Gary James' Interview With Tony Sedia Of
Lynyrd Skynyrd Tribute Group
They are regarded as Southern California's premier Lynyrd Skynyrd tribute group. Tony Sedia portrays Ronnie Van Zant in the group. Tony spoke to us about Skynyrd Reloaded and his role in the group.
Q - Tony, how much of an audience is there for a Southern California based Skynyrd tribute group?
A - We're fairly new and we have a pretty good following going right now. We've kind of been told by brokers and a lot of people there wasn't that much of a market, but every time we play we're getting a lot of good feedback. A lot of people are starting to follow us and get on Facebook, that sort of thing. We're getting a little bit of fan base going.
Q - Did you put this group together?
A - Me and one of the guitar players actually put it together.
Q - I take it before this Skynyrd tribute band, you were in a cover band or an original band or both?
A - Basically what you would call a Classic Rock cover band. We did quite a few Lynyrd Skynyrd songs in my vocal range. I got a lot of compliments and comments saying I sounded a lot like Ronnie Van Zant. When I hooked up with other guitar player, Brian, we decided we were going to try and do a tribute. He's actually from Southern California as well, but he lived up in Seattle for several years and was in a Lynyrd Skynyrd tribute band up there and came back and was interested in doing the same thing down here in Southern California.
Q - This group probably performs all over the U.S.?
A - No, not yet. Only in Southern California so far. We're only about six or seven months old right now. We actually got an offer from Ron Eckerman, who was Lynyrd Skynyrd's Tour Manager from the '70s, from '75 to '77 I believe, and was actually on the plane with them. He heard about us and came out and did a book signing. He has a book out, kind of with his time with Lynyrd Skynyrd. He had us play, met us, and was interested in us playing the East Coast, but the logistics just didn't work out for us at the time. So, we're into it, but haven't had the right offer yet.
Q - Have any of the guys in Skynyrd been out to see the band?
A - No.
Q - Do they know about you?
A - I'm not real sure about that. I think Artimus Pyle (Skynyrd's original drummer) knows about us. A couple of guys are hooked up with him on Facebook, so I think he knows about us. I'm not sure who Ron's in contact with as far as the original band. He definitely knows about us and is very complimentary. If he is in contact with him, I'm sure he's mentioned us, but I couldn't verify that at all.
Q - You call the group Skynyrd Reloaded. How is it that you can even use the name Skynyrd in the title of your band?
A - They're really relaxed about that. There's a couple of Lynyrd Skynyrd bands in our area and a couple of 'em actually have Skynyrd in it. Not Lynyrd Skynyrd. They (Skynyrd) are not opposed to it. I think they feel you're furthering their music, getting it out to people and they're not worried about it, from what I've heard anyway.
Q - With any tribute group you're sort of stuck in a time warp. With Skynyrd it's the '70s. Did you ever want to take a song from the '80s or '90s or 2000's and sing it in a Ronnie Van Zant style?
A - No. I haven't really thought about that as far as someone else's songs. I kind of thought about it on my own original music, kind of in that style, in that vein.
Q - Do you ever get tired of singing the hits of Lynyrd Skynyrd?
A - I'd be lying if I said it didn't get a little old once in awhile, going to rehearsals and playing 'live'. I never get tired of playing 'em 'live', put in that way, or in front of a crowd, definitely not. The reaction we get is unbelievable. The band I have behind me is fantastic. It's a thrill to play those songs actually.
Q - Do you remember where your first gig was and what the audience reaction was?
A - The first gig we played was in Yorba Linda at a place called The Main Street Café. It's outdoors, but it's covered. It was on a Sunday afternoon. We played for about three hours, with a couple of breaks, and we got a fantastic response. The guy that promoted it actually helped us get a gig at The House Of Blues shortly thereafter too.
Q - Sounds like you're on your way.
A - Yeah. We're making a lot of good contacts. We get great feedback every time we play. We had a little bit of resistance at first with bookers saying "I don't think there's that much of a demand out there." But we're getting a name for ourselves and some of those guys who said no at first are calling us back.
Q - I don't suppose you ever got the chance to see Skynyrd in concert, did you?
A - Actually I did see 'em at Anaheim Stadium when I was about 15 years old. I've seen the current band a couple times as well. But I did see Ronnie Van Zant and the whole original band.
Q - That's a pretty big place. Did you have good seats?
A - We made our way up front. It was a long day. There were quite a few bands there. There was Foreigner, REO Speedwagon, Ted Nugent. But we made our way up pretty close by the time they came on and we got a good experience with 'em. I still remember it. It really made an impact on me, the way they played. They just had bright white lights and came out and played and really ripped it up, so we were really impressed as kids.
Q - Why'd you think a Skynyrd tribute act was the way to go?
A - Their music really resonates with me. All their songs have messages I like. It's music that has stuck with me all my life, ever since I was in high school. I'm 50 years old now, so it's been awhile. (laughs)