- Associated Press - Saturday, December 12, 2015

PARKERSBURG, W.Va. (AP) - Members have come and gone, but for 40 years, Insured Sound has been playing music for the Mid-Ohio Valley.

The group has performed at proms, weddings, high school reunions, local concert series and events like the Parkersburg Homecoming and Ohio River Sternwheel Festival. They perform classic standards, rock ‘n’ roll and dance tunes from the 1950s to today, with a little country thrown in for good measure.

“We have over seven hours of music that we can play,” said Matt Piatt, the group’s drummer and son of founding member Dave Piatt. “I think that’s (the variety) what makes us distinct”

It was the late Dave Piatt who named the band after seeing an ad in a music magazine saying that company’s microphone could “insure your sound,” said Greg Ring, a member of the band for 17 years.

“For some reason, that resonated with him,” he said.

The current incarnation of Insured Sound includes Piatt, Ring, two other members who joined in 1998 and one who’s on his third stint with the group.

“I grew up around the band,” said Piatt, joined in 2006 after his father passed away. “When I was even 6, 7 years old, I remember going to the events and helping them set up.”

A 37-year-old Williamstown resident who works as director of sales for CWS, Piatt said he’d been drumming all his life, but there was still something intimidating about moving into his dad’s role.

“I was a little bit nervous at first. I didn’t want to step in and mess up,” he said.

But Piatt said he felt continuing his father’s legacy was important.

“I didn’t want the band to end, and I just wanted the name to carry on,” he said.

The only member whose personal association with the band goes back almost as far as Piatt’s is guitarist Don Staats, who lives in Boaz and is the general manager for Results Radio. He first joined Insured Sound at the invitation of Dave Piatt in 1979 and spent six years as the band’s bass player.

“It was a lot of fun. I mean, we played, we played a lot,” Staats said, recalling one December when the band had a total of 17 jobs.

Staats returned to Insured Sound for about five years in the late ‘80s and early ‘90s. He rejoined again six years ago, this time as lead guitarist.

“It’s been a successful group,” Staats said. “They’re all nice people, and we just get along musically well.”

Registered nurse Susan Diehl-Hickman, of Parkersburg, had been singing in the area for several years, including as a member of the gospel group, the Singing Carriers, when she got a call from Dave Piatt in 1998.

“The band had always been all males, and he said he wanted to add some versatility and my name came up,” she said. “We met and jammed and, as they say, the rest is history.”

Also coming aboard in 1998 were bass player Ricky Barnhart and Ring, who plays keyboard, saxophone and flute, sings and arranges most of the band’s music.

Barnhart, a Mineral Wells resident and head custodian at Jackson Middle School, got to know Dave Piatt when Piatt sat in as the drummer for Nostalgia, another local band in which Barnhart played. When Nostalgia stopped performing, Barnhart joined up with Insured Sound.

“They’re a nice group of people, and I enjoy playing the music we do,” he said.

One of the highlights of Barnhart’s time with the band was opening for the world-famous band, the Guess Who, at this year’s Tyler County Fair.

“It’s pretty cool. Kind of makes you feel like you’re kind of big time like them,” Barnhart said.

Ring, a former Belpre Middle School principal, had filled in with Insured Sound a few times before joining in 1998. At first, it appeared his tenure would be short. In 2000, Ring moved from Belpre to Amherst, Ohio, near Cleveland, where he works today as the superintendent of the Educational Service Center of Lorain County.

“(I) really thought when I made that move it would really be just a short time ‘til I wouldn’t be making that trek anymore,” he said.

But 15 years later, Ring drives nearly 200 miles one-way to the Parkersburg area about twice a month.

“I think we enjoy our time together personally as well as playing the music,” Ring said. “It’s not about ego, which sometimes gets to be a problem in the music business.”


Information from: News and Sentinel (Parkersburg, W.Va.), https://www.newsandsentinel.com

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