Beatles vs. Stones at Genesee puts popular 60s bands up for a vote

Back in the day, you could ask someone “What’s your sign?” or you could ask “Beatles or Stones?”

Local audiences can decide this age-old question for themselves when “Beatles vs. Stones” performs at 7:30 p.m. Nov. 23 at the Genesee Theatre in Waukegan. That’s when Rolling Stones tribute band Jumping Jack Flash squBeatles vs Stones Jumping Jack Flashares off against 4 Lads from Liverpool in an ultimate Beatles vs. Stones showdown.

Young Hutchison stars as Keith Richards in Jumping Jack Flash. He created the show 15 years ago.

“The interesting thing about the whole premise is the passion people still have for this music 50 years on and people really care and they’re passionate, as was the case in 1964,” he said.

“You had to be a Beatles or a Stones fan — not both. That’s still kind of the case. As the performers, we don’t particularly care because at the end of the night the audience chooses who won with the noise that they make. And we don’t take it personally as performers. The point of the whole show is that they do care and that’s why they show up.”

Audiences will get to hear two amazing songbooks back to back and against each other, Hutchison said.

“Fifty years later, people are still yelling and screaming for these songs. We love it,” he said. “Which is interesting, because The Beatles only existed for five years as a group in the public eye. But their legacy is now going on 50 years.”

The bands play six alternating mini-sets that move the timeline along, complete with British accents, elaborate costumes and onstage banter culminating in a finale with both bands on stage playing a mash-up of their biggest hits. Then the audience gets to vote on which band “wins.”

“When you think about it, in the case of the Rolling Stones, there’s 50 years of wardrobe and hairstyle changes and fashion changes,” he said. “Figuring out how to encapsulate that into a 90-minute show, half of which The Beatles are onstage, was a neat trick. I think we’ve done a good job of it and we take the audience along for the ride. And again, the audience was there, too. The audience remembers dressing like that and wearing their hair like that.”

They switch up the set lists from show to show to keep things fresh for themselves, he said “It’s hard because if you put somebody’s favorite song in you’re going to make 1,000 other people sad because you didn’t play their favorite hit,” he said. “Each band has 400, 450 songs to choose from.”

Even after 15 years, there are songs he never gets tired of playing, like “Jumping Jack Flash.”

“It remains so much fun because it has such an impact on the audience,” he said. “The audience is so lit up from night to night.”

The group 4 Lads From Liverpool includes an original member of the Beatlemania cast who also played with 1964 the Tribute, Beatlemania Now and Rain.

As for his own band, “all the guys are very busy with music,” he said.  “Our singer is actually a career bassist with a number of other groups but he stepped into this role eight years ago. And he’s really something,” Hutchison said. “It’s fair to say the audiences have no idea what they’re in for. It includes pretty elaborate onstage media. The energy level is pretty insane.”

They love to meet audience members after the shows too — and they learn a lot that way, too.

“People will tell us things that they noticed or did or didn’t like and that can affect changes we make in the show,” he said.

At the end of the day, audiences are going to be treated to the soundtrack of their lives, he said.

“The two greatest bands contrasted with each other in direct, immediate, back-to-back mini sets … it’s pretty thrilling,” he said.

Annie Alleman is a freelance reporter for the News-Sun

Link to original article.

Michael Firestone as Michael Jackson

Michael Jackson tribute coming to Missouri Theater

By Andrew Gaug News-Press NOW Oct 31, 2019

More than a decade after his death, Michael Jackson’s legacy lives on and inspires future generations of performers.

• • •

Helping to keep that legacy alive is Michael Firestone, the performer in the Michael Jackson tribute show “I Am King — The Michael Jackson Experience.”

The show has presented Firestone with numerous opportunities to pay tribute to Jackson, being chosen as one of two official Jackson impersonators for the “Michael Jackson Laser Spectacular” shows in theaters and casinos all over the United States and Canada. He’s also been featured at events for MTV and Larry The Cable Guy.

Like many in the ’80s, Firestone was captivated with Jackson through a series of performances and music videos.

“My first memories of seeing MJ were in the ‘Rock with You’ video, his Motown 25 performance, the ‘Thriller’ video and his ‘Billie Jean’ performance. Those really stuck with me,” he told DNA India.

