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"Voice" Cover Story

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Volume 3, Issue 14 July 9-July 23, 2003 article: 

The Most Fun You Have Ever Had

By Leon Phelps


Dubbed Clevelands #1 Party Band! by just about every columnist in north east Ohio, I was looking for something to better grasp the entity that is Festivus.  Honestly, I find that the band has paraphrased it best with The Most Fun You Have Ever Had.


I had the pleasure of checking them out at the Avenue Grille and Bar in Mentor.  Number one, its a great atmosphere to catch a band.  The service is great and the servers are definitely easy on the eyes.  Number two, the band is a perfect fit for the venue!  The crowd was awesome and music was what you would expect with a Vegas show band. 


With a Mardi Gras theme complete with beads, these guys cover every base.  From 80s disco and R&B to all of your 80s favorites.  Not only that, they even keep I current with songs by chart toppers such as Shania Twain and Santana.  A night out with Festivus is like no other.


Be prepared, you most certainly want to wear comfortable shoes as t heir high energy musical assault will have you dancing until the end of the night.  Also, plan on having a beverage in hand at all times for the simple fact is you will be singing along with every song.  After witnessing a Festivus show for yourself, you can tell that these seasoned musicians/performers have been in the game for a long time.


The band is comprised of seven equally talented members from various sections of the Cleveland music scene who all had one goal in mind to form a band that would basically be one big party!  Thats not to say they would not focus on the music as each song is delivered with the perfection that you would expect from an experienced ensemble.  No, the concept Festivus wanted to bring to the table was to not give the crowd a break.  To make it one hell of a roller coaster ride of excitement and entertainment that leaves you feeling satisfied, feeling like you escaped reality for just a little while.


The man holding the keys to the gates of Festivus is frontman Kelly Derek.  Many people will remember Derek from his years fronting Stagepass, one of north east Ohios biggest draws.  With Festivus, Derek has found a way to capture that childhood energy we all remember and make us feel a part of something larger than life.  The man does not stop moving for the entire show!  If hes not in the crowd dancing with the audience, hes belting out a song to a table of people, encouraging them to either sing along or join the party and dance.


Brightening up the stage for the male audience members is vocalist Kellye Hawn.  Her angelic voice gives flavor to high harmonies and is a perfect fit for the bands disco tunes.  Hawn really takes control on such songs as Shania Twains Man! I Feel Like a Woman and Abbas Dancing Queen.  Hawn definitely adds a desirable dimension to the band.


With years of experience in the New York club scene, not to mention fifteen years of acting on Broadway, guitarist/vocalist Rick Koenig is a perfect fit for Festivus.  His guitar work is top notch and rivals anybody in the business today.  Koenig also handles the lead vocals on various tunes and harmonies, where his midrange voice definitely complements Hawn and Derek.


Jim Sustar is featured on bass guitar along with brother, Johhny Sustar on keyboards.  These two will bring back fond memories to many people in north east Ohio for their tenure at the Sahara Club with the band RYZR.  The pair handles the bottom and tope end, respectively, of the band.


The percussion section is made up of Rick Hervey on drums, with Mike Maloney handling the stand up percussion.


Hervey has been in countless bands throughout his career and its evident in his playing.  Quite honestly, the man is an animal on the drums.  His on-stage antics rival those of any lead singer and them man is a drummer!  Even through all that, he still holds down the foundation of the band.


Maloney adds the elements that many rock bands are missing.  He fluctuates between bongo drums, tambourine, cowbell, cymbals, and pretty much anything else he can get to come out of.  He even has a whistle that he throws into the mix from time to time.


As a whole, the bands experience and dedication shines through with every performance.  If you have yet to see Festivus live, youre in for a real surprise.  This is the type of band that people pay fifty dollars a ticket to see and you have the chance to enjoy it for less than five bucks (most places)!!  I say do it!

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