Deb & the Dynamics bring heart, soul to festival

‘We’re still the same high-energy party band we’ve always been,’ Debra Biela says of her band, Deb and the Dynamics. It will provide part of the musical entertainment for the Punta Gorda Spring Festival.

Debra Biela was in her backyard, cutting down coconuts so her Jack Russell terrier wouldn’t get beaned by one if it fell.

Now you know what a bass player in a rock ‘n roll band does in her spare time.

Biela is not only the bass player but the founder of Deb and the Dynamics, one of the most popular bands in Southwest Florida.

Her band will provide part of the entertainment for the Punta Gorda Spring Festival, to be held from 12:30 p.m. to 10 p.m. April 13 on the great lawn of the Tiki Bar, 33 Tamiami Trail, Punta Gorda. Admission is free. Music will be from 1 p.m. to 9:30 p.m. Deb and the Dynamics will play from 1 p.m. to 6 p.m. Country trio Neon Summer will close it out.

When she’s not challenging Keith Richards’ ability to gather coconuts, Biela is playing bass and guitar and singing for a band she started after coming off the road in 2004.

“I can’t believe it’s been that long,” she said. “My goal has always been to keep it about the music. I just never really sold out for the money. I’ve always wanted to make sure everybody in the band has heart and soul. I wanted to be sure they wanted to do it — and not just for the money.”

Deb and the Dynamics has a couple new young band members. Drummer James Fortune is 21 and a student at Florida SouthWestern State College studying to prepare himself for the University of Central Florida music program.

“He was doing his homework before a gig the other night,” Biela said.

The other youngster is guitarist Robert Benjamin Morris, 23, who Deb says can lay down some nice blues and can sing. The truth can be fudged here by saying she once played with a Morris family member. Or, the truth can be told by saying she played with his father.

Band veterans Don Hulgas, on baritone and tenor saxophone, percussion and vocals;Newt Cole, on tenor, alto and baritone sax, percussion and vocals; Michael Baer, on keyboard and vocals; and Dylan Young, on saxophone, round out the lineup.

“We’re really excited to have her,” said John Wright, president of the Punta Gorda Chamber of Commerce.

The Punta Gorda Spring Festival is an evolution of what used to be Blues, Brews and BBQ, according to Wright. Organizers have shed the labor-intensive preparation and set-up, opting for a more streamlined event to thank Charlotte’s snow birds and recognize its year-long residents for their support.

“It’s kind of like a general celebration,” Wright said. “It’s like Blues, Brews & BBQ, but there’s no advance-ticket requirement. Just come down, enjoy the music, enjoy the location, enjoy the party.”

The word party is always music to Biela’s ears, so to speak.

“We have some new members, a new feel, new tunes,” she said “but we’re still the same high-energy party band we’ve always been.”

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