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Wednesday, Dec. 12, 2007 08:53 pm

Twang Gang rides again

They regroup at the Forty-Niner Bye-Bye this Friday

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The Twang Gang plays at Forty-Niner Bye-Bye from 9 p.m.-1 a.m. Friday, Dec. 14.

Look out, pardner — one of the most popular modern-country bands in central Illinois is back in the saddle. The Twang Gang ruled the range around these here parts from 1993 to 2000, headlining nightclubs, beer tents, and local festivals while opening for touring country stars such as Tim McGraw, Sammy Kershaw, T. Graham Brown, and Little Texas. When bassist Chris Blood and drummer Kevin Mundhenke played together during 1992 in the house band of the now-defunct Nashville North U.S.A., a country-music theater in Taylorville, they came up with the notion of a contemporary-country group called the Twang Gang. With the addition of Marc James on lead vocals and acoustic guitar, Jim Chase on lead vocals and guitar, and Brian Earleywine on guitar and vocals, the lineup was complete. The band immediately met with local success, playing all the area hot spots, just as the “new” country sound hit its stride.
Not content to just play covers in beer tents, the Gang released a full-length CD in 1997, with “Battlefield,” a cut penned by Chase, reaching the top spot on the mp3.com country charts in 2000. You, dear readers, did your part, voting the Twang Gang the top country band in Illinois Times’ 1999 Best of Springfield poll. After the Twang Gang disbanded, in 2000, four of the five members ended up playing together in City Limits, another popular local country band. By the time City Limits call it quits recently, everyone left in the group was a former Twang Gang member, so the reunification seemed a logical step. When Chase, the only former member not in City Limits, agreed to come back, the Gang was ready to hit the trail.
As with most modern-country bands, the members are as much if not more rooted in hard rock, Southern rock, and blues-rock than in the older hillbilly-style country music. Check out these area groups that once had Twang Gangers as members: Hot Property, the Mudbugs, the Reign, Stinger, Tuff Luck, the Springfield All-Star Big Band, the aforementioned Nashville North house band, and the New Salem Country Opry house band. How’s that for a diverse pedigree? You know what they say: You can take the rock out of the country, but it always rolls back in. Yep, that’s what they say, all right.
According to Blood, the band’s current set list continues the tried-and-true tradition of the original formation, mixing Top 40 contemporary country with some standards and including a few new originals to show that the creative juices are still flowing. Let’s wish the Twang Gang all the success in the world as they continue on their boot-scootin’ journey through the countryside of central Illinois.
The Twang Gang rides into the Forty-Niner Bye-Bye (518 Bruns Lane, 217-787-4937) this Friday, Dec. 14, for a 9 p.m.-1 a.m. show.

Contact Tom Irwin at tirwin@illinoistimes.com.
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