A student of channels like MTV in the ’80s, Firestone said he was enthralled by the superstars of the time.

“I really studied very talented performers and just pretended to be them. Prince, Michael Jackson, Stevie, those guys are talented, I’m just a copycat,” he told I Am Queen Magazine.

For Jackson specifically, he would watch his videos and emulate his moves.

“I practiced to his videos. I’d also record myself and replay the videos to see how I was progressing,” he said.

As he improved, he started performing the songs and moves at events, talent shows and parties. It caught on enough to net him performances in Las Vegas and, later, a cruise line contract.

“At 18, I was offered my first professional job as a Michael Jackson tribute artist at a casino in Las Vegas,” he said.

The job led to him creating the tribute show that has now toured around the world.

When Firestone performs Jackson’s hits like “Human Nature” and “Stranger in Moscow,” he said he feels like he’s keeping the star’s spirit alive. While he does drop the persona at times during the show, he likes to maintain the illusion for most of it to please those who didn’t get to see Jackson live. To note, the final time Jackson performed in Missouri was 1988 at Kemper Arena.

“They are MJ fans. And I hope to put on a concert making them feel like they are back in time and remembering MJ,” he said.

Performing those intricate moves and singing those difficult vocal parts of songs like “Thriller” and “Bad” is often taxing.

“Performing night after night starts to get difficult. I have to take care of my voice in between performances and warm up properly,” he said.

During the time Firestone has been performing as Jackson, he’s also had his fair share of questions concerning Jackson’s offstage behavior. Earlier this year, the HBO documentary “Leaving Neverland’ had two men accuse Jackson of sexually abusing them as children. Firestone said he doesn’t believe those statements were made in good faith.

“MJ is not even alive to defend himself. It is most definitely unfair to discredit anyone’s work until all claims are proven,” he told the Business Standard.

Firestone met Jackson once in 2002 and said he was cordial and supportive of the tribute show.

“We spoke then, and a few weeks later he called and we talked for several hours on the phone. It was eye-opening and inspirational and, of course, a dream come true to get such a phone call,” he told the Business Standard.

Jackson’s support was one of the many reasons Firestone has been paying tribute to him for about 20 years.

“I wrote ‘I Am King’ and I wrote it to flow in such a way that it brings you up. The show is named ‘I Am King’ not because I think I am king … It is because Michael Jackson is king and I will continue bringing the magic and music of Michael Jackson to venues worldwide for as long as I possibly can. There will never be another MJ,” he told the Business Standard.

Tickets for “I Am King — The Michael Jackson Experience” are $24 to $45 and $12 for students. They can be purchased at the Performing Arts Office, 719 Edmond, or by calling 816-279-1225 or online at

— Andrew Gaug | St. Joe Live

Original article @

Johnny & June Forever: Sweetwater Music Hall

Chemistry is an interesting thing. There are those moments in time, like when you are watching some musical act on the stage, where you discover that you can’t take your eyes off the music makers before you. You are mesmerized by their presence as you can literally see the energy flowing through those before you as they produce sounds that positively affect your brain. In the case of Bay Area musicians Danny Uzilevsky and Essence Goldman, the energy you may witness between them is sizzling, palpable and truly magical. With the duo’s newest venture, Johnny & June Forever, Uzilevsky and Goldman embody the music created by Johnny Cash and June Carter Cash, but they do it in a way that is not about “doing covers” or even “paying tribute”, but about fully making the music their own by channeling the forces that Cash and Carter used themselves in performing songs.

Goldman and Uzilevsky came together when Goldman recorded her latest album in 2018 at Uzilevsky’s studio, Allegiant Records in San Anslemo, CA. A sparking fire was ignited around shared lyrics and chords, a magnetic energy acknowledged, and the two began a magical musical journey with the first notes sung in harmony. Both Goldman and Uzilevsky are incredible songwriters in their own right, but when a few Cash/Carter songs were sung, the pair knew they hit on something great and decided to embark on bringing those old school country songs to life with their project Johnny & June Forever: The Greatest Love Story Ever Sung.

