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4:23 AM Sat, Nov. 17th

Little Larry drives into Battle of the Bands

Matt Hinshaw/The Daily Courier

Matt Hinshaw/The Daily Courier

Little Larry and the Drive will reach beyond its bar audience by performing Saturday at the 14th annual Battle of the Bands at Mountain Valley Park.

"I think it is great," lead vocalist Larry Healey said. He goes by the nickname "Little Larry" to distinguish himself from his late father, "Big Larry," also a musician.

"People come to sit and listen. It is not about getting up and dancing (in a bar)," Healey said. "I think it is more a concert setting."

Healey, 47, said he played his first gig at age 16 in Indiana and currently performs as many as five gigs in bars a week. He plays with the Drive locally and with the Dianne Lindsay Band in Scottsdale.

"I love doing these outdoor gigs too: the atmosphere, the nice sunshine," Healey said. "You get to play without holding back."

Little Larry and the Drive and five other bands will perform in "a family venue by far," said Debbie Jerome, recreation coordinator with the Prescott Valley Parks and Recreation Department. The department, the Prescott Valley Chamber of Commerce and several tri-city-area businesses sponsor the event.

"Kids play on one big part of the field," Jerome said. "We have country. We have rock. We have pop. Nobody is the headliner."

Little Larry and the Drive covers classic rock, blues, and rhythm and blues songs. Healey generally performs, both with his band and as a solo artist, in the Jersey Lilly Saloon on Whiskey Row.

"We do a couple of more current tunes, mostly '60s R&B, some blues and some '70s classic rock," Healey said. "I have got a couple of CDs out (with original songs)."

Healey said he has no delusions about becoming a famous recording artist while adding he loves music.

"There is nothing like it," Healey said. "I love what I do. I will keep doing it as long as I can. As look as people keep hearing me, I'll do it."

His band consists of himself on vocals and guitar, his wife, Beth Wright as a backup singer, Bill Reyes on bass, Frank Rowland or rotating drummers on drums, and A.J. Siniaho on keyboard and trumpet.

Little Larry and the Drive is the fourth band on the lineup with a performance scheduled for 5 p.m. in the amphitheater for Battle of the Bands. The other schedule bands are Covenant 31 at 2 p.m., Crossfire at 3 p.m., Agent Audio at 4 p.m., the CheekTones at 6 p.m. and Tumbleweed Junction at 7 p.m.

Battle of the Bands has drawn upwards of 4,000 people, said Marnie Uhl, president and chief executive officer of the chamber.

Admission to Battle of the Bands costs $4 - generally lower than the cost of an alcoholic beverage at a bar - and is free for children under 3. Gates open at 1 p.m. at the park, located off Nace Lane and Robert Road.

Event organizers will not allow glass, alcohol, weapons or pets into the amphitheater. However, vendors will be on hand to sell food, such as hamburgers and hot dogs.

For more information, call Parks and Recreation at 759-3090 or the chamber at 772-8857.