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Reunion is just for Kix

September 23, 2007|By ANDREW SCHOTZ

HAGERSTOWN - While hundreds of Kix fans hollered, clapped and grooved to the band's every guitar lick and lyric on Saturday, Rob Fortenberry stood a good distance back - grateful.

A Kix moment changed his life, he recalled amid the din Saturday at the North American Rod & Gun Club near Hagerstown.

Twenty-five years ago, Fortenberry, who grew up in Florida, didn't know a thing about the iconic, sometimes naughty Hagerstown rock band with a hardcore following that continues today.

In 1983, he said, he joined the Army and met someone from the Tri-State area who introduced him to Kix music.

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Years later, he was working at a Shoney's restaurant in Florida and hummed a Kix song. Another Tri-State native recognized the song. They struck up a friendship.

Through the girlfriend of his new acquaintance, Fortenberry met Kim Haywood - who became his wife. They live in Waynesboro, Pa., and have four children.

"If it wasn't for Kix," Fortenberry said, "we wouldn't be married."

Others in the crowd estimated at more than 1,000 people had their own fond places in their hearts for Kix, which went on stage after two other bands - The Blues Vultures and Back in Black, an AC/DC tribute band.

Anticipating Kix's first chord, dozens of people perched near the stage, cheering even the light and smoke checks.

Then, the band sauntered out and kicked right into some electric rock. Hundreds of people in lawn chairs rose and roared.

Lounging on a blanket way in the back, Tracy Sotak and Julie Myers of Greencastle, Pa., were excited just to describe what life as a Kix fan was like back in the day.

The Mountain View in Smithsburg, an early venue was stuffed with people, probably too many, and the beer was cheap.

Sotak said she could have been classified as a groupie back then.

"Where they went, we were," Myers said.

It was the mid-1970s and they were in their late teens.

Richard "Ike" Eigenbrode of Blue Ridge Summit, Pa., said he probably could recognize in Saturday's crowd about 50 people he used to see at the Mountain View.

Kix reunion shows, several agreed, are also reunions for the faithful from the Mountain View, or other places like it.

Tom Rock of Harrisburg, Pa., was among the many who could think back to the band as The Shoes, before they were Kix.

He remembers them from the Splash hop parties at Northside Pool in Waynesboro in the 1970s.

Taking a breath after a couple of typically high-energy songs, Kix lead singer Steve Whiteman ratcheted up the crowd with a welcome message.

"We do it for those who were there in the beginning, the middle and now," he said on stage.

He mentioned the Mountain View, and promised the crowd: "We're gonna go back to when we was young..."

Many cheered.

"...and drunk..."

More cheers.

"...and horny."

Another round of cheers.

As Whiteman bopped around the stage, singing "Girl Money," "Hot Wire" and other Kix standards, Rock's wife, Christy, commented on his good physical shape.

"How many sit-ups would he have to do to get that stomach?" she asked, envious.

Sotak said the music has always been the reason for Kix's appeal. "It's just so full of life," he said.

All these years later, Tom Rock said, "It's as good, and maybe better."

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