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Limeliters keep folks around with folk sound

One member of the trio says nostalgia keeps the group humming along.

By JOY DAVIS-PLATT

© St. Petersburg Times, published April 6, 2001


BROOKSVILLE -- After more than four decades, fans of the Limeliters still turn out to hear the group's distinctive folk style.

"We've kept at this because it is something too good to die," said Alex Hassilev, one of the group's founding members.

Hernando County audiences can see what he means this weekend when the trio performs at the Hernando Performing Arts Center in Brooksville.

Though the group never had a hit single, it still has a solid following after 42 years, Hassilev said. He admits that the group's most widely heard performance was in an early 1960s Coca-Cola commercial that launched the musical slogan "Things Go Better With Coke."

But Limeliter fans distinctly remember songs like Lonesome Traveler and There's a Meeting Here Tonight, said Hassilev, who lives in California and has a home in St. Petersburg.

That nostalgia fuels the group's continued success, he said.

"Whatever made an impact on you when you were young takes on a greater importance as you get older," Hassilev said. "So of course many of our fans are there for the sake of that remembrance."

The Limeliters still use arrangements written by another founding member, Lou Gottlieb. Though the baritone died in 1996, "we still have that trademark sound he created," Hassilev said. "In many ways, that sound defines who we are."

The Limeliters' current lineup has the best musical balance in the group's history, Hassilev said.

"The proof of the pudding is that audiences come up after the show and tell us that we sound better than ever," Hassilev said. "That is a very rewarding feeling."

Singer and banjo player Bill Zorn replaced Gottlieb. A former member of the Kingston Trio, Zorn comes by his folk credentials honestly, Hassilev said.

With a background in opera, tenor Rick Dougherty lends the group its legitimacy, Hassilev joked.

"All I do is stand on stage and look authentically folksy," Hassilev said.

The Limeliters will perform at 7 p.m. Saturday at the Hernando High School Performing Arts Center, 700 Bell Ave., Brooksville. Tickets are $15. For tickets and information, call 799-5577.

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