'70s country rockers Straight Shot at it Again

2014-07-09T21:45:00Z '70s country rockers Straight Shot at it AgainBy Cathalena E. Burch Arizona Daily Star Arizona Daily Star

On an otherwise quiet Tucson Saturday night last month, a band of friends took over the stage at The Boondocks Lounge.

Straight Shot Again — a reunion of four of the original Straight Shot country rock band members from the late 1970s — told only a few friends about the gig.

It was about good friends getting together to relive old times and see if they still had the juice to jam.

From the packed house that cheered them on that night, lead singer and reunion instigator “Freaky” Frank Manhardt knew his old band still has the chops.

“It was incredible. It was just like a superflash of the old times, hearing some of these riffs I hadn’t heard in years and years,” recalled Manhardt.

On Saturday, Straight Shot Again returns to the Boondocks for what Manhardt hopes will be a monthly gig. Here are a few things to know before you go:

The band: Original Straight Shot members Manhardt on lead vocals and acoustic guitar; guitarists Donny “The Twangler” Roberts and Richie Cavanaugh; and Rob Francis on keyboards; and newcomers bass player Tom Privett and drummer Steve Sayre.

The music: A mix of country rock covers and original songs, including those written by Straight Shot and a few songs penned by Privett and Sayre.

Lifelong friends: Roberts and Manhardt have played music together since Manhardt was 21 and fresh out of the Army and Roberts was a 14-year-old guitar whiz. They were in bands together in Flagstaff for several years in the early 1970s before moving to Tucson with their band, Freaky Frank and the Pistons. Once in Tucson, they renamed themselves Straight Shot.

“We bought a school bus … and we had bunk beds in there and a kitchen. We moved to Tucson and we got gigs right away and we got popular,” Manhardt said.

The pair also formed The Frank & Woody Show, which was even more popular than Straight Shot. When that band broke up in the 1980s, Roberts moved to Nashville where he became an in-demand session player, including playing on Steve Earle’s alt-country critically acclaimed album “Copperhead Road.” Manhardt’s most recent project has been the classic rock band Roadhouse.

An idea turns into a revival: Straight Shot Again started with Manhardt, Privett and Sayre getting together to jam. “We were singing really good together, but we realized it was time to call a guitar player.” Enter Roberts, who suggested recruiting Cavanaugh followed by Francis.

It’s all about the fun: Straight Shot Again’s first live performance was a benefit concert at Club Congress in March. That was a dry run for the June show at Boondocks that Manhardt considers the band’s debut.

“We’re not doing this to make money. We are doing this purely for the love of it,” he said. “It is awesome and we’re having a lot of fun.”

Contact reporter Cathalena E. Burch at cburch@azstarnet.com or 573-4642.

Copyright 2014 Arizona Daily Star. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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