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For those about to rock, they salute you



H2h_cover_with_tim Has it been too long since you heard rocking bad-boy tunes like "Back in Black" or "Whole Lotta Rosie" live in concert? (That's a rhetorical question, Dilbert.)

Though AC/DC is busy working on a long-awaited album (and upcoming world tour), salvation is close at hand. Meet Highway to Hell, a Tampa-based tribute band of men who turned their obsession with the legendary rockers into a part-time career. (Click here to see a video.)

The band plays the Largo Cultural Center Saturday, Aug. 16, along with Black Sabbath tribute act Supertzar.

This is no garage-band act -- they've cut their teeth on gigs around Florida, including shows at Gasparilla and Daytona Beach Bike Week. Two band members even took the stage with real AC/DC singer Brian Johnson and bassist Cliff Williams during a small show in Sarasota last year.

Martyn Jenkins handles the lead vocals, a tough assignment because the real band has featured two legendary but distinct vocalists over its long career , the late Bon Scott and current singer (and Sarasota resident) Johnson.

So how did Jenkins, a Welsh native who works full-time in Tampa in the pharmaceuticals business, end up spending weekend nights screaming "You Shook Me All Night Long" at bay area audiences? I interviewed Jenkins for a story in the Times this weekend. Here are some highlights.

ON THE "TRIBUTE BAND" STIGMA: "A lot of time, people expect it to be a bit more like a Broadway musical. And they expect the people in the band to be session musicians and not necessarily fans of the band. Back in England, I was actually lucky to see Bon Scott about a week before he died on the Highway to Hell tour. And I saw the first one Brian Johnson did on the Back in Black tour too. So I go right back with them."

ON PLAYING WITH THE REAL BAND: "When I stood up against Brian last year and sang 'Highway to Hell,' it was an amazing experience. I was petrified! But the nice thing was people in the audience knew us, and it was a heartwarming experience. After the gig, Cliff came up and said it was fantastic."

WHY NOT PLAY IN A REGULAR BAND? "I think its like a cycle. I went through a regular band in Britain and didn't get anywhere. And then I realized that if you play Queen or AC/DC, crowds love you. It's more about the show and reliving memories."

CAN IT BE A FULL-TIME JOB: "We're all too old and have far too many responsibilities. We shouldn't really be doing it, but it's great fun at the end of the day."

-- Highway to Hell, with Black Sabbath tribute act Supertzar, 8 p.m. Saturday at Largo Cultural Center, 105 Central Park Drive, Largo. $15 advance, $18 day of show.

[Last modified: Wednesday, June 9, 2010 2:37pm]


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