This weekend the Sarasota Seafood Festival will be happening at downtown Selby Five Points on both Saturday & Sunday from 10-6! There will be great food and music. Tampa’s Greg Billings Band is playing on Sunday afternoon. Greg Billings started with his band Stranger in the 80’s, rockin’ many of the local haunts in Sarasota/Bradenton and is one of the bay area’s most enduring musicians. We were able to catch him in between a two-night gig opening for the incomparable Van Morrison.
SP: Who are some artists who influenced you musically?
GB: Paul Rodgers and Peter Wolf were some early influences for me. Peter’s antics and Rodgers voice.
SP: You just celebrated 35 years since the 1st Stranger record with a sold out show at the Capitol Theatre! What did the night mean to you?
GB: The Capitol Theatre show was huge for me. It was something (Stranger show) I have wanted to do locally for a while, so when the first Stranger album turned 35– That was great reason. And the response was crazy. That band made many friends in 80s and 90s, some of which are still friends of mine. Some of those friends brought their kids to the show – that is cool!
SP: On March 11, you are doing a concert during Daytona Bike Week. Will this be a similar show to the Capitol for people who missed that?
GB: Orlando show will be same idea- Play entire first Stranger album and GBB new album Boom Boom All Night- With a few surprises of course.
SP: You recorded a song “Old Friends Don’t Come Easy” on your new album “Boom Boom All Night” with Sarasota resident and AC/DC frontman Brian Johnson. How did you get Brian on the track?
GB: Track was written about 9 months ago and always thought of Brian’s vocal for the second verse. Brian liked the song when I sent to him back in the summer but waited for his return from UK in Sept to record. Brian has done several recordings with me in the past we have always had fun doing it. The session was great and Brian was in great spirits and took only about an hour as he has such great feel. Robin Zander of Cheap Trick also sings on this track along with his daughter Sailor.
GB: I also recorded a song he wrote called “Thank You For Loving Me” which ended up on GBB “Built 4 Love” CD which he also sings on. Brian and I have been friends for about 25 years. I met Brian thru his beautiful wife Brenda!!
SP: What are 3 albums would you need on a desert island?
GB: J. Geils Band- “Blood Shot”, Montrose – “Montrose”, Bonnie Raitt – “The Glow”
SP: Will you be playing a Stranger tune or two for the Sarasota Seafood Fest this Sunday? My personal fav is 3D!
GB: Lots of Stranger music at the Seafood Fest. But not the first album songs- We will save those for another day- Hint Hint. 3D is a possibility!! You will have to come see for yourself.
photos by Vicky Sullivan / Rock The Lens Photography