This week’s Fridays on Vine feature, local country band Exit 99, has been known to draw big crowds with its diverse line-up of classic covers.
The band played one of the best-attended Fridays on Vine concerts last year, said Chelci Holste, the band’s lead singer, and looks forward to an encore performance.
“It was a lot of fun and we’re excited to do it again,” she said.
The band, which is comprised almost entirely of local musicians and is named for the I-80 exit to Tooele, plays a line-up of country covers, sprinkled with some classic rock. But the biggest difference between Exit 99 and any other garage band, Holste said, is their intimate knowledge of two generations of country favorites.
Holste, who just turned 30, is by far the youngest member of the band. The other musicians are mostly in their mid-50s, she said — almost old enough to be her parents.
“We vibe really well together, and we just have fun,” she said, adding that the band has taken advantage of their diverse musical experience to mix old country hits with new favorites. “They’ve introduced me to a lot of music and people that I’ve never heard of, being so much older — music I never thought I would play or enjoy.”
The band came together in 2012 as the reincarnation of Oasis, another band that played around Tooele in the 1990s. Holste said she had been singing as a country soloist around the area, and David Beacham, now the lead guitarist for Exit 99, happened to overhear her at an event and asked if she would like to start a band with him. When she agreed, he started going over some of his old contacts and pulled in his former band mates Tom Slowik, Bruce Simon, and Jimmy Gonzo to play bass guitar and vocals, keyboards, and drums, respectively.
The band has yet to begin writing its own music, but is in the early stages of recording a CD of covers, Holste said. But until sales take off, they continue to rehearse in the evenings after work. Holste, a Grantsville resident, is a local dental hygienist. Beacham works for the Tooele County School District and Slowik, also a Tooele resident, works for the University of Utah. Gonzo, a third Tooele resident, does government work. Simon, who is the odd man out as a resident of Alpine, owns his own business and produces banners and signs.
Fridays on Vine concerts start every Friday at 7 p.m. in the Tooele City Park between Vine Street and the Pratt Aquatic Center. Admission is free, but seating is limited. Patrons are encouraged to bring their own lawn chairs or blankets.