Christmas was definitely in the air on this Saturday after Thanksgiving. Westgate Entertainment District’s Fountain Park was beautifully decorated with multicolored lights shining from every tree. There were horse-drawn carriage rides for those who wanted to appreciate the decorations from the streets. I closed my eyes to take in the feeling when it started to snow. I opened my eyes to see snow flurrying all round me. Flurries in the desert? I admit it felt so perfect for the evening that it took me a minute or two to realize these were man-made flurries. The atmosphere seemed magical and it was about to get even better.
The live, free music that evening was a performance by Ultimate Bon Jovi. These guys are not just another cover band playing the songs that everybody loves. This band really performs. Lead singer, Nick Koclanis, aka Nik Jovi, aka Jon, has the blond good looks of Jon Bon Jovi himself. Koclanis has obviously put time and effort into learning how to “be” Bon Jovi. As he sings, he throws himself into his alter-ego, performing with the same energy and moves as Jon Bon Jovi. It is truly fun and exciting to watch. I almost forgot, several times, that this is a tribute band and not the real thing. To me, that is the difference between a cover band and a tribute band. Koclanis and his band honors Bon Jovi with their performances; they don’t just sing their songs.
This was the second time I had the pleasure of seeing these talented musicians perform at Westgate. The first time was in May of last year. I spoke with Koclanis after both shows. When he started the tribute band he was a guitar player, not the lead singer. He worked hard at learning to sing like, and in the same voice range as, Bon Jovi. He has seen Bon Jovi at least 20 times since the 1980’s, so you know he is a huge fan. He told me he has “great admiration and respect for this amazing man”. Jon Bon Jovi has never seen Ultimate Bon Jovi perform. I think he should and of course I would like to be there.
At the suggestion of a drummer friend, Koclanis’ son Tristan joined the band almost 4 years ago when he was just 15. He is an amazing guitar player. I was totally blown away by his performance and talent. According to Koclanis, Tristan nailed every song within a month of joining the band!
Check out the band's youtube site to see for yourself how you can get lost in the music and forget this is not really Jon Bon Jovi and his band. Whether he is singing “Living on a Prayer”, “Who Says You Can’t Go Home”, “Wanted Dead or Alive”, “Lay Your Hands on Me/You Give Love a Bad Name”, “Raise Your Hands”, "Runaway", "Born to Be My Baby" or “Let it Rock”, you get the feeling that Koclanis loves what he is doing.
When Koclanis is not performing, he owns, operates, and teaches at Mountain View Karate in Scottsdale, Arizona. He started the studio 20 years ago and is a 5th Degree Black Belt. In his own words, “I've been blessed to live my passion; music and martial arts”.
Please check out the videos and enjoy ~ EllenAnn