The Predators

Paul Moffett

Gary Duesner, single-night agent for Triangle Talent, was talking about the Predators at the late-March MERF blues benefit:

"They've played two gigs," said Duesner, waving two fingers for emphasis, "and I've got 'em booked through May! I know these guys will deliver."

The reason he was so confident? The members of the Predators bring talent, skill, experience and solid pedigrees in the music business to the band.

Start with Jimi V, former lead singer for the now-defunct Hammerheads, until recently solid favorites to rack up the fabled major-label record deal. Add Screamin' John Hawkins, guitarist with Screamin' John and the Dippity Doos, later with Maxwell, the group assembled after the demise of Spanky Lee. Stir in a solid rhythm section composed of Billy Burke, previously with the Bloomington-based Mere Mortals, who have positioned themselves of late to make the run for the big time; Spanky Lee and Maxwell drummer Max Maxwell; and Jeff Crane on bass, and you have the local equivalent of an all-star band.

"Hey, we're just trying to get together four sets of material," laughed Hawkins. "We don't have a weekend off for two months." Dodging comparisons, Hawkins said that they're concentrating on getting a somewhat harder-edged blues/rock sound. Cover tunes will fill up their set lists for now. Originals will come later.

"Everybody's feelin' good about it," Hawkins noted. Including their aforementioned agent.

The group has a diverse schedule lined up, including gigs at the Golden Nugget, Phoenix Hill, Cliffhanger's and the newly renovated Toy Tiger.