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The Bobby Bandiera Band Pays Tribute
Rock-n-Soul Revue
[Roy Orbinson has] been close to my heart my whole life. I used to listen to his records growing up. - Bobby Bandiera
by Jennifer L. Pricci
 [Chorus and Verse] Rock-n-Soul Revue
Southside Johnny performs with Bobby Bandiera at the premiere Jersey Shore Rock-n-Soul Revue in February 2005
Southside Johnny performs with Bobby Bandiera at the premiere Jersey Shore Rock-n-Soul Revue in February 2005 (Credit: John Cavanaugh, www.rocktography.info)

At a time when tribute act and cover band management team phone numbers are stored into the cell phones of club promoters throughout the country, the Jersey Shore becomes a more and more viable resource for original live music. Such tribute and cover acts prove an excellent resource for entertainment; they also provide a reliable source of revenue for local bars and clubs offering live music. Sometimes, however, the overabundance of this particular genre of musicians who, while talented, can only at best fall just short of par leaves the original music fan, or “musicianship-philes,” quenching for performances by a professional whose first priority is to leave their own unique fingerprint on this crazy scene.

When a musician’s second priority is to entertain the masses using the musical gifts others have given us in an effort to satisfy their desire to perform live, gain an increased opportunity to introduce what they personally have to offer, or, through experience, open doors that would otherwise be closed to them, can the two agendas co-exist peacefully? Not just in the same town, or in the same venue, but in the same performer?

Visit the up-and-coming Jersey Shore Rock-n-Soul Revue, starring the Bobby Bandiera Band, on Saturday, August 6 at Count Basie Theatre (Red bank, NJ) or Thursday, August 11 at New Jersey State Theatre (East Brunswick, NJ) and learn that the answer to these questions is a resounding YES!

In late February 2005, debut Jersey Shore Rock-n-Soul Revue goers stepped into a time warp at the Count Basie Theatre back to the decade made famous by PlayTone Record showcases, Chuck Berry and the birth of rock-n-roll and ’57 Chevys. The brainchild of Count Basie Theatre Manager Numa Saisselin, the Rock-n-Soul Revue was proposed to Bobby Bandiera in late 2004. Bandiera was the artist Saisselin was confident could make this project a successful one. His first response was one of apprehension.

The Rock-n-Soul Revue returns for shows at the Count Basie Theatre and New Brunswick's State Theatre
The Rock-n-Soul Revue returns for shows at the Count Basie Theatre and New Brunswick's State Theatre (Credit: John Cavanaugh, www.rocktography.info)

“I didn’t want to pick something I couldn’t pull off,” explains the humble artist. But, after careful consideration of those who’ve influenced his own craft, a tribute to Roy Orbison was an obvious choice.

“He’s been close to my heart my whole life. I used to listen to his records growing up; my mother used to have (them) on the stereo all the time, ” said Bandiera.

Going forward, Bobby lined up a band for the event: backing vocalist-songwriter-guitarist Bob Burger, keyboardists Mick Seeley and Kevin Kavanaugh, drummer Joe Bellia, bassist Steve Shewchuk, Joey Stann on sax and backing vocalists Lisa Lowell and Maureen McCrink. The veritable who’s who of local musicians was comprised solely of people whom Bobby had worked with before and, more specifically, had performed Orbison tunes with.

The event felt to this sophomoric Monmouth resident like an invitation to a high-school party with all the popular kids hosted by the coolest cat in town. The majority of the sold-out crowd consisted of friends of the band, as years of show-going in this incestuous music community often forms bonds greater that the typical artist/fan relationship. Local VIP’s in attendance included Big Joe Henry, Tim McLoone, Hugh McDonald and Jon Bon Jovi. Southside Johnny could be seen tucked behind the curtain, stage left, stomping his feet and flailing his arms all night. Until, of course, he joined the band on stage.

“I have to follow that?” Southside Johnny Lyon exclaimed before a duet with Bobby on “World Stands Still,” a Bandiera original written in an Orbison style as a tribute to his influence. The previous number might have been the highlight of the evening, Bobby’s true-to-form rendition of “Crying,” which sent shivers down the spines of an attentive audience with his gentle delivery and angelic yet commanding vocals. “Crying” earned the Bobby Bandiera Band their longest ovation of the evening.

Other highlights included Bobby’s guitar skills partnered with Joey Stann’s sax solo on “Dream Baby Dream.” “Pretty Woman” had the crowd clapping, dancing and stomping along. And Bruce Springsteen’s “Thunder Road,” performed by Mick Seeley and featuring a reference to Orbison, was a welcomed crowd-pleaser. Bob Burger took authority over the vocals on “Handle With Care” and again took advantage of an opportunity to showcase his talents on harmonica and guitar during “Working For The Man.” The encore consisted of an always-popular medley of “C’Mon Caroline,” penned jointly by Bandiera and Burger, and “Twisting the Night Away,” topping off the evening’s true ‘50's feel.

Bob Burger performs with the Rock-n-Soul Revue at the Count Basie Theatre
Bob Burger performs with the Rock-n-Soul Revue at the Count Basie Theatre (Credit: John Cavanaugh, www.rocktography.info)

As predicted by Saisselin back in February, if the Jersey Shore Rock-n-Soul Revue proved successful it would likely travel elsewhere. It’s no surprise then that since the Revue’s sold-out debut there have been a number of repeat performances throughout the region. This August finds Rock-n-Soul back at Count Basie Theatre on Saturday, August 6, for a tribute to Simon & Garfunkel and the Everly Brothers. A sneak peak at the performance shows that the audience can look forward to a “best of” type of show.

“The material this time is more varied than before and, in some cases, a bit challenging,” reports Bob Burger. “I’m looking forward to seeing how “Scarborough Fair” works in the larger setting, as it is kind of intimate. Look for Bobby to do a great vocal on “Bridge Over Troubled Water.” We do quite a few duets as well.”

On Thursday, August 11, the Rock-n-Soul Revue visits New Brunswick’s New Jersey State Theatre for an encore performance of "A Tribute to Roy Orbison."

In a community where the Bobby Bandiera Band has a stellar reputation as a high-quality entertainment resource as well as a strong foundation for genuine musicianship, all music fans really need to embrace the opportunity to see what this band is capable of after a sound-check! The band welcomes “musicianship-philes” and entertainment junkies alike to attend these higher-than-bar-band-profile events.

For Tickets:

The Jersey Shore Rock-n-Soul Revue:
Tribute to Simon & Garfunkel and the Everly Brothers
Saturday, 08/06/05 at 8:00 PM
COUNT BASIE THEATRE
99 Monmouth Street
Red Bank, New Jersey 07701
Box Office: 732-842-9000
www.countbasietheatre.org

The Jersey Shore Rock-n-Soul Revue:
Tribute to Roy Orbison
Thursday, 08/11/05 at 8:00 PM
STATE THEATRE NEW BRUNSWICK
15 Livington Avenue
New Brunswick, New Jersey 08901
Box Office: 732-246-SHOW
http://www.statetheatre.com/

Jennifer L. Pricci is owner of Phantom Power Productions, a publicity, marketing and promotional firm that specializes in advancing the careers and projects of tri-state area independent musicians. Phantom Power Productions prides itself in performing low-cost services for quality artists.
©2005, Chorus and Verse
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