Mike Hines and The Look celebrating 30 musical years

Mike Hines and The Look Old School Photo Nite Club by .

This early photo shows the original members of Mike Hines and The Look. The are, from left, Rick Fusco, Victor Summers, Mr. Hines, Dave Simmons and Dean Teat. (Submitted photo)

For Mike Hines and The Look, the party has never really stopped.

Over three decades, the ubiquitous dance band has been entertaining Downstate and beyond with its signature brand of high-energy performance that continues to pack venues across the area.

Saturday night, the group celebrates its 30th anniversary with a show at Dover Downs’ Fire & Ice nightclub.

“The time has really flown by,” said Mr. Hines when reminiscing this week.

“It’s interesting. Now when we play clubs I’ll see mother-daughter and father-son teams coming out. Our clientele seems to be from 21 to 60 and that’s a unique thing from a club standpoint. I’m very proud of that.”

Best Bets logo CLEAR copyPerforming their first show in 1985 for Milford High School’s homecoming, 30 years is a pretty impressive feat for any band, let alone a primarily local one.

It’s an accomplishment not lost on Mr. Hines.

“It was pretty challenging in the early years. All young people want to be successful but they want it to be convenient. I’m so grateful that I’ve had a group of guys who wanted to put in the time,” he said.

“We’ve all had to miss family dinners, holidays, birthdays either because we had a gig or we were just practicing.

“Through the years we’ve all worked at nine- or 10-hour jobs and then we’d practice at midnight. I’m not only grateful to them but also grateful to all of the family members down through the years who have understood why we’ve done it the way we have and encouraged us along the way.”

He recalls a time in 1989 when they won a record deal with Atlantic Entertainment through a WDAS Radio-sponsored contest called The Dream of a Lifetime.

“We were one of 10 finalists for the contest held up in Jersey. We ended up practicing for it on Christmas Eve because I knew none of the other bands would want to practice on Christmas Eve. And it paid off.”

While he gives credit to his band mates, his fellow musicians give kudos to him as well.

“To be able to still be popular and relevant after all this time is really humbling,” said drummer Dave Simmons, an original member of the group.

“When Mike and I left The Snapp Band and recruited (keyboard player) Dean (Teat) to form this group, I never dreamed it would go on this long. Most bands last a few years and either break up or no one cares anymore. It’s really a testament to Mike’s ability as a showman to keep the crowds coming out.”

Although Mr. Hines was disappointed the band didn’t hit the heights of the recording world, much came from the experience.

“It created enough of a buzz for us that we were able to work full-time as a band and garnered a great deal of regional success. In the early ’90s, we were doing 200 shows a year from New York to Maryland and ended up getting a Bud Light sponsorship as well,” he said.

Along with the regional success, Mike Hines and The Look has opened for national acts such as Chris Rock, Al B.

18dsn Mike Hines by .

Prior to forming Mike Hines and The Look, Mr. Hines was in the groups Pure Essence and The Snapp Band. (Submitted photo)

Sure!, Taylor Dayne, The Sugarhill Gang and Dionne Warwick.

Mr. Hines is proud of the fact that there have been very few member changes over the past 30 years.

“We have little squabbles from time to time but we’ve always been able to work through them and I think that’s a big key why we’re still together after 30 years,” he said.

Mr. Teat agrees.

“I have been and will always be grateful to Mike and Dave for getting me in the band and cherish the moments we’ve had on stage,” he said.

“That being said, some of the most memorable and funniest moments have occurred off stage, waiting around before we take the stage. As talented as Mike and Dave are on stage, off stage they are two of the funniest guys I know.

“Even though we’ve done this for 30 years I still look forward to what will happen next when Mike takes the stage.”

These days, the three are joined Jon Benson on guitar, Greg Gantzer on bass and DJ Knappy.

Rick Fusco and Victor Summers rounded out the original group. Other members down through the years have included Sol Knopf, Shawn Murray, John Miller and Brett Showell.

Mr. Hines hopes a few of the former members will join the band on stage Saturday night in Dover.

“I’ve told them all ‘Don’t cancel an existing gig’ but everybody’s welcome to come jam with us. I know Sol already has another booking but we’re hoping some others come out,” he said.

Saturday’s free show starts at 9:30 p.m. but it’s advisable to get there early as the venue is expected to be packed.

If you can’t make it this weekend, Mike Hines and The Look will play Harrington Casino’s Gold Room Dec. 26 and The Jetty Dock Bar in Grasonville, Maryland, on New Year’s Eve.

Ever the promoter, Mr. Hines, of Camden, is a constant presence on social media — whether it’s to plug an upcoming show or wish a fan Happy Birthday.

