Sunday November 18, 2012

PITTSFIELD

Dona Frank-Federico is, as usual, in the middle of her own personal whirlwind.

In addition to her job as a vice president at Albany-based WAMC/Northeast Public Radio, she is, with members of her band -- The Spurs USA -- putting the final touches on the group's first CD. And, of course, preparing for the Spurs' upcoming show at the Colonial Theatre.

The Nov. 23 performance is called "A Traditional Country Music Show" and will feature The Spurs USA, made up of singer/guitarist Dwight O'Neil, bassist and musical jack-of-all-trades John Barrett, pedal steel player extraordinaire Andy Gordon, fiddle player Paul Rice, and drummer Bob Jones.

Also performing that night will be Randy Cormier and Beth Maturevich of Whiskey City, local singer/songwriter Bobby Sweet, country performer Cindy Rines of Connecticut, and Peter Putnam, a longtime local favorite.


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On the day she spoke with The Eagle last week, Federico had just returned from the dentist's office for what she termed "a little minor oral surgery." She spoke about the Nov. 23 concert, country music, and the band's upcoming CD, to be released the day of the performance.

Q: Oral surgery? My goodness. As a vocalist, will you be ready for the show?

A: [Laughs] I'll be ready in about two hours. Not even a problem.

Q: That's good. Well, talk a little about what kind of show people will see on Nov. 23.

A: We just thought it would be fun to do a Grand Ole' Opry kind of a show, where we invite a bunch of our friends and sing some old country songs.

Q: So it's kind of an ensemble show.

A: Yes. People are going to be coming on and off in the first part of the show. And some of the Spurs will be playing with them. Then there will be an intermission, and after the intermission it will be The Spurs USA with a few special guests.

I just want to say that we're always looking for people who love this kind of music. And they're looking for us. And once we find each other, it's a lot of fun.

Q: The Spurs have been a band for less than two years. How did all of you get together?

A: Well, I met them all at a birthday party in 2010. You know how people bring out their instruments and just start playing at parties?

Q: Yes, but I'll ask the questions here.

A: Well, that's what we did. I was a little nervous, because there were some very good musicians there, but we had a great time.

Q: And the rest, as they say, is history?

A: When we got together again to play, I don't think I was very good. John [Barrett] records everything, as you know, and if you listen to those early sessions, I was awful.

Q: That clearly is no longer true.

A: I got better. We practice all the time. Even when we don't have a show, we practice. We're very good friends, and we really like to play together. And we have some superior musicians. We also have what I call our secret weapon: Dwight O'Neil. He's from the South, and he has an incredible voice. I think just the way he carries himself, and that Southern vibe he has, makes our sound very unique.

Q: To shift gears, you live in Saratoga, work in Albany, and commute to Stockbridge to practice with the Spurs.

A: Yes.

Q: And you are sort of the band's promoter. You deal with the logistics and marketing.

A: People love to play music. But a lot of people don't like to do that part of it [marketing]. I do this in my real job, so it's not a big deal to me. 

I'm usually the first person offstage to go out front and shake people's hands and thank them for coming to the show. I think that personal touch is important.

Q: Your husband, Joe Federico, is a really nice guy. How does he feel about all this?

A: [Laughs] He's my biggest fan. He's my rock. He supports me and the band. And he's my merch [merchandise] guy.

Q: So he's the guy we see taking money at the door and selling T-shirts?

A: And our new CD, which will be released the day of the show.

Q: Nice segue. So talk a little about it.

A: We're finishing up the harmonies and tweaking it right now. But it will be called "When Country Was Cool ... Vol. 1." And we'll cover some classic country songs on it: "Together Again" by Buck Owens, "Walkin' After Midnight" by Patsy Cline, and the "Rose of San Antone" by Bob Wills. It's really good. I can't wait for you to hear it.

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