Eighteenth Hour Bursts Back Onto the Scene with Opening Gig for Bon Jovi

On Wednesday night, Bon Jovi will return to the Lehigh Valley for the first time in decades. The newly-anointed Rock and Roll Hall of Famers will take the PPL Center by storm as part of their “This House is Not For Sale” tour.

When they do, they’ll have some local company in one of the Valley’s veteran rock acts – Eighteenth Hour.

The quartet, returning from a year-and-a-half hiatus during which they’ve spent time writing and catching up on life’s events, will open for the Jersey natives with a 20-minute set beginning promptly at 7:30 p.m.

Drummer Tom Chaffier was the one who received the phone call to alert the band of the news.

“I was on my home phone, on hold, and my cell phone rang. I didn’t recognize the number, so I ignored it,” Chaffier noted. “I figured I’d check the voicemail while I was on hold, and it was from LiveNation or WZZO, and she was calling about the Bon Jovi contest. I hung up and called back, and she told us the news.”

His bandmates, excited by the opportunity, couldn’t believe the news.

“We thought he was bluffing,” said bassist Jim Touchton.

The band describe their mindset as “more excitement than nerves” heading into the big moment, and look at it as an opportunity to re-kindle the interest of old fans and introduce themselves to new ones in advance of new material, tentatively set for release later this year.

“We want to take full advantage of (the opening slot),” Chaffier said. “We want to go up there and give everything for 20 minutes.”

Eighteenth Hour’s new material has been a long time coming. Guitarist David Zullo notes that the band has had a few of the new songs written before their hiatus, and that they all share a common thread rooted steadily in rock.

Back on the scene
For those unable to make Wednesday night’s Bon Jovi show, local rock fans have a chance to catch Eighteenth Hour at a pair of noteworthy upcoming gigs. The band will perform an evening set at the Promenade Shops at Saucon Valley on Friday, July 27 at 7 p.m., before performing inside the Musikfest Café at SteelStacks on the closing night of Musikfest, set for Sunday, August 12 at 7:30 p.m..

Frontman Geoff Houser notes that the band has become more selective about the shows they play over the years, a strategy that has worked in their favor.

“At one point in time, we were playing a significant number of shows per year,” Houser said. “We like the fact that we choose the shows we play, and we make sure that those shows have an abundance of people at them.”

Chaffier added, “We’ve been doing this long enough now that we don’t really seek shows. They just kind of happen with us.”

With new material and more performances on the horizon, Eighteenth Hour now looks to the future, and to re-immersing themselves into a growing and evolving music community.

“I think there are other bands now that are around that weren’t before, so we can do some joint shows together,” Zullo said. “From what I’ve seen, this is the best local music scene we’ve had since 2002 or 2003. It’s good to see a community starting up again.”

With more than 15 years in the game, Eighteenth Hour strives to be a part of that community, and to use their experiences and observations of a changing scene to help the next generation.

“One of the things we’re brainstorming now is how to help the group of bands that’s trying to get out there,” Zullo adds. “How do we use what we’ve developed in that context? We were very fortunate that 15 years ago, there were a ton of places to play. What can we do to help some of these bands get some exposure?”

Learn more about Eighteenth Hour at the band’s official website. For tickets to the May 2 gig with Bon Jovi, visit the PPL Center online.

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