Soul Men Blues Brothers Tribute concert
When: 7:30 p.m. Feb. 24
Admission: $18, auditorium seats; $22, table seats
Where: Oaks Theater, 310 Allegheny River Blvd., Oakmont
Details: 412-828-6322 or theoakstheater.com
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Updated 22 hours ago
When it comes down to assessing the ongoing appeal of the Blues Brothers, “They are just cool and everyone wants to be cool,” says Joe Wichryk II, executive director of the Oaks Theater in Oakmont.
“The music is still meaningful today decades after it was written, plus the style of performance is so energetic one gets swept away with the power of the show,” he says.
The Soul Men Blues Brothers Tribute group continues its mission to satisfy seasoned fans and win new ones at an all-ages concert at 7:30 p.m. Feb. 24 at the Oaks.
It's been said that the Soul Men, formed in 1990, impersonate the characters of Jake and Elwood, originally portrayed by comedians John Belushi and Dan Aykroyd, respectively, to perfection, “from their knuckle tattoos to their signature hats and sunglasses.”
“We feel that the Soul Men Blues Brothers Tribute is the highest quality Blues Brothers show on the market right now,” Wichryk says. “This type of show and style of music fit our local demographic, yet are still enjoyed by younger fans who may have only recently discovered the ‘Blues Brothers' movie and/or the upbeat style of music and performance that a show like this expresses.”
Aykroyd and Belushi first introduced the American blues and soul revivalist band in 1978 as a sketch and then as musical guests on NBC's “Saturday Night Live.” The late Belushi was lead vocalist “Joliet” Jake Blues, and Aykroyd was harmonica player and vocalist Elwood Blues. They were backed by a group of respected musicians.
The 1978 album, “Briefcase Full of Blues,” and “The Blues Brothers” film, created around the characters, followed in 1980.
“The Soul Men Blues Brothers Tribute is not just a concert, it's an experience that will affect anyone who is in the room. It will be something that will stay with them in an extremely positive way for years to come,” Wichryk says.
For the Soul Men, it all goes back to the original movie. “It's a classic. We both fell in love with the movie, and the music is so awesome,” says the group's founder, who, rather than use his real name, prefers to stay in character as “Elwood Soul.”
His partner Jake, he says, is portrayed by “Brews Soul.”
“We both reside in Ohio when we can get work release permission from the warden,” he jokes, referencing the movie.
“We just do what moves us on stage. It all centers around the original music from the original artist. I liked Paul Shaffer's composition of those original songs,” Elwood Soul says.
“We will encourage audience participation. We are always looking for backup singers, dancers, conga lines, ‘Jake side vs. Elwood side' competition and more. We always make sure there is a dance floor available. We also use cordless mics so we can take the party to the guests, even the people who sit in the very back part of the room. This will be a kids' friendly show.”
Audiences are “wide and diverse,” he adds. “From bikers to bankers, 9 to 90, everyone seems to have a great time.”
“At the end of the night when they thank us for entertaining them, that's what keeps us coming back,” Elwood Soul says.
The Soul Men will be backed by Pittsburgh and regional musicians, including members of Miss Freddye's blues band.
Miss Freddye bassist Gregory Sejko says he is very much looking forward to being part of this tribute show.
“Blues music resonates with most people because it is easy to relate to. I am fortunate to be working with some very talented musicians,” he says. “All of us being seasoned musicians and having grown up playing blues music, it shouldn't be as much of a challenge as a chance to put our own spin on the Blues Brothers experience.”
Rex Rutkoski is a Tribune-Review contributing writer.
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