With fate and luck being on their side, the duo was asked to perform and premier their act at Sweetwater Music Hall in conjunction with the Mill Valley Film Festival’s release of the documentary “The Gift: The Journey Of Johnny Cash”. The sold-out show was alive with the energy and anticipation of a crowd excited to hear many well-loved songs. The set was opened with “I Walk The Line”, just Uzilevsky singing with his strong and deep voice while playing off the amazing (and dapper) band, drummer JT John (Danny Montana & The Bar Association), bassist Joe Kyle Jr. (Koolerator, Howell Devine) and guitarist Phillip Milner (Jenny Kerr Band). Enter the beauty that is Essence Goldman, all five feet of her, with an electric smile and a high and clear voice that sends shivers up your spine. It was then that we became aware of the special vibe between the two as they locked into the songs and the band then took off without a look back into the dust. The band  fired up songs such as “Long Legged Guitar Pickin’ Man”, “Don’t Take Your Guns To Town”, the Hank Williams tune “Lovesick Blues”, “Ring Of Fire”, “It Ain’t Me Babe” as well as Loretta Lynn’s “You’re The Reason Our Kids Are Ugly”. Essence’s solo numbers  the June Carter penned “Ring Of Fire” and Carter Family classics “Keep On The Sunny Side” and “Wildwood Flower” were (insert adjective), and Jenny Kerr joining the band on banjo for “Wildwood Flower” was a unexpected highlight.

Uzilevsky and Goldman do their best to not take on the personas of Carter and Cash, but their dynamic stage presence definitely reminds us of the playfulness and enjoyment the country King & Queen had on stage during their heyday. With Goldman showcasing various vintage dresses and Uzilevsky with his slicked-back pompadour and rockabilly style, the pair invoked the force of Carter and Cash without camp and pretense. The talent that these two have honed with each of their long and expansive musical careers is apparent as they blend their own songs and styles in with their act. The whole experience of Johnny & June Forever is more than just a showplace for Carter/Cash songs; it’s a golden carriage for two incredible and shining musicians to make a mark on the musical scene in the Bay Area with panache and style.

Thank you Carolyn McCoy – Click here for original article!

A good time to be Queen: Nation’s top tribute band plays Anchorage Friday night

The 2018 release of the film ‘Bohemian Rhapsody’, a biopic about legendary Queen frontman Freddie Mercury, was a roaring success both critically and at the box office.

Among the beneficiaries of this reexamination of the 70s and 80s band that established stadium rock and operatic styles in rock is Queen Nation, America’s premier Queen tribute band, which visits Alaska for a pair of shows this weekend, Friday night at the Alaska Native Heritage Center on Friday and the Tanana Valley Fair on Saturday.

“I was excited to see it when it was finally coming out,” said Gregory Finsley, the Freddie Mercury of Queen Nation. “We cried, we laughed, it was the best time, so emotional. I gave it a B-plus because there were some chronological issues that didn’t work out and there were a few people left out. I’ve seen it three or four times since then.”

Finsley said the release of the movie has certainly added to demand for his group, but it had been on the rise in recent years anyway.

“It’s timeless music that’s going into retro” Finsley said. “We had 107 shows last year and amped it up to 139 shows this year, which is 3 to 4 shows every week — a very tall order. The movie has done well for us. There’s a lot of retro kids and teens wearing Queen shirts, people wearing moustaches. It’s overwhelming and we enjoy it. Our show is all ages and we play parks and casinos and private parties. It’s been a real blessing, but (Queen’s) music is timeless like Fats Domino, Ray Charles — you’ll always know them.”

For Finsley, it was appropriate, maybe pre-ordained that if he was going to be part of a tribute band it would be a Queen tribute band.

Growing up in the Dallas area, 11-year-old Gregory Finsley saw Queen live in Fort Worth and was instantly hooked on the dream of becoming a rock star like Freddie Mercury.

“He was dressed in a diamond coat, no leather, no moustache, he was just this rock Superman guy,” Finsely recalled. “I was playing drums and singing as an 11 year old and I was overwhelmed. Wow! This is what a rock concert is.”

After pursuing a musical career in the French Quarter and making ends meet as a private gardner, Finsley ended up back in Dallas where he worked in a music shop.

