FOXBOROUGH —Out of the public eye for well more than a decade, local southern rock band Windwood Hollow is proving that you can indeed go home again.
The Foxborough-based band, which had experienced considerable local success in the 1980's and '90's will be making their triumphant return to their home town on Thanksgiving weekend. The hard-driving yet versatile rockers will appear at the Fusion 5 night club on Rte. 1 in Foxborough on Friday, Nov. 26 and Sunday, Nov. 28.
Says founding member, guitarist and vocalist Dave Moreshead, now of Boca Raton, Florida, "It really is like a homecoming. We were lucky to have developed one of the better followings of any of the bands in the area back then. It's going to be funny to look out and see so many of those old familiar faces that followed us around for so long."
The long and winding road that began for the band in 1980 took them to every state in New England, as well as Martha's Vineyard and Nantucket, along with venues in New York. Moreshead and fellow founding member Pat Gallagher, the keyboardist who still resides in Foxborough, waxed nostalgic about the very early days.
"It's funny to look back at our very first gig. It was at a little place called Jack's Cafe in Mansfield,” said Gallagher. “We also had many great gigs a little later on at The Gathering in Norton."
Vocalist Linda Payne of Providence joined early on after she met the band at Thackery's restaurant in Walpole, where the band started to appear frequently. Working as a waitress there, she got up to sing with the band and soon became a regular member.
As they focused largely on Top 40 and classic rock, Payne sang lead mostly on female cover songs, such as those by Heart, Pat Benatar, Fleetwood Mac, The Pretenders, and Bonnie Raitt.
By the end of the 1980's the band had evolved more into the southern rock style. Their production manager, Michael Brooks of Easton, recalls, "They developed a niche because there weren't many bands in this region playing that style."
It was the addition of songs by southern favorites, the Allman Brothers, Lynyrd Skynyrd, the Marshall Tucker Band, and ZZ Top to name a few that helped elevate Windwood Hollow's popularity. The band also began performing their own original songs crafted in the southern style that had served them well.
The original songs and stage show caught the attention of country star Doc Holiday, who recorded them for his "Tugboat" record label. Brooks served as the producer on the resulting album, entitled "Still Rockin' ", which featured twelve original songs.
Unfortunately, as Brooks relates, the release was disappointing for the band as it lacked the financial backing to help give it the attention it deserved. Some of the songs can still be heard on the band's Facebook page.
They did however have the occasion around that time to serve as an opening act at larger venues for such nationally known acts as Molly Hatchet, Foghat, John Cafferty and the Beaver Brown Band, Blackfoot, and James Montgomery. They appeared at a three-day Hunter Mountain Harley-Davidson
Festival in the Catskills in the mid-1990's that was attended by well over 100,00 people. Recalls Moreshead, "The crowd seemed to like us a lot — even more than a couple of the well-known bands".
"Part of our appeal, I believe, is that we could be very versatile because of our lineup,” said Moreshead. “We have one member, George Butler, who plays sax, flute, and harmonica, which allows us to do a lot of different things."
Adds Payne, "That's how we came up with the name 'Windwood Hollow’ — 'Wind' is for the instruments that George plays, which require wind. 'Wood' is for the guitars and drums, and 'hollow' is for the acoustic guitar, which is also an important part of the sound."
The band experienced significant tragedy by losing two of its members to cancer in the mid-1990's. The deaths of both drummer George Briggs and bassist Dave "Moose" Monteiro dealt the band a blow from which they would never fully recover.
Recalls Moreshead, "We were set to take the next step up. We were scheduled to go to Nashville to do a showcase for several record company executives when George got very ill. It really took the wind out of our sails."
The band tried to carry on with replacement players, but made the decision to dissolve the band by 1998. Moreshead moved to Florida shortly after.
But now they are poised to turn the clock back a couple of decades to relive their former glory. Helping to validate their decision is the fact that, with virtually no publicity, word of mouth about the reunion prompted more than 400 tickets to be sold to the first show in just a matter of weeks. In addition, the Foxborough High School Class of 1977 will be having a reunion of their own at the second show on Nov. 28, reliving their own good times of listening and dancing to a band that was a part of their younger years.