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Fri, July 19

Local favorite Road One South keeps returning to the stage, this time for Blues Festival

Road One South has been picking up a few shows after deciding to reduce the intensity of its schedule. It will be performing Saturday, July 6, at the Watson Lake Blues Festival. (Dwight D’Evelyn/Courtesy)

Road One South has been picking up a few shows after deciding to reduce the intensity of its schedule. It will be performing Saturday, July 6, at the Watson Lake Blues Festival. (Dwight D’Evelyn/Courtesy)

At the tail end of 2017, local band Road One South performed at what it thought was its last Acker Night — and its last major engagement — after its members decided to cut back on the intensity of their schedule.

However, drummer Dwight D’Evelyn likens the band to those trick candles that keep flaming up no matter how much you blow on them. Popular demand brought the band back for the 2018 Acker Night; the group then took more time off only to keep hearing from fans.

“After Acker Night last year, which we were asked to do and loved supporting the kids, we took about four or five months off, and we just kept hearing from folks ‘are you guys playing anywhere?’ ‘When are you playing next?’ ” D’Evelyn said. “So we started picking up a few shows and, like I think we said before, we didn’t want to do the late night club thing so we’re still being pretty picky about what we take and what we don’t take.”

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A large crowd watches as Road 1 South performs at Country Bank during the 30th annual Acker Musical Showcase in downtown Prescott. (Les Stukenberg/Courier file)

Every time the band members get a little tired and take a break, they get the itch to perform again, harmonica player Jay Schermer said. They have been together for almost 12 years, so even though they have had to turn down a performance here and there because it didn’t work with their schedules, they didn’t want to stop performing completely.

They decided to still do occasional gigs because they all get the urge to return to the stage once in a while, D’Evelyn said.

The band is currently made up of D’Evelyn on drums, Schermer on harmonica, Chris Russo on guitar and vocals, Gary VanSlyke on bass, Ofer Harel on percussion, and John Wurtz on guitar and vocals.

Some of the members also are doing other things and sitting in with other bands, D’Evelyn said. They are not tied to Road One South like they used to be, but when they get together, they have a blast, he said.

Wurtz said reuniting for performances after a long stretch of separation can make things really special.

“Sometimes when we’ve had longer spans between and you get together … it’s more intense,” Wurtz said. “You kind of rekindle something.”

Road One South is scheduled to play in the second annual Watson Lake Blues Festival this weekend, put on by the Northern Arizona Blues Alliance. Also set for the event, which begins at 1 p.m. Saturday, July 6, are Big Daddy D and the Dynamites, Sir Harrison and Dennis Herrera. It all happens at Watson Lake, 3101 Watson Lake Road.

The band really wants to support the Northern Arizona Blues Alliance and Vice President Scott O’Neal, D’Evelyn said.

“They’ve done a great job trying to keep that genre alive in this town, something we tried to do years ago, and they’ve been pretty successful,” he said. “We’re glad to do that.”

Saturday’s festival, dubbed Blues at the Lake II, has become one of the alliance’s staple events, O’Neal said. It is going to have great music, great people and a great atmosphere, making for a great day in Prescott, he said. Admission is free and parking is $3.

The Northern Arizona Blues Alliance is even going to have a float in the Prescott Frontier Days Parade on July 6, O’Neal said.

“I know there’s a lot of people that come up from the Valley for the Fourth of July weekend,” he said. “So it’s another way to get the word out to them.”

Wurtz said he is representing the alliance and playing with O’Neal’s band in the parade.

After the Watson Lake Blues Festival, Road One South is scheduled to perform Friday, Aug. 2, in the annual National Night Out Kick-Off Concert at the courthouse plaza, put on in conjunction with the downtown Summer Concert and Movie Series, and it will have a gig in the Prescott Valley Entertainment District at the end of August. It also has been asked to do the Top of the Elks series, D’Evelyn said.

Like most bands in Prescott, the fans mean the world to Road One South, he said. When the band performs, it is an honor to have a crowd come out to watch.

“There’s not a lot of bands that have been around 10 or 11 years, or almost 12 now for us, which is kind of saying something in a way,” he said.

For more information about Road One South, visit www.roadonesouth.com. For more information about the Northern Arizona Blues Alliance or the Watson Lake Blues Festival, visit www.nazba.com.

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