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Belleair to rock with Hotel California
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Hotel California performs Sunday, April 14, at the Dimmitt Community Center.
BELLEAIR – First it was country, then it was Motown. Coming up it will be rock from the 1970s, as the outdoor concert series in Belleair wraps up the season on Sunday, April 14, at the Dimmitt Community Center.

A tribute to the Eagles will be featured at the concert. Hotel California will be performing and Belleair officials predict more people will attend this concert than any of the others.

Tickets for the concert can be obtained at the Belleair Rec Center. Tickets are $5 in advance and $10 at the gate. The gates open at 4 p.m. and the music starts at 5 p.m. Food and beverage vendors will be on site.

“Right now ticket sales are higher than they were at this time before the Tams,” said concert organizer Sara Borger of the recent Motown concert. “We’re way ahead of where we were, and the last week before the concert is when we really sell well so we’re expecting close to a sell-out.”

Hotel California as a group began in the early 1980s. Wade Hogue is one of the lead singers and a founder of the group. He said choosing to play nothing but Eagles music was not a hard decision.

“All Eagles music, that is all we do,” he said from his home in California. “We began by playing in clubs and bars but wanted to get into something that was more lasting. We wanted good music and good vocals and the Eagles was it.”

Hogue said it is always interesting to watch the crowd at a concert in a town where they have never performed before.

“I think our music exceeds expectations because people don’t know what to expect,” he said. “But when we start playing people get hooked in and they love it. And they get up to dance; they can’t help themselves. In a place like Belleair, outdoors, people can get up and have a good time.”

When Hotel California begins playing on Sunday it could be a little like preaching to the choir, as the old saying goes. They were chosen as the headliners for the concert not by accident.

“When we asked people what they wanted to hear at a concert they constantly tell us they want to hear songs that they know and they can sing,” said Borger, the organizer. “The demographics of Belleair are such that the Eagles were the popular band at the time, and the majority of Belleair residents want to hear that music. So we looked for a band that played that music and fit our budget and we discovered Hotel California.”

A tribute band is what fits the budget according to Borger.

“We can’t get Springsteen or Elton John or the Eagles, but we can get a tribute band and it is OK.”

Borger said the popularity of the upcoming concert is not only measured by the ticket sales but also by companies and groups coming forward to help sponsor the event. The title sponsor of the Eagles Tribute is MaintenX, owned by Belleair resident Pat O’Hara.

As for the size of the crowd expected, Borger said despite the demand, it will be limited.

“We had 2,200 people here for the Tams,” she said. “We aren’t going to sell any more than 3,000 tickets to any concert even though we could fit in more people. We want to maintain the small town feel of the concerts, make it easy to navigate. And it is working; there is more and more interest each time.”

This isn’t the first time in the Bay area for Hotel California. They recently played at the Florida State Fair in Tampa and for the past eight years have played at Disney’s Epcot Center in their summer concert series. When they were in Tampa, Hogue said they rented a house in Clearwater.

“It is a beautiful area and we know exactly where Belleair is,” he said.

Hogue is reluctant to say exactly how old he and the other band members are, but he said they fit the bill.

“I don’t want to deal too much with that,” he said. “We’re older gentlemen, from the late ’30s to ’50s; we’re not young boys.”

It is unusual to have tribute bands around when the original group is still playing. The original Eagles are alive and well and are constantly on tour. Back in the mid-1970s the Eagles were considered one of America’s biggest band with hits such as “Hotel California,” “New Kid in Town” and “One of These Nights.” They have sold 150 million records worldwide. They disbanded in 1980 but regrouped in 1994 and have been performing ever since.

Hogue said there is no way his group can compete with the Eagles and they don’t want to.

“I would say we’re a complement to the Eagles, not competition,” he said. “There can be no competitors for the original, until they retire, but even then I don’t think there will be competition.”

In addition to Hogue the band members are George Eickinson, Steve Probst, Dan Hill and Scott Fronsoe. Hogue said they are not ready to retire yet and plan to continue the play of Eagles music for a while yet.

“We’re going to go as long as our bodies and health allow us,” he said. “It is kind of one of those things you can’t let go of, we have the tiger by the tail. There is too much demand and our reputation is good; there are other Eagles tributes bands around but nothing that can compare with what we do.”
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