Sportsbar Rockstar

Sportsbar Rockstar
Sportsbar Rockstar
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Dean gets off on a solo

The rock “power trio” lineup began with Cream and artists like Jimi Hendrix, Grand Funk, ZZ Top, Nirvana and Green Day added to the definition: a band that typically emphasizes instrumental performance and overall impact over vocals and lyrics (although often quite good). In the classic line up, a single guitarist is required to cover both the rhythm and lead roles in a live performance. No easy feat.


Sportsbar Rockstar does the format proud here in RVA. Guitarist Dean Berry and bassist Keith Horn have been playing and singing together about 4 years. For the most part it’s classic heavy rock covers with some outliers included, like McCartney’s “Maybe I’m Amazed.” During shows Keith remains the picture of cool playing an often “lead” bass line, while Dean energetically owns the stage and often ventures into the crowd. Current drummer Bryan Stiglich brings a rock attitude and good vocals to the mix.


Dean started playing when he was 12 and studied classical guitar at Marshall University. He moved to Richmond in 1990 and played with a number of bands (including 8 years with S.N.A.F.U.). He’s the rare RVA musician that makes a living off of his band’s income (augmented by some guitar students). Although being a trio helps with the finances (“Bigger slices of the pie”), it does impose some limitations on what they can successfully pull off.



Dean acknowledges having a talent like Keith playing with him is “pretty awesome” and expands their possibilities. Keith grew up in Richmond, playing guitar at an early age in his dad’s country band. He moved to bass at 12 and played downstairs at the Tobacco Company as a teenager, then with Casper for 3 years. He moved to Nashville in 1992, doing session work and touring 22 years with notables like Tanya Tucker, Waylon Jennings, Trisha Yearwood and Peter Frampton. Feeling he’d had enough of that life, and turning 50, Keith moved back home in 2010. Some might see that as a career step backwards but Keith embraced the advantages.





Keith still does regular session work, often from his home studio. This week he’s booked for 4 tracks – “three for a girl singer and one for a blues guy.” Not bad for a lefty who learned to play guitars upside down and who, today, has his bass’s custom made but still strung upside down.



Last year, Sportsbar Rockstar opened for Lynyrd Skynyrd at Innsbrook. According to Dean, that exposure was a huge boost for the band, “Playing that show worked great. It generated a lot more Facebook “likes” and the phone started ringing with people wanting to book us.” Sportsbar Rockstar typically plays a couple of times every week including a regular gig at Wabi Sabi on Wednesdays in Petersburg.


Kudos to Uptown Alley, where I caught the band, for providing a first class venue for live music. Sound engineer Steve Payne, a musician himself, takes good care of the bands to create a great experience for the crowd.




Sportsbar Rockstar:

Keith Horne: bass and vocals

Dean Berry: guitar and vocals

Bryan Stiglich: drums and vocals


A note of support: It’s no secret RVA’s Robbin Thompson has battled cancer for a number of years. Through a series of surgeries and drug treatments, he’s pretty much managed to win the battle. Unfortunately, in his latest newsletter, Robbin reports that he once again will have cancer surgery January 15. He’ll be out of commission at least 3 weeks. He remains optimistic and continues to post gigs for 2015, “Soon this adventure will be just a blur in the rearview. My thoughts are that this will make 2015 a great year.” Here’s to hoping he’s right! You can catch him solo (pre-surgery) at Ashland Coffee and Tea January 9.

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