By Doug Schroder


Popular local band Desolation Row performed for the last time this past Saturday, Aug. 13, at District Bar & Grill in Rockford. The band was together for seven years, and although the band went through some changes during that time, it continued to gain garner awards and followers.

When the band formed in 2009 the line-up included Jacob Hoey, Jared Hoey, Alex Spors, Jarrett Finley. All of them were teenagers at the time, and were pretty darn good, getting to the finals of an Illinois statewide band contest a few years later.

Jacob Hoey and Alex Spors then left the band and were replaced by JJ Whaley and his younger brother Eddy. The band didn’t skip a beat as their popularity grew. In 2015 and 2016 the band won the “Artist of the Year” award by the Rockford Area Music Industry (RAMI). Those are very good achievements for these boys coming from the small towns Stillman Valley and Winnebago.

The band was also selected this year as a headlining group for ByronFest and The Wounded Warrior Project in Mt. Morris.

Two years ago the band put out a CD that included three original songs “Can’t Get Enough”, “Everything I Need” and “Underneath the Bed”. One of those songs “Everything I Need” even got some airplay by one of the local radio stations.

It was decided this past winter for the group to disband when JJ Whaley decided he was leaving to pursue other parts of his life. When the remaining members had a hard time finding a replacement for JJ, they all decided it was time for the band to disband. Going out with the gig at District on Saturday was a perfect way for it all to end, as District usually only books national touring groups. Jacob Hoey and Alex Spors were invited back for the occasion and they played a few songs with the band.

The legion of Desolation Row fans filled District and the band did not disappoint, delivering another one of their high-energy performances to the crowd’s delight.

Now that it is all over for the band, each member will go separate ways as they remain friends.

“I’m planning on going back to school for either criminal justice or business management also while working a full time job. I would also like to continue coaching wrestling, but since I’m working night shift its impossible at the moment. In between all of that, I’m sure I will still be able to make some time for music and hopefully get into writing rather than performing,” said JJ.

JJ was a State Champion in wrestling when he was a student at Stillman Valley High School.

JJ’s brother, Eddy, plans on finish his senior year at Stillman Valley, then continue his education at Rock Valley College. He hasn’t decided what he will study yet. He does plan to do some hunting and fishing in his spare time.

Jarrett Finley plans to get a job, something that will build up to school.

“I’ll figure out what to do. I’d like to do something with music,” said Jarrett.

Jared Hoey plans on getting into the Radiology Technician Program at school.

The final show for Desolation Row was kind of like a family reunion as all of their fans have gotten to know the band members through the years. I think they would all agree when I say, “Thanks for the good times D-Row.”

Desolation Row End 1

Local band Desolation Row performed for the last time at District Bar & Grill, in Rockford, on Saturday, Aug. 13. Pictured are (L-R) Jarrett Finley, JJ Whaley and Eddy Whaley. Drummer Jared Hoey is behind Jarrett Finley.

Desolation Row End 2

Current and past members of Desolation Row pose for a picture with Gazette editor Doug Schroder during the last performance of the band on Saturday, Aug. 13. (L-R) Jacob Hoey, Alex Spors, Jared Hoey, Doug Schroder, JJ Whaley, Jarrett Finley, Eddy Whaley. DOUG SCHRODER PHOTOS

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