The Eagles are arguably one of the most recognized American bands, with countless hit songs that have permeated our country's collective conscience.
A group of Savannah-area professionals have banded together for a live tribute to the classic songbook of one of the best-selling rock bands of the '70s. From CPAs to LPNs to collegiate deans, The Dark Desert Highway Band is a conglomerate of hobby musicians with a couple of professionals, mostly based in Statesboro, whose live show is a greatest hits journey of The Eagles.
Russ Lanier, a partner at the CPA firm Lanier, Deal & Proctor in Statesboro, made the transition from his longtime Elvis Presley tribute show to performing the music of The Eagles last year alongside his main musical partner, Benjy Thompson, who runs the Development Authority of Bulloch County.
"It was something we talked about for a long time," Lanier said. "Last year, we decided, all right, we're going to do it. Glenn Frey had just died. It didn't look like The Eagles were going to play again. It was ironic; we get within a month of doing our shows and they decide to make a comeback. I was a little concerned about that."
The Eagles returned to touring in 2017, accompanied by country star Vince Gill and Frey's son Deacon. They have 20 shows scheduled for 2018, the closest of which is over 150 miles away in Columbia, S.C.
The continuing popularity of The Eagles' music has trickled down to the tribute acts. Originally, The Dark Desert Highway Band was scheduled for a single show Jan. 20 at the Tybee Post Theater. When that sold out quickly, they added a second show, which as of this writing, still had tickets available.
"It's just a lot of fun," Lanier said. "We all enjoy it. Honestly, we'd do it every night if we could. That's how much we love it. Everything we've done has sold out. People just love The Eagles. It's not us, of course, because no one knows us really. They love it."
Lanier's Eagles tribute group is completely new. They played their first show in September and have since played about four concerts. Behind five lead singers - Lanier, Thompson, Perry Zeigler, Mandy Fowler and Brandi Harvey - The Dark Desert Highway Band courses through a two-hour, two-set show that pulls mostly from the two greatest hits albums. They perform about 25 songs, dipping into Frey's solo work and some duets with Stevie Nicks, Trisha Yearwood and Linda Ronstadt. Backing up those singers are Mike Crews on bass, Jackie Skinner on lead guitar, Jerry Roberson on keyboard, Duane Borba on percussion and Allen Amason on drums.
"We've kept it very simple," Lanier said. "It's an Eagles greatest hits band â€¦ We try to keep the sound very close. The styles, we do them exactly like they do.
"If we had the chance, this is what all of us would do every day. But, you know, you do have to pay the bills and the mortgage. These guys are incredible musicians and they're all local. I come up with these projects and they jump in. You do one and they say, when is the next one?"
IF YOU GO
What: "One of These Nights," The Music of The Eagles
When: 4 p.m. Jan. 20; 8 p.m. show sold out
Where: Tybee Post Theater, 10 Van Horne Drive
Cost: $20 or $25 reserved seating