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Sound Circuit

Getting it covered

5/13/2015

There is a special trick to making a good cover band. There is more to it than just grabbing some sheet music and following along. It is more complicated than musical karaoke. The really good, notable cover acts — we are not talking about tribute acts mind you, as the Atomic Punks and Hairball are different beasts altogether — manage to take songs that everyone knows, play them in a way that makes them immediately recognizable, yet still find a way to make them uniquely theirs. It takes a tremendous amount of musical ability to play three hours worth of songs that are both original yet totally familiar to an audience. And when it comes to the cover acts in town, there are few that do it better than Abby Normal.

Abby Unplugged plays at Star Bar on Saturday, May 16, at 9 p.m.

Abby Unplugged plays at Star Bar on
Saturday, May 16, at 9 p.m.

“The workload is higher, just in terms of actual hours,” said guitarist Ricc Terranova. Terranova has played with a few projects around town over the years, most notably hard rock outfit Superchief. But playing for Abby Normal has kept him on his toes. “Most places we work don’t have a P.A., so we have to bring our own. I used to bitch about loading a Marshall stack in, but now it’s a P.A., lights…”

Terranova joined vocalist Jana West, bassist Tim West and drummer Dale Rupp last year. Since then, he’s gotten into the swing of near constant gigs.

“Dale does all of the booking,” he said. “As soon as I joined on, everyone said, ‘Get used to playing along, because Dale is a monster,’ ”

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And now, Abby Normal comes in two flavors. There is the traditional, four-piece electric version, and then there’s Abby Unplugged. Featuring Terranova along with Jana and Tim, Abby Unplugged is a mix of acoustic covers, played along with some of the group’s first original offerings.

“With Abby Normal, there’s sort of an expectation for what it is,” Terranova said. “If we broke out a Townes Van Zant acoustic cover in the middle of an Abby Normal show, we might get a few strange looks. Abby Unplugged lets us do some more of that.”

With two different sets to book and plans for an album of acoustic originals in the future, Abby Normal features some of the hardest working musicians in town. And that is just how Terranova likes it.

“Really, what I want to do is play,” he said. “I can write music and all that, but really, what I am is a guitar player. And this gives me the opportunity to play as much as possible.” CV

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