Artist Snapshot: Chris Spradling
Roanoke rock band Surrender Dorothy is celebrating its 25th anniversary as part of the local music scene. To help highlight that celebration, Blue Ridge Rocks interviewed the band’s only original founding member who is still part of the group: Chris Spradling.
Spradling originally formed the group (25 years ago, go figure) with guitarist Steve Anderson.
“We were both playing with The Worx, but wanted to start a band that played something a little different,” Spradling said in a recent email interview.
Over the course of time, the band has undergone a number of different incarnations. Currently, it consists of Spradling on guitar and keys, Dean Ferguson on guitar, Tad Dickens on drums, and Jason Davis on bass. Davis joined the group after former bassists Henry Hancock lost his life to a series of illnesses following a stroke.
“Having been together for so long, Henry was actually the third member we have had pass,” Spradling shared. “Randy Wiley and Sam Thorten were also former members who are no longer with us. We all had hopes Henry would be able to rejoin us. Henry and I attended Radford University together and he was a special character with a huge amount of musical knowledge.”
Spradling, whose major influences are John Lennon, Warren Zevon, Don Henley, Gene Krupa, Roger Taylor, Freddie Mercury, Don Brewer and Bob Dylan describes the band’s music as “RockaFunkaCountryBilly,”
Spradling attributes the eclectic mix to his love of all types of music.
“Music was always present in my life. My father and mother have always loved music and the stereo was on constantly somewhere in the house. My father also taught guitar lessons in our home and his bands would rehearse in the living room. My parents gave me my first record player when I was 4, and my dad made me a guitar out of an old neck and some metal pie pans a year later. That’s why I have music in my brain all day long.”
Spradling says that his favorite things about playing in a band is the freedom of expression and the opportunity to become a different person.
“It’s a complete rush to be performing and really connect with someone from stage. Sometimes you can make someone sing, cry, or dance, and that’s the key!”
There’s little doubt that keeping a band going for 25 years takes a lot of work and commitment. Spradling compliments his current band members for making it possible to keep it going.
“I love the guys in the band and we really connect in a way that is rewarding. Along with our long time technician Ray Carhart, we also have some great auxiliary guys, Rick Godley, Billy Von Earl, and Joringle Starchild, who help out from time to time.
If you haven’t had the opportunity to see Surrender Dorothy live, next Friday is the perfect chance. This RockaFunkaCountryBilly group plays Grandin Chillage on May 19th. This kid-friendly event gets going at 6:00 at the old Texaco Gas Station on Grandin Road.