Just Us wins Battle of the Bands
Posted by : August 29, 2012| On :
Monitor Staff Writer
CEDAR CREEK LAKE–Guess who won the 2012 Dallas Battle of the Bands?
Who has been practicing three nights a week for a year and can’t imagine doing anything else but playing?
And whose going to perform Sunday, Sept. 2 for the VH1 Music Foundation in Deep Ellum?
Just Us is five musicians from Cedar Creek Lake area cities who have a love for music, skillful playing talent and are plum crazy for Rock and Roll.
Their success at the Battle of the Bands, playing all original compositions, comes as no surprise to their families and close friends – 112 of them bought tickets to the Gorilla Music-sponsored event held at the Curtain Club in Deep Ellum Aug. 4. In fact, Just Us, is signed up as the lead performer at the Curtain Club again Oct. 2 and the Curtain Club at 2800 Main St. in Dallas is the host of the VH1 Music Foundation concert starting at 6 p.m. Sunday.
“They weren’t deciding between first and second; they were deciding between second and third,” band leader and Kemp resident Les Runion said of the final showdown. The ticket which reads “featuring Just Us,” is proof of that.
Video, recorded by a smart phone, shows a crowd of 300 or more singing and dancing along with the antics of Runion. A facebook comment attached to a photo of him from the final reads, “Bringing down the house Big Poppy style.”
Big Poppy is the nickname many apply to Runion, whose Herculean physique commands respect and whose charming demeanor and smile immediately disarms. He’s also known as Big Poppy Wookie, that blends his personna of danger and gentleness into one.
If anyone is the “momma” of the group, its Gun Barrel City resident Cody Parker, admiringly called “the Stage Ninja.” Parker fills the role of band manager, sound and light technician and peacemaker. “Cody takes care of us,” Runion said. In fact, Parker pushed him to form the band. “He has a good ear and heard me messing around (with guitar) and said, ‘we have to do something with that sound,’” Runion said.
During the final, pounding band battle, Parker slipped on stage to reattach a cymbal that dynamite drummer Henry Durham struck from its flange.
Durham is the most energetic of the group. At 5-2, 160 pounds, he’s a dynamo of power with a great sense of timing. He not only energizes the number, he adds a brightness that fits tight to the shredded riffs lead guitarist Josh Lundgren generates.
In fact, they call the kid of the band, “Shreds” for the way he tears a round a part. Lundgren hooked up with the band the end of May, replacing a former member, who didn’t work out.
“He fit right in,” Parker said. Having all the basics, musically, Lundgren worked real hard with the band to learn the tunes they had already produced — songs like: “Why’d You Go Like That?” and “Little Big Screen Cutie,” inspired by screen star Angeline Jolie, and others.
Lundgren, the youngest of the group at 25 and the father of two children ages 2 and 8 months, has wanted to be a member of a band of this caliber since he left high school. He spent the last 10 years developing and deepening his dexterity on a guitar neck. The Tool resident knows his scales forward and back and creates spine-tingling ear candy.
Bass guitarist David Beery keeps it real and adores being on stage. In fact, if you only know him as the mild-mannered appliance sales associate he’s been for the past 11 years at either Lowe’s or Sears, you’d be surprised to learn he really cooks before a crowd. “I like it on stage,” Beery exclaimed.
“It is so much fun. They told me, that if I wasn’t grown up by the time I was 50, I wouldn’t ever have to.” The Eustace resident turned 50 this year.
Beery is also the geek in the group. He’s the one who lined the band up to compete against 48 other bands for the victor’s crown, a chance to be heard by serious music producers, 20 hours of recording studio time and $500.
Runion, who made the investment in sound and lighting equipment and provides his Kemp garage for rehearsals, said the group is putting the prize money to good use. “That’s tattoo money, baby! We’re all going to get a ‘Just Us’ band tattoo,” he said.
All the members of Just Us are married, except for Durham. In fact, Beery conducted the wedding ceremony for most of them. He’s also a former minister. “The wives are all on board with it,” Beery said.
“Yeah! It’s pretty cool to be a Rock Star,” Lundgren agreed.