\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 DeYoung - 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 8+ 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 DeYoung 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 un-roll the backdrops one more time.
During this period, with the addition of Ric Stave on bass guitar, Rick, Jon, Ric & Brian put together an equally impressive SCORPIONS tribute band called BLACKOUT.
Brian later pursued life as an accomplished blues guitarist while Jon and Ric currently perform together in the gifted local cover band PASSIONWORKS, as well as several other bands.
(More information on this can be found in 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 and Brian Scranton on electric and acoustic guitars & vocals 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 the highly acclaimed session artist and performing guitarist/vocalist
Mark Chimes, 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 GRAND ILLUSION’s other three 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 with Brian on their 2008 CD release of “SNAP”, BONE DEEP’S debut CD.
In the mid/late 1990s when GRAND ILLUSION began to book fewer shows, he and Jon White, GRAND ILLUSIONS 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, played keyboard leads on one board and played bass guitar parts and keyboard fills on another. Now, back out with GRAND ILLUSION, Rick is thrilled to be playing on multiple boards again.
Throughout the 1990s while singing lead and playing boards for GRAND ILLUSION, Rick humbly enjoyed regular accolades for his 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. After a more than half-decade break from performing, he feels invigorated with a new energy and emotional commitment it takes to bridge the gap between the audience and the band's performance.
Rick believes that the world-class caliber musicians he has teamed up with once again in GRAND ILLUSION are far and away, just that caliber line-up that is worthy of his new commitment. The band’s overall 5-member impact, each member with well over 30 years of experience playing in dozens of highly honored and respected bands, is definitely greater than the mere sum of its parts.
Grand Illusion lead singer/keyboard player Rick Allen.
For the last several years, Brian, an early member of GRAND ILLUSION, has been working on his own solo projects in his studio, SKIL FACTORY. Past cover bands include FINSTER, GRAND ILLUSION where his contributions helped the band earn several awards at the Buffalo Music Awards, and the SCORPIONS tribute band BLACKOUT.
He then took one of the biggest artistic risks of his life by completely switching gears, and playing 5-string bass for the original alternative hard rock band BONE DEEP with Rick Allen. Brian took to it like a duck takes to water and enjoyed many critical acclaims for his powerful bass guitar performances.
When BONE DEEP ended, Brian then took another risk and began offering himself up as a blues guitarist. With his usual chameleon-like prowess, he filled the slot perfectly as if he’d been playing the blues his whole life. After pulling off the likes of Stevie Ray Vaughn and Joey Bonamassa for the last several years in local blues bands, Brian’s goal, whether on acoustic or electric guitar, is to preserve his “in-your-face” approach to playing.
Brian relishes this opportunity to get back to his roots and perform with GRAND ILLUSION once again, and he’s right at home as one of the now two guitar players, covering material that typically requires two guitarists with much more range than when he carried the work load alone. His ability to twist and squeeze lead guitar parts and energetic stage antics simultaneously into his performance has always made a show with Brian in it, a sight worth seeing.
Now, with his return as one of GRAND ILLUSION’s axe-wielding powerhouses, Brian still screams with his trademark Steinberger electric, but with the experience of playing in blues bands, he’s added a certain soulfulness to his style, as well as a Gibson Les Paul to his arsenal and he is now more than ever, an event that has to be witnessed, as well as a performer that needs to be heard.
In his own words, when asked what he hopes he accomplishes with his guitar playing, Brian will usually tell you, “I like to feel after every show that I've been able, in some small way......TO BLOW THEIR FACES OFF!"
…and in his opinion, the world-class performance of the other three members of GRAND ILLUSION lends itself perfectly to all that Brian has to offer.
Grand Illusion guitarist Brian Scranton.
Jon became proficient playing the drums at an early age and although he rejects the label for himself, “prodigy” is a word that has been used more than once by music critics 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 three of the other four members 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. He is now drumming regularly in two of the area’s favorites, 1980 SOMETHING and PASSIONWORKS with GRAND ILLUSION’S bassist Ric Stave.
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, Jon…wise words indeed.
Grand Illusion drummer/percussionist 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 BACK STABBATH, best tribute band with 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 PASSIONWORKS with GRAND ILLUSION’S drummer Jon White. Ric was the bass player for the short-lived but legendary SCORPIONS tribute band BLACKOUT in the late 1990s with three of the other four members 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, this Berkley music graduate also plays guitar and was 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, its easy to see the mutual respect and admiration shared by all members is well earned and well deserved.
Grand Illusion bassist Ric Stave.
MARK CHIMES, renown session artist and performing guitarist. As an accomplished musician he performs equally well on electric guitar, acoustic guitar, guitar synthesizers and classical guitar, while being very well known for his superior vocal harmony and lead vocal talents. Mark owns and operates his own music store, CHIMES MUSIC STORE & STUDIO, teaches guitar to hundreds of students in the Western New York area, and still finds time to perform live in several local award-winning bands full-time.
Mark has performed in many various award winning original and cover bands in the last 30 years in the Western New York Area. Throughout the 80s and 90s, Mark came into his own, not only as an accomplished session artist, but as a strong composer in his own right. His two major projects during that period were the decidedly progressive rock original band TIDALWAVE and the popular local art-rock act INITIATION with GRAND ILLUSION bassist RIC STAVE, both bands releasing several CDs that all enjoyed very favorable reviews. It was here when Mark and Ric forged a deep personal friendship and immediate bond, based on their mutual adoration for the progressive rock genre.
They both performed together in the hit 70s dance band DISCO DUCK, and the smash hit local 70s cover band BACK TO THE BARS with whom Mark continues to perform to this day. As if that weren't enough, he has performed throughout his professional career as a highly sought after pit orchestra artist in and around the Buffalo, NY area.
The fuller, richer sounds Mark brings as a second guitar player is only rivaled by his amazing harmony voice and his ability to sing lead on several STYX hit classics, coloring GRAND ILLUSION's performance with a much broader spectrum of diverse tonality. Mark never dreamed he would be part of a classic rock tribute band , but now that he's in, he's asked himself why he took so long.
After hearing the overall 5-piece sound, the band was so blown away, they don't even care why they waited so long to add Mark, they're just glad he's here now. GRAND ILLUSION as a whole, both personally and musically, is better for it. Welcome home, Mark, welcome home!
Grand Illusion guitarist Mark Chimes.