B-52’s will soar into Deer Valley with the Utah Symphony
There is no stopping the B-52’s.
The new wave band from Athens, Georgia, known for the hits “Love Shack,” “Rock Lobster” and “Planet Claire,” will celebrate its 40th anniversary in a few months and the band doesn’t feel like heading to the hangar anytime soon, according to vocalist Cindy Wilson.
“We have multi-generations of fans,” Wilson said during a phone interview from a friend’s house in Georgia. “Children know us and we see kids dancing to our music with their parents and even old ladies in wheelchairs are coming to our concerts.”
When the B-52’s makes it’s next stop at Deer Valley on July 9, audiences will see and hear the band in a new light — with the Utah Symphony.
“We love doing these symphony shows,” Wilson said. “They have been raging successes and I can’t wait to bring the show to you guys.”
The band — Wilson, Fred Schneider and Kate Pierson — started performing symphony concerts arranged by David Campbell last September at the Hollywood Bowl with the Hollywood Bowl Orchestra.
“It was our first time doing it and it was so much fun,” Wilson said. “We sold out a string of nights and it was amazing.” Since then, the B-52’s have performed with the Nashville Symphony and the Boston Pops, to name a few.
“It’s amazing how each symphony can step in and play the songs,” Wilson said. “The orchestras rehearse separately from the band and then we come together on show day. It’s just amazing how it all works out.” The band members knew they wanted to create a nostalgic, but unique show for the audiences. And that meant selecting songs from the early albums and from 1989’s “Cosmic Thing,” known for its lead single “Love Shack.”
“We also wanted to do ‘Rock Lobster,’ ‘Dance This Mess Around’ and had planned out what would be a good as far as melodies,” Wilson said. “I mean, ‘Planet Claire’ is really awesome with the symphony. That one turned out so well.” The symphonic arrangements turn the songs into a different experience, according to Wilson.
“They go from a rock ‘n’ roll thing to something more elaborate,” she explained. “They are fuller and kind of become magical. It’s like a fantasy.” The thrill for Wilson is seeing the audience’s reactions.
“I think people like these funny and quirky songs performed with a symphony because it’s unexpected,” she said.
While performing with symphonies is a new career highlight for Wilson, she has many other favorite moments that span the band’s four-decade career. A big chunck of those fond memories happened in the early days when the band included her late brother Ricky Wilson on guitar.
“We wrote two albums worth of songs before we signed with a record label and it was such an experience to experiment and have fun,” she said. “My dad bought us a van to tour around in and we run up the East Coast to New York and then went to Cleveland, Minneapolis and all over the place to play these little clubs. Even though that wasn’t very glamorous, it is my fondest memories.” Her second favorite highlight came after Ricky passed away in 1985.
“The band pulled together after the loss of my brother for the ‘Cosmic Thing,’” Wilson said. “We worked really hard and had a few hits on that record and toured for two years on that album.”
That was when the band’s drummer Keith Strickland took over as the band’s guitarist, Wilson said.
In 2012, Strickland announced his retirement and touring guitarist Greg Suran began playing with the B-52’s.
“Talk about magical,” Wilson said. “Greg has studied Ricky’s and Keith’s techniques and wove them both into the songs and added his own magic.
“It feels like Ricky is on stage with us,” she said. “I have to pinch myself because it’s blissful and amazing.” Wilson is proud of how her band’s music has been able to transcend the generations over the years.
“It’s a crazy thought to know that no matter where we go, people have heard at least one of our songs,” she said. “It makes me so happy to know how much our songs mean to people. I love it when people come up to me and tell me how our music helped them through hard parts of their lives.”
“It’s amazing to me to know that we are part of people’s celebration of life and parties,” Wilson said. “As an artist, things can’t get better than that. We would love people to come out and see us because this is a special event. We are tickled to be coming to Park City.”
The Utah Symphony | Utah Opera’s Deer Valley Music Festival will continue with the B-52s with the Utah Symphony at Deer Valley’s Snow Park Amphitheater on Saturday, July 9, at 7:30 p.m. Randall Craig Fleischer will conduct. Tickets range from $49 to $120 and can be purchased by vising http://www.deervalleymusicfestival.com
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