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Band paves the way with eclectic sounds

Peter Sprague, a San Diego based guitarist, plays with Bill Mays, pianist; Bob Magnusson, bassist; and Jim Plank, drummer, Monday in Morgan Auditorium. Sprague, who started playing guitar at 12 years old, has won more than 10 San Diego music awards and has been playing with the Coup band since 1978. / photo by Candice Salazar

Valerie Dominguez
Staff Writer

Long time friends from San Diego performed Monday night at Morgan Auditorium in the Bill Mays: Road Work Ahead concert.

The band Road Work Ahead consists of four members: pianist Bill Mays, guitarist Peter Sprague, bassist Bob Magnusson and Jim Plank on drums.

There was not one band member that was named as the lead, allowing for diverse sounds of music to be played.

“We play a wide mix that has elements of classical, pop and folk music,” Mays said. “Our music is a lot of improvising through composed pieces.”

The band’s sound and the unusual instruments that were played, such as the double neck guitar, captivated the audience.

“I love the diverse styles of music that we cover. We give the people a taste of different genres,” Sprague said.

The night began with “The Touch of Your Lips” by Ray Noble performed with a folk jazz twist.

Every member was highlighted at some point in each song that was played. Some songs were even composed by band members, such as “Wall Street” by Sprague.

A couple of band members did musical arrangements on composed pieces. “Our Waltz,” originally composed by David Rose, was arranged by Plank.

The musicians met in San Diego in 1978 where they formed Road Work Ahead. They then split up because of distance, but reunited in 2005.

“I moved to New York, so the band had to break up,” Mays said.

“We’ll play until we can’t play anymore and people don’t want to hear us,” Plank said.

In between songs, members would tell a story or engage with the audience to make sure that the concert was more than just music.

Sprague shared with the audience the story behind his double-necked guitar.

“I used to bring two guitars and I would have to switch off for the different sounds they made,” Sprague said. “This got tiring after awhile so I decided to have this double-necked guitar specially made.”

The top neck made a classical guitar sound that is similar to traditional guitars. The lower neck made more of an electric, folk steel sound.

Audience members responded well to Sprague’s use of a guitar that is not often seen.

“I’m a pianist and that’s the main reason why I came to the concert,” Joy Jenal, a resident from Claremont, said.

“I was really impressed with the guitarist as well,” Jenal said.

Many of their CDs were being sold outside of Morgan Auditorium were sold and audience members spoke very highly of the band.

Road Work Ahead is currently on tour. The band’s next stop is a private concert at Point Loma Nazarene University in San Diego.

For more information visit billmays.net and petersprague.com. Road Work Ahead’s music is also available on iTunes.

Valerie Dominguez can be reached at valerie.dominguez@laverne.edu.

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