Nate Whitsell 11 a.m., Aug. 28
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- "True Ponty" · Jan. 28, 2015
- "Rick Sparhawk: Not a Low Budget Rock Star" · March 24, 2012
Inception: San Diego, 1973
Montezuma’s Revenge was an original, if unusual band with a long and successful run. They were based near Spring Valley in Casa de Oro, formed in 1973, and played a mix of genres and styles that defied categorization. They called their music bionic bluegrass, but the music industry had no idea what manner of marketing label to assign them.
“One year,” says co-founder Rick Sparhawk, “we won first place for best rock, best country, and best bluegrass. It was our Trifecta.”
Fans loved it, but the music industry had no idea what sort of marketing label to assign them. So they remained pretty much a road band, with a run of better than a dozen years that saw them on the stages of the Calgary Stampede, the Grand Ole Opry, and at almost every state fair and grandstand show in between.
As of 2012, Sparhawk plays with Picus Maximus, formed with ex Revenge-mate Jim Soldi, himself a first-call guitarist who went on to perform with Ricky Scaggs and Johnny Cash. Picus Maximus is the scientific name for a bird long thought to be extinct: the ivory billed woodpecker.
“It was registered as extinct for 60 years but now it's making a comeback,” laughs Sparhawk. “Well, now I’m making a comeback too.”
This means that Sparhawk is deep in the process of actively promoting Picus Maximus. “I got back in the thinking that I’d promote like it was 20 years ago, but that won't work today.” He realizes that he needs to create an image and market it, and the field is congested by musical apparitions and players alike.
“Every band out there now has the marketing savvy to look like a real band. Even if they are not.”