If it hasn’t been made evident by now, we love people here at AAT! We love hearing about their stories and passions for our community, but we also love hearing about what our fellow locals do and why they do it! For example, we have some wonderful neighbors who own/manager some fantastic local businesses and serve our town tremendously by doing so! This fact is why AAT has partnered up with our good friends at B3 Glass, to bring you all “Small Business Fridays!” Each week, we’ll feature a different, local small business and talk with its owner and hear about their journey, their business in general, as well as their heart for their customers and our city!
For the first time, ever, AAT is joined by an entire band all at once. Justified! This local group is known for covering all types of music, from country to modern rock. Their main stage, over the past several months, has been at the Red Lion Hotel and Casino; however, they have played all over Elko, Winnemucca, Ely, Carlin, Battle Mountain, Montana, and Idaho. Although Justified is not even a year-old-band yet and has only been able to practice together a few times (at the time of this article’s publication), their positive energy and natural chemistry have led them to become a quick local favorite.
For the interview, I (Anthony Crosby) met Justified at the Red Lion right before one of their weekend sets. I was joined by Becky Johnson, the lead singer who has lent her voice to several popular local bands in the past. Ken Baeth, a vocalist and the band’s lead guitar player. The bass player, Randy Mayberry, who has played all over Las Vegas for most of his life. Bobby Tocco, the barefoot drummer who has played with almost everybody in the business! Last but not least, Frank Basquez, the man on the keyboard, rhythm guitar, and vocals!
Thank you all for making time before your gig to chat with me, Justified! Since there’s so many of you talking with AAT today, we’re simply going to pose a question and have two or three of you give a response! Let’s get to it!
What led to you all coming together as a band? When did this all start?
Ken– Too many bands were breaking up, so we just merged!
Becky– Yes, we were all floating out there before we all came together. Justified actually kicked off July of last year (2018). We had, basically, one solid practice before our first gig on the fourth of July. We have been booked solid ever since! It just took off!
How would you fill in the blank? Justified’s shows are all about ______.
Ken– We’re all about fun, fun, fun! We love to be entertaining and want to put on a show!
Frank– Yes, we have a lot of fun and play with a lot of energy, and we haven’t even scratched our surface yet. We’re still learning each other, but as we continue to play with one another and tighten up, we’re going to be a showman’s group! We all come from different areas of the world, with different backgrounds and lifestyles, but everything just fell into place with us. There is so much talent in this group, but everyone is humble about it.
Some of you have been playing for years and with multiple bands and people. What makes this specific group so unique?
Becky– It’s very rare for people to come together and have our type of chemistry. Everyone in our band is important; if we’re missing one person, the group would be incomplete. I couldn’t do what I do without the rest of these guys.
Bobby– My track record is long. I was with CBS records for three years; I’ve been playing professionally for forty-eight years. I’ve performed in television studios, concert tours, outdoor festivals, cruise ships, Vegas, and the Roll Hall of Fame. However, I couldn’t have fallen in with a better group than I’m in now! These players are great. They’re a blessing, and I couldn’t be with a better group of people. On a friendship and talent basis, everyone has chemistry. I’ve played with a lot of prima donnas; you don’t have that here. Justified has huge potential to do big things.
What’s a big challenge Justified is currently facing as a local band?
Ken (With Laughter)- Day jobs! We need to get rid of our day jobs!
Becky– Yes, trying to get everybody together can be a challenge. I live in Battle Mountain, and the guys are living in either Spring Creek, Carlin, or Elko. It can be hard on our schedules, trying to get everybody together for practice; this is why we do play so many songs just on the fly.
Some of you have lived and played all over the country. What makes the Elko area so precious to this band?
Randy– Ever since I was about fourteen, I’ve been hunting up here in Elko. My wife and I finally decided to leave Las Vegas and move up here when we both retired. I tested the waters for a bit before I started playing with Becky and her band, and now we just love it up here! After being raised in Las Vegas, you can tell that people (in the Elko area) are different. They’re very nice and polite. It’s such a switch from Las Vegas or even Reno.
Becky– I love the people! They may walk in a stranger, but they’ll leave a friend. I would never leave this area because everyone supports each other and is wonderful. That’s what it’s all about; it’s about supporting others, and that’s what this band is all about.
What do some of you love most about getting up on that stage and playing in front of all those people? Why does playing your music matter to you all so much?
Becky– Without the people, we couldn’t do any of this. We do this with them and for them. We’re here for them and the rest of the musicians in this area!
Frank– You’ve heard of reaching for the top? Well, we want to reach to everybody’s heart. That’s how people will remember and know us and want to come back and share more time with us.
Bobby– Music is a gift, and we want to give that gift back to the people. We want to make them feel as if they’re apart of us for the time they’re with us. Through music, we want to resonate in people’s hearts so that they can become a part of our show.
After talking with the band, I decided to come back and check out their talent for myself. Fun was a great word to describe Justified’s style because people were having a great time, dancing and singing along. Furthermore, this group can play! Their chemistry was magnificent; they played their songs like had been rocking together for twenty years. Everyone in the band was terrific, but Ken…man, could Ken shred that guitar!
I want to give a special thanks to Caroline Mayberry who set this entire interview up. Thank you for reaching out to AAT, Caroline; the experience, as the whole, was a real treat!
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See you around, Elko!