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Thread: Tribute Bands

  1. #1
    Les Paul Forum Member talonmm's Avatar
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    Tribute Bands

    Went to the Paramount - a small to mid size venue on Long Island NY over the weekend and saw a Motley Crue and & Guns n Roses tribute bands. It got me thinking....

    anyone here now or ever in a tribute band?

    If the individual members of the tribute band look like the members in the real band, do you the musicians in the tribute group truly idolize their original counterpart, or do you think they see it as just an opportunity to be part of a band and it's more like being an actor in a play?

    Would love to hear some experiences and what it's like to be in a tribute band and all the work that goes into this.

  2. #2
    Les Paul Forum Member Sergio's Avatar
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    Re: Tribute Bands

    I've always been in cover/authoral bands, never in a tribute, but I got many friends who do play that way.

    It is quite funny if you really like the band you tribute, because you're gonna have to play virtually all their songs and incorporate their style. Besides, people won't attend your gigs to see you improvise or create much. They want to see you play the songs they like the way they like them, just like the original artist does them.

    I don't see it having anything to do with acting, I think it's more like adhering to a particular musical lifestyle. You can be yourself and yet tribute a band you really love, not because you want to be them, but because you're pretty much like them.


    Like I said: if you like the artist, it's a VERY cool project to do.

  3. #3
    Les Paul Forum Member talonmm's Avatar
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    Re: Tribute Bands

    Quote Originally Posted by de Melo View Post
    I've always been in cover/authoral bands, never in a tribute, but I got many friends who do play that way.

    It is quite funny if you really like the band you tribute, because you're gonna have to play virtually all their songs and incorporate their style. Besides, people won't attend your gigs to see you improvise or create much. They want to see you play the songs they like the way they like them, just like the original artist does them.

    I don't see it having anything to do with acting, I think it's more like adhering to a particular musical lifestyle. You can be yourself and yet tribute a band you really love, not because you want to be them, but because you're pretty much like them.


    Like I said: if you like the artist, it's a VERY cool project to do.
    It was hard for me to put together my thoughts coherently... I really did not mean "acting" but like you said, you really are not able to improvise or change things up. Additionally, you are under pressure to look as close as possible to the band member you are representing.

    I wonder sometimes if someone joins a tribute band because they look the part, or perhaps the role they choose was available, yet they are not a diehard fan of the group.

  4. #4

    Re: Tribute Bands

    I was a big fan of the Zeppelin tribute band "Physical Graffiti" in the late 80s and early 90s. They were great - better than great. They had the sound AND the look. Musically, they They could stretch out a tiny bit within the very large catalogue of Zeppelin material. They would perform either the studio or the live versions of songs as they saw fit. Stairway and The Song Remains The Same were performed live making use of the ES1275. Whole Lotta Love could be done after the studio or live with a short medley. They were great. I never understood Immigrant Song until I saw them open a show with it.

    My sister brought up an interesting notion of tribute bands, or possibly folk/popular music in general: The recorded sound is the reference and not the sheet music.

    The Fab Faux fits in to this discussion nicely, especially as artists doing a project. They perform the Beatles as recorded. Do not miss an opportunity to see the Fab Faux. I'd even suggest that you go out of your way and travel to see them. It will be worth it. I saw them do Abbey Road - as recorded. Whoa. Strings, brass and everything.

  5. #5
    Les Paul Forum Member Michael Patrick's Avatar
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    Re: Tribute Bands

    I'm in a Motorhead tribute band. We don't play all that often, but it's a blast when we do. Loud and proud!!

    My guitar wants to kill your mama

  6. #6
    Les Paul Forum Member Sergio's Avatar
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    Re: Tribute Bands

    Just curious. Is that a regular SSS strat or is there a mini humbucker thrown in?

    Cool pic btw

  7. #7
    Les Paul Forum Member guitplayer's Avatar
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    Re: Tribute Bands

    Done a few gigs with SRA. But with just Jimmy Farrar singing.
    And doing other bands in addition to Hatchett, I guess it was kinda a tribute band.
    " Never Mind Your Face, just show us your card"

  8. #8
    Les Paul Forum Member Michael Patrick's Avatar
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    Re: Tribute Bands

    Quote Originally Posted by de Melo View Post
    Just curious. Is that a regular SSS strat or is there a mini humbucker thrown in?

