By Kristi Kates
Tribute bands have been around for a few decades now, most notably
since Elvis impersonators started paying homage to the King back in
the early 1970s. Just what is a tribute band? Unlike a cover band
(which just plays the songs of a particular band), a tribute band
works to take on a larger portion of the bands entire persona, from
the band members looks and personalities to the stage setup,
lighting, and set lists.
The name of a tribute band is often taken from one of the bands songs
or albums, or is a pun on the original band name. Today, classic rock
bands seem to be the most frequent subject of this phenomenon, as some
of the most popular tributed bands include ABBA, Genesis, The
Ramones, Queen, and Pink Floyd.
But if youre a musician with enough talent that you can play the
often complex songs of these famous performers, why be in a tribute
band in the first place? A solid quartet of tribute bands are set to
take over the Little River Casino Resort in Manistee, this fall; we
asked a couple of them that very question.
WHY A TRIBUTE BAND?
Joe Pascarell, who performs in the Pink Floyd tribute band The
Machine, says that the impetus behind deciding to be in a tribute band
I guess originally, it was that we could immediately play a lot of
gigs, and possibly make some money doing it, he explains. Each of us
do play original music as well, in other bands.
For Vince Lupo, who plays in the Rolling Stones tribute band Rolling
The Stones - the reason was more a been there, done that scenario,
in which the bandmates, after years as musicians, chose to spend their
later years performing the music of a band that they personally enjoy.
As mostly older guys who have gone down that road before, we chose to
just cover a group that we love, Lupo says, Rolling Stones music
still rocks - and so do we.
Neither Pascarell or Lupo point out this next factor - but another
reason might be the simple fact that performing in a tribute band
gives instant, if faux, fame to the performers. Kind of a way to get
a little of that famous rocker feel without having to go through all
of the trials and tribulations of building a band from scratch. Thats
not to say they dont work at it, though.
ROLLING THE STONES
A big part of the effort that has gone into Rolling The Stones is the
attempt to emulate the members of The Rolling Stones as closely as
possible. One glance at the bands PR photo shows that theyve already
been quite successful at that component. Lupo, who plays the Charlie
Watts character (re-dubbed Charlie Swatts), is joined by Mick Adams
(who plays Mick Jagger as Mick Jagged), Jackson Martin (who plays
Keith Richards as Keith Riffhard), KK Martin (who plays Ron Wood as
Ron Woody), and Bernie Yantz (who plays Bill Wyman as Bill Why-Man)
along with several backing musicians and singers, all decked out so
that if you squinted, you might indeed think you were looking at the
actual Rolling Stones.
We wanted to look and sound as closely as possible to the real
Rolling Stones, so each core member was chosen with that in mind,
Lupo explains. We do our best to emulate the original recordings,
occasionally opting to do a live version instead. In the beginning,
we didnt exactly know which direction to take, so our approach is to
portray them as they are today, as older men. Thats been to our
benefit, really, as it greatly sets us apart for other Stones
And as far as the setlist goes, Lupos sold on the real Rolling
Stones gigantic roster of material.
Theres no better catalog of great, timeless classics with a large
built-in following than the Rolling Stones, Lupo says.
PINK FLOYDS MACHINE
For The Machine - Pascarells Pink Floyd tribute band - the
approach is a little different.
There are no actual corresponding band members in The Machine,
Pascarell explains, we do not take that approach. We focus on the
music, not the individuals in the band.
Pascarell, who takes care of lead vocals and also plays guitar, works
in The Machine with Scott Chasolen on keyboards and vocals, Ryan Ball
on bass and vocals, and Tarah Cohen on drums. Their particular tribute
band is well-known for its impressive and eye-searing visuals, which
echo those of Pink Floyds own stage extravaganzas.
We will be bringing our full laser show, says Pascarell, which adds
to the whole night, making it a visual, as well as a sonic,
Pascarell, who says that The Machine began as an effort to play only
music that we liked, explains that more and more Pink Floyd was
played by the band as time went on, simply because they loved it. An
agent eventually heard of them back in 1989, and suggested that they
could be booked as an actual Pink Floyd tribute act.
We never thought of Pink Floyd as what band would be the best to
cover, Pascarell says, it just developed out of the love and
respect for the music. I think this is one of the most significant
elements of our success. I hope that what the audience gets is an
honest, thoughtful representation of the music of Pink Floyd. Weve
been performing Pink Floyds music virtually non-stop for over 20
Regardless of which band you prefer, the Stones or Floyd, chances are
youll at least be entertained by either of these hard-working bands -
and you might even be pretty impressed by their talents, diligence,
and accuracy as far as getting the music to sound (and even look) much
like the originals.
Being in a tribute band is an unusual career, for sure - but these
musicians simply see it as a way to temporarily step inside the world
of their favorite performers, entertain groups of people who
appreciate the same music, and make a living doing so. Why not pay the
bills by doing something you enjoy, and getting to travel as an added
Personally, I will be looking forward to going to a new place and
performing for a lot of folks who have never seen The Machine before,
Pascarell says in reference to The Machines upcoming show in
Manistee, that is one of the greatest things about doing what we do.
Lupo couldnt agree more - its all about the fans.
Our audience at Little River can expect an exciting replica of the
worlds greatest rock n roll band, Lupo enthuses. The songs are
exciting and fun to play - and the reaction of our audiences is
priceless. Theyll sing along to every song, cheer loud, and have the
time of their lives.
The Machine Performs Pink Floyd will take place on Saturday, September
4 and Sunday, September 5 at 8:00 p.m. at Little River Casino Resort;
Rolling the Stones will be taking the stage on Saturday, October 2 at
8:00 p.m. Tickets are $25/$20/$15 for either show. Other upcoming
tribute band shows at Little River include Viva Little River: An Elvis
Tribute on October 15/16, and Zed Leppelin on October 23. Visit the
LRCR website at www.lrcr.com for all details and tickets.