\ˈgrand \ il·lu·sion | \i-ˈlü-zhən
1a: putting forth the largest or greatest of something
b: the ability to deceive or elude someone to a large extent
c: A ROCK BAND FROM BUFFALO, NY THAT PERFORMS THE MUSIC OF STYX SO CONVINCINGLY, MEMBERS OF THE AUDIENCE ARE INDUCED INTO BELIEVING THEY HAVE ACTUALLY WITNESSED A STYX CONCERT—
"Winners are losers who got up and gave it one more try."
~Dennis De Young - Lead singer/keyboardist -STYX
WHO ARE THESE GUYS?
Since the 1990s, GRAND ILLUSION has been stunning local and regional audiences with their impossibly accurate performances of STYX tunes. Playing shows from northern Quebec, Canada to southern Pennsylvania, USA, and just about everywhere in between, GRAND ILLUSION continues to play to “fire-code-breaking” crowds, faithfully recreating the feel of arena concert events of the 1970s, earning them an impressive 7+ awards at the Buffalo Music Awards in just their first 3 years together!
By associations through friends of friends, a GRAND ILLUSION demo cassette tape found its way into the hands of STYX members backstage during their "Edge of the Century" tour and they were blown away.
During their first listen, an uneasy tension was felt by STYX members as if they were more than flattered by the tribute. Later, STYX guitarist James Young spoke of their trepidation confiding in the boys that GRAND ILLUSION sounded so hauntingly genuine to the original versions, for a few seconds after their first listening to the demo, JY and Dennis De Young among others thought the tape was an unauthorized bootleg recording of their own performance.
When they realized they were hearing a tribute band, they just HAD to meet these guys! Backstage VIP invites soon followed, and a couple of weeks later, GRAND ILLUSION was backstage partying with STYX. Ultimately, STYX was flattered beyond words and immediate friendships were forged.
GRAND ILLUSION has been and continues to be a perennial favorite at large concert venues, performing for thousands at outdoor rock festivals, and they were the opening act for HONEYMOON SUITE and CHEAP TRICK.
Occasional reunions dotted Buffalo’s local club scene from 2000 to 2011 when the itch to recreate the magic and constant urging from their devoted fans prompted them to “light up” their amps, and unroll the backdrops one more time.
During this period, with the addition of Ric Stave on bass guitar, Rick, Jon, Ric & former member of GRAND ILLUSION Brian Scranton, put together an equally impressive SCORPIONS tribute band called BLACKOUT.
Jon and Ric currently perform together with recent GRAND ILLUSION addition JOHN DANIELS & his wife, local music icon CAROLYN DANIELS in the gifted local cover band PASSION WORKS.
(More information on this can be found in John, Ric and Jon's bios.)
THEY’RE STILL HERE!
After its members collectively have spent decades honing their craft, GRAND ILLUSION is better than ever, as comfortable on stage in front of arena sized crowds as they are in more intimate venues for only a couple of hundred guests.
With Ric Stave on bass guitar, Taurus bass pedals, keys & vocals, Jon White on drums & percussion working tirelessly on other projects, they still had room on their plates to answer the call when lead singer/keyboard player Rick Allen posed the question, “Wanna do it again?”
Fortunately for Rick and fans of STYX music everywhere, the unanimous reply was a resounding “YES !!”
With the recent addition of world class virtuoso guitarist John Daniels, and the highly acclaimed performing guitarist/vocalist Scott Helfrich, this new and improved 5-piece lineup sounds bigger, fuller and better than ever!
With several great shows booked in and around Western New York you’re sure to catch them at a venue or event near you. Check out their events page for more details.
Rick Allen has been the lead vocalist/keyboardist and founding-father of the STYX tribute band GRAND ILLUSION since its inception. He sang and played for several other top bands over his four decades of performing including PINNACLE, THE NIGHT, DR. NO, ROCK QUARRY, THE NEW GUYS and the highly regarded SCORPIONS tribute band BLACKOUT, with two other current GRAND ILLUSION members.
Rick also wrote, produced and recorded a well-received solo collection, FORBIDDEN LOVE, in 1994 in limited release. He enjoyed a short run as the lead singer/front man for the local hard rock cover band STRAIGHT JACKET and the independent original alternative hard rock band BONE DEEP, in which he enjoyed local success on the 2008 CD release of “SNAP”, BONE DEEP’S debut CD.
In the mid/late 1990s, he and Jon White, GRAND ILLUSION'S drummer both then and now, formed a classic rock cover band called DR. NO. As a three piece, Jon was on drums, Jim Forenger and then later, Tony Mirabelli of the TMG band were on guitar and vocals, and Rick sang lead, and played keyboards. Now, back out with GRAND ILLUSION, Rick is thrilled to be performing what he considers some of the best music ever written, once again.
