PACKARD MUSIC HALL She's got the beat: Struthers grad to bring country band home

The Cowboy Crush drummer is looking forward to playing at the local benefit show.
When drummer Darla Rae Perlozzi left Ohio for Nashville, her dream was to have a career in music.
Seven years later, the Struthers native is returning home with her new band, Cowboy Crush. This sassy, all-girl outfit, which blurs the lines of country and rock with fiddlin' fun, is scheduled to play a Howland Fire Department benefit concert Thursday at the Packard Music Hall in Warren.
"You have to see the live show to really get us," said Perlozzi, calling from Nashville. "I think a lot of people think we're a fluff act put together by the label. Because we're five women, that we don't actually play our instruments. The sound we have is so unique. We don't focus on guitar, which is unusual. We focus more on the fiddle and it's very aggressive."
Aggressive also describes Perlozzi's rise in the Music City. Performing since age 6, the 1985 Struthers High School graduate spent the majority of the '90s working in local radio before she finally gave in to her urge to return to her musical talents. Soon after arriving in Nashville, the Buckeye native found herself learning the ropes of the industry as the drummer, bandleader and road manager for country act The Lynns, which featured Loretta Lynn's daughters Peggy and Patsy.
Starting out
Such a foundation proved priceless for Perlozzi, who left that gig a few years ago in search of her own musical identity. In 2003, such an opportunity arrived when she hooked up with four other talented female musicians -- Becky Priest (keyboards), Trenna Barnes (singer), Renae Truex (fiddle) and Debbie Johnson (bass).
"We had a record deal before we actually had a band name," Perlozzi said. "It was just timing for us. The label was looking for something like us and we didn't know it. We had an audition at a rehearsal hall and the label president [attended]. We played five songs for him, and he said 'Sign them.' We didn't even have a name for the band."
Six months later, Perlozzi and her new band mates found themselves on the road. That was two years ago. Finally, there's light at the end of the tunnel for the girls, with their debut Curb Records album due out this fall. If initial success is any indication, the future bodes well for Cowboy Crush, as the band's debut single "Nobody Ever Died of a Broken Heart" made Great American Country's "Top 20 Video Countdown."
Good reception
"We've been really fortunate," Perlozzi said. "People have been really taking to us. What we are has not been done in country music yet. It's the first all-girl country-rock band and it's just the first time for it."
Perlozzi said that growing up in Northeast Ohio provided her with diverse musical influences, ranging from country to rock. However, it's the latter that she feels made her an aggressive drummer, giving her an edge in regard to Cowboy Crush's style of country music. Excited about returning home for the first time with her new band, Perlozzi can't wait to see family and friends. As for their benefit show, she's hoping the gig attracts a diverse audience that will support the fire department cause and leave fans of Cowboy Crush.
"A lot of people come to our show and are not really country music fans," Perlozzi said, "but by the time they leave, they are."

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