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To be 'Friends with You'

John Denver tribute band performs this weekend

John Denver tribute band performs this weekend

March 19, 2009|BY CRYSTAL SCHELLE

FREDERICK, Md. -- Friends with You band member Kevin Delmolino of Walkersville, Md., quickly learned how to win his wife's heart: play a John Denver tune.

"I realized my wife was such a big fan when I was working on my stuff, she'd be like 'OK it's time to put the guitar away,' but when I switched to a John Denver song, she let me keep playing," he said with a laugh. "That's really how I learned to appreciate his music."

Delmolino and the rest of the John Denver tribute band, Friends with You, will perform at 8 p.m. Saturday, March 21, at the Weinberg Center for the Arts.

Friends with You is made up of guys who met during a John Denver tribute concert in Aspen, Colo., after the singer-songwriter's 1997 death. After meeting and jamming together at the event over the years, Delmolino and the band officially formed in 2004. Friends with You members are Chris Collins of Houston, Paul Swanton of Boston and Mark Cormican of Kentucky.

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Friends with You isn't a impersonation band, Delmolino said, but a John Denver tribute band.

"Even though we're a tribute band, we don't impersonate him," he said. "... A few of the members look an awful lot like him, (but) it isn't intentionally. Nobody went out and had hair weaves to change the way they look."

It's probably one reason the band has been able to make Denver fans their fans, too.

"People kind of take us for who we are," he said. "I think that's why people come back."

The Weinberg show benefits the St. John Regional Catholic School in Frederick, Md.

Delmolino said after each show the band donates a portion of the proceeds to a local charity or cause organization.

"We do this because we love playing together as friends and of course we love the music, but we feel strange to make money off of John or John's work. So here we feel like we're continuing on (the) kind of work he stood for," he said.




About Friends with You



Genre -- John Denver's music

Hometown -- Band members live in Frederick, Md.-area, Boston, northern Kentucky and Houston, Texas,

Upcoming show -- 8 p.m. Saturday, March 21. Weinberg Center for the Arts, 20 W. Patrick St., Frederick, Md. Tickets cost $20 to $30. Go to www.weinbergcenter.org for ticket info. Proceeds benefit St. John's Regional Catholic School in Frederick.

Web -- www.friendswithyouband.com

Q&A with Kevin Delmolino



Do you have a favorite John Denver song?

I do, but it's one actually not on the set list. It's a song called "Eclipse." We used to play in concert but every year we try to change it up a little bit. There are just so many things we can change because he had a lot of hits. And we have to play the hits or otherwise people get angry. "Eclipse" wasn't one of his big hits, so ... it got dropped from the set list.

I understand the name "Friends with You" is from a John Denver song. Why that particular John Denver song?

We chose (the name) because we were just a group of really good friends who got together and started playing. It was the song we felt most represented what we were doing. ... I think the name just stuck.

I think John Denver's music is a lot harder to sing than it looks.

Oh, I definitely agree with that. ... When I started getting involved in this project, I really had to dissect what he does. I guess it's a gift to make something sound easy, when it's really not. He certainly had that.

If he was still alive today, what do you think his mark on music would continue to be?

I think he is still considered the great American songwriter. ... One of the biggest things he'll be remembered for, besides his music, was that he was an environmentalist. ... What he was doing in the early '60s and '70s nobody talked about it much then. But now you have Bono (of the band U2) going around the world for causes. (John) was on the forefront of that. I think he has a pretty locked-in place in history.

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