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Bee Eater hits the ceiling

but wants to hit the road

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Meghan Taylor squirms in an old, torn-up beauty parlor chair in her band's South Avenue rehearsal space.

"Can I just say that I've had my bags packed for four years? So I'm ready whenever anybody's ready," she says. "My shit's packed."

Taylor, a pink-haired popster, is the lead singer for Bee Eater, a furious hard-rock locomotive. The band plays at local venues where its perfect blend of pop and hard rock keeps the audiences singing and headbanging along.

But the quartet is starting to outgrow this town. Venues are limited; fans are easily bored. You can play the same joint just so many times before you're taken for granted. Sometimes a band has to go away before it's truly appreciated on its home turf.

And that's been Taylor's goal all along: start a band, make a record, hit the road, don't look back. But Bee Eater wasn't born with a blue print. It was born over Blue Ribbons.

"Me and Sid, the original bass player, started it because we were just drinking buddies and wanted to start a band," says drummer Todd "Grimey" Groemminger.

Bee Eater started out four years ago as a straight-ahead all-male hard-rock outfit. Taylor --- who was spinning her wheels in Candy Dammit --- was asked to join the band after the members realized none of them could actually sing. Taylor's punky, funky, big '80s take on music immediately rescued the band from being simply another good band --- and not because she's a woman.

"I don't think having a chick in front is such a novelty anymore," says Taylor.

"It's a rarity in the type of rock that we do," Groemminger says. "Meghan definitely sets it apart because she's a good singer, she looks good up front, and she bounces all over the place. We were doing more hard rock, stoner rock kinda stuff. Meghan brought in a bit of pop and new wave. It fit great."

Try to get the band to imagine or describe itself without Taylor and the members laugh; guitarist Brian Dudley pretends to snore.

The current lineup came about with a certain degree of rock 'n' roll haphazardness. Guitar monster Dudley was offered the gig four days before a show. He opted to wait two weeks and actually learn the material. Bassist and newest member Chris Clinton didn't.

"I think I had only four days," Clinton says. "Because in two days my hands really hurt."

Bee Eater is muscular and sleek, playing about as heavy as you can without skirting metal territory. Taylor sings beautifully between bellows and howls from pipes twice the size of her small frame. She vaults and pinballs around the bandstand while the rest of the band digs in and cops the cool lean. The act is forceful and engaging and just plain good and hard. The band's well-balanced pop-rock is what sets it apart from any other act in Rochester.

The band has recorded four EPs, saturated the regional market, and seems to have bumped the local ceiling. It's time to hit the highway.

But reality, various excuses, or legitimate reasons rear their heads. And so does the band's penchant for perfection. Taylor's not happy with any of the recordings thus far.

"I can't get a recording that sounds as good as I think we are live," she says. It's an age-old band problem. So is parenthood; Clinton and Dudley both have babies less than a year old.

But Taylor's restlessness isn't going away. She's aligned herself with flexible day jobs so she can take time off when the road calls. In some ways, she's already gone.

"I just want to tour," she says.

"I'm ready to go, too," Groemminger says. "I'm just waiting to have a good record --- not one that's CD-R'd."

Bee Eater is in the studio now working on a record slated to drop in late spring. Maybe it will help launch the band past city limits.

"As soon as this record comes out, we're going to play everywhere possible," says Groemminger. "Day trips, and if that works out, expand it. If we can actually pull off a tour, off we go."

Bee Eater plays with Krypton 88 and New York Vaults Saturday, March 18, at The Bug Jar, 219 Monroe Avenue, at 9 p.m. $6. 21+. www.beeeaterband.com

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