Legendary rock band ZZ Top set for local concert

PHOTO PROVIDED Spyglass Ridge Winery welcomes ZZ Top to its stage this weekend.

SUNBURY — With major hits like “La Grange,” “Sharp Dressed Man” and “Gimme All Your Lovin’,” the legendary rock band ZZ Top has one of the most iconic sounds in the entire genre.

Now, the bearded Rock and Roll Hall of Famers are headed to the area this Friday, as the trio is set to play a show at Spyglass Ridge Winery, 105 Carroll Road. The show, which is part of the winery’s “Summer Concert Series,” is the highlight of what has already been a fantastic lineup of productions the venue has hosted this year. That’s saying a lot, considering that this summer Spyglass has had its stage graced by the presence of many national touring acts like Blue Oyster Cult, Loverboy, Roger Hodgson, and George Thorogood and the Destroyers.

“I can’t even put my level of excitement on a scale, considering we have been trying to get them here for the last five years,” said Spyglass Ridge Winery owner Tom Webb. “They were on the top of my bucket list.”

Webb, who is a lifelong ZZ Top fan, said that he was nearly able to bring the band to his winery in each of the last three years — even having a contract ready to sign each time — but at the last second the previous shows fell through.

“Each time we felt like it was pretty much ago,” he said. “But the problem was that Live Nation would come in and buy the whole tour out. They would buy the whole thing, then all the people who weren’t in Live Nation routing lost out.

“Unfortunately, being a mid-level venue — even with our really good reputation — they would just pair ZZ Top with other bands and put them in a bigger arena, so we missed out a couple of times,” added Webb.

Because of the past difficulties in working out logistics with the band, Webb said he was skeptical when his agent came to him this year and said ZZ Top could make it to Spyglass.

“I said, ‘This is like a bride getting disappointed on her wedding day year after year,'” Webb said. “He said it was for sure this time — he had told me that before — so I said, ‘Okay, we will try it again.'”

When ZZ Top announced it was teaming up with CCR frontman John Fogerty for a tour this summer, Webb was certain the winery’s concert was going to fall through again, but his agent assured him that the band was coming to Sunbury.

“To say the least, I was extremely excited,” Webb said.

Unsurprisingly, all 2,500 tickets to the show sold out in only 31 hours, making it the second-fastest selling show in the history of the winery, trailing only the group Heart, who sold out in 19 hours. The show had been on a pace to crush the ticket sales mark that Heart set, as they had sold their first 1,100 tickets in just 20 minutes, but then a small mistake by an employee slowed the sales up just a bit.

“My employee texted me and said, ‘We are going to sell out in an hour,'” said Webb. “He got all excited and went on our Facebook page and said, ‘Looks like a record sellout,’ and literally within 10 minutes ticket sales completely stopped — everyone thought they sold out and we still had 500 tickets left. We had to go back on the next day and say that we still have tickets left.

“That taught us two things: Don’t say anything until it is totally sold out; and how powerful social media is,” Webb said.

Since ZZ Top is bigger in terms of popularity, the group also brings a bigger production to the winery, which means more vehicles are needed to transport the band and its gear. Since the group travels with four tour busses — one for each member of the band and one for the crew — and a tractor trailer, Spyglass has had to expand its parking area to accommodate them.

“I have four triaxles of stone coming to expand the parking lot,” Webb said.

The expanded parking lot is just a small change in the history of the ever-evolving venue. Only 13 years ago, the winery was hosting its first show — a Celtic Festival — with a tent and plywood stage, having only enough capacity for 250 people.

“It is really neat for us, because this all started in a field,” Webb said. “We have built a really cool venue here and we treat all the bands like family. We are kind of known in the industry, and we have bands requesting to play here now.”