by Blake Herzog
Pelham Blue, a “’90s pop punk rock cover band” which just started playing gigs together last spring, lucked into the Aug. 3 slot of the annual Prescott Summer Concert Series at Courthouse Plaza after another group had to bow out of it and turned it into a “flashy” all-ages party.
The quintet revved up the crowd with three-decade-old hits by Pearl Jam, Foo Fighters, the Offspring, Third Eye Blind, Nirvana and other classic bands, sharing their love of and nostalgia for the raw, straightforward tunes that dominated that era.
Bassist Darrell Denlinger says the band that became Pelham Blue went through several iterations “without ever getting out of the garage,” and once the current lineup assembled, “it was a bunch of really great coincidences that all centered around this decade of really great music, that was not really being played by anyone else around here.”
That passion yanked many of the 500-plus audience members, the most they’ve ever played for, onto their feet whether they danced in front of the stage or at their seats. The mood also got a lift from a “flash mob” of young dance students led by their teacher, Lexe Niekamp of Lessons by Lexe Dance Studio, as the band played Smash Mouth’s “All Star.”
The idea was the brainchild of guitarist Cadu Medina, who does the marketing for Vivili Hospitality Group as his day job. “I wanted to do something to bring attention to The County Seat because it’s right across from the event, and I was talking to Lexe and said, ‘I was wondering how hard it would be to put together a flash mob kind of thing, where you guys are wearing County Seat t-shirts and we have some food you guys can pass around and…’ Then she cut me off and said, “I’ll do it!”
Niekamp said all 11 students who volunteered for the gig learned the simple routine from a video she posted online and did get some people in the audience to join in. “It was one of the greatest joys of our summer,” she said.
As a proper flash mob should it surprised everyone, including most of the band. “All the band members knew about it, but I didn’t want them to get distracted over it, so I just said ‘something’s going to happen here, don’t worry about it. I wanted it to be a surprise for everyone,” Medina said.
As a new band Pelham Blue had a bit to prove to the concert series organizers, singer Chad Dixson said, but managed to knock it out of the park. One of the board members said, “we all knew this was kind of a gamble because we didn’t hear you guys play before you got here, but you guys were amazing, we want you guys back next year.”
Drummer Dan Morgarelli and guitarist Charlie Clark complete the lineup and all had a blast playing their first Courthouse Plaza concert, Medina said: “It was several layers of oh my God, this is such a cool thing.”