Friday May 11, 2012

PITTSFIELD Classic country, anyone?

The Spurs USA, based in Great Barrington,will be the first country band to play at Guitar Jam, which is in its fourth year.

The Spurs will perform at the event on Saturday, May 19, at the Colonial Theatre along with three other local groups.

According to lead singer Dwight O'Neil, the Spurs play "classic country" - music by such artists as George Jones, Tammy Wynette and Hank Williams Sr.

The other band members are Andy Gordon, who plays pedal steel guitar, plus drummer Bob Jones, bassist John Barrett and singer Dona Federico.

There's a difference between classic country and country, as O'Neil and band co-founder Barrett explained in a recent interview with The Eagle.

Q:Explain "classic country" music.

O'N: It's basically country music before 1972. George Jones, Patsy Cline, Merle Haggard and that group of artists.

B:Country music took a hit in the 1960s when The Beatles came along. Popular music became a lot more 'rocky and rolly,' so to speak. And so did country music.

O'N: It got more pop-like. Not that there's anything wrong with that. Obviously, there are a lot of people who enjoy it. But we enjoy the kind of music that was played before that.

B:Country music originally had a lot of these little stories in the songs. And the stories all had these twist and turns. We enjoy playing those songs.

Q:OK, that's cleared up, probably.


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How long have you been together?

O'N: John and I were working together about two years ago, and I guess I sang a country song one day and he liked it.

B:Dwight knew all these cowboy songs, and he sang them really well. And I was working with Andy, so we got together and played. And right away, it just sounded tremendous. We said, 'Man, we have to start a band.' Eventually, we got Bob to drum, and then Dona came along.

Q:Are there any local venues you enjoy playing?

O'N: The Gypsy Joynt in Great Barrington is fun, and we have a great audience at the Dalton VFW.

B:Yeah, the VFW is great. We get a ton of people in there, and they love us. They dance and really have a good time. They love our music.

Q:Any thoughts about a classic country band jamming with three other more rock and blues-based bands in the encore at Guitar Jam?

O'N: Well, there is a feeling that we're the banana in a bowl of apples. But [the four bands] have been communicating, and we've been working on a song. And I think it's going to be a lot of fun.

B:We all know how to jam. It should be great.

To reach Derek Gentile: dgentile@berkshireeagle.com, or (413) 496-6251.



The lineup ...

Thursday, May 3 - T-Bone Daddy Thursday, May 10 - Arthur Holmes Blues Band

Today - The Spurs USA Next Friday - Who Are You.

Guitar Jam IV

When: Saturday, May 19, 8 p.m.

Where: Colonial Theatre, 111 South St., Pittsfield.

The bands: Who Are You, The Spurs USA, T-Bone Daddy, Arthur Holmes Blues Band.

Presented by: The Berkshire Eagle.

Concert proceeds go to Newspapers in Education, a program that encourages students to read.

Tickets: $17 and $27. Available at the Colonial box office or via (413) 997-4444 or www.BerkshireTheatre Group.org.

Before the show: Lenox folk trio Mountain Breeze will perform in the lobby from 6:30 to 7:30 p.m.

Free admission. Reaching back to true classic country style