“Brian Harris, an amazing guitar player heard me singing ‘Somebody to Love’ and he thought it was the radio and he thought we should put together a tribute band called ‘Queen for a Day’. God almighty, I never thought anyone would want to do that,” Finsley said. “We played in Downtown Dallas and blew the doors off of places.”

Finsley’s cousin, a set designer in Los Angeles caught wind of a Queen cover band forming there that was in need of a singer. “They busted me out an email and said we’d like to send you out to the Napa Valley Fair,” Finsley said. That was in 2007, and Finsley has portrayed Freddie Mercury for Queen Nation ever since.

“It’s a great occupation — I don’t even consider it a job,” Finsley said. “We just had one of our best shows in a long time with 6,000 people and just two weeks ago had 12,500 in Manhattan Beach. They had to call in extra security; it was a great show.”

Finsley said there are a number of prominent Queen cover bands in the U.K. and Europe, but stateside, his band doesn’t face a lot of competition at the top of the heat.

“There’s a couple — Killer Queens, a band of all girls in San Francisco and Almost Queen, in the New York area,” Finsley said. “We’re super-busy so we don’t worry too much about other people — in England and Europe there are a lot of tribute bands, but it’s kind of like in Texas you’ll see Stevie Ray Vaughn and ZZ Top bands.”

Mercury was so known for wearing a panacea of different costumes on change, a part of capturing the artist that can be challenging.

“Costuming is great if you have set changes,” Finsley said. “But sometimes we’ll have shows that are 60 minutes, sometimes 90 minutes, but if you can get two sets that’s best. I like to go with the diamond coat or black, slick leather with knee pads and leather jackets — I sport the leather hat and change out as much as I can… that’s what helps the variety.”

Finsley assures that whether fans grew up with the music of Queen, or recently came on board with the mass popularity infusion of ‘Bohemian Rhapsody’, they’re guaranteed a great rock show.

“I think if they really liked Queen — not just the ‘boom-clap-boom’ ‘We Are the Champions’ or ‘Fat Bottomed Girls’ but also some of the B side songs, they’re going to like it,” he said. “We’re all ages, user-friendly for all those people out there. We really do try to bring the attitude and the nuance of the sound with the twisting, twirling half-mic stand to portray this iconic band… We really want to party; we’re people-people and we gravitate toward that. We love it when people sing — even if they’re not on key, just sing. The interaction with the crowd is priceless and we feed on that energy.”

Queen Nation Playlist

1. Another One Bites The Dust

2. Bohemian Rhapsody

3. We Will Rock You

4. We Are The Champions

5. You’re My Best Friend

6. Under Pressure

7. Crazy Little Thing Called Love

8. Fat Bottomed Girls

9. Love of My Life

10. Now I’m Here

11. Killer Queen

12. Bicycle Race

13. Play The Game

14. Tie Your Mother Down

15. Stone Cold Crazy

16. Keep Yourself Alive

17. We Will Rock You (fast version)

18. Don’t Stop Me Now

19. Dragon Attack

20. Somebody To Love

21. I’m In Love With My Car

22. I Want To Break Free

23. Death On Two Legs

24. Spread Your Wings

25. Get Down Make Love

26. Show Must Go On

27. Let Me Entertain You

28. Save Me

29. Radio Gaga

Thanks Matt Hickman and Anchorage Press for the Interview!

Dave Walser

Dave Walser Combines His Two Musical Loves, the Beatles and Bluegrass, Into One Band

For 9-year-old Dave Walser, the inspiration that would propel him through the next 55 years seemed to strike out of nowhere. As a boy living in West Texas, Walser was still learning to play the guitar but had mainly been learning the traditional folk and bluegrass songs his parents and grandparents loved. Rock ‘n’ roll, still in its infancy, wasn’t on his musical radar.

Until Sunday, February 9, 1964, that is. Along with a reported 73 million other Ed Sullivan Show viewers who watched the Beatles’ performance that night, young Dave came down with an incurable case of Beatlemania.

