By Jesse Wood
The Spongetones are performing at the 10th annual and final P.B. Scott’s Music Hall reunion party at Canyons Historic Restaurant and Bar on Saturday, May 2.
The Spongetones performed at P.B. Scott’s regularly when the club was open from Oct. 1, 1976 to June 18, 1983, including the very last show at the legendary nightclub in Blowing Rock.
P.B. Scott’s Music Hall was famous for its geodesic dome structure and the caliber of talent that performed: B.B. King, Arlo Guthrie, J.J. Cale, Bonnie Raitt, Ricky Skaggs, John Prine, Lightning Hopkins, Muddy Waters, Papa John Creach, New Grass Revival, Guy Clark and so forth.
On the off-nights these big acts would play as they passed through town on the way to bigger cities. But on Thursday, Friday and Saturday nights, the less-known acts such as Snuff, Sugarcreek and Sidewinder, which drew just as big and enthusiastic crowds, would play.
The Spongetones, a power pop band out of Charlotte that started out emulating The Beatles, were one of these regional favorites that always packed the house.
“We made a lot of friends in Blowing Rock,” Jamie Hoover, a guitarist with The Spongetones, said.
The Spongetones formed in the late ‘70s when some friends got together to play some Beatles tunes. Hoover recalls seeing these musicians play a couple times and thinking, “I would like to be in that band.” It wasn’t long before he was asked to join the band.
Hoover remembers playing in the beginning and every show was “packed to the gills.” So the band started playing other shows under a different name – Jumpy and the Moon Dogs was one – and those “alter-ego” gigs would be packed as well.
Beat and Torn, a re-release of the 1982’s Beat Music and 1984’s Torn Apart albums, received 3 ½ stars and when John Borack wrote Shake Some Action, he rated Beat and Torn in the top 25 of his top 200 power pop albums of all time. The band’s recordings on the Sony label are also still in the Sony catalogue.
“We’ve been really lucky, had lots of critical acclaim and Rolling Stone reviews,” Hoover said.
While The Spongetones started out with a British Invasion slant and the first two album were “very much untapped Beatles,” as Hoover said, the band eventually evolved, following its heart and playing “what we want to.”
As for P.B. Scott’s Music Hall in Blowing Rock, Hoover said, “P.B. Scott’s was just a magical place and just a great place to see a band.”
He said that “more than anywhere in the world” – and he’s played all over it – people will come up to him and his fellow band members and say, “We used to see you guys at P.B. Scott’s in Blowing Rock. We’ll never forget it and had a great time there every time you played.”
Back in the late ’70s and early ‘80s when P.B. Scott’s was open, Hoover noted that the music scene was different in the sense that the drinking age was 18.
“That was a huge thing,” Hoover said. “I don’t want to sound pro-alcohol, but instead of smoking pot in the house, people came out to the bars and drank beer [and enjoyed the band].”
Hoover added that as people get older they see less and less shows.
“Anyway there were a lot of good clubs around and after they changed the drinking laws, a lot of them started to fold,” Hoover said.
As for the reunion in May at Canyons, Hoover said that folks can expect to hear “more of what we did in the good ole days.”
“We’ll play stuff from our own records and we’ll hit a lot of the British Invasion and ‘60s music,” Hoover said. “We are excited. Again, [P.B. Scott’s] was a big part of our lives … We hope a lot of people show up and celebrate the good ole days and take themselves back in time.”
Tickets to the show are $10. The music starts at 9 p.m., but the party starts at 8 p.m. with a presentation and remembrance of the old music hall from those who invested in, worked at and frequented the legendary music venue.
For more information about The Spongtones, click to the band’s website.