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Serious recreation

Cassie Pence
Preston Utley/Vail DailyBluzilla is a band consisting of members of the community moonlighting at local clubs and bars to keep themselves musically inclined.
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Terry McCune loves playing the guitar because it makes him feel like he’s 18.”No matter what age you are, even if you’re 15,” Terry said. Terry’s been rockin’ out since adolesence, and the music has never left his fret jumping fingertips. He’s not alone. Terry and bandmates Mark Gottbehuet, Chase Wiens and Brian Bontrager jam out about every two weeks as local band Bluzilla just to fulfill their passion for music. They all have day jobs, but no one is ever too busy or tired to play live music. The extra cash and free drinks are nice, too, members assure. Bluzilla is a blues band. But it’s not the type of band that plays cheesy blues tunes, although they do rip a mean “Sweet Home Chicago.” McCune prides himself on playing blues gems, ones you might discover in a dusty record collection, ones you probably have never heard. Bluzilla plays today on the streets of Lionshead from 1-5 p.m.”I think blues is happy music,” said Terry, who, by day, owns Geno’s sandwiches, serving up a genuine slice of Windy City cuisine. “Being from Chicago, I heard the blues when I was first interested in music.”Terry formed the group in 1991 with a few different members. The current lineup has been playing for the last year and a half at bars up and down the valley, either as a full band or sometimes as a duo and trio. Tery is no doubt the ringleader. He controls the stage with his fretwork and authentic blues vocals. His cynical, funny-man personality shines through in between tunes as he shoots one-liners back and forth with bass player Chase, his right hand man. Terry reminds me of Dan Akroyd, Chicago comedian and costar of “Blues Brothers.””Terry won’t let me pick any songs, because Terry is a tyrant,” Mark, the keyboardist, said with a straight face. “He basically is Bluzilla. The rest of us are miniature reptiles.”Terry said if I checked out each member’s CD collection, there wouldn’t be a lot of intersection points. Mark, if given the chance, would play more classic rock, though Terry does let him sing the occasional Allman Brothers’ tune.Mark was hooked on music the first time he heard the Beatles. It was like a bug bit him. He wanted to learn to play the drums, but he learned the organ instead, that’s what instrument his mom had in Pueblo. Mark’s been playing the organ, keyboard, piano ever since.

“I’ve always played by ear,” Gottbehuet said.He’s worked in a traveling band with his keys skills, although he admits he’d rather be jamming at home, writing music with just a couple of guys. “Life on the road is rough, but if you can handle the alcohol and drugs, it’s fun and exciting,” Mark said.Bass player Chase lives to play in front of a crowd. He likes to make the booties shake.”It’s the feedback you get from the crowd that I love,” Chase said.Although Chase’s thumping base line is most likely the underlying groove forcing your hips to sway during a Bluzilla show, he said most people can’t pick out the sound a bass makes. He claims no one knows your there until you screw something up.”Bass is a really key part and people don’t realize it,” Chase said. “As a bass player, when you impress somebody, it’s usually the people you’re playing with.”Drummer Brian met Terry at an open mic night, as did the other members. Brian is the baby reptile of Bluzilla at age 25, but he doesn’t mind playing with three “old guys.””It’s all about the music,” Brian said, “Blues isn’t the most challenging to play on the drums, but I enjoy listening to everyone else.”Brian works in Beaver Creek and Eagle on ranches riding horses all day. Drums have always come natural to him since the early years of banging on pots and pans. He also plays with local band Laughing Bones.

“It’s always great to be able to play music and get paid for it. Every single time we play it’s fun,” Brian said.And seriously fun recreation is what it boils down to for all the members.”We’re not a beautiful band that looks good in leather. There might be bulges in the wrong places,” Terry said. “But everyone in this band loves playing music.”Monster blues in the houseBluzillaFrom 1-5 p.m. todayLionshead village



Bluzilla membersBy day By nightTerry McCune: Owner of Geno’s guitar playerMark Gottbehuet: Phone company worker KeyboardistChase Wiens: restaurant manager bass playerBrian Bontrager Beaver Creek stables drummerArts and Entertainment Editor Cassie Pence can be reached at 949-0555, ext. 618, or cpence@vaildaily.com.Vail Colorado


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