An AC/DC tribute band that played its first show in Luzerne before rocking audiences throughout the state and greater region will return to the Wyoming Valley for a show this week.
Halfway To Hell, founded by Sweet Valley musician Forrest Kline, will perform tonight at the River Street Jazz Cafe in Plains Township. The band will dedicate its performance to founding AD/DC guitarist Malcolm Young, who died on Nov. 18.
The outfit’s debut came in November, 2013, at then-Brews Brothers West, and since then, Halfway to Hell has gone on to play throughout Pennsylvania, New York and Ohio.
Kline, who uses only his first name, Forrest, in the performance circuit, is the lead vocalist on all of the Bon Scott songs, emulating the voice of AC/DC’s original frontman.
“I went to see them for the first time in 1980,” Forrest said of AC/DC. “They instantly became my favorite band because of the energy, and the songs were catchy and just good, solid, hard, rock ‘n’ roll.”
Forrest, who became the singer in his first band, Prowler, said he was told by those who attended his shows that he sounded like Scott.
“Eventually, we started putting more AC/DC songs in the setlist,” Forrest said. “That’s what we were known for in the ’90s.”
From 2000 to 2013, Forrest took a hiatus from playing in bands and worked as a sound engineer for Rock Street Music in Pittston.
“When I put it back together, I wanted to do the tribute thing, because I never did the full-out tribute,” he said. “The hard part is you have to find certain characters, and that limits the pool of people. There aren’t many Brian Johnsons out there. And, of course, finding an Angus isn’t easy.”
Halfway To Hell’s current lineup has all the characters in place, and they are portrayed by accomplished musicians who have decades of collective performing experience and have done everything from teach to record music.
Forrest’s resume includes a stint as a singer in a California-based tribute to AC/DC and Judas Priest in which he played alongside current Priest drummer Scott Travis and former Racer X vocalist Jeff Martin.
Don Shoener, of Archbald, is the lead vocalist during songs that AC/DC recorded with Brian Johnson, who filled in after Scott’s death. Tony Harlan, of Williamsport, is the lead guitarist and does the Angus Young work. Kevin Palmer, of Nesquehoning, is the rhythm guitarist in the vein of the late Malcolm Young. Jay Brotter, of Moscow, handles the drumming duties and Gregory Preate, of Harveys Lake, completes the rhythm section on bass.
The band’s highlight of 2017 was a performance at Mohegan Sun Pocono’s Party On The Patio in Plains Township. The estimated attendance, Forrest said, was around 6,000.
“We’re doing it on energy and the music alone,” Forrest said. “That’s what AC/DC is all about. It’s just raw energy. I’m grateful for AC/DC and their music and how lucky I am that that’s the music I love and that’s the music I get to go out and play.”