Take a ride with me now on the Wayback Machine to the late ‘70s: a time of platform shoes and mood rings and the Fonz; a time when bands such as Foreigner and Boston and Cheap Trick ruled the FM airwaves; and a time when a little old band from North Carolina called Nantucket launched itself onto the charts and into the national consciousness with a song called Heartbreaker — a rock monster that rumbled through the God-awful age of disco like a sledgehammer smashing a mirror ball.
    Well, squeeze into those bell bottoms and dust off the Pet Rock, because Nantucket is coming to Fayetteville on June 19 for the Fayetteville After Five series of free performances held at Festival Park.{mosimage}
    And before you head to festival Park, make sure you leave behind your visons of potbellied old rockers attempting to relive the glory of their past by stumbling out of retirement with maybe one or two members of the original lineup, shuffling across the stage as if sleepwalking and spitting out rock oldies to former groupies who recently signed up with AARP — this is the original Nantucket, rocking out with the same spirit of ‘78, albeit with a few new twists.
    "It’s still fun and we still kick ass," said Mike Uzzell, the band’s manager and keyboardist. "It’s great to look into the faces of our fans and watch them remember the old days. You know, they say you can’t go back in time, but when we’re playing and I look out into the audience, I see all these people suddenly going back 25 years to when they were in high school listening to Heartbreaker on the eight-track."
    Despite their past glories, Nantucket won’t just be performing 20 different versions of Heartbreaker and Born in a Honky Tonk. The band — which has toured with such rock heavyweights as AC/DC, Ted Nugent and the Atlanta Rhythm Section —  adds a new, often humorous angles to some old standards.
    "We do a very popular takeoff on Rocky Top called Hawgater Top, as in halter top," said Uzzell. “And since we have such an outstanding saxophone player (Eddie Blair) we do a cover of Junior Walker and the All-Stars’ Shotgun which just knocks people out. Folks who have never heard a saxophone come up to Eddie after the shows and tell him how impressed they are with his playing."
    And it’s not just the old guard — the 40- and 50-somethings — who come to the shows and root on one of the best rock bands to ever hail from the Tar Heel state; Uzzell says the band is also popular with a younger crowd that is rediscovering why Nantucket was so popular in the ‘70s and early ‘80s.
    Known for their dynamic live shows, Nantucket is fronted by lead singer and brother of Mike Uzzell, Larry Uzzell, who also plays the harmonica and trombone. Back in the band’s heyday, he also played the heartstrings of female fans as a true, long-maned rock ‘n’ roll heartthrob. He was the face of Nantucket when it was featured in countless newspaper and magazine article, including such iconic publications from the ‘70’s and ‘80s as Hit Parader, Grooves and Rock Scene.
    Other band members include the aforementioned Blair on sax; Mark Downing and Tommy Redd on guitar; Thumbs Johnson on bass; and Kenny Soule on drums. Soule, who joined Nantucket in 1972, is nationally known for his chops: in 2000, Soule was invited to participate in the Experience Music Project in Seattle as part of the museum’s first Innovator’s Series — a tribute to Jimi Hendrix. There, he played alongside such notable musicians as Johnny Reznick (Goo Goo Dolls), Kenny Wayne Shepard, and Double Trouble. Soule left Nantucket in 1981 to form the legendary rock trio PKM, which was a top attraction at North Carolina clubs in the early ‘80s, and went on to tour with Blue Oyster Cult and Ozzy Osbourne before the band sparkled out and faded away in 1988.
While some of the sparkle may be missing, the old magic hasn’t completely faded away from Nantucket — the members just a grew a little older, a little wiser, and took day jobs.
    "We don’t tour nationwide like we used to," said Mike Uzzell. "We do maybe 15-16 select shows a year. We don’t really leave the state much, except for a show in South Carolina now and then, because we all have regular jobs and business interests. One of our members is a realtor in Raleigh, and my brother Larry and me run a cable business. Besides, it’s pretty tough standing on stage for an hour and 45 minutes."
    Though Nantucket has released just a handful of albums — the last being 1995’s "Still Live After All These Years" — you can order the band’s recordings, including a Nantucket box set, from the Myspace page, www.myspace.com/nantucketband. You can also book the band for a performance at this site and purchase Nantucket T-shirts with the famous lobster album cover from their first LP, as well as posters and even a Nantucket calendar magnet — the latter especially appropriate for a band that takes its listeners back in time.
Fayetteville After Five is a free event held at Festival Park, starting at 5:30 p.m. and ending at about 9:30 p.m. It is a fund-raiser for the Fayetteville Museum of Art.

Tim Wilkins, Associate Editor
COMMENTS? 484-6200 ext. 105 or tim@upandcomingweekly.com


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