Shades of Gray proves you’re never too old to plug in and get down
I joined my first band at the age of 16. At the age of 18, I had my first paying gig, and though my split of the take barely covered the price of a couple packs of Marlboro Reds and a bowl of Bert’s chili at the end of the night, it might as well have been a small fortune for the way it made me feel. I am now 43.
My current band has existed in one incarnation or other for over 17 years, but there may yet come a day when the name is respectfully retired—and what then? Do the instruments go under the bed forever? I don’t think so. I’ve been at it for nearly 30 years and have no reason to think I won’t be at it another 30. And that’s why this week’s band has a special place in my heart. Shades of Gray is definitive proof that you’re never too old to rock-and-roll.
Formed in 2011, Shades of Gray’s origins go much further back, to the early ’80s, when current members Rick Norwood (bass) and “Doodle” Quarles played together in a band called Timberwolf. Timberwolf had a following, played plenty of gigs and enjoyed all the popularity the scene could muster, but as is so often the case, life happened. Members came and went (some to join the military, others for personal reasons) and after a few lineup shuffles Timberwolf gave way to Black Branch before ultimately disbanding.
Thirty years later, the gentlemen decided to do a one-off reunion of Timberwolf “for a lark.” The gig wound up lasting a year and a half before Timberwolf was gently and fondly laid to rest and a new band was assembled: Shades of Gray, so called for the gray hair the fellows had managed to accumulate over the intervening three decades. Classic rock was the order of the day (or “rock,” as it was called when they first played it…) and after a little shuffling of the lineup, the band settled in to its current model and went to work.
With “Doodle” Quarles on drums, Bill Brindle on guitar, Jon Johnson on lead guitar and vocals, Rick Norwood on bass and vocals and the enigmatic Steve Beckham on keys, the band brings an untouchable resume of talent and experience to the table, recreating the sound of one of the most storied and revered eras in rock music.
Showcasing music from Lynyrd Skynyrd, the Doobie Brothers, The Who, Johnny Cash, Delbert McClinton, the Eagles and many, many more, Shades of Gray also delivers up a roster of original tunes that capture the sound and spirit of an era.
Seriously, they rock.
Shades of Gray can be found on reverbnation and Facebook where you can sample their tunes and follow their club dates. The band’s next show is this week, Saturday, Mar. 7 at Chattanooga Billiards Club East. A week later, on Mar. 14, you can catch them at Phibb’s Bar and Grill in Rock Springs, GA. A robust schedule of shows is in the works, including a possible appearance at this year’s Riverbend.
Shades of Gray is a band anyone can enjoy, but working musicians especially ought to take note and offer up some respect and a tip of the cap. It isn’t every day that one can appreciate classic rock played by vintage musicians.
For booking information, contact Rick Norwood at firstname.lastname@example.org