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Music Notes: Billy Heller

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Carly Weber  ::   UPDATED: 21 January 2014 | 2:30 pm   ::  

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The talent: Billy Heller
The music: Acoustic guitar
The gigs: 7 to 10 p.m. Saturday @ Java Creek Cafe, 588 Boyson Rd. NE, Cedar Rapids
The rest of the story: www.billyheller.com
If you have been a follower of music in Eastern Iowa, you might be familiar with Billy Heller. The first time I heard of this guy was many years ago, when my brother, a drummer, let me listen
to a few songs he said he recorded
with a couple of guys he called “Heller” and “Frank Boyer.” I was blown away.
The music was intense, progressive
fusion rock.

For years Billy was a staple of the local rock band scene with groups like Public Disturbance, Redwing, Tower and Sgt. Rock, just to name a few. Then for several years, he played with the popular Christian rock band, Fighter, performing all over the country. They recorded a couple of CD’s and Zion Guitars selected him as an official “endorser,” making custom-built guitars for him.

After that, Billy continued to stay busy in the local music industry as a studio musician, guitar teacher, member of the band at Living Hope Wesleyan Church, musician with Theatre Cedar Rapids’
band and as a member of the Janelle Lauer Band.

And now, he’s made it to the Music Notes page of Hoopla, for yet an additional reason: his solo acoustic gigs.

Let’s talk to Billy – shall we?

PL: Describe the type of music you play these days in your solo act.
BH: Uber-Folk and Acoustic Muscle.

PL: Who are some of the bands/musicians that you cover?
BH: Pretty much ALL of ‘em – from
James Taylor and Willy Porter, to 70s
TV theme songs.
PL: Where do you like to play,
and what are some of your
favorite gigs?
BH: Java Creek Café and Fireside Winery are my faves. And I absolutely LOVE playing fretless bass every Sunday at my church. Oh and TCR, which I’ve also played for a lot.

PL: You play such a variety of styles.
Who are some of your musical influences?
BH: Ed King and Steve Gaines from Lynyrd Skynyrd, Willy Porter, Peter Mulvey, Warren DeMartini, David Wilcox, Eddie Van Halen, James Taylor, Jeffery Foucault and Shakira.

PL: There’s not enough space here to name them all, but who are some of
the more interesting people you’ve
played with?
BH: Dave Ellefson (bass for Megadeth), Barry Binger (RIP), Tommy Bruner,
Don Timmons, Steve Jennings and
Tim Looney.

PL: Have you ever won any awards
for your talents?
BH: 1993’s “LONGEST BELCH” Champion

PL: Nice. How about other interesting stories – got any?
BH: I got a call from Michael Sweet (now with Boston, but formerly with Stryper) to go on his first solo tour, after he heard my work with Scott Wenzel of Whitecross. I also got a call once from an early musical idol of mine – Kerry Livgren (Kansas’ “Dust in the Wind composer) to thank me for a T-shirt design I did for him. I argued with him at first, because I didn’t believe it
was really him.
— PETE

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