Tribute artists turn back time, make old music new

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For Joan Burton of North Myrtle Beach, playing songs by the sibling rock duo of Heart gets her musical metabolism going on every stage.

Filling the Nancy Wilson role in the band Heart Brigade – A Tribute to Heart, performing Thursday at House of Blues at Barefoot Landing in North Myrtle Beach, Burton has enjoyed adding another chapter to her career.

Tribute shows continue holding, if not gaining, footing in the circle of concerts, especially locally, where Legends in Concert has made a name in entertaining on the Grand Strand since 1995.

Burton’s part in Heart Brigade ( is “brand new,” Burton said, after the Raleigh-based group flew this past weekend to perform in North Tonawanda, N.Y., near Niagara Falls and her native Rochester.

Burton, already part of the This Is the 60s tribute band (, said adding Heart Brigade to her repertoire “came out of nowhere” earlier this year, when the group needed a new person to portray Nancy Wilson.

“I was always told I looked like her,” said Burton, who plays rhythm guitar and sings background among the sextet, which includes a female drummer.

In helping belt out Heart music for the masses for two hours each concert, blending in some Led Zeppellin numbers, Burton also likes the idea that Heart Brigade also introduces the melodies to a new generation.

“A lot of people don’t know who they are,” Burton said, “but they know ‘Magic Man,’ ‘Barracuda,’ ‘Crazy on You, and a lot of the ’80s songs such as ‘Alone,’ ‘These Dreams’ and ‘What About Love?’ They just don’t know the band is called Heart.”

“Stuff you never hear on the radio” make up Burton’s favorite Heart songs, she said, including “Mistral Wind,” which “starts out really spooky and slow then rocks out.”

Her part in Heart Brigade also gives her a change of scenery from singing lead in This Is the 60s, which she said as a multimedia show, highlights the whole decade, “from the early ’60s beach stuff to Woodstock.”

With Suzi Nelson, in taking on Ann Wilson’s lead vocal parts with an “incredible range,” Burton said she likes this fit “to take a back seat and play guitar, and do some harmonies.”

“I like being one of the guys,” said Burton, glad to see Heart music and “so many old songs coming back” in movies and TV commercials.

House of Blues, and tribute bands

Jacki Giardina, booking and promotions manager for House of Blues in North Myrtle Beach, said the expansion of its music menu for tribute acts lets the venue “offer the community a more affordable concert experience.”

She said records show that the Dave Matthews Tribute Band carried the first torch for tribute acts at House of Blues locally, in 2003, and the group will give its next concert Aug. 23.

Folks continue flocking for these kind of shows all year long there, and Giardina said Departure, honoring Journey, Slippery When Wet (Bon Jovi) and Tuesday’s Gone (Lynryd Skynryd) “play here a lot due to popular demand.”

“People absolutely love our tribute acts,” she said. “It can be a nostalgic experience to see classics like Journey, Aerosmith, and Pink Floyd, some of which aren’t far off from the real thing. Then there are tributes to acts that you can’t see any more, such as Who’s Bad – A Tribute to Michael Jackson.

Whether audiences differ per act depends on the “tourists in town,” Giardina said, but many regulars turn out as well.

“Most of them tend to grab dinner or hang out on The Deck before and after the show,” she said. “The classic rock tributegoers are definitely partiers.”

All ’80s for The Molly Ringwalds

The Molly Ringwalds (, a New Orleans-based quintet of native Britons, will bring their all-1980s music revue to House of Blues on Aug. 15. Sir Devon Nooner said Tuesday that they just returned from a tour across Germany.

“I think it’s all about the song,” he said, “those songs that stand the test of time, no matter if they were good or bad. The ’80s represented a good time in America and across the world.”

Nooner, who sings lead and plays guitar and synthesizer, cited signature singles the Molly Ringwalds play such as Journey’s “Don’t Stop Believin,’ ” Bon Jovi’s “Livin’ on a Prayer” and Def Leppard’s “Pour Some Sugar on Me” that have stood the test of time and “will be around” for years to come.

Dead or Alive’s “You Spin Me Round (Like a Record)” and Frankie Goes to Hollywood’s “Relax” have suprised the group with their catching steam for Molly Ringwalds concerts. The Cars, Depeche Mode, Duran Duran, Men at Work, Prince and Van Halen represent just a taste of their songlist.

Nooner said a-ha – which furnished the theme for “The Living Daylights,” Timothy Dalton’s debut as James Bond – “was huge overseas” despite just one hit in the United States, “Take on Me.”

The Molly Ringwalds, which began 14 years ago, have kept the same lineup for 12 years, Nooner said, and they try to keep their shows fresh for themselves and audiences by shuffling songs.

Selections such as “Relax” and Flock of Seagulls’ “Space Age Love Song” each “took a while” to grasp, Nooner said.

“The better we get a playing the songs,” he said, “the more comfortable we are.”

Arriving at their band name took only a whim, in a few minutes over tea.

Men Without Hats, known for “The Safety Dance” and “Pop Goes the World,” could have inspired a name, “Men Without Pants,” Nooner said, but then someone suggested, “How about The Molly Ringwalds?”

Movies with that red-headed actress, “made 30 years ago,” Nooner said, live on through television today, and students from that era still quote catch phrases from “The Breakfast Club” and “Sixteen Candles.”

Screen franchises begun in the 1970s still take hold of Noonan’s tongue.

“I still quote from ‘Rocky’ and from ‘The Godfather,’ and get motivated,” he said.

Niche to honor Sheryl Crow

Rachel Ayers Tipton of Pawleys Island leads Maybe Angels: A Tribute to Sheryl Crow (www. or

“People have always told me I look like Sheryl Crow,” said Tipton, a former singer-dancer for Legends in Concert when it operated in Surfside Beach.