    Cool pic btw

    No, just the stock single coil. I know Fast Eddie had a humbucker in the bridge, but I didn't want to hack up one of my Strats. I use a pedal to slam the amp harder to make up for the lack of a humbucker.

    I use a Les Paul for the Phil Campbell-era tunes...

    Last edited by Michael Patrick; 06-21-16 at 11:44 AM.
    My guitar wants to kill your mama

  9. #9
    Les Paul Forum Member Billy Porter's Avatar
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    Re: Tribute Bands

    I'm in a Les Dawson tribute band
    You’re never alone with a schizophrenic

  10. #10
    Les Paul Forum Member Blue97FXSTC's Avatar
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    Re: Tribute Bands

    I was in a Skynyrd tribute band from 1989 to 1994.
    Three guitars, bass, drums, keys, lead singer, two chicks backup, FOH + two additional crew.

    We didn't try to look like the original band (it's not like they had a look, really).
    Certainly we were all fans of the music, some more so than others.
    Speaking for myself, I wouldn't say I idolized Skynyrd, but their songs and guitar parts were definitely part of my early musical influences.

    Our band took the time to learn the songs note-for-note, and performed them as per the One From The Road album, mostly.
    The guitarists didn't each cop one player's parts on all tunes, but instead split the work for each song as we saw fit.

    The best parts:
    A built in audience - I can't think of one show where we didn't kill.
    The money was great, and we played some great rooms and festivals.
    The worst part - no improv (much like Skynyrd, actually).

    We played all over NE Ohio, Western PA, and Western NY.
    Most fun show - we headlined the Music Alley Festival (St Petersburg, PA) in 1991 in front of 10,000 people.

    That was a big time for tribute bands, and there were several great ones on that circuit.
    It seemed like a new one popped up every week.
    Wish You Were Here (Floyd) and Zoso (Zep) are two that I can recall, and WYWH are STILL together and performing!

    We had so much fun, and although it was a long time ago, those band-mates have become life-long friends.
    I couldn't imagine doing it again now, but as a young man it was awesome.

    Here's a crappy picture from 1992 at our rehearsal hall in Cleveland, OH.



    That room was so cold in the winter you had to keep the beer in the fridge to keep it from freezing!
    Last edited by Blue97FXSTC; 06-21-16 at 02:06 PM.
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  11. #11
    Les Paul Forum Member Sergio's Avatar
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    Re: Tribute Bands

    Quote Originally Posted by Michael Patrick View Post
    No, just the stock single coil. I know Fast Eddie had a humbucker in the bridge, but I didn't want to hack up one of my Strats. I use a pedal to slam the amp harder to make up for the lack of a humbucker.

    I use a Les Paul for the Phil Campbell-era tunes...


    You're just like me, partner. Strats should be SSS.

  12. #12
    Les Paul Forum Member mingus's Avatar
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    Re: Tribute Bands

    Interesting topic.

    I was recruited to play in a Tom Petty & The Heartbreakers tribute 6 years ago to play the Mike Campbell stuff. At first, the concept of being in a tribute act seemed kind of odd, but I was convinced to do it and I am really glad I took the plunge. Today, my band, The Pettybreakers http://pettybreakers.com, is busy playing nice venues and making decent money. (put "Pettybreakers" into the search bar on YouTube and you'll get many pages of live performances)

    It's not easy to learn and play the songs note-for-note and we've chosen to have everyone stick to their part and "make it sound like the record". We also take the time to make sure we have the tones dialed in as close as possible. My bandmates all have great ears. Yes, it is an acting role to some extent and we do make the attempt to at least resemble the look and/or style of the members of the real band. This IS show business after all and the talent buyers and promoters expect a certain level of execution in terms of musicianship, appearance and showmanship. I've been very fortunate to have the opportunity to play notable venues with bandmates who are not only outstanding musicians, but also great guys who are easy and fun to be around while out on the road. Luckily, everyone's ego remains in check and we have no drama, no substance issues, no emotional baggage or other behavior that typically plagues rock bands. Everyone is professional, shows up early, sober and is always prepared.

