GREENSBURG — Sometime in 1996, a local band calling itself “Southern Knights” decided on a name change.
Almost 20 years and more than 1,000 shows later, that band – Skeeter McGee – is still going strong. Granted, with the exception of one member – lead singer Rob Bruns – the members have changed and the musical style has evolved (the band started life “playing a country style of music”), but the group’s primary motivations remain unchanged: They play because they enjoy making music and because they like entertaining audiences.
Although they released their first studio album shortly after the 1996 name change, “Skeeter” didn’t settle on its current lineup until 2006. That’s the year they added current bassist and vocalist Rich Bryant.
Bryant and the other members of Skeeter recently corresponded with the Daily News to talk about the band’s McGee’s history, current lineup, original music, charity work, and musical influences and style.
In addition to Bruns (lead vocals, rhythm guitar) and Bryant (bass, backing vocals), the band’s current lineup also includes Roberto Barajas (lead guitar) and Bryan Messer (drums, backing vocals).
Barajas joined Skeeter McGee in 2004. Although he was born in Mexico, he stressed, “My musical taste was not.” The future Skeeter McGee lead guitarist first started playing music at age 19, and was heavily influenced by The Beatles.
In fact, he added, “I would not be playing today if it had not been for them.”
Barajas’ influences though, range quite a bit beyond The Beatles, he said. In citing the bands he listened to most frequently in developing his tastes as both music fan and music maker, Barajas named Jethro Tull, The Who, Yes, The Rolling Stones, Jeff Beck, Black Sabbath and Deep Purple.
“I’ve been fortunate enough in my music career to not only play songs by these artists, but to have been introduced to many different types of music,” he said, mentioning Tex Mex, Brazilian Bossanova, 70’s Fusion and Country as examples.