“I didn’t know who the Beatles were at that point, I had never heard of them,” Walser, the leader of Dallas-based Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Bluegrass Band, says over the phone. “Out of nowhere, my mom said, ‘Dave, come in here and hear the Beatles play,’ which was the weirdest thing for me to hear my mom say, because, again, I didn’t even know there was a band named the Beatles.”  read on…

Michael Firestone - Photo by Udi Mozni

‘I AM KING: The Michael Jackson Experience’ stars Michael Firestone at Palace Danbury

Singing like the late Michael Jackson is a feat in itself, between his impressive falsetto, distinctive vocal “hiccups” and versatility. But Michael Firestone does that and more — he delivers Jackson’s hits while also performing his killer dance moves. It’s a combination that’s taken him around the world.

Even though he’s lost his voice at times because of too many back-to-back shows, and injured his knees on stage floors that weren’t as smooth as they should be, Firestone says he wouldn’t have it any other way. The father of three, who lives in Las Vegas, says the crowds make it all worthwhile.

He and his band and dancers have performed for millions. They bring “I AM KING: The Michael Jackson Experience,” to the Palace Danbury on Thursday, Aug. 8. “We usually do a one and a half-hour show and try to squeeze in as many of his iconic songs as we can,” he said in a phone chat.

There are 22 costume changes during this production. He said, “The buckles are the hardest because they can get stuck.” Firestone also said everyone onstage with him is a huge fan of Jackson’s artistry. Songs such as “Human Nature,” “Beat It” and “Thriller” always get a huge reaction.

Firestone is an acclaimed performer. He was chosen as one of two official impersonators for the Michael Jackson Laser Spectacular shows in theaters and casinos all over the United States and Canada.

Our interview took place shortly before his recent series of dates in Israel. “When we have five or six shows in a row, by the seventh night, vocally, that’s a little challenging,” he said. “I drink tea all day long. I drink tea with honey and lemon.”

Protecting his knees while dancing is also a challenge. “Just one little move can do it if a stage nail has lifted up; if you catch it when you’re sliding, that can kill your knee. I try to look over the stage and put an ‘X’ on it (where it may be dangerous).”

Firestone has perfected his moonwalking. He runs and bikes for stamina. The main thing is keeping his voice in shape for all of that singing, not to mention those high-pitched squeals — “Whoo!”

“I have done super long runs for seven months at a time and never had one day off. One night my voice went out completely and I asked the crowd, ‘Do you want your money back, or do you want to sing for me?’ They sang and I just danced.”

Jackson died at 50 on June 25, 2009. Firestone said it’s clear his fans miss him. “They’re so supportive; they cry and sing with me.” He said those fans are the greatest, but he’s certainly aware there are many who no longer revere Jackson because of the sexual abuse allegations against him.

Firestone met the King of Pop briefly once, when he handed him a tape and a business card. He said Jackson called later and they wound up speaking several times afterward, including when Jackson was rehearsing for his comeback tour.

It was a tour many had anxiously awaited. When Firestone performs, he tries to be as authentic as possible. His intention is to bring fans back to the years Jackson was at his best. “That’s what I hope to do every night,” he said.; Twitter: @LindaTKoonz – Link to Original Article

Michael Jackson Tribute Show

Man in the Mirror Arrives in Israel

Michael Jackson’s name and legacy have been further tarnished in recent days following the allegations of sexual abuse of minors revealed in the Sundance Film Festival entry Leaving Neverland.

But that hasn’t seemed to affect Jackson’s popularity in Israel. It was all cheers and adulation on Monday night when the I Am King Michael Jackson review from Las Vegas made a stop on its month-long tour of the country in Ma’aleh Adumim.

The near-sellout crowd treated singer/dancer Michael Firestone and his glitzy, entertaining revue as if he were the king of pop, but without all the baggage.

Possessing an uncannily similar physique and singing voice to Jackson, and – thanks to prodigious makeup and hair piece – an eerie likeness, Firestone dazzled the audience with a spot-on performance that showcased his Jackson-inspired nimble dance steps and memorable repertoire.

He was backed by a spunky band, four talented dancers and numerous costume changes, evoking the atmosphere of a stage show, rather than a concert. At times, the cleavage and exposed skin factor of the female dancers jiggled toward burlesque, and coupled with Firestone’s frequent crotch grabs, cemented this as a show that might require some parental guidance.

On the other hand, the kids that were there became participants, being brought up onstage for some amateur moonwalk efforts and singalsongs.

