British Invasion Rocks Atlantic City

Amazing tribute bands took audience back to greatest period in rock music

One of the main reasons I am on Facebook is to get news about the artists and music I love. Last weekend, an announcement popped up in my newsfeed about a British Invasion tribute festival in Atlantic City. With cool-looking bands and free admission, it didn’t take long to convince me to go there. After all, what could possibly go better together than the sin of gambling and rock & roll? And so I hopped in my car and went there yesterday.

To say it right upfront, I had a great time, and so did the other folks who had come out to the deck at the Golden Nugget Hotel & Casino. Three tribute bands brought back the 60s and 70s: Glimmer Twins, Who’s Next and Britain’s Finest. Each did a great job looking and sounding like the rock & roll heroes they represented.

Glimmer Twins

Adopting the nickname of the songwriting partnership of Mick Jagger and Keith Richards, the Glimmer Twins hail from Philly, Pa. The band is led by Keith Call (vocals, harp) and Bernie Bollendorf (guitars, vocals), who bring to life Jagger and Richards in the ’70s. Call has Jagger’s facial expressions, moves and swagger down to the details, while Bollendorf beautifully captures Richards’ onstage persona, from the way he’s holding his guitars to the cigarettes in his mouth while playing. Even both of their voices sound similar to Jagger and Richards – amazing!

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Call and Bollendorf are backed up by a kick ass band, which according to their Facebook page consists of Michael Rubino (guitars), Chris Bollendorf (drums), Rob Ekstedt (bass), Rocco Notte (keyboards), Valorie Steel (backup vocals), Bobby Michaels (saxophone, flute, organ) and Bill Cancel (saxophone, flute, organ). In fact, it’s safe to assume they sound better than the their stoned rock & roll heroes during many of their ’70s shows!

Some of The Rolling Stones classics the band played included Start Me Up, Wild Horses, Doo Doo Doo Doo Doo (Heartbreaker), (I Can’t Get No) SatisfactionHappy, It’s Only Rock ‘N’ Roll (But I Like It) and what I thought was a highlight: Gimme Shelter, where the band’s African-American backing vocalist demonstrated her amazing pipes. Here’s a little demo.

Who’s Next

Unfortunately, I couldn’t find much public information on this tribute band to The Who. They have a Facebook group, which I’ve asked to join. What I can say for the time being is these four guys would make Roger Daltrey and Pete Townshend really proud. Who knows, perhaps they’re even aware of them!

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Apparently named after The Who’s fifth legendary studio album from 1971, the band strives to look and sound like the real thing during the ’70s. The singer looks like he could be a younger brother of Daltrey – similar height, similar body build, similar stage persona; oh, and he has a pretty good voice, too! The guitarist, bassist and drummer also do an excellent job personifying Townshend, John Entwistle and Keith Moon, respectively.

Who’s Next’s set included classics, such as Can’t ExplainSubstitute, Pinball Wizard and appropriately various tunes from the 1971 album, such as Baba O’Riley, Bargain, Behind Blue Eyes and the epic Won’t Get Fooled Again. Here’s a nice promo clip I found from the band.

Britain’s Finest

I’ve seen various tribute bands to The Beatles over the decades, including some that were very good and others that were – well – not as great. The music of the Fab Four, especially the songs they played during their live period, may be relatively simple. But The Beatles were a fantastic live act, and it’s sure as heck not easy to replicate that experience. Britain’s Finest comes pretty darn close to it, both in terms of their looks and the way they’re playing the songs.

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The members of the band are Ruben Amaya (John Lennon), Benjamin Chadwick (Paul McCartney), Robert F. Bielma (George Harrison) and Luis G. Renteria (Ringo Starr). According to their Facebook page, these guys are based in Los Angeles and founded the band in 2011. Based on their website, the band recreates both the live years and the later studio period of John, Paul, George and Ringo.

