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Lockport band hits big time on ‘Tribute Wars’

Call For The Priest Tribute Band Image

BIG SHOW: Will represent the U.S. in international competition.

Call for the Priest Tribute Band Photo

A creative, high-octane Lockport tribute band has been chosen to represent the U.S. in an upcoming AXS TV episode of “Tribute Wars.”

“Call for the Priest” — showcasing the music of Judas Priest — will be seen on Tribute Wars beginning this week. The five-piece rock band will go up against different Priest tribute bands from around the world. Fans can vote for their favorite music video clip at facebook.com/tributewars1.

Members of Call for the Priest are Lockport’s Tony Truscio on bass and guitarist Billy Buddenhagen, the grandson of long-time Union-Sun & Journal reporter/editor the late Paul Buddenhagen, Hamburg’s John Prestia on guitar, Tonawanda’s Larry Kremer on drums and head-turning lead vocalist Nat Peace, a Cheektowaga native and honorary Lockportian.

Truscio, a past nominee for top local bassist in the annual Buffalo Music Awards, said he’s been a big fan of Judas Priest his entire life and was always interested in forming some sort of tribute band. The hardest part, obviously, was finding someone who can sing like the unique “Metal God” himself, Rob Halford.

“It took me a few years to find the right people and they weren’t even the right people (laughing),” Truscio said at a recent band practice on Morrow Avenue in Lockport. “I was always a Judas Priest fan, but I could never find anyone who could sing it.”

Cue Truscio’s friend, John Peace, Nat’s dad, who produced a video of his talented son singing the Priest song, “Painkiller.” That’s all Truscio needed for inspiration and the idea was born.

“I thought to myself, ‘I should really start a band with this kid’ and that’s basically how the idea for Call For the Priest started,” Truscio said. “But we sat on that idea for a few years.”

Call For the Priest debuted at Rock’n Buffalo Saloon in West Seneca in 2017. Among those watching in the audience with his wife that night was their drummer today, Kremer.

“The place was packed,” Kremer said. “I was really blown away by Nat. The whole place was. I thought, ‘This kid can sing.’ It was pretty intense.”

John Peace, who runs his son’s personal sound and vocal effects at each show, said Call For the Priest went through several drummers before they hired Kremer.

“We had a drummer, but he couldn’t keep up, so he quit, then we got another drummer. He played our first two shows and then passed away. We had no choice but to get another drummer,” John Peace said.

Not only does Call For the Priest sound just like Judas Priest, they also look like them, with wigs and distinct metal stage costumes that add to the explosive atmosphere at their shows.

For those of you unfamiliar with Judas Priest, Peace plays Halford, Buddenhagen is K.K. Downing, Kremer is Scott Travis, Prestia is Glenn Tipton and Tony plays Ian Hill.

Call For the Priest has performed about a dozen shows together so far. They said the Tribute Wars announcement was a surprise to them.

“We don’t even know for sure how we got chosen,” Nat said. “They asked us for a video, so we sent them a live video.”

That video has been viewed more than 15,000 times on Facebook in the past year.

“With the COVID-19 pandemic, we don’t exactly what’s going on. We might end up doing a live studio stream, but we’re not sure, other than people will be able to see the videos and vote on their favorite,” Truscio said.

“The video we sent them is being taken over by the Tribute Wars people and they’re putting it up for vote After it’s voted on by the fans it goes on to a panel of five recording judges.”

Katie Daryl is live on AXS every Monday at The Roxy Theatre with “The World’s Greatest Tribute Bands — Season 2.” Other tribute bands feature music by David Bowie, Bon Jovi, Led Zeppelin and Iron Maiden. Every show is free.

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