Too Much Sylvia keeps local ties strong after 20 years

For 20 years, Too Much Sylvia has been a mainstay on the music scene in Cabarrus County.

The band plays 6 p.m. and 8 p.m. Sept. 17 at the Cabarrus County Fair.

From playing everything from college parties to bar mitzvahs, the band has been a relatively unknown treasure to people outside of Cabarrus County. In the past year, Too Much Sylvia has played at numerous wedding receptions, sorority and fraternity parties, fundraisers, local bars, at junior high schools, a retirement home and a divorce party.

"Our target audience is anyone who will pay us to play," joked band member Steve Long. Their scope is ever expanding.

"It's great for us to see all ages enjoying the music and the show," said the band's Rick Lee.

"I think if the music is played and presented with respect to the audience, regardless of the age, it's just hard for anyone to deny what feels and sounds good," he said. "It's contagious."

Too Much Sylvia has always been a group of friends first. Three of the band mates, Lee, Long and Eddy Howie, have known of each other or have been playing music with one another for 20 years. Drummer Don Leonard has been with the band for 11 years.

"Eddy and I played together in the band Sugarcreek. Steve was playing in a few bands, Diamonds and Status, which was on the same '80s circuit," said Lee. Too Much Sylvia played its first show together at Pfeiffer University in April 1991.

They arrived on the scene at a college nearly 20 years ago and are still playing college parties today. They started out as a variety band and, depending on what venue they were playing, adjusted the presentation and song selection accordingly. Their success can be attributed to their longevity and appeal over time.

"Many factors contribute to the longevity of any band. ... Keeping it fun, the love of the music and compatible personalities are essential," said Lee.

Too Much Sylvia also has local ties that they just won't break.

"It's always special for us to play in Cabarrus County," said Lee. Lee was born and raised in Cabarrus County, while Howie is from Monroe, and Long and Leonard both live in Charlotte. Many of Too Much Sylvia's early rehearsals were held in Concord and Harrisburg. Over time, their local fan following has grown.

"We all have developed quite a few friends in this county," said Lee.

Too Much Sylvia has played all types of music over the years, from jazz to blues, but what they are really known for is Carolina beach music. They are ranked in the Top 35 on 94.9 The Surf, the Carolina's top beach music radio station.

"Love Takes Time" is ranked No. 25 while "One More Night" is No. 33. Their latest CD is called "Red Sunglasses."

"If you had to categorize us, I guess we would be a variety band. For us, it is not so much about being in the music business or the record business. At this point we realize we are in the entertainment business so our goal is really just to entertain people," said Long.