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High and Lonesome to play reunion show

BY SAMANTHA GENTRY | DECEMBER 16, 2010 7:10 AM

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mp3 sample: High and Lonesome

"Why Don't You Stop Me Now"

Pre-cancerous tumors on his vocal cords isn't something then-24-year-old pianist and vocalist David Zollo expected to struggle with, especially when his band was on fire.

At the time, High and Lonesome was drawing in huge audiences, and while it was difficult for the band, guitarist Ruairi Fennessy said no one approached the situation selfishly.

"We all hoped the best for him," Fennessy said. "As you can imagine with losing your voice, there was really nothing to be said."

Putting their music on hold, the situation made band members realize there were still possibilities out there, especially because they were still so young.

"I think when the crisis happened it made us realize how the lifestyle can affect us," Fennessy said. "It showed that if you want to do something artistic in life, you should have a Plan B."

It took around nine years for Zollo's voice to recover. He performed with High and Lonesome in Italy around two months after his surgery, and looking back on it, he said, it was foolish and probably set back his recovery.

"It's hard when this is your business," he said. "But it certainly made me who I am, and I really have a lot of gratitude for the opportunity I have to play music again."

After not performing for 11 years, High and Lonesome will reunite at 9 p.m. Friday at the Mill, 120 E. Burlington St. Admission is $15.

Originally from the Iowa City area, Zollo was a solo artist playing at Deadwood, 6 S. Dubuque St., and a jazz club downtown. At the same time, Fennessy, along with band member Dustin Conner, put up signs looking for a vocalist for their band, and when they saw Zollo play, they knew he was the one.

The band of five got together in 1992, and the only member who has changed over the years is the drummer. On Friday, High and Lonesome will play two different sets, each with a different drummer.

While the band plays what Zollo calls "distinctly American music" — a mix of blues, honky-tonk, country, and rock 'n' roll — it's the players' style that makes the band "somewhat remarkable."

For High and Lonesome, being able to play together again has been a magical and surreal experience.

And Zollo was surprised and pleased at how quickly the band fell back into performing together.

"The songs were waiting for us at the door, and all we needed to do was let them out," Fennessy said.
"It's very flattering to see all these people come out, because it makes you feel like you've created this thing that's veryspecial."

High and Lonesome's performance at the Mill will be its second show as a reunited band — they played in Des Moines three weeks ago.

While Zollo said the band is certainly not re-forming, the members are considering making the Friday night show an annual performance.

"We really made it happen in a sense that when you're 25 [years old] to 28, you have to strike the iron when it's hot, and it was back then," Fennessy said. "I would really just like to thank the fans, and you should know that we really are happy to be on stage again."


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