Tipton said she “didn't have to do too much” to look like Crow and that her own vocals share the same range as the real-life nine-time Grammy Award winner whose hits includes “All I Wanna Do,” “Steve McQueen,” “Soak Up the Sun,” “The First Cut Is the Deepest,” “Picture” with Kid Rock, and the title song from Pierce Brosnan’s second of his four movies as Agent 007, “Tomorrow Never Dies.”

Realizing that so many people do tributes to Elvis Presley and other landmark acts, Tipton concluded a few years ago that Crow might lie “under the radar for some people,” despite a stream of hits since the mid-1990s.

“In a mall or CVS, and everywhere you go, you’ll hear a Sherrl Crow song,” Tipton said, remembering the “niche” she saw to fill in a tribute role.

Seeing an “an accomplished musician” in Crow, who’s opening for Rascal Flatts on tour this summer, Tipton said playing guitar and piano, and learning to play bass from Maybe Angels’ bassist, “it’s a big deal for me” to also pluck the strings as another way to honor the real article.

Tipton called Crow’s “Easy,” a country hit last year, the most challenging work to master, prompting continued practice for that and some other songs that also reflect Crow’s “vocal acrobatics” skills.

“They’re tricky in some,” said Tipton, commending her colleagues who make up a four- or five-piece band.

Maybe Angels will play 7-11 p.m. Aug. 31 at Pawleys Island Tavern, and as part of the 24th annual Pawleys Island Festival of Music & Art (626-8911 or, on its closing day, 3-7 p.m. Oct. 12, for free in the “Sunday Seaside Showcase,” saluting wounded warriors and military families, with other area musicians.

Tipton, also a personal trainer and fitness coach, said she will fly to Iowa next week to sing in the ABsalute Gold ( ABBA tribute show, for which she has sung background vocals and served as a backup for the role of Anni-Frid “Frida” Lyngstad. Last weekend, she and the entourage played two dates in New Jersey. The group also played Legends in Concert in Myrtle Beach in 2012.

Loving these “huge shows” celebrating ABBA music that helped define the 1970s, Tipton said, “their harmonies are so layered and rich.” She reminded everyone that ABBA’s catalog, as shown in the past decasde by the hit Broadway musical and movie “Mamma Mia!” contains “a whole lot more than ‘Dancing Queen.’ ”

‘That’ll Be the Day’

The Mister Fifties band (421-9800 or email has begun a weekly pop-rock show that includes a Buddy Holly tribute at 6 p.m. Saturdays at the Spanish Galleon, 100 Main St., North Myrtle Beach, for free. With Michael Sokolik Jr. of Socastee playing the late leader of the Crickets, the fivesome also has its next Holly sock-hop dances set for 3-5 p.m. Aug. 17 and 24 at the Grand Strand Senior Center, 1268 21st Ave. N., Myrtle Beach, for $5 each.

Sokolik (222-2324 or, also known locally for dressing up tributes to Elvis and Johnny Cash, said looking like Holly might be simple with a suit, white socks, and spectacles, but with “only so much footage” of him from the late 1950s, “How do you portray somebody whom you never got to see?”

“You can watch only so many videos of him on ‘The Ed Sullivan Show,’ ” Sokolik said.

He treats Holly tributes as “a lot of fun, because his music was all original.”

Loving music from 1950s through ’80s, Sokolik said he also has an “Elvis and Friends” show 6-9 p.m. Aug. 30 at Kingston Plantation, just north of Myrtle Beach, and a reunion of the Lucky Strikes band 7 p.m. Sept. 27 at Acme Bar and Grill, 3340 U.S. 17 Bypass, Murrells Inlet, both for free.

Giving new life to old songs, “to reach everybody from elementary school to wheelchairs,” sometimes for charity events, Sokolik savors the “electricity” from every show the most, “the energy from the crowd.”

Paul Truelove, who sings and plays guitar for Mister Fifties, said he met Sokolik about five or six years ago at a Elvis birthday anniversary competition at Dick’s Last Resort at Barefoot Landing. They both agree on the best Holly hit they do: “That’ll Be the Day.”

Truelove said Holly, an idol of Paul McCartney’s, “influenced so many people,” and that his group name, the Crickets, spurred other band titles, namely, the Beatles and Hollies.

Meeting a Pawleys Island resident from Davenport, Iowa, who recounted seeing Holly in his final concert before the plane in which he rode with Ritchie Valens and J.P. “The Big Bopper” Richardson crashed Feb. 3, 1959, moved Truelove a few weeks ago. Truelove said he’s grateful that Mister Fifties had made “a project” to highlight Holly in their gigs.

His most rewarding part to take home after any concert comes in “rekindling that moment” for fans of the music, “to make it a happening, a scene and a moment we want to create.”

“It does bring back memories,” said Truelove, who also would like to branch into tunes by other ambasssadors of that era, such as Bill Haley & His Comets, with a wish to maybe tour Europe.

Old songs become new again with new generations and in other lands, he said, also delighted to see girls sing along to lyrics, and encouraging everyone to don retro attire and take the jitterbug lesson in Mister Fifties evenings of entertainment.

Music, Truelove said, is “really healing and therapeutic in its own way,” and “the audiences that we’re touching lived those days, when they were teens.”

“Those people are my mom and dad,” he said. “They remember the old songs. If they hear just a few of them, they’re a child again.”

Truelove, who spoke of being blown away by all the local talent in tribute bands, also sees how how someone as esteemed as Elvis has left his mark in another way.

“Elvis created an economy,” he said. “He put a lot of guys to work. There are hundreds, probably thousands of Elvis tribute artists.”

Contact STEVE PALISIN at 444-1764.

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