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Published Tue, Sep 11, 2012 08:00 PM
Modified Tue, Sep 11, 2012 06:57 PM

Nantucket closes out Town Square Concert series

- newsobserver.com
Nantucket plays at the Town Square Concert Series in 2010.
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- rputterman@newsobserver.com

CLAYTON -- When Nantucket takes the stage Thursday night, their hope is to make their longtime fans feel young again.

While they only play about 25 times a year in and around the Carolinas, Nantucket is still well-known for the success of their early days. In fact, Nantucket is being inducted into the N.C. Hall of Fame on Oct. 11.

After the rock outfit formed in 1969 in Jacksonville, N.C., as a cover band, they made a name for themselves when they released their self-titled album in 1977, and toured as an opening act for KISS, Styx, Boston, Journey and others.

On Thursday, Nantucket will be the last installment of this season’s Clayton Town Square Concert Series, marking their fifth performance in Clayton.

“It’s a lot of older fans, but some of their children come to see us and they all freak out over it, which tells me the music stands the test of time,” said Mike Uzzell, the band’s keyboardist, bass player and manager.

But even as younger folks may enjoy their music, Uzzell says they don’t have a firm grip on how to reach the younger fan base today.

But that’s not really the goal anymore, he says. The band could try to play every weekend in bars and clubs and get their name out, but they’ve been there and done that.

Now it’s about enjoying the music and putting on a good how for their longtime fans.

“I would say the main thing is watching the expression on someone’s face who hasn’t seen the band in a long time, or (knowing) the fact that we made a real big impact on people’s lives and they still perceive it as yesterday. Not for one minute are they thinking, ‘heck, we’re all 55 years old!’

“They’re looking back at yesterday. I guess that’s what gives us our satisfaction,” Uzzell said.

Uzzell describes the band as a funky, happy-go-lucky rock band, but they’ve infused different influences into their music throughout the years.

Their last album, “You Need a Ride to Raleigh,” was released in 2011 and leans toward a more danceable R&B, Uzzell says, dipping into the style of music that the band members grew up listening to.

“We grew upon that – The Spinners, James Brown, The Temptations, and that type of thing,” Uzzell said.

“A lot of the songs on (that album) will put you in a good mood.”

A storied past

The band has had a storied past, breaking up in 1990 only to reunite one year later to record a reunion album, “Still Live After All These Years,” which came out in 1995.

For the next decade, Uzzell says they mainly played dates here and there when invitations came up.

In the mid-2000s, the band got invited to play at the Fayetteville Dogwood Festival, and ever since Nantucket has been making many of its appearances at town-sponsored events across the Carolinas. Clayton events, Uzzell says, are one of their mainstays.

“It’s always a good crowd there, everybody’s always friendly there,” Uzzell said. “We’re still treated like we’re somebody that actually accomplished something there.”

Nantucket will be playing a mixture of covers and originals, making sure there’s a little bit of something for both fans and newcomers.

Mark Roberts & The Occasionals will be opening the show at 6 p.m., followed by Nantucket at 7 p.m.

Putterman: 919-553-7234

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