Orleans will show Park City audiences it’s ‘Still the One’
Lance Hoppen had considered shutting down his band, Orleans, after his brother Larry, the group’s vocalist and guitarist, died in 2012.
“I was about ready to put everything to bed, but a new manager stepped in and resurrected the band,” the bassist said.
Larry’s passing was the biggest challenge to hit the band, which will perform a three-night run at the Egyptian Theatre starting on April 18, in its 47 years, Hoppen said.
The first hurdle for Orleans, though, was when founding member, singer and guitarist John Hall left to pursue his solo career and anti-war activism – which led to two his terms in Congress.
The other challenges caused by changes in the music industry, like record label roster changes prompted by mergers and lack of music industry support, he said.
Larry’s death spurred Hall’s return to Orleans, according to Hoppen.
“He came back to fill that big gaping hole, but it also demanded everyone to step up their games big time, otherwise there would not be any Orleans today,” Hoppen said. “Everyone has grown into it.”
The concerts planned for Park City will feature the hits and some new work.
“There are some things we can’t do anymore because we need Larry, but we know there are things we have to do, regardless,” Hoppen said. “So we retooled, appropriately and effectively, some things.”
Orleans will also play some new pieces.
“Those songs keep it interesting for us, but also work consistently in the show,” Hoppen said. “We have a lot of material from the past 47 years to choose from. And we’ve probably forgotten more songs that most bands ever learn.”
Fans will be relieved to know that “Dance With Me,” “Still the One” and “Love Takes Time” are in the set.
“These songs don’t get old, because they are good and timeless,” Hoppen said. “I feel it’s a privilege; a blessing, to play these songs.”
The bassist also credits the band for making these songs sound fresh for each performance.
“The lineup consists of myself and John leading the charge, and my younger brother Lane, who has played keyboards with us since 2000,” Hoppen said.
The band also includes guitarist Dennis “Fly” Amero, who originally filled in when Hall took on his political career, according to Hoppen.
“Another change is that our drummer of 18 years, Charlie Morgan, left last year,” Hoppen said. “So we have a friend of mine from Nashville, Brady Spencer, playing with us.”
Regardless of Orleans’ lineup changes, Hoppen is grateful the band has featured at least two original members in the different incarnations.
“I would never want our story to be ‘the bass player inherits the band,’” He said. “That would be cliche, even though there is now only two of us still standing.”
However, Hoppen is honored he and Hall can carry on with the Orleans name.
“The first time the band broke up was in 1977, five years since we started, and that’s the run of most bands,” he said. “There have been multiple renaissance periods, but it’s funny how our song ‘Still the One’ has become our actual anthem. I mean, if it’s fun, we’ll continue to do it.”
Even if Orleans was to fold, Hoppen and Hall would still play music, he said.
“We’re career musicians,” Hoppen said. “While Orleans has been a centerpiece, a spine in a career, for John and me, we do other things.”
Hoppen, when he’s not playing in Orleans, is a music director for a series of multi-singer concert revues, called Rock and Pop Masters.
“We have done everyone from the Four Tops to Joe Elliott of Def Leppard,” he said. “So, when people ask me what I’m listening to these days and I always say, ‘I listen to things that I have to know how to play next.’”
He also performs with Felix Cavaliere of Felix Cavaliere’s Rascals, and another oldies revue.
“Not only do I have to learn new stuff, I also have to provide the band members with all the materials so they can do their homework for the oldies show,” Hoppen said. “It’s not all about my playing. When we do those shows with the big rock singers, I know the musicians are all better than me. Luckily I can sing well, and I’m also good at delegating. So what I get paid for is organizational skills.”
A few days ago, Hoppen’s manager asked if Hoppen could fill the temporary absence of Firefall bassist Mark Handy.
“So I’m going to sub for him, as long as I don’t have to be in two places at once,” Hoppen said with a laugh. “If I knew my 60s would have been this good, I would have tried to get here sooner.”
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