    Also, as luck would have it, I already owned much of the vintage gear necessary for the part. The "Tom Petty" in the group and I are the founding members and it's taken a while to get the right guys, but we've been with the current lineup for nearly 3 years and it continues to be a great ride. I was formerly in a busy, local band playing 4-hour gigs in crappy bars/clubs. That experience allowed lots of room for improvisation, but I'll take playing better venues with better players, making a lot more money and never playing more than 120 minutes every time, even if it means I have to stick to the script. There are some songs here and there where some of us can take some liberties, but it's got to be within the style of the real band and relatively short. The audience isn't there to hear us improvise. They're there to hear the songs the way they always have.

    Judging by the size of the crowds top-tier tribute bands are able to draw, it appears that the public is very accepting of the concept. Some bands are no longer performing live for various reasons and those that do have expensive tickets and don't come around all that often. Tributes are a way for fans to have a live music experience of material they already know and love at a more reasonable price and at a location that's usually more convenient.

    For me, it's been a blast and I savor the experience, knowing it could all end at any time for a number of reasons. In the meantime, I'm thankful for my role as an "accidental mockstar"!
    .

    "The surest sign that intelligent life exists elsewhere in the universe is that it has never tried to contact us."

    - Bill Watterson, creator of the comic strip "Calvin and Hobbes".

  13. #13
    Les Paul Forum Member talonmm's Avatar
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    Re: Tribute Bands

    Quote Originally Posted by mingus View Post
    Interesting topic.

    I was recruited to play in a Tom Petty & The Heartbreakers tribute 6 years ago to play the Mike Campbell stuff. At first, the concept of being in a tribute act seemed kind of odd, but I was convinced to do it and I am really glad I took the plunge. Today, my band, The Pettybreakers http://pettybreakers.com, is busy playing nice venues and making decent money. (put "Pettybreakers" into the search bar on YouTube and you'll get many pages of live performances)

    It's not easy to learn and play the songs note-for-note and we've chosen to have everyone stick to their part and "make it sound like the record". We also take the time to make sure we have the tones dialed in as close as possible. My bandmates all have great ears. Yes, it is an acting role to some extent and we do make the attempt to at least resemble the look and/or style of the members of the real band. This IS show business after all and the talent buyers and promoters expect a certain level of execution in terms of musicianship, appearance and showmanship. I've been very fortunate to have the opportunity to play notable venues with bandmates who are not only outstanding musicians, but also great guys who are easy and fun to be around while out on the road. Luckily, everyone's ego remains in check and we have no drama, no substance issues, no emotional baggage or other behavior that typically plagues rock bands. Everyone is professional, shows up early, sober and is always prepared.

    Also, as luck would have it, I already owned much of the vintage gear necessary for the part. The "Tom Petty" in the group and I are the founding members and it's taken a while to get the right guys, but we've been with the current lineup for nearly 3 years and it continues to be a great ride. I was formerly in a busy, local band playing 4-hour gigs in crappy bars/clubs. That experience allowed lots of room for improvisation, but I'll take playing better venues with better players, making a lot more money and never playing more than 120 minutes every time, even if it means I have to stick to the script. There are some songs here and there where some of us can take some liberties, but it's got to be within the style of the real band and relatively short. The audience isn't there to hear us improvise. They're there to hear the songs the way they always have.

    Judging by the size of the crowds top-tier tribute bands are able to draw, it appears that the public is very accepting of the concept. Some bands are no longer performing live for various reasons and those that do have expensive tickets and don't come around all that often. Tributes are a way for fans to have a live music experience of material they already know and love at a more reasonable price and at a location that's usually more convenient.

    For me, it's been a blast and I savor the experience, knowing it could all end at any time for a number of reasons. In the meantime, I'm thankful for my role as an "accidental mockstar"!


    Wow, hope you come to Huntington Long Island and Play the Paramount! Sounds like a great night!

  14. #14
    Les Paul Forum Member Strat God's Avatar
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    Re: Tribute Bands

    It's like being in a play. Learn the part, live the part, become the part.
    Money's is probably the best you can get but you really have to be a certain kind of player...original and improv just doesn't exist in that world.
    God Bless Single-Malt Scotch.

