Sound Check

A few weeks ago at Desperado's in Fort Lauderdale, the dance floor was a sea of black and white cowboy hats. Two-stepping, silver-tipped boots gleamed under the flashing red and yellow lights above. Denim-clad butts shook, swayed, and wiggled. The inspiration? Pop-country tunes performed by Gatorkicks.

"I kinda like to do my own thing with them," vocalist Robert "Catfish" Marshall says, referring to the band's renditions of hits like Garth Brooks' "Longneck Bottle" and Brooks & Dunn's "Neon Moon." "But we still make it sound familiar with the folks. I believe that people want to hear them like they're hearing them on the radio, so we try to do it as close as we can to what we hear, too."

Gatorkicks is an eight-year-old, five-member band, which includes Marshall (lead vocals, bass), Laura Walker Wood (lead vocals), Jim Felicio (pedal-steel guitar), Rick Orsini (guitar, fiddle, mandolin), and Dave Gladding (drums).

With line-dance, two-step, and swing classes being offered at area country bars, it's no wonder that so many people dance when Gatorkicks performs. Almost instinctively, when familiar notes are heard, they line up and dance in unison at places like Western Star in North Lauderdale, Hillbilly Rock in Sunrise, and Rhinestone's in Royal Palm Beach. Gatorkicks' next couple gigs will take place at Jeff's Round-Up in Pompano Beach Friday and Saturday.

What sets the band apart is the fact that it has male and female lead vocalists. With Wood in the band, hits like Shania Twain's "Still the One" and Mindy McCready's "Guys Do It All the Time" stand tall against the male-dominated set list.

For the most part, the list is dominated by dance tunes, all of them accompanied by a specific dance. (Even Marshall, who wears a wireless mic, shuffles among the crowd while playing bass.) The tunes and their steps include Hank Williams, Jr.'s "Born to Boogie" and the Double Chesterfield; Alan Jackson's "Gone Country" and the Lightning Cha-Cha; and the Bellamy Brothers' "Redneck Girl" and Slappin' Leather, which is the most popular beginner's-level line dance.

For more information about Gatorkicks, call 954-409-7078.

 
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