Keeping it Real; Tesla coming back to Troy for 2021 tour


By Jim Davis

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TROY — Thirty-five years is a long time to stick with anything, but if guitarist Frank Hannon ever needs a refresher course on why he chose music for a career, all he needs to do is step out on stage.

The fans will remind him.

Since forming Tesla in the early 1980s with longtime friend and bass player Brian Wheat, Hannon and the band have been on a musical journey more than three decades in the making.

“It feels wonderful. I got asked in an interview I just had about ‘Did you ever have any idea you would be doing this 35 years later?’ And I thought … Wow, 35 years!” he said during a recent phone interview with the Miami Valley Today. “At the time I was a kid writing songs for our first album, I wasn’t thinking about anything but to write songs. The fact that that people still love our songs blows me away.”

Tesla will stop in Troy on Oct. 15 for an 8 p.m. show at Hobart Arena as part of the band’s Keep It Real 2021 Tour. The concert — which will include special guests Bad Marriage and Signal 13 — will mark the third time Tesla has performed at the historic venue.

“Certain parts of the country — like Troy and Dayton and out in the Midwest — our songs seem to resonate with people, and that’s a great feeling,” Hannon said.

In addition to Hannon and Wheat, Tesla consists of lead singer Jeff Keith, drummer Troy Luccketta and guitarist Dave Rude.

While the band may be best known for its ’80s power ballad “Love Song” and its remake of the Five Man Electrical Band’s 1971 hit “Signs,” Tesla has numerous Top-40 hits, including “The Way It Is,” “Hang Tough,” “What You Give,” “Edison’s Medicine,” “Heaven’s Trail (No Way Out)” and “Modern Day Cowboy.”

While most of those hits came in the 1980s and 90s, Hannon said it’s gratifying that fans still embrace Tesla’s material.

“When the crowd cheers for a song you wrote 30 years ago, there’s no better feeling,” he said, adding “I think, possibly, it’s the realness of the songs. We’ve always tried to just be ourselves and not fit in with any trends. We came from the 80s, which gets lambasted … but our music never really fit into that, and when ‘grunge’ came out, we didn’t fit there, either. We just stayed true to ourselves.

“I want to give a lot of credit to our singer (Jeff Keith),” Hannon continued. “He is one of the most heartfelt, real individuals you’ll ever meet. He’s always taken the time to be honest with his lyrics. ‘What you Give’ and ‘Hang Tough’ are songs of encouragement … and ‘Love Song’ is about a breakup and encouraging someone. Jeff’s realness is a big part of it.”

Although the band has released 11 studio albums and topped 25 million in sales, Hannon said he and his bandmates are constantly working on new material. The band’s latest single — “Cold Blue Steel” — recently came out.

“It’s basically the demo of Jeff and I in my garage,” Hannon said of the new single. “It started off with me in my garage waiting for Jeff to show up. Jeff was listening to Lynyrd Skynyrd’s ‘Saturday Night Special,’ and he was just cranking it … and when he got out of his truck, we said, ‘Let’s write a song similar to that message.’ We wanted to do it in a way that is not accusing or taking a political side. It’s not about guns. Its’ about intentions of people.”

Hannon worked on it in his home studio, sent tracks to the rest of the band, then mixed the final version.

“My goal was to keep it as real and raw as possible,” he said.

Hannon said fans can expect to hear the new single — as well as familiar hits — when Tesla visits Troy.

“We hope they get a great feeling that they’ve been entertained and get to escape whatever is worrying them … and also reminisce and reflect,” he said. “And, we hope, get inspired and enjoy the new music as well.”

For ticket information to see Tesla at Hobart, visit the arena website at To learn more about Tesla or check out the band’s upcoming tour schedule, go to

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