LEISURE

Betamaxx brings ’80s fun July 14

Betamaxx will perform at the Scripps Ranch Symphony in the Park concert series July 14 at Hoyt Park. (courtesy photo)

Betamaxx brings ’80s fun July 14

A nonstop, nostalgia-filled and danceable show is in store when Betamaxx brings its high-energy performance of 1979-1989 music to the Scripps Ranch Symphony in the Park concert series, 6-7:30 p.m., July 14 at Hoyt Park.

While the band plays at many clubs and events throughout Southern California, it also performs a number of private and corporate engagements and has traveled to the eastern United States and Canada.

Betamaxx co-founder and bandleader Eric Valenzuela explained that the band started when he and some old friends and former bandmates got together to celebrate their 40th birthdays. When they picked up their instruments for old times’ sake, most of the songs they all knew were from the ’80s.

“We sort of had a jam, and it was awesome,” Valenzuela remembered. “It was one of those ‘Want to get the band back together?’ things.”

The original goal was just to play dive bars for fun and use the band as an excuse to get together. But they soon realized there was a big demand for ’80s music. Once they settled into that niche, the band started getting bigger and better gigs.

“It just took off really quickly,” Valenzuela said. “Some folks wanted to come along, some folks didn’t want that sort of thing, so It evolved, and there’s only two of us (Valenzuela and lead vocalist Kirk Howe) remaining from the original six.”

Now, with a seven-member lineup of experienced performers, Betamaxx emphasizes not just playing the music, but presenting what its website calls an “authentic ’80s live music experience.”

From early on, the co-founders focused on honing their musical performance as well as presenting a good-looking show in terms of costumes, stage set-up and choreography.

“We’ve designed and created this show to be as if an ’80s band were performing today,” Valenzuela said. “We didn’t want to do the wigs, didn’t want to be too ‘shticky.’ Imagine how artists like Def Leppard, Duran Duran, the Go Go’s and Michael Jackson might look if they were performing today. So, it feels ’80s, but It feels modern as well.”

He noted that the music of the period now enjoys broad appeal.

“It transcends generations now. If you walk through Target now or any hotel, they’re just playing ’80s, pretty much our playlist,” he said. “It’s become ubiquitous with pop nowadays. Now our kids know these tunes!”

At interview time, Valenzuela said the set list for the Scripps Ranch Symphony in the Park show was still coming together, but he expects it to include plenty of familiar tunes.

“We’ll probably go with all the hits everybody loves,” he said. “From rock to pop to new wave – we’ll just do nonstop dance party for them.”

Remember, at Scripps Ranch Symphony in the Park concerts, picnics are welcome, only low-to-the-ground chairs are allowed, no dogs are allowed, and attendees cannot bring plastic tarps. Visit symphonyinthepark.org.

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