The Tennessean from Nashville, Tennessee on April 20, 1980 · Page 11
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The Tennessean from Nashville, Tennessee · Page 11

Nashville, Tennessee
Issue Date:
Sunday, April 20, 1980
Page 11
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i r i V- irk'f - fit v t ll 'l '""" - - 1 1 1 1 J 'I 4 " ": v " k ! ' v ":'- W - - ' , h r i Spurzz is (foreground) Lee Newell and (rear, from left) D. Anthony Valentine, Travis Lewis, Tony Ingram, and Gary DiBenedetto. The "power country" band makes its Nashville debut Monday night with Freddy Weller at Opryland's Stage-door Lounge. purzz: Country With a Kick By LAURA EIPPER They've got spurs that jingle, jangle, jingle in fact, that's how they got their name. But the five members of Spurzz, Nashville's first "power country" band, have got a few more tricks up their sleeves. Like an eight foot wall of flame that kicks off their show, a steel guitar player who floats in mia-air, and a dazzling set of mirrored and bejeweled costumes dreamed up by the folks who brought you Kiss. Monday night, the group makes its hometown debut at Opryland's Stagedoor Lounge in a NARAS benefit with Freddy Weller, for whom they serve as a backup band when not busy with their own projects. While a little glitter is nothing new in country music circles, it's a good bet that the show is going to raise some eyebrows. "Power country"is a concept developed initially by Weller and producer Buzz Cason an all-out blend of rock and roll and country music, played full-blast and with an energy that belies its country themes. In looking for a backup band last fall, Weller found a like-thinking nucleus for his group in a band called Blue Creek. Blue Creek members Tonv Infrara. Gary DiBenedetto, and D. Anthony Valentine found their sound fit perfectly with Welter's v. thpin snu'jK'.'-i ' Vis inviN'd tfiier.-'-. .a V'-m i1 ' ' i l n v i ; t-v i . Hi ii.ii t ' i r , ,i' the pop field, as it is a new kind of fusion music, one that combines all the raunchiness of Saturday night in a honkytonk with the full-blown theatrics of hard rock. The group has worked out a show that features fog machines, guitars outlined with lightbulbs, and elaborate sound and lighting designs, each requiring a full-time supervisor. Most importantly, they brought in Pete Menafee, the Los Angeles designer who created the costumes for Kiss, to outfit them. Menefee flew to Nashville, measured band members and watched them rehearse, then flew back to L.A., where he came up with the "cosmic cowboy" gear required. The costumes, constructed by Bill Cotroneo of Los Angeles, are spectacular creations of leather, silver lame, metal-studded foot-long fringe, mirrors, chains and shimmering latex. They represent an investment of $20,000, but pound for pound are probably worth it. Bass player Valentine's jacket, for example, weighs in at about 40 pounds. Spurzz members admit that the costumes are not exactly the kind of duds they favor offstage, and have presented some minor problems. They're so fpw pcundi, during cm. ard at Vnt ore- ; .tu'rr.e ha sreused supu'iuii j it Regardless of the difficulties, the costumes work like gangbusters onstage and have become a source of pride on the part of Che band. "We love them," says Ingram. "But of course our attitude is a little different than most country bands. I'd paint my face up like Kiss in a New York minute, why not?" Different, they are. And apparently it's a difference the public is looking for. The band is wrapping up the details of a recording contract with a major label, and in a score of sneak preview dates has been so well received that even group members were surprised. In just a few short months the band has already begun to build up a cult following, and even has one mysterious fan nicknamed "The Joker." Somewhere in his thirties, the anonymous Joker has turned up at every single Spurzz concert beginning with the band's first date in Macon. Their appeal, Newell believes, lies in the group's pronounced cowboy look, coupled with a kind of hard-driving country sound that even non-country fans like. "When we played El Paso, they told us that the he aid " T i.'.k we all tr!; e this is 'he year of the cMbm Kv "O .vheri- vv Lcm, people have M. rn morif! off

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