The New Sound Of Yesterday:
When you first see The Fondas live onstage, it just feels like something great is going on in the room. It’s not only the beautiful blonde/raven-haired frontwoman Julie Benjamin, whose sultry voice lingers over the dusty sound of yesteryear’s rock ‘n’ roll and R&B. It’s not just the guitar attack of Mark Niemenski and Steve Shaw or the bouncing rhythm section of Nick Sokolowski and Chip Sercombe. It’s that The Fondas, united as one entity, can set up and bring a room to its knees within the 30 minutes they are allotted on stage each night.
Formed in 2002, The Fondas have been blasting out the pop and R&B inspired rock 'n' roll for more than five years now. Between the members' shared interest in such music and the process of making records, the group decided to strike out and form the band. “We all like lots of different stuff, but have enough common ground where it sounds like it is coming from the same place,” guitarist Steve Shaw says. While some bands struggle with their sound for years, Shaw relays The Fondas didn’t have much trouble at all: “For whatever reason our sound evolved rather quickly when Julie started singing in the band.”
In 2003, the group released their first single, “Wanna Be,” and their first full-length long player, Coming Now. When strapping on the headphones to listen to The Fondas, several things pop out in one’s mind. The band has an extremely original sound that is a culmination of several classic genres hardly ever mixed. The band perfectly melds the doo-wop of a Del Shannon with the tenacity of the Ramones, the garage psych of The Jujus and the country guitar ramblings of Buck Owens.
All comparisons aside, The Fondas began to gain national attention extremely early on as they gained an influential fan in Bruce Springsteen’s E Street Band guitarist Little Steven. As the host of a national radio show, Little Steven’s Underground Garage, Little Steven holds the nation’s classic rock radio listeners in the palm of his hands every Sunday night. He introduced said listeners to The Fondas through constantly spinning their jams and having them play several dates on his Underground Garage tour. The band picked up rave reviews opening for such classic garage groups as The Shadows of Night and Detroit’s own powerpoppers The Romantics.
The Fondas continued to stay busy as they dropped the bomb on the local music scene in 2006 when they released three vinyl gems. A single for the instant-classic “Make You Mine,” along with their second full-length Runaway Bombshell and a split with North Carolina favorites The Ettes made for an unforgettable year. The split single was extremely fantastic as it featured the bands playing the always-astounding songs of Reigning Sound and former Oblivians frontman, Greg Cartwright.
What’s on tap this summer for the band after a gig at CityFest? “Recording is the top priority this summer,” Shaw states. “We will be recording a Christmas song Mark wrote, hoping to get it out for the holidays,” Shaw says. Hopefully, Christmas comes early this year for Fondas fans. | RDW
The Fondas • July 5 • Comerica CityFest Pure Detroit Stage, 5 p.m.
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