Cover bands, impersonators, tribute bands, they're often the next best thing to the original act. Tickets are cheaper, and lines are usually nonexistent to get inside the club. Some of the band members even look and sound as if they're channeling their idols as their instruments ignite the stage. Zoso (Led Zepplin), Live Wire (AC/DC) and Strutter (KISS) are just some of the more popular ones enjoying the scrapes of fruit left behind by the originals.
They're often filled with members from other local bands. They can be found playing bars, restaurants, libraries and small town festivals. Some acts spend years perfecting the feel of the original's music, the look of the band from the replica shades/cowboy hat combo to the right color of makeup and hair extension. Struggling garage bands have also been known to play covers just to get into a bar, slipping an original or two into the set list, while popular bands have been known to cover other legendary musicians songs like Gwar's rendition of "Carry On Wayward Son."
Dallas has its fair share of cover/tribute bands playing bar after bar, night after night. Kill 'Em All, A Hard Days Night and Kissteria are just a few making appearances. To some, "the only reason for a cover band to exist is to make money and watch the crazy shit that goes down at weddings," while others feel it's the love, the passion, the obsession to channel their idols that make some of them successful. It's even better when the musicians allow their style to supercharge the original composition with slight modifications. Sometimes they evoke memories of the original lineup in a such a way it's hard to tell the difference between the two.
And there's just something about hearing a cover band play memorable songs. It's like their keeping the music alive for generations to come. It's an unsung art form, a subculture within a subculture. So in honor of these unsung hard working musicians, we've listed a few of our favorite acts from across the North Texas area.
This female-fronted cover band was the brainchild of Donovan Warren, former lead singer of 100 Proof Hatred, and his friend Jennifer Norred. In between gigs with his band, Warren and Norred would jam with other friends and her husband, Hollis, playing covers by Pat Benatar, Motley Crue and ZZ Top with a heavier tone.
"We were all together," Norred says, "and we wanted to just do this and have fun." But Warren died last year before the cover band could play their first official gig at The Rail Club. A few months later, Norred decided to continue with her and Donovan's project. She's joined by Hollis, a former guitarist of 100 Proof Hatred, Dale Spuzzillo, Jr. (guitar), Bart Windsor (drums) and Jerry Galvan, current bassist for 100 Proof Hatred. They played their first show a few weeks ago and gave fans a taste of familiar rock-in-roll tunes tainted by metal. "Classic rock in a current style," Norred says. "It's our love and joy, our passion." It's a nice change. They'll be opening for Back In Black on Saturday night at The Rail Club.
This troupe of musicians is led by Chaz Knight, a former Radio DJ and host of the Live and Local Show on 97.1 the Eagle. The band says club owners, bartenders, wait staff and music fans from across North Texas claim this troupe is "DFW's Number 1 Party Band." Playing hits from the '80s and '90s by bands such as AC/DC, Ratt and Van Halen, these guys have toured with Warrant, Pretty Boy Floyd and Thin Lizzy. They're a good cover band to tip a few beers to on a Friday night, smoke a few... um, cigarettes and reminisce about the golden years before thrash metal changed everything.
Primal Concrete Cowboys
These metal heads took a chance assuming the mantle of a Pantera tribute band, mastering Dimebag's riffs takes a guitarslinger with fingers that sometimes break the sound barrier as they travel down the neck. Jim Crye, an economics teacher in Fort Worth, follows the Arlington legend's lead masterfully. Since Dimebag's death nearly 10 years ago, a Pantera reunion show with Vinnie, Phil and Rex is nothing more than a pipe dream. Fans longing to relive those old Pantera days should check these guys out. They're nowhere near the originals, but they're the next best thing.
There are never enough Led Zeppelin cover bands, and this Fort Worth band is led by a singer, Richard Pilgrim, who at times sounds just like Robert Plant. "Just close your eyes and you'll be beamed back in time," the band claims on their dfw.com page. Pilgrim almost brought that experience to theaters when he auditioned for a role in the TV show Rock Star Supernova in 2006. Playing hits such as "Swan Song," "Kashmir" and "Bring It On Home," these guys can be found evoking the gods of magic on April 5 at Stumpy's in Arlington.
Back In Black
In the mood for some Angus Young, but can't afford the tickets? Then check out this AC/DC tribute band. They've been jamming on the highway of hell since 2001, and even resemble their demonic counterparts. Their music is so close to the original's that 20th Century chose the band to record "A Long Way to the Top" and "TNT" for two of their movies, Napoleon Dynamite and Garage Days.
"All the members of Back In Black live in the Dallas/Fort Worth area," the band wrote, "and are experienced, high-caliber musicians who are completely devoted to capturing the power, energy and in-your-face excitement of 'The Boys From Down Under.'" And they've performed AC/DC's classics on the big stage, opening for acts like Bad Company, Blue Oyster Cult and Grand Funk Railroad. They'll also be headlining the cover band show this Saturday night at The Rail Club.
Blizzard of Ozz
Evoking the grandfather of metal is just one of the reasons to join this cover band on the crazy train. They sound close to the original with just a touch of their own style. They've been playing Ozzy's music for so long now that some of the band members look like mirror images of their inspirations. (Add Zakk Wylde's hat and black and white guitar, and the guitarist could pass for the metal giant.)
"The focus of Blizzard of Ozz," the band wrote, "is to produce a high energy, kick-ass rock concert that is bigger than life." Fans were hoping to experience this "bigger than life" show this Saturday night at the Back in Black concert at The Rail Club, but their name disappeared from the lineup.
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This Fort Worth tribute band really goes the extra mile honoring a legendary act. They sling shots and riffs by Metallica. It's the perfect combination as long as you're not driving when you leave the club. "We're like an AA meeting gone bad." Focusing on old school Metallica, these guys play hits such as "Am I Evil," "Ride the Lightning" and "Seek and Destroy" with a southern metal feel. They've been doing it for 14 years.
"The goal is to make sure you and the five of us party our assess off and bang our heads till we achieve 'Whiplash,'" the band says. But whiplash is the least of your worries. "Mandatory muthaF%^%$#ckin Metallica will always be the shit."