Rival Sons’ gospel electrifies Santa Ana

Derek Hall

The guitarist
Scott Holiday of Rival Sons at The Observatory in Costa Mesa on Friday, Feb. 12 Photo credit: Christian Mesaros


Rival Sons lost one of their family members, Ronnie Hawkins, in January. Hawkins was the father-in-law of Scott Holiday, lead guitarist of Rival Sons and has been a prominent figure in the band’s history due to his unflinching support of their mission.

On top of losing a part of their family, Jay Buchanan, lead singer of the band was extremely ill on the night of Feb. 12 at the Observatory in Santa Ana, running a high fever for most of the day. With this baggage in tow, Rival Sons hit the stage for an emotionally charged and electrifying performance.

Jay Buchana of Rival Sons at The Observatory in Costa Mesa on Friday, Feb. 12 Photo credit: Christian Mesaros


The faithful fans were in the house and an aura of mostly drunk excitement ran throughout the crowd. Sponsored by radio station 95.5 KLOS, a lot of promotion was put into this special show as the Rival Sons are the opening band for Black Sabbath on Sabbath’s “End” tour.

Scott Holiday deep in the groove during his, one of many, guitar solos at the Observatory on Friday, Feb. 12 Photo credit: Christian Mesaros

The band got right to it by playing “Electric Man”, the lead single off their latest album “Great Western Valkyrie.” Blues laden riffs echoed in and out of the sold out venue.

Buchanan seemed a bit winded at first glance but as the night progressed the adrenaline seemed to bring more pep to his step. The crowd seemed to reciprocate the love that poured from the speakers.

After the third song Buchanan dedicated the show to Hawkins and continued driving an emotional set that featuring classics like “Torture”, “Pressure and Time” and, the laid back, “Face of Light”, to fans old and new.

Pour it Out
Jay Buchanan singer of Rival Sons laying it all on the mic at the Observatory in Costa Mesa Friday, Feb. 12 Photo credit: Christian Mesaros

Quite a few of the songs were reworked with improvisation, deconstructed and then built up into fine musical pieces of art. This is what captures the crowd’s imagination and showcases the musical talent of these guys.

Buchanan talked about his days of old, working construction while listening to KLOS and thanked them for showing support. He also made a point of thanking his uncle for lending support when times were lean.

The gospel according to Rival Sons has always remained the same, “family comes first” and of course “Rock and Roll is alive and well.”