Throughout the years while in GRAND ILLUSION, Rick humbly enjoyed regular accolades for his lead vocal work while being honored four times at the Buffalo Music Awards for top rock keyboardist, as well as sharing several awards with the rest of the band for best group harmonies, best group vocals and of course best tribute band.
For GRAND ILLUSION, Rick has revamped his sound and added extensively to his keyboard rig in an effort to significantly update his approach to these STYX classics. With the recent addition of lead/rhythm guitarists John Daniels & Scott Helfrich, who sings lead on several of the Tommy Shaw classics, Rick is overcome with enthusiasm as the vocals with this new lineup has risen to new heights, eloquently recapturing the rich STYX harmonies, as well as the Dennis De Young/Tommy Shaw vocal chemistry that must be seen & heard to be believed.
Rick believes that the world-class musicians he has teamed up with in this GRAND ILLUSION “reboot” are far and away, just that caliber line-up that is worthy of his renewed commitment. The band’s overall 5-piece impact, each member with well over 30 years of experience playing in dozens of highly honored and respected bands, is finally, in Rick’s own words, the culmination of a 30-year-old dream come true, and he couldn’t be happier.
Grand Illusion lead singer/keyboard player Rick Allen.
Jon became proficient playing the drums at an early age and although he denies the label for himself, “prodigy” was a word that was used more than once to describe his level of talent at such a young age, earning him a seat behind the skins in his mere teens for local recording legends EZEKIEL. After several years performing and touring he found himself a celebrated drummer that was highly regarded and always in demand.
Throughout the 1980s & 1990s he played drums for SNAKE BITE, the regionally successful smash hit WHITESNAKE tribute band, THAT 80s HAIRBAND, BLACK WIDOW, and RABBI STEEL among others. He is best known as the longtime drummer/percussionist for the local hard rock cover band STEALIN’.
All or most of the bands Jon has performed with have enjoyed winning top honors at The Buffalo Music Awards and when asked, more often than not, other musicians he’s worked with in those bands can sum up their success with just two words; JON WHITE.
He played for GRAND ILLUSION since the late 1990s including several reunion shows over the following ten years. After GRAND ILLUSION transitioned from a regularly working band to a seasonal act, Jon played for several years in a three-piece cover band with Rick called DR.NO and in the still talked about SCORPIONS tribute band BLACKOUT with Rick Allen and Ric Stave of GRAND ILLUSION.
As a perennial favorite in local Western New York bands, it wouldn’t be an overstatement to say that over the course of the last 35+ years, Jon could be seen playing in some top-shelf band somewhere every week of the year. Besides GRAND ILLUSION, he is now drumming regularly in one of the area’s favorites, PASSION WORKS with GRAND ILLUSION’S bassist Ric Stave and their lead guitarist JOHN DANIELS.
Despite the inherent limitations of being stuck behind all that metal and Mylar, Jon has always been a crowd pleaser in terms of stage performance. From the intense physically demanding energy he uses to play, to his airborne sticks’ acrobatics, Jon is the consummate performer and is never and WILL never be one of those drummers that merely dissolves into the background of the stage.
When recently asked what a STYX fan can expect to see at a GRAND ILLUSION show, with his famous dry wit, his trademark mischievous wink and a little nod, Jon replied, “Well, I guess you’ll just have to come out and see for yourself!” Good advice and wise words to follow…wise words indeed.
Grand Illusion drummer JON WHITE
Over the years Ric has built quite a repertoire of bands to his stable of accomplishments including DISCO DUCK, BRIDGE TO MOJO and BACK TO THE BARS along with multiple tribute bands, but as a creator and bass player for the classic/prog-rock band WÜNDERLAND his pedigree is well established.
Ric has earned a multitude of top honors several times at the Buffalo Music Awards, including top dance bassist while in BLACK STABBATH, best tribute band with the LED ZEPPELIN tribute band CODA, and was honored winning best classic rock band with WÜNDERLAND more than once.
Ric regularly fills in for many different bands across the area but currently can be seen regularly playing bass guitar for PASSION WORKS with GRAND ILLUSION’S drummer Jon White & their lead guitarist JOHN DANIELS. Ric was the bass player for the short-lived but legendary SCORPIONS tribute band BLACKOUT in the late 1990s with both Rick Allen and Jon White of GRAND ILLUSION.
He is equally at home playing keyboards as he is playing bass guitar or bass pedals and in GRAND ILLUSION, he performs amazingly on them all. And as if that weren't enough, he also plays guitar and is an accomplished trumpet player.
One of the reasons he loves playing these STYX songs is the deep connection that so many people have to this material. His biggest thrill is when he sees 20 and 30-somethings singing along enthusiastically with tunes like “RENEGADE” or “COME SAIL AWAY” and he witnesses just how well this music crosses generations.
