As 16-year-olds, high school friends Brian Hanna and Scott Horton had their first gig in 1981, when their heavy metal band played at Aardvarks in Jamestown.
Twenty-one years later, the duo will play at the American Legion in Randolph on Saturday night from 8:30-10:30, but don't expect any metal tunes to make the set list.
"Scott and I did crazy stuff back then that I don't even really like now," Hanna said. "We did Megadeth, Slayer and weird stuff. For me, after the 1990s, when Pearl Jam and Nirvana came around, I couldn't listen to that stuff anymore."
Brian Hanna plays an acoustic guitar in Sherman. The Randolph native has several acoustic shows lined up this month, including two with bassist Scott Horton. Hanna will pick up his electric guitar for a March show in Celoron with his band, BandHanna.
Hanna and Horton have since joined up with high school friend Shawn Mitchell and lead guitarist Matt Parsons to form the current lineup of BandHanna, which plays mostly original music.
BandHanna's sound evolved last year when Hanna bought a Gretsch hollow body electric guitar from Smackdab's Matt Baxter. Hanna previously played only acoustic guitars.
"As soon as he put it up for sale, I bought it. I always loved the sound he got from that guitar," Hanna said. "The songs that I'm writing have gotten a little bit heavier after making the switch, but it's been cool. The band loves it. We needed to do something different."
BandHanna will continue to work on new material throughout the month and won't be in action until a March show in Celoron. Hanna has a busy month ahead of him, however, including his Saturday night gig with Horton in their hometown of Randolph.
"We don't get to play down there very often," Hanna said. "We did a concert down in the square in Randolph over the summer, and it was like the biggest one they had all year, so (the legion was) like, 'Let's do this thing.'"
Hanna and Horton plan to play a wide variety of songs Saturday night, focusing on some older, mellower music. Despite the change in BandHanna's sound, Hanna still plays acoustic gigs with Horton and on his own. He covers artists such as Pearl Jam, Nirvana, Foo Fighters, U2, Tom Petty, Elton John, Pink Floyd and several country bands.
"It's all radio stuff pretty much," Hanna said. "We'll play almost anything. A lot of the people can't get over it. They'll make a request and they'll go, 'Oh my God. I can't believe you know that.' After 20 some years of playing, I've learned a lot of different stuff that I never thought I would do - Jim Croce and oldies and newer stuff. Sometimes I make a game of it. I'll go from Prince to Flock of Seagulls to the Grateful Dead. People enjoy the variety."
With BandHanna, on his own or with Horton, Hanna's original and cover songs span multiple genres, including rock, country and grunge. He enjoys trying out original tunes in front of local and regional audiences.
"After you've played the same song at Mojo's three times, you can see people mouthing along with the words," Hanna said. "That's what's cool about playing around here. The people who support original music will see a band and buy that band's CD. They're pretty loyal."
Some of Hanna's original acoustic songs will be on display again later in the month. He'll perform with Horton at Steener's Pub on Saturday, Feb. 18, and has solo shows booked at The Lakeview on Feb. 24 and Pine Junction on Feb. 25. Hanna, who will be the father of twins this summer, plans to make the most of his February shows in hopes of booking more throughout the year.
Ultimately, Hanna wants to sell his original acoustic songs. In the meantime, he plans to continue playing a variety of originals and hits from the radio waves for local audiences.
"When you play someone's favorite song and do a decent job, they appreciate it," he said. "It's not just about the tips or the drinks. You do it to make people enjoy it. When you get a good round of applause out of a room, it just makes you feel good."
''Backstage Pass'' is a feature of The Post-Journal showcasing local artists, their music and their accomplishments. Send recommendations for future ''Backstage Pass'' subjects to Scott Shelters at firstname.lastname@example.org or call 487-1111, ext. 253.