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Wigs be flippin': SpoCats bring rockabilly to Sutton Park

Cheney Free Press of Cheney, Washington

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Spokane band features vintage rock and roll at July 20 summer concert

Cheney's Sutton Park should be a rockin' place next Wednesday, July 20, with the sounds of rockabilly and the 1950s as the Spokane-based band "The SpoCats" come to town for the second concert in the Summer Concert Series 2016.

The SpoCats are composed of Doug Roberts on bass and vocals, Dan Garcia on drums and vocals and Dave Smith on guitar and lead vocals. Roberts and Garcia formed the band about six years somewhat by happenstance.

"Craigslist had a lot to do with it," Roberts said.

Veterans of various music scenes, Garcia played in rock and Latin-percussion oriented bands in the San Francisco Bay area in the 1960s before moving to Spokane, while Roberts gigged with several well-known large club bands during a four-decade career in Spokane.

Both raised families through good day jobs, Garcia with Coca Cola and Roberts in the audio-visual department at Spokane's downtown public library. Facing retirement, the pair hooked up to form the SpoCats through the band's original guitar player.

Roberts said the original guitar player was very much into rockabilly, and all three knew and loved the foot stomping, good-feeling swinging rock music from the 1950s and early 1960s they all grew up listening to. Their first meeting was more about collecting than learning.

"It was like the first day we got together we had 30 songs," Roberts said.

The band picked up long-time guitarist and singer Smith two years ago when the original player left. Smith grew up on bluegrass and country in the Midwest, and like the others, left his day job — he sold his machining and manufacturing business to a larger corporation— to focus On playing and enjoying music.

The SpoCats set list ranges the gamut of famous artists from the 1950s and 1960s, artists such as Carl Perkins, Gene Vincent, Eddie Cochran, Ricky Nelson, Fats Domino and, of course, Elvis. There are also tunes such as "Midnight Shift" by Commander Cody, "Under the Boardwalk" by The Drifters, Little Richards' "Rip It Up" and Roy Orbison's "Dream Baby."

The SpoCats also play a couple of songs — "Built for Speed" and "I Fought the Law" — from that other rockabilly "cats" band, the Stray Cats, who re-popularized the genre with their 1982US. debutalbum "Built for Speed" that featured the hits "Rock this Town" and "Stray Cat Strut."

Roberts said the band prefers playing events such as anniversaries, reunions and car shows, but can do outdoor gigs. With the addition of Smith on guitar, they are doing well in building their set list, which is not necessarily planned.

"It's just fallen together to fit the genre," Roberts said.

According to the band's website, that genre will provide Cheney residents a chance next Wednesday night to dance and tap their feet from 6:30 - 8:30 to "heart-filled music played in tribute to the pioneers of early rock and roll, uncomplicated, raw, basic and unprocessed."

John McCallum can be reached at

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Original Publication Date: July 14, 2016

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