In Music

It's hard to believe these guys aren't the actual Blues Brothers.

Blues Brothers tribute band hits all the right notes

I'm not usually a fan of tribute bands, but since I saw Purple Reign – the Prince tribute show – in Vegas last year, I've had a bit of an epiphany. When you can no longer see the original artists, and if you don't try to take it too seriously, a tribute band can be pretty great.

"The Blues Brothers" is one of my favorite movies of all time. I've seen it so many times I can recite it by heart, and as a teenager, I commandeered my dad's Blues Brothers records ("Briefcase Full of Blues" and the movie soundtrack) and never gave them back.

In fact, my parents took us to see the movie at the drive-in in 1980, though I was too young to really get it when it was still in theaters. I think it was the movie that came after "Cannonball Run" that night, but don't quote me on that.

Long story short, when I found out the Dan Aykroyd- and Judith Belushi Pisano-sanctioned "Official Blues Brothers Revue" was coming to the South Milwaukee Performing Arts Center, I knew exactly who I was taking with me: my mom and my dad.

Tonight, the three of us had a lot of fun.

Was the show a little cheesy? Absolutely. But Kieron Lafferty (Elwood Blues) and Wayne Catania (Jake Blues) don't just look and sound like the Blues Brothers – they melt into the characters.

At first, I felt like was looking for reasons to remind myself they weren't the real deal, but by "Rubber Biscuit," I embraced it. I mean, these guys were handpicked by Aykroyd, Belushi's widow and Paul Shaffer. If I had to nitpick, I'd say Catania looked more genuine, while Lafferty sounded more legit. But they were both very close to spot-on.

Obviously, their backing band isn't as star-studded as the original, though Cale Hawkins on the keyboard was excellent. If anything, the sound felt a little thin, but I realized that's mostly because the band just didn't have as many musicians as the real Blues Brothers.

But hey, us fans will take what we can get.

Naturally, Jake and Elwood performed the songs we'd hope for: "Soul Man," "Gimme Some Lovin'," "Sweet Home Chicago" and "Rawhide." I was pleased to hear my favorite Blues Brothers cover, "She Caught The Katy." I thought they mangled "Shake Your Tailfeather" and "Minnie The Moocher" a little bit, but without Cab Calloway and Ray Charles impersonators to work with, their options were limited.

The banter was funny, and the show was well produced, but it did give me pause to imagine how the world would be different if Belushi was still alive. I always thought he was a comedic anchor for Aykroyd, who became a lot less funny after Belushi died. It was hard not to feel a little melancholy during the two hour show (with an intermission halfway through).

Still, since a real Blues Brothers show at The Palace Hotel Ballroom, "up north on Lake Wazzapamani," was not an option, this was a feel-good Friday night for my parents and me. If only the theater served orange whips …

Set list:

"Peter Gunn"
"I Can't Turn You Loose"
"Hey Bartender"
"Gimme Some Lovin'"
"Sweet Home Chicago"
"Shotgun Blues"
"Rubber Biscuit"
"Land of 1000 Dances"
"Shake Your Tailfeather"
"Minnie the Moocher"
"Do you Love Me"
"Green Onions"
"Everybody Needs Somebody"
"I Got Everything I Need (Almost)"
"All She Wants To Do Is Rock"
"Rawhide/Stand By Your Man"
"Messin' With The Kid"
"B Movie Boxcar Blues"

"Going Back to Miami"
"Soul Man"
"Can't Turn You Loose" (reprise)


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