Yesterday’s set was focused on The Fab Four’s live period. It included classics, such as A Hard Day’s Night, Help, I Saw Her Standing There, Roll Over Beethoven and Twist and Shout. The guys also did something you could well imagine The Beatles might do, if they would still be around: Announcing a song from The White Album, they played Nirvana’s Smells Like Teen Spirit. Not only was it a hilarious joke, but they were really killing it! Here’s a clip that in addition to the music also nicely illustrates how these guys do a great job portraying The Beatles’ humor.

To anyone who enjoys listening to the British Invasion and the Stones, The Who and The Beatles in particular, I can highly recommend the above bands. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: It may only be rock & roll, but I sure as heck liked it!

Sources: Glimmer Twins Facebook page, Britain’s Finest Facebook page and website, Wikipedia, YouTube

It’s Only Rock & Roll, But I Like It

It took me to the second-to-last day of Exhibitionism in New York City to catch this great installation about one of my favorite bands, The Rolling Stones.

Usually, I’m not a guy who waits until the last minute, but somehow this is what happened with Exhibitionism. I’m glad I finally got to visit this comprehensive, multimedia, interactive exhibition about The Rolling Stones at Industria in New York City’s West Village, just before it moves to Chicago.

Nine thematic galleries allow visitors to take a look at “The World’s Greatest Rock and Roll Band” from many different angles. I mostly agree with the organizers that Exhibitionism is not only for Stones fans, although they will mostly appreciate it.

Things start out with a collage of videos projected on a wall, showing concert and other footage of the Stones, with commentary from different members of the band. It gets you right in the mood for more.

The next gallery is an impressive recreation of a tiny apartment in London where the Stones lived together in their early days. The mess everywhere makes it quite obvious the guys were not much concerned about cleaning.

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The focus of the third gallery is a replica of London’s Olympic Studios packed with music equipment- pretty awesome! The gallery also features some cool vintage guitars from Keith Richards and Brian Jones, concert posters, photos and other memorabilia.

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The fourth gallery is the highlight of the installation, but I admit that as a hobby musician, I’m biased here. It revolves all around guitars, mostly from Ronnie Wood and Keith Richards. It also displays the 1963 Gibson acoustic guitar Mick Jagger used to write You Can’t Always Get What You Want. Right before you enter, you can also see Bill Wyman’s Framus semi-acoustic bass and a gorgeous Modulus fretless bass from Daryl Jones, who became a Stones touring member in 1993, following Wyman’s retirement.

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Another cool feature of this gallery are interactive mixing desks in the middle of the room. They allow you to isolate or otherwise manipulate different recording tracks, such as Jagger’s voice, Richard’s and Wood’s guitars and Watts’ drums, for various Stones songs like Rocks Off, Start Me Up and Angie.

Another gallery revolves around art work, from the iconic lips-and-tongue logo, to tour advertisements to album covers. A screening cinema presents footage from various Rolling Stones concert movies, narrated by Martin Scorsese, who has frequently used the band’s music in his motion pictures. Scorsese also shot his own Stones concert movie, Shine a Light, which documents the band’s 2006 performances at New York City’s Beacon Theatre during the A Bigger Bang Tour.

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One of the largest galleries toward the end of the exhibition presents an eclectic collection of Stones’ stage outfits over five decades. Exhibitionism also recreates a backstage area and culminates in a 3D concert experience of (I Can’t Get No) Satisfaction. While the 3D display is a neat effect, I wish the film would use a larger screen, so the Stones would be more life-size.

Today is Exhibitionism’s last day in New York City after three months. Next it will travel to Chicago, an appropriate host city, given the Stones’ long and strong connection with the Blues. The installation will debut there at Navy Pier on April 15 for a four-month engagement. Exhibitionism had its world premiere in April 2016 at London’s Saatchi Gallery.

Here is a nice clip of Jagger, Richards, Watts and Woods discussing the exhibition and their active input in shaping it.

Sources: Wikipedia, YouTube