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The Eaglez highlights GC Fair's five-nights of live music that spans genres and eras

By Howard B. Owens
Eaglez Tribute Band
Photo Courtesy the Eaglez Tribute Band.

Musicians in a tribute band take on a special challenge. Fans are going to want to hear the hit songs just like they've heard them on the record, and they've listened to their favorite songs enough to know every nuance.

You can't flub your lines or miss a chord change, and you better get the harmonies right.

"That is the curse of the tribute band -- everybody knows those songs, and if you're not doing them right, they know it," said Bob Brummitt, leader and bass player with The Eaglez, an Eagles tribute band. "In a bar band, you can get away with it. You're a cover band, and everybody knows it and accepts it, but being in a tribute band forces us to be at the top of our game."

The Eaglez will perform at the Genesee County Fair on Thursday, July 27. Show time is 7 p.m.

The Eagles are a tough act to mimic, Brummitt acknowledged.  Many of the songs are deceptively simple, suitable for a campfire sing-along, but the arrangements can be more complex, especially with studio overdubs, something players can't easily recreate live.

"To tell the truth, we play these songs all the time and have been listening to them our whole lives, but sometimes we'll be like, 'what is that chord change?' even though we've heard it a million times, and so we're like, 'now we know why it sounds the way it does.'"

For more on the 2023 fair, see also: Genesee County Fair keeps growing, expands to eight days July 22-29

The Eaglez formed about 2 1/2 years ago, a child of the COVID-19 pandemic.

"We're all veteran players," Brummitt said. "We've all been doing the bar scene for about 40 years. We decided that for some of us, before fading off into the sunset, this is always something we wanted to do but none of us had the time.  COVID did us a huge favor. During the lockdown, nobody was booking any bands, so all we could do was go to the practice facility and grind it out. Then when things opened up, we were ready to fly." (No pun intended)

The current lineup is:

  • Randy Barnard, Lead Guitar/Keyboard
  • Dennis Makowski,  Guitar/Vocals
  • Bob Brummitt, Bass Guitar/Vocals
  • John White, Rhythm Guitar/Vocals
  • Mike Nierenberg,  Vocals/Percussion
  • Micky Judware / Rich Keigley, Drums
  • Paul Vanacore, Sax/Keyboard

"Most of us were straight ahead barroom rockers," Brummitt said. "There's where the business has been the past few years. We played Bad Company, the Rolling Stones, ZZ Top, Skynyrd -- you name it, we've done it. We've just about played it all."

Not every musician Brummitt approached about joining an Eagles tribute band wanted to take on the challenge. He heard things like, "I can't take the time to learn it," "It takes too much commitment," and "It's too tough for me."

The players who did take on the challenge are attracted to the Eagles, Brummitt said, because "it's America's music."  

"Everybody loves the Eagles," Brummitt said. "Even bar bands play one or two Eagles songs."

Drawing on influences such as the Beach Boys (those high harmonies), Buffalo Springfield, Crosby, Stills, Nash, and Young, the Byrds, and Graham Parsons, the Eagles took that nascent country rock sound of California and infused it with hooks and themes listeners could grasp.

"We all grew up with it, but even at our shows, there are people in their late 20s, early 30s, who weren't even born yet (when the Eagles topped the charts), and we're surprised," Brummitt said. "But they say, 'That's what my parents played when I was a child.' It's almost timeless."

The Eaglez have caught on in WNY -- band members live throughout the region -- and they play 20 to 25 shows each summer, mostly in outdoor venues, which they prefer.  In winter, they mostly avoid bars, except as a favor to outdoor venue owners who also have an indoor venue, and to stay in practice.

The Eaglez is the only full-time Eagles tribute band in WNY, as far as Brummitt knows, which has helped fuel their popularity.

"(Tribute bands) seems to be where the market is," Brummitt said. "It's a narrower market. It's an upscale market. And you don't have to bring a crowd. When you try to book into a bar (as a cover band), bar owners want to know how many people can you bring? That's not the case with a tribute band." 

A typical set from the Eaglez is 25 songs, and they pretty much play all the fan favorites.

The Eagles Greatest Hits (1971–1975) is certified platinum 38 times. It is the biggest-selling album of all time.

