As promised, The Spunkies gathered in Southern Oregon over the weekend of July 14th and 15th. Billed as The Greater Spunkies Family Reunion, the event lived up to its expectations. A good time was had by all, and a fun-filled musical reunion of old mates proved to be uplifting. Hosted by Rick and Barbara Parkinson, who transformed their spacious tool and workshop building into a musical laboratory, The Spunkies suddenly had lots of room and a whole bunch of musical equipment at their disposal. In the end, the band showed it's not yet ready for prime time. But more than a few moments of inspired artistic brilliance and music related exhileration made the reunion special. Said Bland Chok (Jim Hudak) upon reviewing the recordings made over the weekend: "It's easy to get swept up in the joy of getting together with old friends and playing music. We've known each other for 40 years or so, and we don't get to play together too often anymore. In the excitement of seeing one another again, it's both expected and necessary to turn a blind eye or deaf ear to things like the sound sometimes being out of balance, some forgotten lyrics, and so on. Of course, those things become quite glaring when you review the recordings, and I'm afraid there's not a lot of salvageable recorded material that came out of that weekend. "But in the end, that stuff really becomes secondary, given the nature of this particular get together. The primary goal was for us to meet in a lovely place, play some music, and keep the spirit of The Spunkies intact. And we certainly managed to accomplish that. The Spunkies are alive and well, if not exactly a well-oiled machine at this stage." Indeed, having so much space and musical equipment available ended up being slightly daunting for the band. Originally formed as a trio, these Spunkies included as many as six musicians participating in some of the songs played over the weekend. The sound was big, and at times, loud. But it was all part of the fun and flow of the event. The biggest surprise of the weekend came with the addition of guitarist Mitch Gonzales, son of bassist/guitarist/vocalist Marc Gonzales (Rusty Waters). Mitch became the first offspring of any of The Spunkies to play with the band, and he proved to be a highly skilled musician. Besides guitar, Mitch also played bass and drums during the sessions, respectably providing youthful energy to an outfit of musicians roughly three times his age. Roy G. Biv and Zubito Huascar displayed their typical brillance on keyboards and vocals, respectively, with Huascar taking a lengthy turn on drums and percussion. "Zubito has a real opportunity here," says Chok. "He could become the Karen Carpenter of The Spunkies, what with his good looks, unique vocal style (albeit a vastly different delivery than Karen's) and his presence behind the drums. Karen, Levon Helm, and now Zubito Huascar are among the relatively few people in rock that have carved out their niche of being both a drummer and a lead vocalist. It's quite cool." Musical highlights included a torrid version of "Zubito's Calling," and the unveiling of a new song, "Routine Colonoscopy." Chok also dusted off a couple classics he's co-written with lyricist Dan Erikson: "Wheel Of Fortune" and "Sugar Momma." Though no date has been set for the next Spunkies reunion, the event at the newly dubbed Jollity Farm Studios, located on the banks of the Applegate River, rekindled the Spunkies' flame. The camaradarie and powerful musical explorations of a band that can go from rock to folk to jazz to blues (sometimes all within a single song) cannot be denied. Let's hope that the next Spunkies reunion happens sooner rather than later.

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Jim Hudak

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