Guess Who’s going to play the Egyptian Theatre
Drummer France DiCarlo was involved in a lot of original bands in Los Angeles, Calif., during the 1980s, but that ended in 1990, when the lead singer he was working with quit.
After a brief introspective session, DiCarlo decided to continue performing, and formed a Who cover band to pay tribute to his childhood idols – guitarist Pete Townsend, bassist John Entwistle, vocalist Roger Daltry and drummer Keith Moon.
"The Who was my favorite band from when I was a kid," DiCarlo said during a phone call from L.A. "When I was growing up in New York, we didn’t have any radios in the house. The only time I’d get to hear the radio was in my mother’s car. She had an AM radio and one day I heard ‘Pinball Wizard’ from the album ‘Tommy,’ and that was it."
DiCarlo sought out The Who music and was more than happy when his brother’s friend asked him to take a road trip upstate.
"That was the year the album ‘Who’s Next’ came out and my brother’s friend had it on eight-track tape and popped it in," DiCarlo said. "We listened to it and the song ‘Baba O’Reily’ came on and blew me away."
DiCarlo will get to share his love of the band when The Who Show performs at the Egyptian Theatre, 328 Main St., on Sunday, Dec. 30, and Monday, Dec. 31, at 8 p.m.
When DiCarlo decided to form The Who Show, he wanted more than just a cover band.
"As I started really studying the band, I found the different personalities of the guys were intriguing to me," he said. "The Who was kind of like The Beatles or Led Zeppelin. Each band member has a strong personality that makes it difficult to forget their faces or forget their names."
So, DiCarlo recruited musicians who not only could play Who tunes, but also impersonate the band.
"I wanted people to see the characters and the costumes and feel like they are watching the next best thing to the real band," he said. "There are a lot of tribute bands out there, and a lot of these bands aren’t ones that many people know the characters."
DiCarlo soon found how important it was for the band members to get along.
"The first thing I learned is to find the right chemistry, because that’s something you can’t buy," he said. "Then, hopefully, they fit the parts."
DiCarlo also looks for musicians who are going to stay loyal to the cause.
"I had to find musicians that didn’t care if they received fame or fortune," he said. "We’re a cover band, and we don’t make that much money doing it and we don’t have the fan base that The original Who have."
The last thing DiCarlo looks for is attitude.’
"They need to be excited and realize how important it is to play the parts correctly as an actor and as musician," he said. "I’ve lucked out with the lineup today, because every person in the band is very close to their characters, and I know I can depend on them."
The Who Show lineup is DiCarlo, Chris Propper as Pete Townsend, Jim Kennelly as John Entwistle and Stephen Shareaux, as Roger Daltrey.
"Stephen had some success as the lead singer for the ’80s band Kick Tracy, and has been with me on and off since 2005," DiCarlo said. "He has really got into The Who Show these past few years."
Propper has been with DiCarlo since 2006 and Kennelly, who has been recognized as a world-renowned Entwistle impersonator has been with The Who Show for three years, DiCarlo said.
"It’s a labor of love and the thing that keeps us going is knowing that we can’t live without playing music," he said.
DiCarlo’s band covers all the songs The Who had in its catalog up until Keith Moon’s untimely death in 1978, including "Pinball Wizard," "My Generation," "Long Live Rock" and "Who Are You," to name a few.
"We also play a couple of post-Moon songs, ‘You Better You Bet’ and ‘Eminence Front,’ because they were popular tunes," DiCarlo said. "That’s one of the great things about all these songs. Every one of them sounded different, but were still catchy and identifiable. So, when you hear a Who song and you know it’s them."
DiCarlo doesn’t have a favorite Who song, but said he likes singing "Rain on Me" and "Who Are You."
"I also like ‘Won’t Get Fooled Again’ and ‘Baba O’Reily,’" he said. "There are obscure ones I like as well, and we have been known to perform the "Tommy" and "Quradrophenia" in their entirety."
The Who Show performs all over the country at fairs, festivals, VIP parties and casinos, and all the set lists are different.
"We have to custom make every set, and that keeps things exciting," DiCarlo said. "It also prevents us from sticking with the old same stuff. It all depends on the length of the show or what we’re asked to do."
Park City will get to hear the hits.
"People will get a chance to feel like they are at a Who concert," DiCarlo said.
In 2005 and 2006, The Who Show performed nine sold-out shows that featured the "Quardophenia."
Daltry showed up at one of the concerts and even stopped in on rehearsals.
"I talked with Roger and he suggested that I get the famous ‘Pictures of Lily’ drum set that Keith had used," DiCarlo said. "Then at the end of the show, Spencer Davis’ wife June came up and told me Roger said that I was Keith Moon incarnated."
Tapping into The Who’s hyperactive drummer isn’t a challenge for DiCarlo.
"I play his style naturally," he said. "In fact, I just did a bluegrass album and it sounds like Keith doing bluegrass."
DiCarlo never took a drum lesson, but was influenced by many different artists.
"My older brother had a band and had some good success writing and playing radio jingles," DiCarlo said. "The band used to rehearse at our house, and that exposed me to the drums."
The drummer used to keep his practice set, which was made of rubber pads, in DiCarlo’s room.
"He would go up to my room and play stuff like Carl Palmer from Emerson, Lake & Palmer in and effortless way," DiCarlo said. "I mean, every drum beat and stroke would be perfect."
One day, DiCarlo’s sister loaned him some money to buy his own set.
"A guy sold me a Leedy kit that is a lot of money these days for only $50," DiCarlo said. "I knew of a local high school buddy who played guitar and we began working together and doing all the high school dances.
"During one of those gigs, I had a Keith Moon situation come up where the drum throne broke," DiCarlo said with a laugh. "But I was able to still keep playing, which was almost next to impossible.
"I mean, the seat is your pivot and that’s where everything starts when it comes to playing drums," he said.
The Egyptian Theatre will present The Who Show on Monday, Dec. 30, and Tuesday, Dec. 31, at 8 p.m. Tickets range from $30 to $50 and are available by visiting http://www.parkcityshows.com . For more information, visit http://www.thewhoshow.com.
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