City Limits Band
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City Limits Band

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"Good Karma"

Good karma
Longevity leads to a steady gig for City Limits

By DANIEL PIKE, STAFF WRITER

A middle-aged country band. Playing a club known for dance music. On a Friday night.

The humor in such a scenario isn't lost on City Limits guitarist Michael Webb. But he warns against underestimating his boys tomorrow night at Karma, 625 S. First St.

"Personally, I think it's going to be a challenge," Webb says. "We're bound to get some of that club's regular people.

"But once they get in the door, we've got them. I'm that confident in the band."

Sometimes the most ardent hip-hoppers can't resist a raging rendition of "Foggy Mountain Breakdown," Webb says. But to even things out a bit, City Limits probably will toss in Big and Rich's "Save a Horse (Ride a Cowboy)," which is as close to rap as Webb's band treads.

Other than that, City Limits will stick to what it does best - top 40 and original country tunes with a dash of what Webb calls "roadhouse rock," a mix of country, rock and blues.

"It's amazing how much (audiences) come up and say, 'Man, I don't like country music, but what you did on that fiddle, it rocks,'" he says.

City Limits' first gig at the club is part of a new Friday night approach at Karma, says 34-year-old owner Matt Winn, who bought the club in January.

Karma isn't abandoning its dance music roots, Winn says. Rather, the club will devote a few Friday nights to a popular local band and its fans, regardless of musical style. After the band's set, the club will shift back into dance mode.

Winn says Karma invited several area acts to play Friday night shows before choosing a few - including City Limits, F5, Lost Boys and Decatur's X-Krush - to be the club's "key bands."

Band nights won't be weekly occurrences, because Winn plans to make them major, themed events. Tomorrow night's show will include VIP-room access for City Limits fans, photo opportunities, prize giveaways and possibly a mechanical bull.

"Instead of trying to get a band in here every single night, we wanted five or six to be associated with Karma nightclub," Winn says. "Whenever they play here, their fans will know that it's going to be their night. That's what we're going to try to do with City Limits - it'll be their club."

Multi-instrumentalist Webb has played with central Illinois-based City Limits since 1988. Country music's popularity can fluctuate wildly, he says, but somehow the band keeps hanging on.

"In those periods where it seems to be a lull, a lot of the country bands break up," Webb says. "It seems like we're one of the few who seems to still be standing. (The clubs) figure, 'We'll call them, they've been around a while.'"

Webb partly attributes City Limits' longevity to the band's chops. Many in the five-piece have played professionally, Webb says, so City Limits can quickly adapt to changing trends.

"Our caliber is a little above a garage band," Webb jokes.

These days, country music is peaking, and so is City Limits, Webb says. A locksmith by trade, Webb says he'll be working in a college dormitory, and he'll hear students playing Clint Black and Martina McBride alongside rapper Nelly.

The sound's popularity has allowed City Limits to expand its own limits with tours in Wisconsin and Iowa, and it's working on landing dates in Indiana, Missouri and Kentucky. The band's 2005 schedule was pretty much filled by last November, and Webb expects next year's itinerary to be set by this winter.

The band has cultivated a strong following in central Illinois, and Webb says the group's approach - not just the music - keeps audiences engaged. The band plays totally wireless, meaning they can move around the stage and venue at will.

"The people that follow us like our music, but they also want to see something," Webb says. "So we get off stage and go up to people. We're kind of in your face."

Webb is 47, and most of the band isn't far behind. He knows nationwide fame is unlikely at this point. But he says the band recognizes that being so close to the fans might be a greater reward than a fat paycheck.

"Are we going to become big stars? Probably not," he says. "Are we going to keep having fun doing what we do? More than likely."

- State Journal-Register, A&E Suplement


"Now Playing"

City Limits is a band. They were once called Austin City Limits in the '70s and have since expanded to include any and all cities within their limits. They are also the only country band I know of with the word "city" in their title. The group has long been a popular staple in central Illinois and has been through a few musician changes before evolving into the present line-up. On Friday night, they will release their first CD on a suspecting public at Lucky's at Second and Jefferson. Long Time Comin' includes four original tunes and a bunch of fan favorites to please the stalwart followers of the band. The CD showcases the group's four lead vocalists through solo singing and in the strong harmonies and the playing talents of the veteran musicians. Debbie Ross adds some guest vocals on a remake of American Trilogy (there's Elvis again). All in all, it's a good collection that certainly was a "long time comin' " but well worth the wait.


Review article:
http://www.illinoistimes.com/gbase/Gyrosite/Content?oid=oid%3A3236

- Tom Irwin, Illinois Times


"CLB Musicianship"

“It’s easy to talk about the musicianship of these guys - they are all clearly masters of all their different instruments, but I think their REAL strength lies in their vocal abilities. They ‘mesh’ SO well - obviously a great deal of effort has gone into working out vocal harmonies, and it seems every member is able (and willing) to take a lead vocal every now and again.” - Paul Holt


Discography

Long Time Comin' - CD released June 2004

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