Thursday November 8, 2012

PITTSFIELD

If you're holding a country music show in the Berkshires, you'd better include Bobby Sweet.

While many musicians acquire a taste for that genre, Sweet was basically born into it.

Sweet is one of the opening acts in a "traditional-country" concert scheduled for the Colonial Theatre on Friday night, Nov. 23. The show will be headlined by The Spurs USA, a local band that specializes in classic-country tunes.

The event, sponsored by The Berkshire Eagle and Berkshire Bank, is a tribute to U.S. military personnel, both active and retired. Sweet will be the first opening act, but he'll also be part of the backup band for Randy Cormier and Beth Maturevich -- members of Dalton's Whiskey City -- and for country singer Cindy Rines of Riverton, Conn.

Peter Putnam, of Great Barrington, will be the drummer for both Rines and Cormier/Maturevich.

Peter Putnam, of Great Barrington, will be the drummer for both Rines and Cormier/Maturevich.

Sweet, from the town of Washington, generally operates in several musical genres, but he was born into a country-and-western family.

Old-timers will remember Sweet's father, Bob Sweet, performing in one of the greatest Berkshire Country bands ever, The October Mountain Band.

Bob Sweet later formed his own band, Sweet County Wine.

Bobby Sweet said he remembers sitting on the side of the stage as a youngster, listening to his father and his dad's bandmates playing country staples from the likes of George Jones and Johnny Cash.


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He actually started performing with his dad at age 7.

"I grew up on country music," Bobby, 48, said. "My father played country music for 35 years. It's in my genes."

After performing with his father's band for about 10 years, Sweet began playing on his own at age 17.

He shared bills with some of the top country and folk legends in the business: Bill Staines, Vince Gill, Bill Morrissey, Deana Carter and Arlo Guthrie.

Sweet also has performed with George Jones, Asleep at the Wheel, Willie Nelson and Waylon Jennings, but the Washing ton resident isn't solely a country artist. He's also one of the best lead guitarists in the Berk shires, and he's written songs for several television shows, including Touched By An Angel; Walk er, Texas Ranger; Judging Amy; Brotherhood; and the soap opera The Young and the Restless.

Meanwhile, Sweet has released six solo albums, and he's working on another.

"The songwriting process is sort of ongoing," he said. "That's something that never stops."

He's currently working as a guitarist for the Burns Sisters, a folk duo from Ithaca, N.Y.

As for the Nov. 23 show at the Colonial, Sweet has performed at one time or another with most of the musicians who will play there.

"I would say with just about every one of them," he said. "It's good to have that familiarity. The tighter you are, I think, the better you sound. Sometimes, it's OK to go in cold and see where the songs take you. But for me, it's all about relationships. If you can laugh and have a good time onstage, that's an advantage."

Sweet is a veteran of the Colonial stage, but he acknow ledged the thrill of performing there hasn't gotten old.

"It's a great place to play," he said. "It sounds good, it feels good, and the stage crew is very professional. To a performer, that's the best of the best."

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