Tribute bands bring ’70s British rock to Park City
December 24, 2013
Tribute bands can be a double-edged sword.
Sometimes it’s a daunting task for the musicians who portray their iconic counterparts and open themselves up to criticism from die-hard fans.
Other times its can be the most rewarding gig on the planet, because if a tribute is done right, those same fans will praise the musicians for bringing an experience back to life.
Park City will get a chance to hear a slew of tribute bands during the next few weeks, and two of the most critically acclaimed bands will perform next week.
The Who Show tribute will play Dec. 26 and Dec. 27, and Zoso: The Ultimate Led Zeppelin Experience will follow on Dec. 28 and Dec. 29.
The Who Show
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France DiCarlo, who is drummer Keith Moon in The Who Show tribute that will be at the Egyptian Theatre, said he never really thought about the pressures of impersonating one of rock music’s iconic heroes.
"The Who was my favorite band and he was the drummer of the band," DiCarlo said during an interview with The Park Record. "I became a drummer when I was in junior high. I was playing high school dances with some guys in school. We would score the gigs at the dances and I came across The Who and just said, ‘I wanted to be like him.’"
At that time, DiCarlo didn’t get caught up in The Who members’ personalities — he just liked the music.
"But a few year later, I started getting into the different band members — Roger, Pete, John and Keith — and I started playing in tribute bands," he said. "That was when I started to realize how similar my playing was to Keith’s. Then I noticed that we even looked alike. It’s kind of funny how stuff like that works out."
Throughout the years DiCarlo has learned a lot about Moon and tries to convey those discoveries during The Who Show.
"A lot of people label him as a hard-hitting, hard-rock drummer that just pounds away on his set, but that’s not really true," DiCarlo said. "He looked like he was hitting hard because he had a lot of movement in his hands, but he picked up a lot of his playing from one of his influences, who was Gene Krupa, so he actually played with many jazz overtones. And he played form his heart and soul."
When DiCarlo was learning to play The Who songs, he really didn’t study Moon’s style.
"He just came naturally to me," DiCarlo said. "I grew up on classic rock and can play jazz and progressive, and that’s fun, too, but when I’m playing The Who music, I let things go and play naturally.
"While it doesn’t feel like a challenge to me, there are things that I have to do," he said. "There are a lot of beats per minute, and I’m constantly pumping away with the double bass drums, left and right, and hitting that backbeat."
DiCarlo said it would have been interesting to see what Moon would have done if he hadn’t died on Sept. 7, 1978, after asphyxiating following a night of partying.
"When he died, he was actually looking forward to coming back and getting healthy," DiCarlo said. "He was tired of being overweight and even sought doctors to get him off the alcohol and things, but it never happened."
So DiCarlo said he is keeping Moon’s spirit alive.
"We are also the longest-running Who tribute in the world," he said. "I started the band in the 1980s and we’re still doing this."
A couple of years ago, The Who Show was voted the Most Believable Who Tribute Band at VH1 Rock Honors.
"That was good," DiCarlo said. "It was surprising when we found out we won. It was awesome to have that bragging right."
The band’s current line up is DiCarlo, Chris Propper as Pete Townsend, Jim Kennelly as John Entwistle and Stephen Shareaux as Roger Daltrey.
"We have some great talent in the band," DiCarlo said. "Stephen was the lead singer of the band Kick Tracy in the 1980s and he just released a new solo album.
"Jim is one of the best Entwistle impersonators and we’re lucky enough to have Chris who resembles Pete and plays like him as well," he said. "It’s our interpretation of The Who. We are not trying to out do the original Who or whatever. We just want our audience to get the satisfaction of hearing the music and seeing the personalities online."
For more information, visit http://www.thewhoshow.com.
ZOSO: The Ultimate Led Zeppelin Experience
Matt Jernigan, who takes on the role of Led Zeppelin lead singer Robert Plant in Zoso, had a different reaction to joining a tribute band than DiCarlo.
"First off, it wasn’t our idea," Jernigan said during an interview with The Park Record. "It was a suggestion for us and when we heard the idea, I didn’t think we should because Led Zeppelin is like one of rock’s sacred cows."
The first thing Jernigan worried about was the criticism the tribute would get because the Led Zeppelin was and still is so highly revered.
"Like me, millions of people grew up listening to Led Zeppelin, and it is part of their lives," he said. "But at the same time, I thought, ‘Why not?’"
Once Jernigan decided to go for it, he realized how important this tribute was.
"We got into the theatrics and acting, which was totally new to us, and by taking all that in, I started to feel honored to do this," he said. "That’s why we figured if we were going to do this, then we better do it right, because this would be the most important thing that we would ever do."
The first challenge, however, was learning the music.
"We all had to be competent musicians," Jernigan said, laughing. "But learning the songs was interesting because there is so much detail in each composition and we really took years to learn how to play the songs correctly.
"It’s not like you learn the song and go and play," he said. "All of us have gone back to listen to a song closely and realize that we’ve been playing the parts wrong. Our guitar player went back to listen to ‘Ramble On’ and it bothered him that he wasn’t quite getting the right sound."
The other challenge was all on Jernigan — keeping his vocals in shape.
"There are songs like ‘Over the Hills and Far Away’ and ‘Out on the Tiles’ that are very difficult because the vocal range is hard to maintain throughout the length of the song," he said. "Even ‘Black Dog’ is in that high register. It’s one thing to listen to the song, and totally another thing to execute it because the scales are massive.
"So you have to put your pride away to really become like a student, because it becomes a quest," Jernigan said. "It’s not about playing it good enough. You have to nail it."
The third piece of the puzzle was to understand the music’s dynamics.
"Led Zeppelin is one of the Top 5 dynamic bands of all time and all the songs are diverse," Jernigan explained. "Heck, the dynamics alone will increase the volume, because of the way a song was written."
dissecting the compositions, Jernigan and the band — John McDaniel (Jimmy Page), Adam Sandling (John Paul Jones) and Greg Thompson (John Bonham) — have developed a deeper appreciation and perception to the songwriting.
"These guys were geniuses," Jernigan said. "When we go and play, it boggles our mind just how great these songs are.
"Plus, we have come to realize how many people we make happy when we play for them," he said. "This music means something to the audience and will take them back to a certain time in their lives, and I never thought I would be doing something like this."
For more information, visit http://www.zosoontour.com .
The Egyptian Theatre, 328 Main St., will present The Who Show tribute on Dec. 26 and Dec. 27, at 8 p.m., and Zoso: The Ultimate Led Zeppelin Experience on Dec. 28 and Dec. 29. Tickets for each show range from $29 to $50 and are available by visiting http://www.parkcityshows.com.