FridaysUpdate: A complete 180: Band brings back classic dance hits

oneeighty32180 tries to bring infectious energy to its reenactment of modern dance hits.

"In Charlottesville, you're either a genre band or doing original stuff," cellist Frank Squillace says. "But how many times have we been told we're the only band playing modern dance music?"

His band, dubbed 180, is a seven-piece ensemble playing covers of the most danceable hits from the '60s to today– think the Temptations, Santana, Van Morrison. And while most listeners wouldn't normally think twice about that generation of music, 180 has successfully cornered a cross-generational audience in the local scene.

"We fill the niche of good, clean, classic rock," say Squillace.

"But what do you mean by clean?" counters guitarist Kevin Russell.

"Music you can dance to that everyone recognizes– young folks know a song is an oldie and old folks recently heard the modern tune on the radio," answers percussionist Mark Maslyk.

Simple enough. The group– two guitarists, a cello, keys, drums, bass, and vocals– has been around town long enough to recognize a need for accessible, family-friendly rock. And it works. Founded in 1998 when Squillace approached some church friends to play an upcoming charity event, 180 spent a full year practicing and made its debut to 600 attendees, raising $3,000.

The instant success lead to another charity event, then another, then even another, until the band took off in 2000, playing private parties, Gravity Lounge, and a pre-Pavilion Fridays After Five. Needless to say, it now takes less than a year for the ensemble to prepare for an event and what started as a casual gig evolved to a high-energy band traversing the local circuit.

"We're not the greatest musicians in the world, but we have a good crowd presence," Russell says. "What people love is that they see we're having fun."

The term "fun" resonates as the band's sole philosophy. Coming to the music from different backgrounds– bassist Jim Smith picked up his instrument after being inspired by his son's musical explorations, while keyboardist Tara Scott has been performing since she was eighteen months– the members of 180 are not looking to get rich quick. Instead, the band looks to both support the community and bring back to prominence a genre that is overshadowed by the original music of local bands.

"I came in for my audition, and they were having so much fun," remembers newest member Scott, who joined in 2008. "It looked like the kind of thing that would never be boring."

And it isn't, she insists.

180 plays Fridays After Five on 9/4. Paint the Town Orange rally follows. The show starts at 5:30 pm, and admission is free.

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