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Various Reviews and Press Coverage of the Band


(Cruis-O-Matic reunites for the Spongetones' 25th Anniversary show.  

How the 9-year Cruis-O-Rebirth began in 2004, as reported in the Charlotte Observer.)


When the Spongetones played their first Charlotte gig in 1979, the response was incredible. "Audiences hadn't heard that kind of music from a local band before," recalls founding member Rob Thorne, sixty. Two of the band's first original singles were on American Bandstand, and the Spongetones received two three-and-a-half- star reviews in Rolling Stone.


Since those days, band members Jamie Hoover, Steve Stoeckel, and Pat Walters have built a solid and enthusiastic following. They've released eight CDs chock-full of original tracks, and fans can expect a ninth on the way from Sony Records. On November 19, they'll celebrate twenty-five years of shaggy hair and yellow submarines with an anniversary concert at Amos' in South End.


"The Spongetones are the epitome of British invasion, guitar-driven, butt-kickin' rock and roll," says drummer Rob Thorne, who is a general contractor by day. "When we get together on stage, the energy is unbelievable."


The anniversary show is also an eagerly anticipated reunion with good friends and past co-rockers Cruis-O-Matic, who haven't performed as a unit since 1989. "We played the same club circuit and the same colleges as Cruis-O-Matic, and the first time we played together the crowd went nuts. We would consistently sell out," Thorne says.

"They really complement our style of music," explains Thorne, adding, "They're a bunch of crazy guys."


Cruis-O-Matic came together in the '70s, modeling themselves after the second wave of mid-'60s rock, featuring one-hit-wonder artists like The Standells, Music Machine, and Balloon Farm. "Our show is full of fast, danceable songs," says guitarist Edward Tanner. "Our presentation is funny and lighthearted, and we've got attitude."


Members of the bands enjoyed each other's company in the old days, pulling off antics that provided off-stage entertainment. "We were really immature together," says Tanner. "We set off firecrackers at Morrison's Cafeteria so we could watch the old men run out of the bathroom," he laughs. Tanner, fifty-three and now an attorney, says the two bands also held bottle rocket shoot-outs on the interstate. "We were big into water balloons, too," he adds, "—the stuff most people abandoned in grade school."


--Charlotte Observer, November 2004


Cruis-O-Matic returns from the dead for a show at Lenny's on Sat., July 23. The band is infamous for its unhinged live shows from the late '70s and early '80s, theatrical hijinks, and a seemingly bottomless catalog of Nuggets-style oldies. Currently led by original member Edward Tanner, the gregarious group recently revived the act with shows at Houck's and at a groovy party hosted by fellow retro-actives the Cherry Splits, who will join the band on the Lenny's bill. Though Cruis-O-Matic is most famous for opening for the Sex Pistols' American debut in Atlanta (Jan. 5, 1978), it also opened for a slew of other punk and new-wave outfits back in the day, and even played with Cher.

--Creative Loafing 2005


Cruis-Control: Cruis-O-Matic Returns to Blowing Rock

Story by David Brewer


For those of us who haven’t lived in the High Country since the early 1980s, it’s hard to comprehend the importance of the famed P.B. Scott’s Music Hall. But for live music fans in the High Country during that era, there was never any doubt about where to go for the best party in town.


Of all the acts that frequented P.B. Scott’s, one reigned supreme as the top party band in the land. Cruis-O-Matic, known for their wild stage antics and nonstop, high-energy sets of 1960s classics sat atop the entertainment heap.


After a near two-decade absence from the Blowing Rock music scene, the reformed, rejuvenated and rocking as ever Cruis-O-Matic will return to town for a one-night performance at Canyons on Saturday, May 6. The show will also be a celebration of the one-year anniversary of High Country News, officially one year old on May 5.


Before cable TV, the Internet and the home video boom kept people from wanting to leave the house, Cruis-O-Matic, along with acts such as Leon Russell, represented what was to many the golden era of entertainment in Blowing Rock.


Prodded by their cohorts, former Blowing Rock regulars the Sponge Tones, members of Cruis-O-Matic reunited in 2004 for the first time since the early ‘90s. The show was such a success that the band has been performing monthly ever since.


According to former P.B. Scott’s manager/owner Randy Kelly, Cruis-O-Matic was the go-to band for all the biggest nights in Blowing Rock. Kelly kept the band on a six-week rotation, having them back to the club as often as he could. “Cruis-O-Matic were one of the catalysts that got all the locals out to see their friends and have fun,” said Kelly.  Cruis-O-Matic shared stages with bands including The Cars, The Ramones, The Sex Pistols, The Runaways, The B-52s, John Cale, The Nighthawks, The Temptations, The Smithereens and even pop diva Cher.


While Cruis-O-Matic primarily plays cover songs from the ‘60s, they avoid the typical shtick. The band primarily stays away from beach music and wedding band fare, opting for popular one-hit wonders and high-energy dance music that keeps the fans on the floor instead of giving them a chance to head for their seats.


The current lineup of the band includes Edward “Mr. Vegas” Tanner on guitar, Bob “Mr. Leo Sagittarius” Cunningham on guitar, Steve “Brother Aloysius Goodfoot” Bryant on drums and Greg “Johnny Rosebud” Crawford on bass. All the band members share vocal duties.