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  15. #15
    Les Paul Forum Member Ed Driscoll's Avatar
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    Re: Tribute Bands

    If you can keep sane while doing it, it's probably a great way to increase your chops. I would imagine the guy who plays guitar in Japan's "Mr. Jimmy" Zeppelin cover band would be great on sessions for any producer who wants some roaring lead guitar, for example.

  16. #16
    Les Paul Forum Member Michael Patrick's Avatar
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    Re: Tribute Bands

    This was a dress rehearsal before our first gig...



    My guitar wants to kill your mama

  17. #17
    Les Paul Forum Member Ed Driscoll's Avatar
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    Re: Tribute Bands

    At the risk of committing the high Internet crime of necroposting, I'm reviving this thread because last night at the Granbury (TX) Theatre, I saw "Liverpool Legends," a Beatles tribute band put together in the early 2000s by Louise Harrison, George Harrison's Illinois-based older sister. (The faux-George was originally a trader on the floor of the Chicago Board of Trade before being tapped to step into the quiet one's Beatle boots.)

    The band has a regular stint in Branson, MO when not touring and playing Beatles conventions. While they added contemporary references (there was at one point a joke about a Billy Ray Cyrus song), they had the Beatles' thick Liverpudlian accents down cold; the closest they came to breaking character was when the audience laughed at a joke that "George" told while dressed up in White Album-era togs, he replied "Don't make me laugh too hard -- it'll make me mustache come off!" It must be very difficult to stay in character -- down to the accent -- for a whole gig, particularly when the inevitable disasters such a string breaking or an amp dying occur.

    Here's a photo of the lads dressed up in the Beatles' Shea Stadium rigs. Pardon the lack of detail; I was in the rafters and only had my iPad.

    Last edited by Ed Driscoll; 06-10-18 at 10:58 AM.

  18. #18
    Les Paul Forum Member
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    Re: Tribute Bands

    I do understand the need to learn songs.
    But I also dont think you should f*ck the neighbour's wife or paint his paintings.

    Make your own music.

  19. #19
    Les Paul Forum Co-Owner Tom Wittrock's Avatar
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    Re: Tribute Bands

    Quote Originally Posted by Ed Driscoll View Post

    The band has a regular stint in Branson, MS when not touring and playing Beatles conventions.
    Actually, it is in Branson Missouri [Mo].
    More and more tribute bands are playing there, amongst many live musical performance theaters daily.

    Here's a video interview with Louise and "George" [Marty Scott].
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YevWURDfQVc
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  20. #20
    Les Paul Forum Member Xpensive Wino's Avatar
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    Re: Tribute Bands

    Quote Originally Posted by c_wester View Post
    I do understand the need to learn songs. But I also dont think you should f*ck the neighbour's wife or paint his paintings.

    Make your own music.

  21. #21
    Les Paul Forum Member Ed Driscoll's Avatar
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    Re: Tribute Bands

    Quote Originally Posted by c_wester View Post
    I do understand the need to learn songs.
    But I also dont think you should f*ck the neighbour's wife or paint his paintings.

    Make your own music.
    The Beatles’ PR man Derek Taylor said that they worked in “the industry of human happiness,” and the audience that I saw on Friday night seemed very happy indeed – the people to the left of me in the wing of the balcony were a group of three couples, each celebrating their 50th wedding anniversary, and dancing up a storm. I’d much rather toil along making my own music than working in a tribute band, but I can’t knock these guys for making a living playing legendary music that we all grew up listening to.

  22. #22
    Les Paul Forum Member Ed Driscoll's Avatar
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    Re: Tribute Bands

    Quote Originally Posted by Tom Wittrock View Post
    Actually, it is in Branson Missouri [Mo].
    More and more tribute bands are playing there, amongst many live musical performance theaters daily.
    Thanks, fixed. To paraphrase the legendary Senator Blutarsky, was it over when the Germans bombed Mississippi?

  23. #23
    Les Paul Forum Member mingus's Avatar
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    Re: Tribute Bands

    Quote Originally Posted by talonmm View Post
    Wow, hope you come to Huntington Long Island and Play the Paramount! Sounds like a great night!
    You're in luck! We'll be coming to the Paramount Theater, Long Island on Friday, October 5th, then the Rivers Casino in Schenectady on Oct 6th.

    We're also doing a tour leg on the east coast later this month at Havana, New Hope, PA (6/28), Norwood Theater outside of Boston (6/29) and The Iridium in NYC (6/30).