For his part, to bring this material to so many people in a fresh new way with these other four amazing WNY musicians is worth everything, and he is honored to be playing with them.
But if each member of GRAND ILLUSION were asked what it’s like performing with Ric in the band, they are each quick to reply, “The honor is all mine!” After one GRAND ILLUSION show, it’s easy to see the mutual respect and admiration shared by all members is well earned and well deserved.
Grand Illusion bassist Ric Stave.
Guitarist extraordinaire John Daniels has been a mainstay of the Buffalo, NY music scene for decades, most notably as the axe-smith in the award-winning HEART tribute band BAD ANIMALS, where he performed with his wife and renowned female vocalist CAROLYN DANIELS throughout the 1990s. A few years after the band won the award for Top Rock Band at the Buffalo Music Awards in 1994 this dynamic duo hit pay-dirt together again after forming the massively popular regional cover band PASSION WORKS that performs to enthusiastic audiences to this day.
As a local favorite and perennial nominee at the BMA for his guitar work, John continues to perform in PASSION WORKS with GRAND ILLUSION drummer and bassist JON WHITE and RIC STAVE respectively.
When an opening became available for a guitarist in GRAND ILLUSION, it was a “no brainer” to consider who the obvious first choice would be, so when the band approached him to fill the slot, John’s enthusiastic response was overwhelming, locking him in as half the band’s top-shelf guitar duo.
Performing regularly in two different bands with the same drummer and bassist, adds a familial style and cadence, a “chemistry”, these three seasoned professionals bring to the table, that is unmatched in any STYX tribute band, or any other band for that matter, on the scene today.
As the sole guitarist in PASSION WORKS covering both lead and rhythm guitar parts, John’s ability to create a fully textured sound helps produce an amazing dynamic thickness to any cover tune, and his style recently has been compared to guitarists ALEX LIFESON of RUSH and even QUEEN’S BRIAN MAY.
So, in the context of these STYX arrangements, with the addition of Scott Helfrich, GRAND ILLUSION'S brilliant second guitarist, John’s experience and prowess in being able to squeeze every drop of sound out of every note enhances GRAND ILLUSION’S sonic impact to never before attainable new heights.
As mutual admirers of each other’s work over the years, John and GRAND ILLUSION lead singer/keyboardist RICK ALLEN couldn’t be more thrilled to finally be working together, and as for the band as a whole, this awe-inspiring collective force presents a level of entertainment far and away greater than the mere sum of its 5 parts that must be seen and heard in person to truly be appreciated, and the band is elated beyond words that John Daniels is now an inimitable element to this amazing mix of seasoned pros.
Grand Illusion guitarist John Daniels.
SCOTT HELFRICH, renown session artist and performing guitarist, is an accomplished musician, performing equally well on electric guitar, acoustic guitar and classical guitar, while being highly regarded for his superior lead vocals and vocal harmony talents.
Scott has performed in many various original and cover bands in the last 30 years in the Western New York Area, including the popular “surf rock” foursome THE FRESHWATER FOUR and the prog-rock cover band ROGUE PLANET.
Scott has excelled not only as a local performing artist but as a strong composer in his own right, which was made apparent while playing in the contemporary folk/acoustic trio ACOUSTRIA, with whom he still performs with LEAH PINNAVAIA and JOHN CARUSO, where he truly came into his own as a writer on some of the band’s strongest originals.
The fuller, richer sounds Scott brings as a second guitar player is only rivaled by his amazing lead and harmony voice, coloring GRAND ILLUSION'S performance with a much broader spectrum of diverse vocal tonality. The other four members couldn’t be happier adding an additional strong harmony voice to their line-up to really thicken up the vocals.
However, the true value of what Scott brings to the table is found in the vocal timbre of this amazing tenor when he sings lead on several of the band’s STYX classics.
Scott’s voice adds that missing element that when combined with RICK ALLEN’S other lead vocals, brings to life the magic of the original DENNIS DE YOUNG/TOMMY SHAW lead vocal combination that must be heard to be believed!
As the fifth and final member, fortunately, Scott finds himself in a position to have ample time to prepare himself and the band for GRAND ILLUSION'S grueling rehearsal schedule for this new and much improved reboot of their show, and he is thrilled and honored to be a part of the GRAND ILLUSION experience.
For the other members of the band, they feel equally blessed to have Scott aboard. He is surprised to have found himself filling such an integral role in such an established rock tribute band, but now that he's in, he's asked himself why he took so long.
They don't even care why they waited so long to add Scott, they're just glad he's here now. With the addition of this musical dynamo, GRAND ILLUSION as a whole, both personally and musically, is better for it.
Welcome home, Scott, welcome home!
Grand Illusion guitarist/vocalist Scott Helfrich.