Strolling through the audience during “Black and White,” Firestone was treated like a superstar, posing for selfies with Jackson fans and mugging for the crowd.

We love our heroes, and if they are far from perfect in real life, onstage they make up for it – even if it’s not really them.

—– The Jerusalem Post

Original Link

Tribute Show - Bee Gees Gold Tribute

Bee Gees stay alive through tribute band

Brothers Barry, Robin and Maurice Gibb sold more than 220 million records and won five Grammy Awards as the Bee Gees. Their music lives on with John Acosta, who portrays Barry Gibb in Bee Gees Gold: The Tribute, which comes to Genesee Theatre Sept. 28.

Acosta promised the audience will “feel the fever.

“I want everybody to close their eyes and when they’re hearing their favorites songs, exclaim out loud, ‘I just heard the Bee Gees,’” said Acosta, whose falsetto voice closely mirrors that of Barry Gibb’s.

“We do dress in the 1970s fashions. And we bring back these arrangements, these songs from the Bee Gees catalog that are one-of-a kind,” he said.

Then came the disco era in the 1970s when Barry Gibb reinvented the group using his famous falsetto. “No one sounded like him,” Acosta said.

Acosta said he was 10 years old during the disco era, which brought the Bee Gees song “Stayin’ Alive” to the top of the pop charts.

“Whatever you’re listening to when you’re 10 years old, you start to imitate,” he said. “I was imitating Barry Gibb at parties.”

Read on…

Nirvanish @ Mauch Chunk Opera House

Click here to buy tickets!

Featuring reality TV Star Joey Gnoffo on drums!

Replicating the audio integrity of Nirvana’s recorded work while capturing the electric fury the group was known for is what makes Nirvanish the quintessential Nirvana tribute show.

You can expect to hear the well known singles for the passing fan, along with deep cuts for the die-hard grunge rocker and everything in between.  Nirvanish is sure to bring the raw live experience for the many fans that didn’t have the opportunity to see the legend in person.

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@ The Gas Lamp, Long Beach, CA

@ House of Blues, Anaheim, CA


[toggle title=”RIP Kurt Cobain”]
“Punk is musical freedom. It’s saying, doing and playing what you want. In Webster’s terms, ‘nirvana’ means freedom from pain, suffering and the external world, and that’s pretty close to my definition of Punk Rock”.—Kurt Cobain

Kurt on Wikipedia

20 Songs that Influenced Kurt[/toggle]


Lez Zeppelin and Nirvanish @ UCPAC – Saturday, May 20th 2017

It will be a loud night of splintering electric guitars, plus hundreds of voices from the audience singing along to their favorite hits, at the Union County Performing Arts Center on May 20.

Two adrenaline-inducing tribute bands representing rock legends take the stage at 8 PM: Lez Zeppelin, an all female tribute to the hard rock ’70s band Led Zeppelin, and Nirvanish, a tribute to the grunge, early ’90s band Nirvana. From fans that have been fans since Led Zeppelin was founded to those born right after Nirvana’s prime (who grew up listening to their parent’s records), this concert will provide as faithful an experience to the real deal as anyone could find.

Lez Zeppelin, founded in 2004, began to grow in acclaim after being the subject of a 2005 article in SPIN magazine, and subsequently the subject of countless other publications and spots ranging from a front page feature on to a nation-wide feature on CBS Good Morning. The band was, and still is, praised for their contributions in a social setting where all-female rock tribute bands were beginning to surface and playing just as hard, fast and mean as their original counterparts. Their self-titled first album was released in 2007 (produced by one of Led Zeppelin‘s actual recording engineers, Eddie Kramer), and in 2008, Lez Zeppelin headlined opening night of Tennessee’s Bonnaroo Festival. Lez Zeppelin’s second album, Lez Zeppelin I, was released in 2010. The band took great pains to record this album with the same vintage equipment Led Zeppelin used on their first self-titled album in 1969, including a Fuzzbender stomp box, a ’50s era Telecaster and Les Paul, a ’60s era compressor, etc. Their dedication to the fidelity of their recorded music compared to Led Zeppelin‘s is a testament to the experience of their live shows.  continue reading…