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Executive Diversions
Business Observer Wednesday, Jun. 24, 2020 2 years ago

In the band: marketing pro bangs a drum in her spare time

Sharon Kunkel says the drums are a nice release.
by: Grier Ferguson Sarasota-Manatee Editor

Executive: Sharon Kunkel, 50, is a marketing and public relations professional in Sarasota. She started her own agency, Wordslinger Marketing & PR, more than five years ago.

Diversion: When she’s not working, Kunkel plays drums and sings in the classic rock band Version 3.0. The band plays at restaurants and bars, as well as at nonprofit and corporate events.

Down by the Schoolyard: Kunkel’s musicality began early. “I’ve loved music since I was little,” she says. She was involved in a good music program throughout middle and high school, and in fifth grade, when asked to select the instrument she wanted to play, she picked something that she says not many girls were choosing — percussion. Kunkel got her first drum set at age 13. “I was fortunate to have very patient and proud parents,” she says.

Let the Beat Drop: Part of what attracted Kunkel to drums was the appeal of guiding the actions of the band. “Everything depends on the beat you’re setting,” she says. “I found that interesting and challenging.”

Come Together: After college, Kunkel moved to Florida, where her parents had a condo, and started writing for an area publication. From 1992 to 1997, she was in three bands. The name of her current band, Version 3.0, is a play on software updates. Its tagline is “Rebooting rock ‘n’ roll.” The band has three members — Kunkel along with her husband, Ben, who plays guitar, bass guitar and does vocals, and Ken Putz, who plays bass guitar, guitar and does vocals. Kunkel met her husband in an earlier band they were in together. “Every couple has things that bind them together,” she says. “For us, it’s always been the music.”

Party Rock: Kunkel says Version 3.0 typically practices twice a week for a couple hours and does two gigs a month. During a busy month, they might play four. The band has played at Woody’s River Roo, Stottlemyer’s Smokehouse, Stragglers, Hoosier Bar & Grill and Sun-N-Fun, as well as such events as the Girls Inc. Totally Tailgate and Sarasota Magazine’s 40th anniversary party. “Any place that’s willing to bring us in to entertain their guests and make us part of their party and pay us for it — we’re thrilled for that,” she says.

‘I have a huge love for music. I love entertaining people and making them happy, but having a release like this is really wonderful for your mental and physical health.’ Sharon Kunkel, Wordslinger Marketing & PR

Call Me Maybe: The hardest part of playing in a band? Getting gigs. As with many companies, recommendations play a big role, but the band can’t solely rely on word of mouth. “You really have to work at it,” Kunkel says. “You have to make phone calls, send emails, and it’s important to visit these clubs and show your face. The business side is definitely the more challenging aspect of band life, but the more gigs you have, the more gigs you’re able to get.”

Pennies from Heaven: Although the band gets paid to perform, Kunkel says she and her bandmates aren’t in it for the money. “We make enough money to keep the equipment going and put gas in the car to get there,” she says. “It’s something we do because it’s a passion, and we love to do it.”

Reelin’ in the Years: Version 3.0 plays a variety of songs from the 1970s, 1980s and 1990s to today. Each band member is partial to a particular decade, Kunkel says, with hers being the 1980s. “We all have different favorites, but we all manage to put them together on a song list in a way that the people listening to us are going to find something they like,” she says.

Courtesy, photo by James 'Jay' Dodge II. Sharon Kunkel performed with her band, Version 3.0, during the Rossiter's Harley-Davidson 29th Anniversary Party.

Long as I’m Singin’: Kunkel’s favorite song to play tends to change. For a while, she says, it was Version 3.0’s arrangement of “California Dreamin’” by The Mamas and the Papas. Right now, one of the favorites is “We’re an American Band” by Grand Funk Railroad. “We’re not out there looking for a record contract,” she says. “At this point, we want to play songs we love for people who enjoy hearing and dancing to them. That makes it all worthwhile.”

Let It Go: Kunkel enjoys her day job, but she also likes the kind of double life playing in a band provides. “I have a huge love for music. I love entertaining people and making them happy, but having a release like this is really wonderful for your mental and physical health,” she says. “It’s great exercise too.  I’m usually covered in sweat 15 minutes in.”

Rock Around the Clock: With her family and job, Kunkel has a busy life. “People often ask, ‘Where do you find the time to do all of this?’” she says. “I think it’s important for people to remember to do the things you love — to make the time to do the things you love.”


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