Former Miami Heat Coach Pat Riley once asked a referee if he was a Parrothead.
The ref had no idea that was a nickname for a Jimmy Buffett fan and threw Riley out of the game, believing the comment was an insult.
From ClayManiacs to the Kiss Army, nicknames for fans have been a fun way to show support. And one new nickname that’s coming into the local music scene is “Gearheads.” But these fans are more into country music than muscle cars.
They have only been around for six months, but the band 5th Gear already has nicknamed their fans and found a growing audience across the state, and into Iowa.
With members from the Poynette and Madison area, the band started in January and recently won a 96.3 Star Country contest and they will be part of the Rock the Ark summer concert series in Wisconsin Dells.
“We’ve been around quite a bit in a short amount of time,” said Terry Grinde, who started the band with Bruce Towle and Sketter Bronson. Grinde and Towle played in the outlaw country band The deVillebillies.
Through auditions, the band added singer Tim Thielbar and guitarists Kevin Smith and Michael Rortvedt.
“Terry and I could never ask for a better bunch of guys to play with,” Towle said.
While many in the band have rock and country backgrounds, the group decided that Top 40 country music would be their niche.
“Everybody around here that plays country is playing that twang and we wanted to get away from that,” Grinde said.
Towle said they felt Top 40 country would be fun, and something an audience could dance to.
“I like all kinds of music, but I’m really partial to what’s on the radio today,” Grinde said. “Today’s country has kind of morphed into country plus ’70s rock. There’s a blend there.”
On June 30th, 5th Gear will take the Rock the Ark stage at Noah’s Ark Waterpark. But the summer concert series begins Saturday with the all-girl band Critic.
The Rock the Ark lineup includes musicians from Milwaukee, Madison, Poynette, Sturgeon Bay, Merrill, Rhinelander and the Fox Valley.
In March, Noah’s Ark conducted a statewide music competition on radio stations to discover Wisconsin talent with the winners getting to play in the Dells.
Musicians were asked to register performance videos of their act on radio station websites. The 10 winners receive a cash award of $1,000 and get to perform at Noah’s Ark.
Rock the Ark takes place at the Wave Stage from 2 to 4 p.m. each Saturday through Aug. 25.
Here’s a look at the lineup:
June 23 — Critic is an all-girl band from Rhinelander performing mostly classic rock and some originals.
June 30 — 5th Gear is an up and coming southern Wisconsin Top 40 Country band performing cover songs by Blake Shelton, Kenny Chesney, Brad Paisley and Keith Urban.
July 7 — Texas 55 is a southeastern Wisconsin band that has been together since 1988, playing high octane honky-tonk and rockabilly music.
July 14 — Doozey is a pop rock boy band from the Fox Valley influenced by Weezer, Fountains of Wayne, and Motion City Soundtrack.
July 21 — Bootlegg Brothers is an Eau Claire duo performing almost every genre of music from rock (Joe Walsh) to country (Love and Left) to their own originals.
July 28 — Truth Before Treason was a Rock the Ark winner in 2010. The band performs original hard rock and have recorded an EP named after the group’s former name, “The Brutal Truth.”
Aug. 4 — Spitfire Rodeo is a high energy, modern country music group based out of the Fox Cities.
Aug. 11 — The Dirty Deuce is an all-original rock group from Sturgeon Bay.
Aug. 18 — Juneau is a relatively new pop rock band from Madison. The boy band released a self-titled EP in April 2011.
Aug. 25 — Brad Emanuel is a singer/songwriter and performer from Merrill. He has a repertoire of more than 200 songs, from country to rock.