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The tribute band psyche: What drives a musician to construct a lifelong profession as a sound-alike?

15 tribute bands to descend on LeBreton Flats for Nostalgia Music Competition, Aug. 24 to twenty-eight

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Yan “Johnny” Vetaris was not even a youngster but when his cousin Chris came visiting from Sydney, Australia within the mid Nineteen Seventies. Chris introduced with him T.N.T., an album — on the time unreleased in North America — by a newly shaped exhausting rock Aussie band referred to as AC/DC.

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The recording, Vetaris remembers, floored him. “I used to be like, ‘Wow! What is that this?’ I freaked. I beloved them from the primary time I heard them.”

Almost half a century later, Vetaris, a 56-year-old Montrealer, shall be on stage at LeBreton Flats for Nostalgia Music Competition, the place, as Angus Yan, member of AC/DC tribute band 21 Gun Salute, he’ll don the schoolboy shorts and electrical guitar paying homage to AC/DC co-founder Angus Younger and, you already know, shake you all evening lengthy and depart you thunderstruck, or an affordable facsimile of thunderstruck.

His shall be one in all 15 acts booked for the five-day competition, operating August 24-28, at which the sound-alikes of the Beatles, Rolling Stones, Aerosmith, Weapons N’ Roses, Tina Turner, George Michael, KISS, Metallica, Black Sabbath and extra will carry out.

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Vetaris’s tribute band goals to faithfully reproduce the AC/DC’s concert events, observe for observe, proper right down to the cannons and Nineteen Seventies Marshall amps, the Gibson SG guitars and even the gauge of strings utilized by the originals. Solely rhythm guitarist Freddy Di Santo, who works for Godin guitars, strays from the components, foregoing the Gretsch utilized by AC/DC’s Malcolm Younger in favour of a Godin, though with the identical pickups utilized by Younger.

“I really feel if you happen to’re a tribute band, you must attempt to recreate the music and present as a lot as attainable,” Vetaris says. “In the event you don’t, I have a look at it extra as if you happen to’re a canopy band. When folks hear You Shook Me All Night time Lengthy, they’re anticipating to listen to that solo.”

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Over the dozen years that 21 Gun Salute has been performing — principally weekends all through the summer season months — they’ve developed their very own fan base, and groupies, who purchase their 21 Gun Salute T-shirts, ballcaps and stay CD.

Mimmo Oli, left, and Yan ‘Johnny’ Vetaris, aka Angus Yan, of the AC/DC tribute bane 21 Gun Salute. They’ll be performing at LeBreton Flats on Aug. 28 as part of Nostalgia Music Festival.
Mimmo Oli, left, and Yan ‘Johnny’ Vetaris, aka Angus Yan, of the AC/DC tribute bane 21 Gun Salute. They’ll be acting at LeBreton Flats on Aug. 28 as a part of Nostalgia Music Competition. Photograph by Offered /Courtesy of Yan Vetaris

Vetaris, who additionally performs below the moniker Johnny Vette, has seen AC/DC carry out about 10 occasions, and even met Angus Younger as soon as, exterior Montreal’s St-James Lodge, the place the band was staying. And whereas Vetaris didn’t increase the apparent connection along with his doppelgänger — “I didn’t get the prospect. There have been so many individuals who needed to fulfill him” — he says AC/DC as soon as posted one in all 21 Gun Salute’s posters on its web site.

In the meantime, the AC/DC tribute exhibits account for just about all of Vetaris’s earnings, and so it’s a aid he hasn’t bored with the band.

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“I like the uncooked vitality. It’s so pure and easy, nearly like that caveman form of Neanderthal. It makes you’re feeling like shifting, makes you’re feeling completely satisfied.”

And the way lengthy can a grown man proceed to play rock ‘n’ roll whereas carrying shorts? Angus Younger is 67 and nonetheless doing it, so Vetaris figures he can hold the shtick going some time longer. “So long as I can leap round and never make a idiot of myself,” he says. “I’m going to maintain it going so long as I can.”

Tribute bands, says Nostalgia Competition inventive director Steve Johnston, enable followers to take pleasure in stay performances after the unique bands have damaged up, have decreased their touring schedules, or priced their present past many individuals’s attain. Moreover, set lists usually faucet right into a band’s or performer’s best-known materials, avoiding the much less in style sings.

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“If you play Nostalgia, we don’t need you to do the Ummagumma album (regarded by many as Pink Floyd’s worst report). Individuals will go, ‘What the f— is that this?’ We would like you to do The Darkish Facet of the Moon, as a result of folks go, ‘Yeah, I do know this one.’

“We’re not one in all these large festivals,” he provides. “We’re representing this glorious time that everyone skilled, and most of us who’re mother and father are attempting to coach our kids on the very best music of all time.

“For me, tribute acts is like placing on an album of their biggest hits.”

It’s undoubtedly a distinct segment market, and Vetaris factors out that there’s no scarcity of abysmal tribute acts on the market, rife with three-chord “musicians” that reserving brokers must be ashamed to signal and promote.

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“There are such a lot of tribute bands who’re horrible, they usually’re going out and enjoying and really damaging the trade, they’re ruining the trade, as a result of, initially, they play for reasonable, and that’s not good, and second, they’re horrible, and folks go see them they usually’re like, ‘Oh my god, that is dangerous.’”

