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Playing this summer: DR. ZHIVEGAS

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon, June 9, 2011 - PROFILE: The name says it all. A smart-ass play on words that time shifts an epic, romantic novel/film into the glitz, glitter and over-the-top attitude of the Las Vegas strip. DR. ZHIVEGAS has been a mainstay on the St. Louis music scene since the mid-1990s -- combining the rock and roll energy of bands like Van Halen with funky dance grooves that seem to automatically propel audiences out onto the dance floor.

Sure, it's a musical throwback to the '80s, but it's also a vibe that's constantly being tweaked and updated by the band to keep it fresh and contemporary.

DRZ has become one of the more popular private event bands in the area, so catching them at a free summer concert series doesn't happen that often. But DR. ZHIVEGAS is playing a free concert this Friday, June 10 from 7-9:30 p.m. at the ''Hot Summer Nights, Cool Summer Sounds'' Concert Series at Des Peres Park. There's more info on the concert below. But first, here's the band's lead singer, Frankie Muriel talking about DR. ZHIVEGAS.

HOME: St. Louis.

AGE: "The band started in 1996. The core of group has been together 15 years. Bands don't stay together this long and maintain the same level of success ... 4-5 years if you get a good run. So this is nothing short of extraordinary to have the run we have had - at the level we have. And the shows are still packed with new generations of fans. We have constantly reinvented what we are as a band - without losing the things that people love about DRZ. At the show in Des Peres Park you'll see kids to 20-somethings to families. At this point, it seems like everyone in the StL has a DR. ZHIVEGAS memory."

INSTRUMENTS: Frankie, lead vocals and keyboards; Paul Chickey, drums; Cubby Smith, bass; JP, guitar; Taynka, backing vocals.

HOBBIES: "World traveling, cooking, eating, power shopping. I'm a professional man of leisure when I'm not rockin'!"

LAST CONCERT ATTENDED: "With more than 200 shows a year on the books, we never get to see shows, concerts or even our friends' bands. Though our first night in Las Vegas, we were standing on stage with Elton John, watching him play "Saturday Night's Allright" from literally 4 feet away. Talk about surreal ... hard to top that!"

LATEST ACCOMPLISHMENT: "After headlining our 2009-10 Vegas run, we came back home and flipped the line up and sound of the band. The new line up is amazing -- and the new energy allowed us to reinvent DRZ again. We are very excited on the new direction. St. Louis fans seem to really be responding to the new set, and that reaction inspired the band to start recording again. We began working on a new album this year, there are four songs into it and it's sounding great. High energy club dance music played the way only a rock band can!"

WHY WE DO WHAT WE DO: "We love music! We love performing! The thing that separates DR. ZHIVEGAS from other bands -- cover or not -- is we are 150 percent balls to the wall! Pedal to the floor every time out -- whether it's a Lady Gaga or Earth Wind and Fire cover or our own stuff. We realize we would have nothing without the hundreds of people that line up to see our show every night. So we never take it for granted -- never let up -- and always know we wouldn't have everything we have in our lives without that support. And it starts and ends right here in St. Louis -- no matter what other cities we take it to. Every opportunity we have had has come from the excitement we created in the STL and the Midwest."

QUOTE: "It ain't a party til someone calls the cops or you see the sun come up ... whichever comes first!"

"Fortunately, we have fans in the police departments of every municipality in Missouri!"

Check out www.drzhivegas.com for more info and the band's complete schedule.

Hot Summer Nights, Cool Summer Sounds Concert Series

Des Peres Park is at 12325 Manchester Rd. at the intersection with Ballas Road -- just north of West County Shopping Center. The concerts usually attract a large crowd, so plan to get there early if you want a good seat. Bring a blanket or lawn chairs. Outside food and drinks -- including alcohol are permitted. No glass containers. In addition, concessions will be available.

Parking is very limited inside the park, but parking is available at the Edward Jones Building, 12555 Manchester Rd. -- across Ballas Road from the park. Des Peres Public Safety personnel will be there to help concertgoers cross Ballas Road.

In the event of rain, call the park hotline.314-835-6102 or go to www.desperesmo.org. Upcoming concerts in the series include Griffin and the Gargoyles on July 8 and Charles Glenn's Motown Review on Aug. 12.

Terry Perkins is a freelance writer who frequently covers the St. Louis music scene.

Terry Perkins is a freelance writer based in St. Louis. He has written for the St. Louis Beacon since 2009. Terry's other writing credits in St. Louis include: the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, the St. Louis American, the Riverfront Times, and St. Louis magazine. Nationally, Terry writes for DownBeat magazine, OxfordAmerican.org and RollingStone.com, among others.