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Lost Cause kicks off Live on the Levee

WANT TO GO?

Live on the Levee

Headliner: The Esquires, Openers: Lost Cause

WHERE: Haddad Riverfront Park

WHEN: 6:30 p.m.

TICKETS: Free

INFO: www.liveontheleveecharleston.comCHARLESTON, W.Va. -- Some bands get caught up in the business of music. It gets to be less about playing and more about making a buck or getting famous.

Everybody wants to quit his or her day job, except maybe Lost Cause. The local party band, which helps kick off this summer's Live on the Levee series at Haddad Riverfront Park Friday, seems pretty happy being just a couple of optometrists, a lawyer, a teacher and assorted others who get together to play what they want when they want.

'The core of the group is pretty much Vicki and Whitney Hess," keyboard player B.J. Nibert explained. "Vicki grew up singing in church and has a natural gift, a beautiful voice. Whitney has been in music all his life.

"They were casually playing with some people, and about 10 or 11 years ago decided to throw a band together."

It was actually more of a lob. Lost Cause began with the Hesses, but guitarist Monty Vickers soon joined them.

"Monty and I used to play tennis," Whitney said. "There were a couple of us, and we just played around for a while, then somebody invited us to their house to play a birthday party.

"At some point, we decided we needed a keyboard player. Monty said he knew another optometrist, a friend of his, who played."

Nibert laughed.

"Yeah, Monty said 'Oh, B.J. can do that.' I hadn't played in 25 years, but that's Monty. He includes everybody."

Lost Cause plays cover songs: a little classic rock, some music from the 1980s (which seems to be back in fashion, they said) and whatever the crowd is hungry for.

"It's music people know," Whitney said. "It's music we like."

The band gets along. Lost Cause's lineup has been fairly stable for the last decade, though it's a large cast of characters. Aside from Vickers and Whitney on guitar, Nibert on keyboard and Vicki singing vocals, the band also includes guitarist Bill Glover, bassist Dave Hudnall and drummer Kevin Levine.

Just about everybody contributes vocals, which is probably a good thing because Whitney said not everyone can make every show.

"Monty won't be playing Friday," he added. "He's doing something."

He didn't sound like he knew what exactly. 

Levine is the latest addition. He joined Lost Cause two or three years ago.

"I filled in a few gigs for a couple of years before that," he said. "The other drummer, I think he moved away. So when the slot opened up, I stepped in.

"Time flies when you're having fun," he added.

Whitney said, "We never meant for it to be a serious band. We just play what we like."

Whitney also plays in more serious bands, bands that write their own material or that have a more business-like approach. Among others, he plays saxophone for the Magic Moment Band, InFormation and The Velvetones.

"But with Lost Cause, I sing and play guitar," he said. "It's different for me, I guess."

He doesn't say for sure, but there are things he's done with Lost Cause that he probably wouldn't do with any of those other bands. Because there isn't the pressure to make a buck, they can have fun with the crowd and be silly.

On occasion, Lost Cause dresses up for shows. They've appeared as pirates and flying monkeys.

It's not as easy as it sounds.

"Playing with wings wasn't easy," Levine said. "I think I was halfway through our first set before I got used to them."

Reach Bill Lynch at lynch@wvgazette.com or 304-348-5195.


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