What a phenomena. I’ve often marveled at the concept and attraction of tribute bands. But, it’s undeniably big business. As I sat there listening to Dust n’ Bones a couple weeks ago at the Pala Casino, I marveled at what compels a musician to want to pretend to be another performer? I’ve known a few musicians in my day and they aren’t the most humble profession I’ve encountered. Impersonating Elvis, I get. The whole he’s not really dead thing. I get that. But, really, did this Richard guy grow up wanting to be chisel cheeked Axl Rose? Like, that’s the best he could come up with?

Watching him undulate his hips and remove the stray hairs from his mouth, I had to laugh imaging the hours he must have spent in front of his full length mirror practicing Axl’s gestures and moves. Even the toothy smile. Hysterical.

What was even funnier though were the groupies with their cell phones held high in the air videotaping the performance as if it were really Guns n’ Roses on stage. You had Big White Man who basically stood in front of the stage with his hands shoved deep in his pockets, bobbing his head up and down while Young Hot Thang, presumably his girlfriend, enthusiastically if not rhythmically flailed herself all round him. Mr. Perv with his grey flat top kept running down to the dance floor to “bump” with HalterSkelter and the 6’3” Doublemint Sisters. And then, there was The Hat.

The Hat made my night. He could dance. I mean, this man had all the moves. He was firstly, all over the place. From one side of the dance floor to the other, skipping, reeling, jamming on his very own air guitar, grooving with a distinct style all his own.

Secondly, he was all about himself and totally in his own private jamfest. He had obviously taken some swing classes because he grabbed a woman, who may or may not have known him, and began to shuffle her around like a pro. Only, a pro on Coke, violently spinning and shoving her and I half expected to see her go crashing into the bar.

He took his hat off a few times, all part of his act. He’d put it back on again in rhythm with the music, flatting out the front brim as he pulled it low over his eyes then break out into a perfect spin straight out of the Thriller video.

All I could think is that these mealy fleshed double chinned balding wannabes had no aspirations other than to mimic their favorite childhood bands. And, heck, if you can’t afford the real thing, some of these spin offs provide an opportunity to pretend that you are experiencing the real thing. Perhaps I’m missing something immersed in my cynicism because it’s not like the authentic bands haven’t graduated members from tribute bands to replace the members who had quit.

In some cases, it’s the surviving members of a band who had the misfortune to lose its lead that form new bands, taking front men from their tributes. Weir and Lesh formed Furthur in this way and Dave Brock joined the big league when he left Wild Child to join the remaining Door’s members in Manzarek-Krieger. Joey Fatale of Mini Kiss, however, will never be able to fill Gene Simmon’s shoes in his wildest dreams.

Live and learn, live and learn. T'is good to know one still can at almost fifty.


richzombie Aug. 6, 2011 @ 4:10 p.m.

i was having a discussion recently about tribute bands and that i have never gone to see one . not sure i can - haha .


Ruth Newell Aug. 6, 2011 @ 4:31 p.m.

Well, this was a first for me. I'd go back there in the sheer hopes of seeing The Hat again. Watching him dance was the highlight of the evening, without a doubt.


Tallsharon Aug. 7, 2011 @ 5:32 p.m.

Deja Vu. Hey were you at anthology last night for the blood sweat and tears show. I was pondering the difference between a tribute band doing covers and a group billing itself as the group but with only 1 out of 9 actually ever a member. the distinctive singer role taken up by a guy who was not bad, but did his own version of the songs. They threw in 2 songs that were never part of the actual groups music- which they announced before the went into it, but the show was billed as the group, not a tribute band, and that is what sold tickets.

Still had fun remembering lyrics and the crowd, but much discussion among ticket holders about this definition. And they had some local Matthew mc Connaughy (sp) double singer do one song that made this old girlies heart flutter a bit, and the hummus was great but. Similiar experience, thanks


Ruth Newell Aug. 7, 2011 @ 6:12 p.m.

No, I wasn't. But so glad for your heart flutters, TS. Thanks for reading.


jonshimmin Aug. 9, 2011 @ 10:57 a.m.

My take on tribute bands. Most are a little older musicians (myself included), that still like to play some original music but maybe just a little tired of playing to smaller crowds and no money. With a tribute band you play to a fun rockin bigger crowd and actually make a few bucks. It is a little silly but a blast. I'd rather see (and play in) a tribute to the era and cover several different bands but they just don't seem as popular or get booked as high scale.

Let's keep rock alive!!!


