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ZZ Top grooves into the Big E this fall

Aug. 20, 2014 | Carley Dangona

Reminder Publications submitted photo

WEST SPRINGFIELD – Each year the Big E brings some of the biggest names in the music industry to its fairgrounds, but this year marks one its most influential yet because rock legends ZZ TOP will perform.

ZZ TOP will take the stage of the xfinity arena, 1305 Memorial Ave., on Sept 26 at 7:30 p.m. In the meantime, the Big E is conducting a Best Beard contest in honor of the band. ZZ TOP is currently on tour promoting their newest albums, “The Baddest,” a 20-song greatest hits collection and “The Very Baddest,” an extended 40-song greatest hits collection that were released this June.

ZZ TOP was founded in 1969 and is comprised of members Billy Gibbons, Dusty Hill and Frank Beard – the one guy without a beard. They are known for their blues-based rock. In 2004, the “little ol’ band from Texas” was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. They are known for their hits “La Grange,” “Sharp Dressed Man,” “Legs” and “Cheap Sunglasses.”

Gibbons discussed the band’s style, tenure and legacy with Reminder Publications.

“Well, Dusty is ‘Mr. Reliable’ – if you set a time to meet, count on The Dust being 10 minutes early and always ready to pitch in to make certain accomplishment is completed,” Gibbons said. “Frank is steady as she goes. A man of not many words but he’s got a beat that won’t quit. The standard shout-out borrows from James Brown, sayin’ ‘Give the drummer some…!’ I’m usually looking around the next corner trying to conceptualize how things are going to progress – maybe I’m the guy in the crow’s nest of the boat yellin’, ‘Thar she blows!’”

He added, “We enjoy each other’s company, maintaining respect for personal space. It’s a terrific environment. The band is close, but not ‘this close,’ which makes for an enduring personal and professional exchange.”

The band’s Facebook page (www.facebook.com/ZZTop) details its staying power. It states, “The elements that keep ZZ TOP fresh, enduring and above the transitory fray can be summed up in the three words of the band’s internal mantra: ‘Tone, Taste and Tenacity.’ Of course, the three members of the band have done their utmost to do their part in assuring that ZZ TOP prevails. As genuine roots musicians, the members of the band have few peers.”

Gibbons discussed the first time he heard blues music and how the genre continues to influence the ZZ TOP sound. He said, “It was, to say the least, a life-changing experience. Hearing those sounds early on in Houston exposed [me] to its power and seemed like the logical, spiritual and emotional path to trod. It’s meant just about everything since – in a very real way, it voices a very real existence. And, our slogan remains, ‘You can’t lose with the blues.’ True then, true now.”

He explained band’s ability to stay relevant within the ever-changing music industry. “This band remains open to ideas and experimental influences to detour around drifting into something predictable. The ZZ aim continues to incorporate electronica, hip-hop and loads of odd and unexpected elements yet when it all comes out in the wash, it’s definitely ZZ TOP,” Gibbons stated.

Gibbons said he hoped the band’s legacy would be “Three guys who turned it up and rocked out with tone, taste and tenacity.”

When asked if women are just as crazy about a “Sharp Dressed Man” today as they were when the song debuted, or if they are more interested in the beards nowadays, Gibbons commented, “Almost impossible to say. The chin whiskers are still the same now as back then in the beginning (give or take a few) and we stay the course being exemplars of sartorial splendor and the reaction remains positive and encouraging.”

To vote for the “Best Beard,” log on to http://smarturl.it/BigE_BestBeard. Concert tickets are on sale and range from $39 to $250, the latter of which includes a meet and greet with ZZ Top.

To purchase a seat and for a complete schedule of the Big E, visit www.thebige.com/fair. To view the entire tour schedule for ZZ TOP, go to www.zztop.com.

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