    Quote Originally Posted by c_wester View Post
    I do understand the need to learn songs.
    But I also dont think you should f*ck the neighbour's wife or paint his paintings.

    Make your own music.
    Much easier said than done. When we started out 8 or 9 years ago, we had a drummer and keyboard player who both shared your views and ultimately chose to leave the band. Now that we are established, touring the country playing great venues for decent paydays, they've changed their tune and regret their hasty decisions based on maintaining "artistic purity". In the meantime, we were able to replace them with superior musicians who "get" the whole tribute concept.

    If you go to the symphony for a program of Beethoven and Mozart, do you really expect them to show up? Of course not. Yet those highly trained classical musicians are left playing covers and their patrons couldn't be happier. Great music stands on its own when reproduced by skilled players. The whole point of a tribute act is to faithfully recreate the music and the vibe in a live setting. Fortunately, people still like to go out and hear their favorite music played live. Judging from the venues we are so privileged to be able to play (and the ticket sales, our shows usually sell out), I'd say that audiences are fully behind the concept as well. I don't think anyone is saying that tribute acts are better then the originals, but if a concert experience of the original artist(s) is not in the cards (death, broken up, injury, retired, ticket prices too expensive, etc), then a quality tribute is the usually the best option. There are a lot of extremely talented tribute acts out there that truly deliver the goods -- sometimes better than the original in terms of being able to sound like the original recordings. Most people in the audience don't give a shit about an improvised solo or other deviation. They want to experience the songs played live the way they sound on the radio.
    .

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    - Bill Watterson, creator of the comic strip "Calvin and Hobbes".

  24. #24
    Les Paul Forum Member Pat Boyack's Avatar
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    Re: Tribute Bands

    Not my bag. I don't want to see a copy or a tribute. I've seen the originals. That goes for any band or artist. Now, I will admit that being a Blues guitarist for many many years meant me copying the styles of many legends. So I was, you could say in a cover band or bands.

    Mingus did make a very good point about classical music in a way but it's not the same. Beethoven and Mozart were composers, not performers (although the "Moz" was very accomplished). The players in tribute bands are like classical musicians. They reproduce a piece of music. Bottom line.

    What *I* hate are the so called tribute bands that don't put very much effort into their product. You can't have a 300lb guy with his head shaved in a Pearl Jam tribute. Or a guy playing Angus (yes you are PLAYING the part of Angus) in an AC/DC tribute band being 6'1". That's stupid. I have seen tribute bands who don't even dress the part or try to. In 1989 I spent 3 weeks playing in Tokyo and there was a Beatles tribute down the street playing in a club that looked just like the Cavern Club. These guys dressed like the Fab Four, they played the same guitars and amps too. Shit, I would see them hanging out during the day STILL playing the part. There was a Who tribute band I witnessed 13 years ago at BB King's in NYC. I swear the singer looked just like Roger D and the band playing period correct gear. THAT is a TRIBUTE band. Both of these units put a lot of work into what they did.

    ....and one last thing and I'm sure I'll burn somebody's ass - You are not an "artist" if you are in a tribute band. You are a musician. Artists create art.

  25. #25
    Les Paul Forum Member Xpensive Wino's Avatar
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    Re: Tribute Bands

    Quote Originally Posted by Pat Boyack View Post
    Not my bag. I don't want to see a copy or a tribute. I've seen the originals. That goes for any band or artist. Now, I will admit that being a Blues guitarist for many many years meant me copying the styles of many legends. So I was, you could say in a cover band or bands.

    Mingus did make a very good point about classical music in a way but it's not the same. Beethoven and Mozart were composers, not performers (although the "Moz" was very accomplished). The players in tribute bands are like classical musicians. They reproduce a piece of music. Bottom line.

    What *I* hate are the so called tribute bands that don't put very much effort into their product. You can't have a 300lb guy with his head shaved in a Pearl Jam tribute. Or a guy playing Angus (yes you are PLAYING the part of Angus) in an AC/DC tribute band being 6'1". That's stupid. I have seen tribute bands who don't even dress the part or try to. In 1989 I spent 3 weeks playing in Tokyo and there was a Beatles tribute down the street playing in a club that looked just like the Cavern Club. These guys dressed like the Fab Four, they played the same guitars and amps too. Shit, I would see them hanging out during the day STILL playing the part. There was a Who tribute band I witnessed 13 years ago at BB King's in NYC. I swear the singer looked just like Roger D and the band playing period correct gear. THAT is a TRIBUTE band. Both of these units put a lot of work into what they did.

