Gator Allmond retired from the Air Force about 12 years ago, but his local music career is still soaring.
A Portsmouth native who spent nearly 20 years playing and singing with Air Force bands, Allmond has kept his group, the Spice of Life Band, busy entertaining across the Peninsula and beyond.
On Friday, Allmond and company will perform a free show at Fort Monroe that's open to the public.
Allmond recently took a few minutes to answer questions about his life and music.
Explain your nickname.
Gator is a nickname I got from college when I was pledging a fraternity. When I was in high school I started wearing this hat, a safari hat with a giant safety pin. It reminded people of Wally Gator, the cartoon character. And me having a mouth and being loud, it fit. I stuck to it because it's something people remember.
Where is your home base? The home base for the Spice of Life is here in Hampton. However, we do have a few members who live in Newport News and we have special guests from other bands joins us on stage often. We all have been in the business for several years and we all have played the same type of music for years so we just use experience and get in the groove and do our thing. Once it's locked in we are on our way to a new horizon of pleasing our audience and deeply satisfying ourselves musically and spiritually.
What year did the band start? The Spice of Life Band was formed here in Hampton area in 1978 with me and six other band members from the Air Force Band here at Langley. It was a off-duty thing when we had time to perform on our own level without certain restrictions.
Who plays what? Allen Benthol, drums; Carlton Savage, guitar and background vocals; Von Butts keyboards and background vocals; Gator Allmond, vocals, trumpet and percussion. Frequent guest members include Bret "Bam-Bam" Harrell on bass and vocals, Greg "Termite" Rich on keyboards and background vocals, Charles Peterson on sax and background vocals and Clifford Clark on sax and background vocals.
Describe your style. The Spice of Life is a dance/show band. We fascinate our audiences with R&B, rock, pop, beach, blues, jazz, patriotic, a little country, oldies from '40s-'90s, and a little Latin music. We always bring or DJs to our dances or private parties to give a good flavor in our versatility. In other words if the band can't play it, the DJ will play the special request.
Who are your musical heroes? James Brown, Les McCann, Aretha Franklin, Gladys Knight, Al Jarreau and Lou Rawls.
What's your favorite local stage? Fort Monroe concerts, including Fourth of July celebrations; Hampton Bay Days; Chesapeake Jubilee.
What's your dream gig? I always wanted to play at the Hampton Jazz Festival and the oldies festivals in Richmond and D.C.
Why do you love making music? This is what I believe is my destiny. I have been performing since I was 3 years old in church. It's a feeling that you are giving people, bringing a smile to their faces and bringing back memories to their hearts.
What's your ultimate goal? I want to record a CD and hit the top 100 charts and perform one of the biggest concerts ever to raise money for all children and families that are hungry.
News to use
Gator Allmond and The Spice of Life Band will perform 6 p.m. Friday at Fort Monroe's Bay Breeze Community Center as part of the fort's SummerFest By the Bay series. The free family event, which runs 5-9 p.m., will also feature food for purchase, children's activities and swimming in the center's outdoor pool. For more information, call 788-3151.
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