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B-52's tribute act Cosmic Bling shacks up at Sauced



Herds of small terriers cowered and scurried out of the crowded living room at the first blast of the kick drum.

The 10-piece band was packed into a house in Northwest Norman as it pushed through a parade of diligently rehearsed send-ups to one of pop music's most bizarre and unfailingly upbeat outfits: The B-52's.

Cosmic Bling is a menagerie of vocalists backed by a live band that will bring irrepressible camp and towering beehives to Sauced on Friday for a two-set spectacular roaming through some of The B-52's most known and beloved tracks.

"We did this once before as a masquerade where we had people representing different members. But this time we are doing it as a salute to The B-52's so we can involve more people," said bassist Sky Camfield. "We are not seeking to replicate The B-52's, but to replicate the fun and the feeling of The B-52's."

The idea was hatched at a wedding reception in the midst of a karaoke session which brought former bandmates Camfield, Amanda Becannen and Melanie Goeders together for a rendition of "Love Shack," a song the trio once covered while members of a previous group.

"It was magic, like we'd never quit," Goeders said, adding that the decision to put together a tribute band was made on the spot. "We knew it would be fun. The songs are great, but challenging. The crowd gets into it, so they are a good band to cover."

The B-52's were a quintet in the early days of their career, but Cosmic Bling is bringing twice that number as a response to the daunting task of following the act's dual divas, Kate Pierson and Cindy Wilson.

"Those women in The B-52's are really amazing singers, so we wanted to spread the wealth around and give people a chance to rest during the set because it is really demanding stuff," Camfield said. "I have the easiest part, because I just have to be loud and crazy like Fred Schneider."

The B-52's' music is also deceptively complex, Camfield said, with loads of transitions and unusual instrumentation. Cosmic Bling samples from nearly every album the group has recorded, including songs that date to the band's meager beginnings in Athens, Ga., in the mid-to-late 1970s. The task of covering that much ground only becomes more complex when five singers are passing off vocal parts in the midst of one song.

"That's when it is about everyone doing their homework and knowing their individual parts, knowing when you are supposed to come in, knowing how many measures between your vocal parts," Becannen said.

All this must be done without missing the most essential element that makes The B-52's music so endearing and enduring: the campy fun.

"Working together and being at one with your team is important with this music," Goeders said. "They are having a party when they sing and we have a party when we practice. There has to be big, mutual electricity."  "Charles Martin

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