Long before rock music was around, classical composers like Johann Sebastian Bach, Ludwig von Beethoven and Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart were the “rock stars” of their time.
Incredibly talented musicians and composers, all garnered even more acclaim after their deaths. Not only did their music live on, few people realize the impact classical composers have had on today’s rock music.
Classical Blast seeks to share that story with their new concert show, “From Bach to Rock: A Musical Metamorphosis,” which they are bringing to The Acorn Theater (107 Generations Drive) on Friday in nearby Three Oaks, Michigan. Tickets are $25 for adults and $20 for individuals 18 and younger. Call the box office at 269-756-3879 or online at acorntheater.org.
The band rocks out with music usually heard in symphony halls and the current concert show features music from the band’s latest "Metamorphosis" album, which melds famed classical pieces with classic rock music by bands like Led Zeppelin, Pink Floyd, The Beatles, Queen, Spirit, Muse and others, exploring the impact the classics had on their music.
Three of the band's members stopped by for a meet 'n' greet in the Region last weekend at The Record Bin in Hobart while en route to a performance, where the band described the live show as "a musical thrill ride through the ages. It’s the past, present and future in perfect harmony." Local fans delighted to find the trio of players willing to perform a mini-concert set of 5 songs at the store. A clip of that performance can be seen at youtube.com/watch?time_continue=2&v=9lnsqFreOmM.
“Our goal is to bring classical music to a new audience and show people how much the masters have influenced today’s rock music,” says Classical Blast cellist, Petar Kecenovici, “but it’s certainly not sedate. Prepare to rock out!”
Despite their unusual instrumentation: Kecenovici (cello); Jimmy Chaos (violin); Sophie Monroy (acoustic guitar/vocals); Dave Kelly (drums/vocals) and Bill Syniar (bass), Classical Blast is a rock band through and through.
“If you’ve never heard Jimmy’s violin solo on Guns & Roses’ 'Sweet Child of Mine,' you don’t know what you’re missing,” says Syniar, who was a founding member of the nationally signed '80s group Tantrum. Syniar has also performed on albums and toured internationally with Survivor, has written music for The Doobie Brothers and has performed on countless rock album projects, including some recent ones with Chicago Grammy Award winner Jim Peterik.
Kecenovici has performed live with Cheap Trick, Sting, Andrea Bocelli, il Divo and many other internationally renowned acts. The band’s newest member, vocalist Sophie Monroy, hails from Guatemala. She's performed at international music festivals throughout Central America, Mexico, Germany & England, prior to joining Classical Blast this year.
Classical Blast signed with Seattle-based Toucan Cove-Universal Record Label in 2015 and later released “Metamorphosis.” Their second label release was the 2016 holiday album “Dark Side of the Yule,” which added unique arrangements of traditional Christmas carols to the band’s melding of classical and classic rock music.
Monroy has brought an entirely new and vibrant sound to the group and the response to the band's surprise 5-song mini-concert last weekend in Hobart reveals that the line-up change is a boon to their collective sound, both vocally and instrumentally. "I've been in Chicago a few years now and I love that I found these guys and got invited to be a part of this amazing project," said Monroy. "The music we perform, and this group, is like no other."
Keep up with Classical Blast online at classicalblast.com.
• Highland's Main Square Park will be rockin' again on June 20 with Oscar & The Majestics headlining the gazebo stage at the town's weekly Wednesday "Music & Market" event. Entertainment kicks off with an acoustic set by composer/rocker Robert Rolfe Feddersen (5 p.m.) followed by an energized set from the internationally famous regional garage rock band, currently signed to Sundazed Records.
"We've got a great show planned for Highland," said band leader Oscar Hamod. "This is one of our first outdoor shows this summer season and we are ready to rock for the people. So everyone needs to come out and be ready to dance and have a great time." For the whole Highland Music & Market summer line-up go to highlandparks.org/events.
• Irish Rockers Bobby Dunne and his band will perform on Friday at Cousins (3636 W. 147th St.) in Midlothian, Illinois from 6 to 10 p.m.
• Regional jazz keyboard phenom, Billy Foster, will host an off-campus two-part workshop for Indiana University Northwest that explores the history of big bands in jazz on June 14 at Clarendale of Schererville. "We will start with the music of Fletcher Henderson and Paul Whiteman, move through the era of Ellington, Goodman and Basie, and finish with such current big bands as the Clayton/Hamilton Jazz Orchestra and the Lincoln Center Orchestra. More info or to register: 219-980-6907 or email to: email@example.com.
• Northwest Indiana singer/songwriter Johnny V. will perform an acoustic concert with friends at 8 p.m. Friday at Leroy's Hot Stuff (333 W. U.S. 20) in Porter. Johnny V. recently completed his latest album with producer John Carpenter at Thunderclap Studios in Hammond. The venue then welcomes the country sounds of High Noon on Saturday for a 9 p.m. show. Wannabe singers tired of standing in front of the bedroom mirror with a hair brush can now live the experience and hear the applause on Tuesday and Thursday evenings at 9 p.m. as Leroy's presents Karaoke Nights. More: 219-926-6211 or leroyshotstuff.com.
• The Region Ale Jazz Sunday Brunch hosted weekly at the Region Ale Tap House & Eatery (1080 U.S. 41) in Schererville from noon to 3 p.m. features as guest host this weekend, the fabulous baritone vocalist Saalik Ahmad Ziyad who has sung roles in such musicals as "Porgy & Bess," "Dido & Aeneas" and "Susannah." Backing the revered vocalist this Sunday at the Schererville eatery is the weekly house band of guitarist Nicholas Gerasimos, bassist Kris Lohn, pianist Daniel C. Talion and drummer Andy Sutton. Musicians are always welcome to sit in and jam at this weekly event. More: facebook.com/suttonmusicco.
• Several regional artists will be performing at the Soulshine Music Festival at Rising Sun Campgrounds (7510 N. 250 E.) in Monterey, Indiana from June 20-22. Tickets: ($60 per person/12 & younger free) for this first annual weekend-long gathering are on sale now and include two nights of camping, fire dancers, a drum circle, yoga and a variety of other activities. Regional bands scheduled to perform include The Unstoppables, Dave's Envy, The Healers, Hurricane Reggae Band, Chris & Lou Band, Phil N The Blanks, The Highway Band and The Righteous Hillbillies. More: risingsuncamp.com or (574) 542-4780.