Aaaah ... the days of parachute pants, big hair and spandex.{mosimage}
    I’m talking about the 1980s, when MTV still played music and such bands as Culture Club, the Cars and A Flock of Seagulls ruled the roost of FM radio.
    You’ll get a chance to revisit the music of that decade on Thursday, July 17, when ‘80s cover band Suicide Blonde plays Festival Park as part of Fayetteville After Five.
    Suicide Blonde, a Raleigh-based band, has a long and diverse set list of music from the ‘80s, ranging from AC/DC’s “Back In Black” to Rick Springfield’s “Jesse’s Girl.”
    But don’t think this is just a nostalgia act for burned out Yuppies who spend their night’s watching reruns of Magnum P.I. while sipping Bartles & Jaymes — bassist Warren Sumner said the band attracts a broad range of listeners from across the age spectrum.
    “I’ll look into the crowd and see teenagers singing along with the songs,” said Sumner. “They know all these songs. There’s been a resurgence in the popularity of music from the ‘80s.”
    Sumner said the band formed a little more than four years ago and that he joined up about three years ago when his old band, Sugar Daddy, broke up. As fate would have it, Suicide Blonde’s drummer, Lane Moss, had been a member of Sugar Daddy during Moss’s tenure; almost to the day that Sugar Daddy broke up, it lost its bass player and Moss called Sumner to fill the void.
    “I’ve played a lot of different music,” said Sumner. “All varieties, really, and this is my favorite music to play. And we don’t play just the best-known songs from back then; we do some more obscure songs such as ‘China Girl’ by David Bowie and ‘Tempted’ by Squeeze. I mean, everyone knows Bon Jovi’s ‘Living On A Prayer,’ but we also want to play the songs that have a little more edge to them.”
    When asked where the inspiration came for an ‘80s cover band, Sumner had a simple answer: The girls.
    “We get so many girls at our shows who love this music,” said Sumner with a chuckle. “We decided we could either play alternative rocks for guys in black T-shirts or we could perform in front of a bunch of cute girls.
    “Actually, it’s just the type of music we love to play,” added Sumner. “There’s so much good music from that era.”
    The band’s lead singer, Dave Adams, saw some big success of his own in the decade of big hair, earning a Top 40 hit called “On a Carousel” with the band Glassmoon. He also visited England to record an album with producer David Lord, who worked with such musical legends as Peter Gabriel and Tears for Fears.
“Dave’s just a great singer who really belts it out,” said Sumner.
    Sumner also has praise for his other band mates, saying guitarist Dustin Askew is one of the “best” he’s ever played with.
    “There are other musicians who are individually better than each of us,” said Sumner. “But as a group I don’t think anyone’s better.”
    And Sumner said the band gives the fans their money’s worth, playing for two to three hours, taking “very small breaks.”
    Sumner says he loves all the songs Suicide Blonde performs, but he has a special place in his heart for the band’s cover of the aforementioned Gabriel’s “Sledgehammer.”
    “That song really gets the crowd moving,” said Sumner.
    You can hear a demo of “Sledgehammer,” as well as other covers by Suicide Blonde on the band’s Web page, www.suicideblonde.com.
    Though mostly hired to play corporate gigs, Sumner said the band loves playing in clubs and at frat parties.
    “You’d be surprised at the reception we get at frat houses at places such as the University of Virginia,” said Sumner. “They love this music. And nothing beats the intimacy of playing a club.”
    However, Sumner is equally inspired about the prospect of playing in the great outdoors of Festival Park and for the Fayetteville After Five crowd.
    “I played Fayetteville a number of times with previous bands,” said Sumner, “but this is the first time Suicide Blonde has played as a group in Fayetteville; we’re really excited and looking forward to it.”
If you’re a fan of bands such as INXS — which had a big hit with the band’s moniker, “Suicide Blonde,”  though that song isn’t on the eponymous band’s set list — make sure you show up at Festival Park on July 17 to check out the band.
    Fayetteville After Five serves as a fund-raiser for the Fayetteville Museum of Art and features food vendors and purveyor’s of adult beverages, as well as other artists on site.
    The event runs from 5:30-9:30 p.m. Bring a chair or blanket to relax on the lawn as Suicide Blonde takes you back 20 years on a roller coaster ride of ageless pop and rock.
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