The season of farewell tours is upon us and for fans of southern rock pioneers Lynyrd Skynyrd, Saturday night's show in Atlantic City is set to be the last one ever on the east coast, as the street survivors from Jacksonville acknowledge the realities of older age and health challenges that have long since dogged the group.
"You will go away very happy because the show that we are delivering this year, I feel is the best one that we've done in my 20 years in the band," said drummer Michael Cartellone in an interview with Fox 29 reporter Dave Kinchen.
Skynyrd, plagued with tragedy from the 1977 plane crash that killed singer Ronnie Van Zant and guitarist Steve Gaines among others, to the numerous deaths that have befallen other members in recent years, will undoubtedly pay tribute to their fallen rock and roll brothers in addition to the fans who have been there since day one.
"The video that we have, the lighting that we have, the song list that we are presenting are all outstanding," Cartellone said.
Despite a 1987 reunion of the band's surviving members, fronted by Van Zant's younger brother Johnny and many albums that have been released since then, fans still expect the classic 1970s staples like Simple Man, Saturday Night Special and Free Bird in the setlist night after night. The opportunities to hear those songs live are getting fewer by the day.
Michael Cartellone joined Skynyrd in 1999 after having major commercial success with the hard rock supergroup Damn Yankees which featured members from 80s giants Styx, Night Ranger and the Motor City Mad Man himself, Ted Nugent.
Cartellone says he picked up the drum sticks at age 9, but started expressing himself creatively a few years before that with the paintbrush.
"I was 4 years old. I was in kindergarten and the teacher saw something in the drawing and painting I was doing and encouraged my parents to have me take the ball and run with it," he said.
He made a second career out of his visual artwork, and brought some of pieces by the Fox 29 studios this week, ahead of his Wentworth Gallery exhibit in A.C., the day after the Skynyrd Show.
Some of the pieces he unveiled on Good Day Philadelphia combine Cartellone's love of music and art with a painting of his band mate and Skynyrd's only remaining original member, guitarist Gary Rossington.
"I can't even imagine only doing one and not the other because they enhance each other, they balance each other," he said.
This weekend, both the music and the canvas creations will be on full display.
Lynyrd Skynyrd takes the stage after 7pm Saturday December 1st at Boardwalk Hall and on Sunday you can see Cartellone's visual art at the Wentworth Gallery at Hard Rock on 1000 Boardwalk in Atlantic City. The event runs from 1pm through 4pm.