    ....and one last thing and I'm sure I'll burn somebody's ass - You are not an "artist" if you are in a tribute band. You are a musician. Artists create art.

    Pat said it, I believe it, and that settles it.

    I remember hearing Jimmy Buffet tell a woman who kept screaming out 'requests', "I ain't a fucking human jukebox, lady".

    If you're in a copy band, you're a human jukebox.

  26. #26
    Les Paul Forum Member ourmaninthenorth's Avatar
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    Re: Tribute Bands

    I've never learned a single song all the way through, not a single one.

    I've never played the same thing twice.

    I play to an audience of one, from the heart, for the heart. Never, ever, for approval. I personally don't give a shite what anyone thinks of what I'm doing.

    I always do my own thing, in music as in life. This shit is personal.

    Music isn't my living, it's my life.

    I don't flatter myself that the music that I've lived with for decades...possibly 100,000+ separate pieces, hasn't affected what comes out of my heart when I'm on the job.

    Don't much care for labels, but Musician will do.

    I'm just a speck of sand on a fookin big musical beach, with the elements constantly shifting the combinations about.
    Shakespeare walks into a pub, the Landlord says "get out, you're Bard"

  27. #27
    Les Paul Forum Co-Owner Tom Wittrock's Avatar
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    Re: Tribute Bands

    Quote Originally Posted by ourmaninthenorth View Post
    I've never learned a single song all the way through, not a single one.

    I've never played the same thing twice.

    I play to an audience of one, from the heart, for the heart. Never, ever, for approval. I personally don't give a shite what anyone thinks of what I'm doing.

    I always do my own thing, in music as in life. This shit is personal.

    Music isn't my living, it's my life.

    I don't flatter myself that the music that I've lived with for decades...possibly 100,000+ separate pieces, hasn't affected what comes out of my heart when I'm on the job.

    Don't much care for labels, but Musician will do.

    I'm just a speck of sand on a fookin big musical beach, with the elements constantly shifting the combinations about.
    Turn these words into a song and then you're also a song writer.
    Pauls to the walls!

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  28. #28

    Re: Tribute Bands

    Tragedy. The best heavy metal Bee Gees tribute band in the tri-state area beyotches! ---


  29. #29
    Les Paul Forum Member Xpensive Wino's Avatar
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    Re: Tribute Bands

    Quote Originally Posted by SpencerD View Post
    Tragedy. The best heavy metal Bee Gees tribute band in the tri-state area beyotches! ---
    I just threw up in my mouth a little.

  30. #30

    Re: Tribute Bands

    Quote Originally Posted by Xpensive Wino View Post
    I just threw up in my mouth a little.
    No you didn't. You like that!

    EDIT --- I forgot the smiley XW --- oops!

  31. #31
    Les Paul Forum Member Triburst's Avatar
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    Re: Tribute Bands

    I think it all depends upon the entertainment value at the time.

    About a decade ago, my wife and I took the kids on one of our semi-annual pilgrimages to Disney World in Orlando.

    We were in Epcot, and were doing the walk around the lake visiting "country" after "country." Anyway, we got to England, and while the kids went in the little pub for fish & chips, I wandered over and to my surprise, saw a Beatles tribute band performing in a gazebo. I thought it was a "live" recording at first.

    They were dressed in "Hard Days Night"-era garb, and reasonably looked the part. They were good. Harmonies were right, sound was mixed right, and they were having a good time. Most of all, they did the songs justice.

    It was all my wife and kids could do to pull me out of there. That was special.

    But then again, there's this:


  32. #32
    Les Paul Forum Member Pat Boyack's Avatar
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    Re: Tribute Bands

    Quote Originally Posted by Triburst View Post
    They were dressed in "Hard Days Night"-era garb, and reasonably looked the part. They were good. Harmonies were right, sound was mixed right, and they were having a good time. Most of all, they did the songs justice.
    I can respect the fact that they put a lot into it.

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