ranger’s musical connection with fans. “But that may be too complicated. People just relate to our songs. Songs like ‘Sister Christian’ just touched their lives. We’ve been really lucky with that.”

Keagy was intrigued by the formula for Celebration 2013: a free event backed by contributions of local businesses, governments and individuals. He said he did not know if the group ever had played for an event quite like this one, and he guaranteed a fun night.

“We always put on a high-energy show. We enjoy playing. That’s what we enjoy doing,” he said. “We enjoy getting people into it. I think this is going to be a great event.”

Celebration 2013 sponsors include: American Global Logistics; AmeriStaff; Applied Felts; Bassett Furniture; Bassett Office Supply; BB&T; Blue Ridge Aquaculture; Brad Parker Insurance Agency — Nationwide Insurance; Carter Bank & Trust; Chamber’s Partnership for Economic Growth (C-PEG); City of Martinsville; Collinsville Printing Co.; Commonwealth Laminating; Cool Knobs and Pulls; Dillon Insurance; Eastman; Frith Construction; Gardner, Barrow, Sharpe and Reynolds; Henry County; Henry County Baptist Association; Henry County Sheriff’s Office; Hooker Furniture; Martinsville DuPont Credit Union; Martinsville-Henry County Chamber of Commerce; Martinsville Speedway; Martinsville Speedway Children’s Foundation; Memorial Hospital in Martinsville; Nelson Automotive; River Community Bank; RTI Martinsville, Inc.; Shenandoah Furniture; Southwestern Virginia Gas; Stanley Furniture; Steve Martin Trenching; Taco Bell; Tarheel Paper & Supply Co.; The Lester Group; TR Properties; Virginia Mirror; West Window; and Zenith Logistics.


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