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The Hoffman Estates finance committee unanimously approved a $34000 contract Monday for a performance by the band .38 Special at this year's Northwest ...
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38 Special

After more than two decades together, 38 SPECIAL still plays over 100 cities a year.

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After more than two decades together, 38 SPECIAL still plays over 100 cities a year. And at every show, thousands of audience members are completely blindsided by the explosive power of the band's performance. "When we come out, people are like, 'Whoa! It's like a freight train coming at them,'" says vocalist/guitarist DON BARNES. Their many Gold and Platinum album awards stand in testament to the endurance of a legendary powerhouse. Most associate them with their arena-rock pop smashes, �Hold On Loosely,� �Rockin� Into the Night,� �Caught Up in You,� �Fantasy Girl,� �If I�d Been the One,� �Back Where You Belong,� �Chain Lightnin�,� �Second Chance,� and more. Timeless hits that have paved the way to their present-day hard edge, immediately noticeable from the first opening chord. Barnes says it's all about maintaining the intensity that they deliver in their live shows. �We never wanted to be one of those groups that had gotten a little soft or complacent over the years. We�ve always said that we don�t slack up, we stack up.� It�s that truth coupled with steely determination that lives on in the hearts of those �Wild-Eyed Southern Boys.� So when the group went in to record Drivetrain (Sanctuary Records), it sought to capture that live energy on disc. And as a result, 38 Special, over twenty-five years later, has never sounded so powerful and in your face. Having had its share of success in the rock-pop realm - selling some 20 million albums - the group sought to make this latest offering all about attitude. "This album won't get labeled as the pop record of the year," frontman DONNIE VAN ZANT says with a hearty laugh, noting that, to him, Drivetrain is the ultimate 38 Special album: "It really personifies what rock and roll is all about. It's greasy, it's loud and it's proud.� And the name just seemed to fit. �The drivetrain on any motorized machine - from giant earth-movers to Indy cars - is what keeps the wheels on the road and in the game," Van Zant states, "This music keeps our wheels on the road. We've always been a band that tried to stay honest with what has driven us over the years. And it's the greatest validation just to endure, to reach that longevity.� The often-bombastic blues-rock tracks compiling Drivetrain owe their rawness to a more natural production approach favored by Barnes and fellow guitarist/vocalist DANNY CHAUNCEY, who produced the disc together. Barnes says, "In the past, we had assumed that recordings needed to be sonically clean and compressed with no ambient noise, you know� everything in its place and nice. But our goal this time was to make it not so nice. The actual sound pressure in the room is part of the track.� And no other track on the album reveals their edge and horsepower like the lead radio single, "Hurts Like Love." Danny Chauncey offers his take on the production. "Sometimes controlled chaos can be a good thing, so we cranked up the amps and kept the room mics open to get the ambient noise from the bashing drums and bass. We wanted to capture that explosive attitude, what we sound like LIVE with a 50-foot-tall P.A. system." Drivetrain's southern-rock-tinged, big chorus-laden tracks cover issues as diverse as love, hope, politics, and rampant passion. But mostly, it shows the heart of a seasoned band after decades of intense roadwork. "Something I Need," "Quick Fix," as well as the first single from the album, "Hurts Like Love," focuses on extreme desire to the point of obsession. "Jam On," like many of the cuts on the disc, came from an idea that 38 had been kicking around for a couple of years. After Barnes saw U2 frontman Bono waving an American flag on the cover of Time magazine, they were inspired to finish the track. The song became sort of a reaction to the war-torn world we now live in, with an idealized solution. "That one was kind of our little political commentary. The rest of �em are about cars and girls," Barnes says with a laugh. On "Haley's Got a Harley," Van Zant gets more expressive and dynamic than ever: "As a vocalist, I really wanted to get outside of myself on that," he says. �It�s good to push your boundaries.� Van Zant is a unique driving force for the band, with an unending spirit that propels the rest to always take it up a notch. His name is synonymous with Southern rock royalty, being the younger brother of icon and Rock and Roll Hall of Famer, the late Ronnie Van Zant, singer and founder of Lynyrd Skynyrd. While it's been a few years since the last full 38 Special studio record, it's not as if the band has been dormant. Far from it. The group also wrote the complete score and performed music for Searchlight Films� �Super Troopers.� (the Drivetrain song, "Trooper With an Attitude," first appeared in the film). It was a first for an entire band to provide a soundtrack and score sequential scenes. The boys in 38 enjoyed doing the work, finding it �musically liberating,� and are presently reviewing offers for more. A complete live 38 Special show was filmed in 1999 and is available on DVD - Live at Sturgis � filmed and recorded at the legendary annual motorcycle rally in Sturgis, South Dakota. (available on Sanctuary Records as a DVD and companion CD). In addition to cutting a spirited holiday album, �A Wild-Eyed Christmas Night,� and contributing a track to a Hank Williams Jr. tribute disc, the band recently joined with country superstar Trace Adkins in filming the CMT televised series, �Crossroads.� Trace Adkins and 38 Special onstage together, performing their classic songs, rocked country music television like never before. (In interview segments, Trace re-emphasized 38�s influence and impact on many new artists. The telecast has been one of CMT�s top requested re-aired segments among fans nationwide.) For 38 Special onstage, rounded out by bassist LARRY "L.J." JUNSTROM, drummer GARY MOFFATT and keyboardist/vocalist BOBBY CAPPS, it�s a celebration of camaraderie and brotherhood unmatched. A precision team of seasoned veterans bringing the dedication and honesty to a long history of classic, timeless songs, as well as surprisingly fresh new material. Since 1976, the band has released more than 15 albums, and from the start, they�ve toured relentlessly, bringing their signature brand of �muscle and melody� to fans worldwide. While attending to this year�s rigorous touring schedule, 2011 will see the band deliver an explosive live set, 38 Special - Live From Texas. The entire history of hits are there with some new surprises, including songs from their movie soundtracks, as well as a 38 Special version of the Top-10 country radio hit, �Help Somebody,� recorded by Donnie and his brother Johnny on their debut as Van Zant. Live From Texas, recorded at various outdoor festivals across the state, captures the rowdy party-atmosphere attitude and approach that fans have long associated with the band. �And the magic's still there,� says Van Zant. "It's a high I can't describe. It's like being strapped in a rocket. When I walk up those steps to that stage and hear that audience roar, sometimes I feel like Don and I don't even have to sing, because the crowds are so vocal! And it just takes off from there." Says Barnes, "We've always carried an attitude that we're going out there to win, no matter who shares the stage with us. Call it a competitive edge or whatever. It�s just that we've never taken a backseat to anyone. We try to move the crowd, sort of take �em for a ride, you know?� Van Zant adds, �And since we've had the good fortune to have a lot of well-known songs over the years, each show is a victory for us. We just line 'em up and shoot 'em down. More bang for the buck, I say. By the end of the show, the crowds are so amped up, they're completely exhausted,� laughs Van Zant�"along with us!"


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