"We kind of pride ourselves on playing every single song on that album," Brummitt said.

The set usually includes a couple of songs from the solo careers of Eagles members Don Henley, Joe Walsh and the late Glenn Frey.  Some of those songs sound so much like the Eagles, he said, that some fans don't even know they're not Eagles songs.

This will be the first appearance for The Eaglez in Genesee County, and Brummitt said he's hoping they're a smash so they get invited back.  The band is looking to get more exposure in rural Western New York because the Eagles music, country rock, seems a natural fit. 

"It's an inviting venue because we're all really familiar with county fairs," Brummitt said. "It's a real festival environment, there's usually some liquid refreshment flowing, and it's our kind of crowd."  

The Eaglez concert will include The Batavian announcing the winner of its guitar-giveaway contest.

There is a total of five nights of live music at the Genesee County Fair.  Here is the rest of the 2023 lineup:

Saturday, July 22
BB Dang, 7 to 10 p.m.

BB Dang
Photo courtesy BB Dang.

You could say BB Dang is a group of graduates from ROC Star Academy in Rochester, where band members all first started playing together. They've successfully transitioned from a class project to a gigging band. Manager Tony Barbagallo described the band's sound as high-energy rock, including current hits and classic rock with a bit of country thrown into the mix. "I think that's been part of their success," Barbagallo said. "They span current pop music, current pop artists, all the way back to classic rock and classic country." The band members are Isabella Barbagallo, vocals, Reid Burton, vocals and guitar, Matt Edwards, bass, Alex Sherwood, guitar, Mike Valle, drums, and Abby Johnson, keyboards and vocals. For the fair, original member Cameron Carlson will be on bass in one of his last gigs with the band before starting college. Carlson is from Bergen.

Sunday, July 23
Knight Patrol, 7 to 10 p.m.

knight patrol
Photo courtesy Knight Patrol.

Knight Patrol plays 80s monster rock hits, said manager Angelo Affronti.  The band includes his son A.J. on lead guitar, lead singer Tim Burnett, Eddie Krysinski on keyboards, Zach Biern on bass and the drummer is Jon Bishop (with a sub on the GC Fair show).  "We play all of the biggest hits of the 80s -- Bon Jovi, Journey, Motley Crue, Electric Light Orchestra, Bryan Adams -- all the greatest hits.  All stuff that people know."  A.J. Affronti said the band loves 80s music because they can relate to it better than today's music. "I think it's a bit of a different character, and it's more into how we feel. When you hear an 80s song, you know it's an 80s song. It just has an energy to it."  He said his favorite guitarists include Glenn Tipton and Richie Faulkner of Judas Priest, along with Neal Schon of Journey.

Friday, July 28
Audibull, 7:30 to 11 p.m.

Photo by Carla Coots

Audibull is a Genesee County band through-and-through, based in Pavilion, playing local gigs for a dozen years, and rooted in the local music scene. Members are Tim Pitcher on guitar, Bill Christiano on bass, Chris Iannone on drums, and Todd Tracy on lead vocals.  It's a solid four-piece playing modern hard rock -- System of a Down, Korn, Drowning Pool, Disturbed, and Godsmack, for example. "We like the energy of the crowd," Tracy said. "I've always lived with the idea that there's a new crop of 21-year-olds every year who want to hear what they grew up with, but the older we get, the crowd gets younger."

Saturday, July 29
BarnStorm, 7 to 11 p.m.

Photo courtesy BarnStorm.

The Genesee County Fair will close out its live music showcase with a night of current and classic country from BarnStorm. Their set highlights such acts as Reba McIntire, Maren Morris, LeAnn Rimes, Tanya Tucker, Randy Travis, Phil Vassar and Kenny Chesney.  The lineup is Rick Polinsky on keyboards, Rich Ulinski on lead vocals, Leslie Trippi, lead vocals, Dave Dunkowski, bass, and Pete Militello, drums. The band has been together about 15 years and the current lineup are all dyed-in-the-wool country fans. "We're all veteran musicians," Polinsky said. "We all like country. That's the toughest thing, trying to get five people on the same page as far as the kind of music you're doing.  We had people who did rock and roll and had no clue about country music these guys have been playing it for years and know it like the back of their hands."

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