Tribute bands take center stage at festival

October 1, 2008

By David Hayes

Liberty High School drama students entertain parade spectators in costumes from their production of ‘Seussical the Musical’ in the 2006 Grande Parade. Liberty High School drama students entertain parade spectators in costumes from their production of ‘Seussical the Musical’ in the 2006 Grande Parade.

The Issaquah Salmon Days Festival is renowned for four things — the salmon, the arts and crafts, the food and the entertainment.

David Harris has long overseen much of anything that has to do with musical entertainment in this town. While he’s been able to attract some of the best local and regional talent to perform in Issaquah, it would be cost prohibitive to attract the biggest acts in the music business.

So, for this year’s Salmon Days, he came up with a new theme that’s the next best thing — tribute bands.

Rather than inviting Canada’s biggest export, Rush, Harris booked the Seattle Rush tribute band 2112 (named after the group’s landmark classic album). Instead of pulling Journey and Styx off their world tours, Harris discovered another Seattle product, The Grand Delusion (a play on Styx’s classic album, “The Grand Illusion”).

Can’t muster the resources to reunite the members of Pink Floyd? Have local group The Rockafellers stand in.

“Of particular interest, The Rockafellers performed a couple years ago the complete Wall performance for the Concert on the Green,” Harris said. “They’re going to do a shortened version for Salmon Days.”

Ron Smevik, of The Rockafellers, said the group loved performing Pink Floyd’s entire theatrically inspired “The Wall” album so much, they decided to give it another go for a bigger audience.

“It was great at the Concerts on the Green,” said Smevik, who plays lead guitar. “There were probably 1,000 people on the green that day.”

Since performing the Pink Floyd album is a particular passion for Smevik, he said he is excited to do it again after two years.

“The live version is renowned for its guest performers. We’ll have a few, including Alan White on drums,” Smevik said, talking about the former Yes drummer, who now lives in Newcastle. (See story on Page B4.)

Another popular Concert on the Green attraction will be making its debut at Salmon Days — Cherry Cherry, a Neil Diamond tribute band.

“It was a fantastic crowd at the Issaquah Community Center and we’re looking forward to Salmon Days,” said Cherry Cherry lead singer Steve Kelley. “With Neil Diamond just in town, if you missed the show, you can still enjoy his songs with us.”

After performing mostly at motorcycle rallies for 15 years, Kelley discovered Neil Diamond was actually the perfect performer to cover for that audience. The band has been doing Neil tunes like “Sweet Caroline,” “Song Sung Blue,” “America” and, of course, “Cherry Cherry” for two and a half years.

“But I don’t try to be Neil Diamond,” he quickly added. “No one can fill those shoes.”

Harris said he thinks he’s got a winning lineup on the festival’s main stage, also known as the Rainier Blvd. Stage.

“Every year, we try to do something different,” he said. “Last year, it was ‘Dance, Dance, Dance.’ This year it’s tributes to some of the great bands. Next year, is the 40th Anniversary of Woodstock. I’d like to do something along that theme. I’m always thinking a year ahead.”

If you go
Rainier Blvd. Stage
Oct 4:
  • 11:15-12:15 p.m. — The Grand Delusion (Styx/Journey tribute band)
  • 12:35-1:35 p.m. — 2112 (Rush tribute band)
  • 2-3 p.m. — Brickhouse Show Band (high energy dance band)
  • 3:30-4:25 p.m. — About Face (high-carb classic rock)
  • 5-6 p.m. — The Rockafellers (Pink Floyd tribute band)
Oct 5:
  • 11:15-12:15 p.m.— Bassic Saxx (funky jazz)
  • 12:30-1:30 p.m. — Who Cares (classic rock)
  • 2-3 p.m. Bill Brown and the King Bees
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