Nearly 20 years ago, well-traveled tribute band musician Craig Martin came up with one heck of a lightbulb moment. Forget the cringe-worthy impersonations and cheesy costumes and forego the over-the-top stage lighting. Keep it simple. Keep it real. Keep the music.
Classic Albums Live was born.
A mainstay of performing arts venues across the United States and Canada, Toronto-based Classic Albums Live has been part of the annual schedule at the King Center for 16 years. CAL concerts on the horizon this year include The Beatles’ “Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Heart’s Club Band” on June 19, AC/DC’s “Back in Black” on July 17, “Led Zeppelin IV” Aug. 14, Creedence Clearwater Revival’s “Chronicle” Sept. 18 and Pink Floyd’s “Dark Side of the Moon” Oct. 23. That’s five months of hits, folks.
The premise is simple. Take classic albums and recreate them live, on stage, note for note, cut for cut, using performers Martin refers to as “the world’s best musicians.”
ASM Global, which operates the King Center, finds the performances extremely popular across their venues.
“ASM Global proudly presents Classic Albums Live in a number of our markets and we look forward to working with Craig Martin and his booking team… for many years to come,” said Bob Papke, vice president of theaters and general manager.
Martin grew up listening to the music and treats it with reverence.
“Think of it as a recital,” he said. “These albums are historic and stand the test of time.”
Classic Album Live’s recipe for success entails concentrating solely on the music.
“We don’t dress up or wear any sort of costume,” said Martin. “All of our energy is put into the music. We want the performance to sound exactly like the album. We deliver exactly what we promote, note-for-note, cut-for-cut accuracy.”
Martin’s long background in the music industry gives him insider knowledge when selecting top musicians for the shows.
“I knew all the musicians that could really play, some of them acclaimed and decorated, some of them flashing brilliance in tiny bars to half-empty crowds,” he said.
A core group of artists is augmented by additional musicians in order to better recreate specific albums, from “Saturday Night Fever” to “Woodstock.” Consider them time travelers who dedicate their considerable musical chops to obsessively honoring musical classics from the Age of Vinyl. With ticket prices that start at $31.75, Classic Albums Live offers an inexpensive way to revisit the past.
Restaurant review:Celo’s Shawarma Factory brings fast-casual Med-Eastern food to Suntree
Things to do in June:Concerts in Satellite Beach and Melbourne, street ball, adulting camp
Part of the experience at the King Center also includes the tradition of Party on the Patio at 6 p.m. on the evening of the concerts, weather permitting. Sponsored in part by 98.5 WSBH The Beach, the picnics allow ticketholders to party two hours before the show. For an add-on of $10, they can make it a dinner-and-a-show with a meal ticket to redeem for a hamburger, cheeseburger, hot dog or veggie burger with a side of chips and a soda or water. A bar will be on-site for alcoholic libations.
”We’ve expanded it, we’ve rebranded it, (and) we’re excited that Party on the Patio is here,” said Papke. “We are using more of the facility and we’re excited to be able to put this on post pandemic.”
While the original groups may be long gone, their great music continues. As long as it does, Classic Albums Live will probably be performing it somewhere in North America.
“We created something that endures and connects,” said Martin. “These albums are sacred to people.”
For tickets and additional information, call 321-242-2219 or visit kingcenter.com.
Whether you’re interested in music, theater, festivals or other local entertainment, FLORIDA TODAY has got you covered. Support local journalism by subscribing at cm.floridatoday.com/specialoffer.