Ruth Newell Aug. 9, 2011 @ 11:39 a.m.

Makes sense. Thanks for reading and commenting.


nan shartel Aug. 9, 2011 @ 12:39 p.m.

Rock and Roll will never die!!!

at least that's what i've been told by Neil Young since the 80's


Ruth Newell Aug. 9, 2011 @ 8:02 p.m.

Schweet! Not sure if I like the fist banging woman up front or the mullet twins the best! Quite entertaining. Thanks!


nan shartel Aug. 23, 2011 @ 10:25 a.m.

well mullets died anyway...hahahahahahahahaha ;-D


Ruth Newell Aug. 24, 2011 @ 12:46 p.m.

I dunno about that...been through Arkansas recently????


Frankentstein Aug. 23, 2011 @ 1:19 a.m.

Ahh, yes, i recently had a conversation very similar to this! Only instead of being about tribute bands it was about "creative writers" that post internet blogs for the Reader instead of being real journalists for an actual publication. The conversation was quite intriguing. We covered everything from how bloggers love to use "original" alibis that are cute play-of-word rip-offs of 80s songs, to their improper grammar and misspellings of words!

Where as tribute bands are "grooming themselves their entire lives for their role as undead celebrities", bloggers love to re-live their high school newspaper days by signing in under an anonymous alibi to write statements that are intended to (apparently) cut down others because they're having too much fun and getting paid too much money.

We spoke of how WE would write blogs if we were "journalists". If I were a journalist, I would make it a point to actually talk to the band so i could create an educated opinion of what is actually going on at the show that i just came to see. Because, I would feel like a complete loser if i was so close minded as to make a decision about something without taking half a second to learn about something that's outside of my personal circle of activity. It's called being objective. But, i suppose i should expect this from people who enjoy elvis impersonators and consider THEM actual artists due merely to the fact that the original artist is dead. Maybe they and Uncle Jesse could get together and grease eachothers' hair.

Furthermore, the conversation i had with my friends was one of substance and intrigue. What none of us could understand though, was why "creative bloggers" always jump about in their postings with descriptions of band members, audience members, groupies, girlfriends, etc. but with no real effort made to differentiate who was who in their story line. Who was dancing so well? Who had a gray flat top? Who had a hat, and who was balding? It's really really hard to follow some of these stories.

I suppose one day there will be a time at which it will be appropriate for these bloggers to give themselves the opportunity to be a tribute writer. At that point maybe all these bloggers will use their fingers to type something that's worth reading until they graduate to the New York Times.

btw, thanks for coming to the show. ;)

Ruth Newell Aug. 23, 2011 @ 8:27 a.m.

Sure thing, Frankenstein and thanks also for reading and commenting.


nan shartel Aug. 23, 2011 @ 1:35 p.m.

hey this was not a review of the band..i'm sure the band sounded GREAT!

it's a bloggers personal opinion garnered from her own personal experience and wondering about the phenomena of tribute bands in general

i wouldn't even bother to go see a TRIBUTE BAND Frankenstein ;-D


ParahSalin Aug. 23, 2011 @ 3:21 p.m.

Hey there,FrankenTstein, now that's the kinda talk that America needs to hear! You're not gonna be in Iowa or New Hampshire anytime soon, are ya? I'm thinkin' I could help you become the "Joe the Plumber" of 2012! Substance, intrigue, THAT'S what we're all about here! After all, as you put it, the objective is to be objective, right? Sure do hope you can make it, Mr. KenT, and if ya miss those 2 states I mentioned, I'm sure we're gonna be passin' thru South Carolina at some point soon, too. Our kinda peeps, doncha know? Oh, and be sure to bring that Uncle Jesse fella - sounds like one cool cucumber. See y'all on down the road!


nan shartel Aug. 24, 2011 @ 2:16 p.m.

Parah u snarky bioche!!!!!

r ya gonna run that political marathon again babe???

u've been working out hard stamina-wise

those runnin' shoes need some retreading gal...and Lipton's is running out of tea!


Ruth Newell Sept. 21, 2011 @ 10:31 p.m.

lol You are SUCH a fruitcake! I LOVE it,


nan shartel Sept. 23, 2011 @ 8:17 a.m.

come on Roody...u know u love me...hahahahahahaha ;-D

or maybe it's Parah u love...4 gawds sake don't vote 4 her!!!


Sign in to comment

Win a $25 Gift Card to
The Broken Yolk Cafe

Join our newsletter list

Each newsletter subscription means another chance to win!