As vital as Vetaris is, although, his disdain pales alongside that of Maurice Raymond, lead singer of the Blushing Brides, a Rolling Stones-themed band that headlines Nostalgia Competition’s opening evening Wednesday.

Raymond describes tribute bands as “dangerous vaudeville,” “like a lifeless gutted, stinking, decomposing fish laying there,” and as fascinating as ready for butter to melt.

“These guys get off their sofa, put a wig on, be taught a number of Lynyrd Skynyrd songs, say they’re a tribute to Lynyrd Skynyrd and put a Accomplice flag behind the stage. To me it’s hideous, and the worst half about it’s that the general public eats it up like sweet.”

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However wait (I hear you say) — wasn’t it Mick Jagger himself who stated, when requested in regards to the Blushing Brides in a 1980 interview with the Boston Globe, that “the urge for food for recycled crap on this nation appears monumental”?

“For years I used to be insulted by that,” admits Raymond, “however then I noticed he’s not unsuitable. However he didn’t perceive what we have been doing. We have been doing precisely what these guys did at first: enjoying their heroes’ music and making an attempt to interpret it. We’ve all the time been an interpretive band.”

Certainly, that may be a important distinction between the Blushing Brides and most tribute acts: the model they do of Midnight Rambler one evening will differ from how they play it the subsequent. They’ll play Lifeless Flowers gradual and syrupy one evening, and like a hop the subsequent. They don’t play note-for-note. Raymond doesn’t mimic Jagger’s “mockney” accent, and the band by no means makes an attempt any form of imitative theatre. Their title has nothing to do with the Stones.

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Fashioned in Kingston in 1979, the Brides performed songs by quite a few musicians — the Stones, for positive, but in addition Bruce Springsteen, J. Geils, Chuck Berry and David Bowie, amongst others. In Ottawa, they have been a daily fixture at Barrymore’s, the place they carried out practically 100 occasions. An RCA report deal got here and went, as did inventive variations and band members — together with, briefly, Raymond.

The considerably unwelcome nook that Raymond finds himself in now was largely of the band’s personal doing, following their first U.S. gig, in Syracuse, N.Y., when an area paper described them as a Rolling Stones band. After that, reserving brokers and membership house owners began calling, wanting this Stones clone band. “We have been form of caught on this,” say Raymond. Plus, they have been getting cash.

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Nowadays, he says, “I solely do it as a result of I have to eat and I have to become profitable to stay. However in all honesty, and I don’t need to sound like a jerk or a dick, despite the fact that I’m, I wouldn’t be round these guys if my life relied on it. In the event you haven’t put in your 10,000 hours, then you don’t should be on that stage. It’s principally karaoke.”

Maybe he’s proper, however many individuals like their karaoke.

The Caverners, a Niagara-based Beatles tribute band, is opening the Nostalgia Music Festival on Wednesday. Sandy Vine, who plays Paul McCartney in the 28-year-old band, says their act is half music and half theatre.
The Caverners, a Niagara-based Beatles tribute band, is opening the Nostalgia Music Competition on Wednesday. Sandy Vine, who performs Paul McCartney within the 28-year-old band, says their act is half music and half theatre. Photograph by Offered /courtesy of Sandy Vine

Apart from the truth that he performs right-handed, Sandy Vine emulates Paul McCartney within the Niagara-based tribute band The Caverners, which shall be sharing the stage with the Blushing Brides on Wednesday evening.

The Caverners have been round for 28 years — nearly 3 times so long as the unique fab 4 — and their present is replete with wigs, make-up and costume adjustments, as they goal to faithfully symbolize three Beatles’ eras: from the moptops to Sgt. Pepper to Abbey Street.

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They initially shaped as a nightclub act performing music of the British Invasion. A yr in, they homed in solely on the Beatles, and Vine makes no apologies for the band’s thespian nature. As we speak, he says, they play quite a few company occasions, conventions, weddings and personal events.

The band members all play in different teams, whereas Vine additionally owns Observe for Observe Skilled Music Productions which, other than representing The Caverners, additionally has on its roster Duelling Pianos Niagara (“a Vegas fashion duelling piano present”) and The Employed Hitmen (“1955-75 jukebox hits”).

“It’s half theatre and half music,” he says of he Beatles act. “Most likely half and half.

“We’re making an attempt to recreate the songs as near the unique, so folks form of tweak their ears and say, ‘Wow, that is what I bear in mind — precisely what I bear in mind.’ After which, after all, with the costuming and every little thing else, it’s a visible and audio bundle, so it’s like, ‘Wow, that is like I’m actually watching the true factor.’

“It’s identical to another theatre, however we’re doing a stay live performance included with the theatre present.

“Now we have a love for the music,” he provides, “and a part of the magic of our present is making a bond with the viewers who additionally has a love for the music. And as soon as that bond is created, it’s an important two hours of magic that individuals are going to take dwelling. Our massive factor is we simply need folks to go dwelling completely satisfied after seeing our present.”

Nostalgia Music Competition runs from Aug. 24 to twenty-eight at LeBreton Flats. Go to nostalgiafestival.ca for tickets or extra info.


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