VICTORIA, BRITISH COLUMBIA: A band which celebrates the music of Roy Orbison and other past favourites is preparing for a show in Mabou.
On May 24, “The Lonely: Celebrating the Music of Roy Orbison,” will perform at the Strathspey Place Performing Arts Centre.
Lead singer and guitarist Mike Demers told The Reporter this is the group’s first trip to Atlantic Canada after years performing in western and central Canada.
“We’ve never played out there, and for many of us, we’ve actually never visited Nova Scotia and New Brunswick,” Demers said. “I’m starting to realize that as the time to come out there comes closer, for me as a Canadian, this is a big deal. I’ve been to Ontario, I’ve been to Quebec a little bit, but for me to actually get out that far and see the places and meet the people, I think it’s going to be a really important experience.”
Demers said while performing around British Columbia, the group began to incorporate the music of Roy Orbison, The Everly Brothers and The Righteous Brothers about five years ago.
“The response right off the top was very strong,” Demers recalled of their first gig. “With not very much advertising, we were able to sell-out a theatre with 350 tickets.”
The “Big O” was unmistakable with his trademark sunglasses, distinctive, powerful voice, complex compositions and dark emotional ballads. From 1960-1964, Orbison landed 22 songs on the Billboard Top 40, including “Only The Lonely,” “Crying” and “Oh, Pretty Woman.”
His impassioned voice – bridging the gap between baritone and tenor – coupled with his signature arrangements ensured the charting of hits “Dream Baby,” “Ooby Dooby,” “Blue Angel,” “Blue Bayou,” “You Got It,” and “In Dreams.”
As a part of The Traveling Wilburys, Orbison brought music fans “End of the Line,” “Handle With Care” and “You’re Not Alone Anymore.”
Demers describes himself as an Orbison fan from those Traveling Wilburys days of the late 1980s.
“I have to admit that I really wasn’t all that familiar with his catalogue when we started the band up,” he pointed out. “In the process, I think, we discovered some relatively unknown gems; a few tunes that aren’t really commonly heard that much. For example, we play a song called ‘Say You’re my Girl,’ a brilliant tune, the only problem was it was released three months after ‘Pretty Woman,’ so the song would receive no promotion.
“We play what we consider the major known hits of Roy Orbison but we have enough time that we’re able to sprinkle it with some other songs that are going to be thrilling to the real die-hard Orbison fans and maybe new to people who’ve been fans. He wrote so much stuff, we could play for four hours and still keep going.”
Aside from the obvious attraction to Orbison’s unrivaled singing voice, Demers said he and the group quickly fell in love with Orbison’s writing.
“Our fascination with Orbison’s songwriting is day-to-day,” Demers stated. “We’ve been playing this set for five years, and what’s really nice is every time we go on stage, it feels fresh again because the songs are so smart and they’re so evocative.
“With Roy, his songs reach inside me and the other players and certainly the audience and stir up all kinds of emotions, not just heartache but also dreaming, and hope, and songs of love.”
A prolific writer, Orbison pitched “Claudette” to The Everly Brothers. The track was a co-number one with the Everlys’ “All I Have to Do is Dream.” Orbison and The Everly Brothers tore the house down on TV’s Shindig performing Orbison’s “What’d I Say.”
The Everly Brothers charted 31 singles on the Hot 100, including 12 top 10 hits. Billboard ranked the pair as the No. 66 biggest act in the Hot 100’s 55-year history. The Everly Brothers are the chart’s third-biggest duo ever and their influence has been incredibly wide-ranging. Because their career predates the Hot 100’s launch, some of their best-known hits aren’t on the list, including “Bye Bye Love,” “Wake Up Little Susie” and “All I Have to Do Is Dream.” The Lonely delivers their single biggest hit “Cathy’s Clown” in a stellar performance.
“We’re also putting in a sprinkling of The Everly Brothers, some other tunes from the time, as well as a healthy dose of some of the golden material include The Traveling Wilburys,” Demers added.
Tickets are available the box office, by phone at 902-945-5300 or on-line at: www.strathspeyplace.com. The doors open at 7 p.m. and showtime is 7:30 p.m.