Speaking of their many engagements at P.B. Scott’s, Tanner described the shows as great times for the band. “It was always a pleasant experience,” said Tanner. “Nothing bad ever happened to us there.”


While the band is eager to return to their old stomping grounds in Blowing Rock, they have all moved on to careers outside the life of a traveling band. This, of course, might explain their joy in reuniting and playing together again.  “We’re mainly just having fun because it’s not a job anymore,” said Tanner.


For those proud owners of the classic P.B. Scott’s T-shirts that have been nearly reduced to threads or for those who never got their hands on one, Kelly will be on hand with a brand new batch for sale.  To check out the long and detailed history of the band, as well as listen to releases from their heyday, click to Stay tuned for more emerging details about what promises to be a return to form for Blowing Rock’s partying past. 


--High Country News 2006


The Beatle goes on

Beatle batter and pop culture cymbal comes to town 


Never mind the Sex Pistols. Long before those iconic punks made their mark with a spitting image of reckless and drunken performances, another influential British punk band predated those blokes by, oh, about 17 or 18 years. They were called the Beatles.


No, no, no, not the suit-and-tie-wearing, "Yeah, Yeah, Yeah"-shouting Fab Four that took the world by storm in 1963. Before that, they were often referred to as the "savage, young Beatles," a hard-partying group that routinely played frenzied eight-hour sets and turned Liverpool, England, and Hamburg, Germany, into hot music scenes.


Back then, the drummer wasn't lovable, goofy Ringo Starr. The unrefined gang included Paul McCartney, John Lennon and George Harrison, with bassist Stu Sutcliffe (briefly) and a handsome drummer named Pete Best.


Today, Best, one of only six people -- living or dead -- who can claim to have been a member of the Beatles, retells his tumultuous tale without a trace of regret. "I've had a great life," he says. "I've been all over the world, have a great family, grandchildren -- and I still play music. What else do I need, really?"

And just as they opened for the American debut of those snotty Sex Pistols on Jan. 5, 1978, and the Great Southeast Music Hall, Atlanta's Cruis-O-Matic will open Best's rollicking retro show at Smith's. 

--Creative Loafing 2006


"In the '80s and '90s, the music business was more laidback. It was before big contracts. We had door contracts and handshakes." Ross remembers all the bands he hired. His favorites include the Cruise-O-Matics, The Daves, Drivin' & Cryin', The Killer Whales, Swimming Pool Q's, Sister Hazel, The Blue Dogs, Hootie & the Blowfish, Edwin McCain and Cowboy Mouth.

--Charleston Post & Courier 2006


AJC Remembers the 1978 Sex Pistol's Show 


The Pistols' U.S. premiere was just a great rock show, said music scenester Danny Beard, "as opposed to the desperate cry of the English unwashed, which is what the English critics would have you believe." A local '60s cover band, Cruis-O-Matic, opened the concert and, knowing that torn T-shirts and mohawks would be the uniform of choice, decided to go the other way with Izods and khakis. "It went straight over their heads," said bassist Rex Patton, who got hit by a tossed pickled pig's ear. "We gave them exactly what they wanted: Stuff they could really hate," said guitarist Edward Tanner. "We may have opened up with 'Double Shot of My Baby's Love.'" (Patton remembers a "Secret Agent Man" / "The Kids Are Alright" medley.)


For the headliners, however, the audience was perhaps too polite.  "What's wrong with these kids?" Lydon asked a friend later that night, according to the book "12 Days on the Road: The Sex Pistols and America." "They didn't get to the stage. They didn't even try. They just stood there."

--Atlanta Journal-Constitution 2008 


Atlanta - A Rainy Night In Georgia

The Pistols spend a quiet day-and-a-half prior to their debut, granting a few interviews (most notably to Time and Newsweek) while hordes of British journalists scurry around the hotel lobby starting, spreading and squelching

various rumors.... Channel 2 in Atlanta (WSB) reports the group as 1) having green hair, 2) vomiting and committing sexual acts on one another as part of their show, and 3) heading for Houston after the Atlanta date... Alex Cooley's Great Southeast Music Hall is packed to the gills minutes after the doors open at 7:00 p.m..Among those in attendance are 5 television crews, approximately 50 members of the press (including such notables as John Rockwell, Bob Christgau, Wayne Robins, Kit Rachlis, Tony Schwartz and Roger Wolmuth), several police officers and vice squads from both Atlanta and Memphis....


A local band called Cruisomatic opens, primarily doing cover versions of early rock and punk standards (to our ears, they are louder than the Pistols will be later, which is not very loud, contrary to what the Atlanta papers said.) 


The rain is coming down pretty hard by the time the Pistols go on at about 10:15 p.m.; Rotten asks, "Where's My Beer?"... "You can all stop staring at us now," Rotten says after opening with "God Save the Queen," "We're ugly and we know it... See what kind of fine upstanding youth England is chucking out these days?"..About 60% of the audience is standing and doing an Americanized version of the Pogo throughout, 20% of the audience is nasty, yelling yelling and throwing things at the band, and 20% of the crowd clearly does not know what on earth is going on..A mighty blow is struck for Punk Rock!!

-- SEX PISTOLS Offical Tour Press Release 1978



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