Local band to play at KJ’s Bar & Grill

By Jamie O'Toole, Columnist

DeKALB — Covering bands like Lynyrd Skynyrd and Molly Hatchet, DeKalb band Shooter will bring what it calls “whiskey rock and roll” to residents.

The band will perform 8 p.m. to midnight Saturday at KJ’s Bar & Grill, 518 E. Lincoln Highway.

For the performance at KJ’s, band members will perform songs like “Gimme Three Steps” and “Sweet Home Alabama,” by Lynyrd Skynyrd, as well as songs from the rock band 38 Special such as “Hold on Loosely” and “Rockin Into the Night,” Shooter lead singer Jr. Mancilla said.

The group’s performance is free to attend. Audience members must be 21 or older to enter the bar and attend the show.

The band encourages the audience to participate and sing along at its performances, Mancilla said. He said he uses a wireless microphone when he sings, so there’s no telling where he might roam Saturday night.

Shooter is a six-person band, originally formed in 1982 in DeKalb. Steve Kelly plays the slide and guitar, Bill Knauer plays guitar, the bassist is Russ Davis, Julie Miller does backup vocals, Benny Rapier is the band’s drummer and Mancilla is the lead vocalist.

The name of the band comes from the 1975 studio album “Straight Shooter” by Bad Company, Mancilla said. Bad Company was one of the members’ favorite bands at the time, but the group decided to “cut straight” and keep Shooter because it shoots its music straight at the audience, he said.

Shooter has traveled the world as a touring band with national acts. In its long career, the band has received the Rockford Area Music Industry Award in 1996, according to its website. The award recognizes bands and their involvement in the local music community.

Although the band takes pride in having toured nationally, it’s no stranger to performing in DeKalb. Before KJ’s Bar & Grill was KJ’s, the band would play there quite a bit, Mancilla said.

After 40 years of performing, there’s not much music the band can’t perform, Mancilla said. Shooter covers mostly southern rock bands, classic rock like Bob Seger, and, once in a while, country he said.

Shooter released its second CD “Band of Brothers” in 2016, 18 years after its first CD, “Gone Full Circle.” The band’s last tour, “Band of Brothers,” was in 2016, according to its website.

There have been many memorable performances for the band, but playing shows in their hometown, DeKalb, is favored, Mancilla said.

“Corn Fest is one of the most fun times because we rarely get to perform [in our] hometown,” Mancilla said.

Being on the road, the band doesn’t get to see friends or family often, making playing at home much more exciting, he said.

“It’s like having a little flashback — all the old friends kind of pull out of the woodwork that never get out, come to see us [and it] turns into 1980 again,” Mancilla said.