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Buddy Dughi of rockabilly/roots bands the Hot Rod Trio, Suzy Q & Her Be-Bop Boys, and the Buddy Dughi Combo is who you would—and should—call a lifer.
How did the Hot Rod Trio start?
Hot Rod Trio started as the Rockits. We had released a pink-vinyl 45 in 1988. Then we lost our bass player. That's when Suzy, my wife, started playing bass, and we changed the name. That was about 1990.
You've had the same lineup since then?
There's a well-established rockabilly scene in Orange County that you've been part of all that time. What is it about Orange County or rockabilly that allows the scene to endure?
It's hard to say, but it probably is the biggest scene in the world. I talk to people all over the country. The scene out here is so much bigger than anywhere else. There are some states where there isn't even one. But it's a lot more popular now than it's ever been. Before, it seemed like it was just Orange County and overseas. Why Orange County? That's a tough one. But back in the '50s, Southern California was a pretty good place for country, rockabilly and all that type of music.
Some people playing similar stuff prefer the description of their music as "roots music" rather than "rockabilly."
I absolutely prefer "rockabilly." You can call it whatever you want. I've heard people say, "I like rockabilly, but I don't like country music." That's impossible. You have to have that country element or it's just not rockabilly.
You've released a few solo albums outside the Hot Rod Trio, too?
I did two solo CDs. One was strictly surf instrumental. It was something I wouldn't play a whole set of with the Hot Rod Trio. And I have another out called Rev It Up. There's some rockabilly and a touch of psychobilly on it. It's a little bit revved-up, a little bit more wild. I used some different players on those. And we had a few cuts with piano and saxophone.
Do you see doing any more solo records?
I see doing some vinyl 45s in a very traditional, authentic, '50s rockabilly sound, like a real Sun Sessions type of sound.
To what do you attribute the Hot Rod Trio's longevity?
We don't take ourselves too seriously, and it's always been about having fun. If there's a gig that's not fun, or we don't want to do, we just don't do it. We love playing the music. We always have. When your main concern is having fun, you avoid arguments and stuff that breaks up bands.
You play a double-neck guitar on occasion?
Yeah. It's two six-string necks. The top neck is an octave up. It's tuned to regular E, but it's one octave higher. It gives it more of a high-pitched sound. It's more of a show-stopper. You play on the regular neck, and then you repeat the line or do a solo on the octave neck. It's real flashy. Deke Dickerson got me into that guitar. The guy who built it made a couple of them in the late '50s. I kept bugging him and got him back into building them about four years ago.
Are you into the cultural aspects of rockabilly as well?
I've been into hot rods for a long time. I built my first hot rod in the mid-'80s. We're really into the hot rod shows. That's what the Hot Rod Trio does more than our other bands, play a lot of car shows.
Have any favorite local rooms?
We love playing the Juke Joint. Every time we play there, we have an absolute blast. We love Moon Eyes. They've supported us in a lot of ways. And they've got great car parts.
How is it being in a band with your spouse?
It makes things a lot easier. My wife, Suzy, is 100 percent into the music and will play any time. I pushed her into singing, and she got better and better. Now, we have a side project that features her singing and bass playing called Suzy Q and Her Be-Bop Boys. So we also do shows with that band. We keep really busy. I think it all stems from having fun and wanting to play.