It’s a far cry from how he used to spread the word.

“It’s one thing to be popular in your own backyard but it’s another thing to be big in Philly and Jersey,” said Mr. Hines.

“A month before a show up there, I would take out ‘x’ amount of money, drive up to the venue and buy girls and guys shots and tell them I was playing there next month.

“The following month when the show came around, they’d remember me as the guy who bought them shots and they’d come out to the show.”

He also would hustle locally while working in stores throughout Dover Mall.

“I worked in so many of them at the mall, the store managers would let me put the fliers in the stock rooms. Some nights the shows would be filled just with people who worked at Dover Mall,” he said with a laugh.

“But that’s what you have to do to be successful.”

These days, Mike Hines and The Look still are mainstays at local galas, festivals and area nightspots, cranking out the tunes of today plus old favorites.

“It’s a fine line to walk. We want to stay current with our music and not give folks the same old show they’ve seen over and over again. But then we’ll get people asking us if we’re going to play “The Bird” by Morris Day and The Time or Prince’s “Purple Rain.” So sometimes you get caught between a rock and a hard place,” he said.

Although appreciative of the musicians he’s played with over the years and those who have supported them, Mr. Hines says there is one factor to The Look’s success that can’t be, well, overlooked.

“We’re very grateful for our following — old and new — and we appreciate all of their love and support for 30 years. Without them there would be no Mike Hines and The Look, so I have to thank them for helping us live a dream,” he said.

“I’ll be doing this for as long as God allows me to.”

Amillion at the movies

Dover hip-hop artist and author Amillion the Poet will expand his repertoire to the big screen Tuesday night as Dover Mall’s Carmike Cinemas will premiere a concert film he made while performing a sold-out show at Wilmington’s World Cafe Live at The Queen last month.

Redd Pen Media shot the movie, which will be shown at 6 p.m. Tickets are $5. The film is rated PG.

Amillion is fresh off an international tour, which brought him to the United Kingdom earlier this year.

Wicks honored

In keeping with area musicians hitting it big, Country Weekly recently reported Smyrna’s own Chuck Wicks has just been named to Susan G. Komen’s “Pink Tie Guys” Class of 2016.

“To be selected as a ‘Pink Tie Guy’ is nothing short of an honor,” the country singer told the website.

“To be among a group of gentlemen — all with the same goal and purpose — is a great thing that can only bring hope, promise and faith that one day together we can and will beat cancer.”

Mr. Wicks caught the organization’s attention after he raised over $5,000 during a “Pull-Up Challenge” during his shift on America’s Morning Show, a national radio program he co-hosts.

“(Co-host) Blair Garner saw Mark Wahlberg do 22 pull-ups in 30 seconds on ‘Ellen’ the day prior and challenged me — on the air — to beat Mark’s record,” he told Country Weekly.

“The next day I brought a pull-up bar into the studio and, with the help of listeners across the country, we raised $5,000 by doing 28 pull-ups in 30 seconds. Yeah, I beat Mark Wahlberg, but who’s counting? It was all for a great cause.”

The 10 men honored this year are athletes, doctors, celebrities and corporate and philanthropic leaders in the Greater Nashville area who have worked to help find a cure to breast cancer.

Mr. Wicks’ second studio album “Turning Point” is set to be released Feb. 26.

Alabama coming to fair

As we told you in Thursday’s paper and Wednesday at Delaware­StateNews.net, Alabama brings its well-known country hits to the M&T Bank Grandstand at the 2016 Delaware State Fair in Harrington Monday, July 25.

Showtime will be 7:30 p.m. Gates will open at 6:30. Ticket prices are $45 to $84 and go on sale at 10 a.m. today at www.delawarestatefair.com.

Alabama, a trio of cousins from Fort Payne, Alabama, have had 43 No. 1 singles, including 21 No. 1 singles in a row. The band has sold 73 million albums and been inducted into the Country Music Hall of Fame and the Hollywood Walk of Fame.

Alabama joins the previously announced booking of ventriloquist Jeff Dunham on July 23 as the only fair concert announcements so far.

The Delaware State Fair, at 18500 S. DuPont Highway, will be held July 21-30.

Now showing

New in theaters this weekend is the highly anticipated “Star Wars: The Force Awakens,” the Tina Fey-Amy Poehler comedy “Sisters” and the animated “Alvin and The Chipmunks: The Road Chip.”

On DVD and download starting Tuesday is Hugh Jackman in “Pan.”

To share news of your Entertainment group, venue or event, contact Craig Horleman at 741-8224 or chorl@newszap.com.

Reach features editor Craig Horleman at chorl@newszap.com

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