OCALA STAR-BANNER BY RICK ALLEN OCALA STAR-BANNER, FLA.
Forty years ago, comedians Dan Akyroyd and John Belushi created one of the most iconic acts in the history of "Saturday Night Live": The Blues Brothers.
In addition to multiple appearances on the sketch-comedy program, the brothers starred in a couple of movies, cranked out a handful of albums including the chart-topping "Briefcase Full of Blues" and stand among their heroes in the world of blues. After Belushi died in 1982, the legacy kept rolling, particularly among the scores of tribute groups.
But there's only one "official" Blues Brothers Revue with the imprimatur of the original Blues Brothers family. And it bounds into Ocala Saturday for "one performance only" at the Palace Hotel Ballroom, Lake Wazzapamani ... wait, make that the Circle Square Cultural Center in On Top of the World. Lake Wazzapamani was in the 1980 movie.
The audience can expect "Soul Man," "Rubber Biscuit," "Shout," "Gimme Some Lovin'" and "Sweet Home Chicago."
"Who wouldn't want to hear 'Rubber Biscuit'?" asked Peggy Banczak, who said she's had tickets for this concert since they went on sale.
"Plus it's sanctioned," added her friend Nancy Dougherty. "You know it's going to be a great show."
Behind the shades Saturday it will be Wayne Catania and Kieron Lafferty as Jake and Elwood Blues. They were personally selected by Aykroyd and Belushi's widow, Judy, to carry on the Blues name, the Blues tradition.
They and their backup band have been coached by Paul Shaffer, who worked with Akyroyd and Belushi on "SNL." Occasionally Aykroyd pops in "to keep tabs on things," Lafferty said.
The Blues Brothers' music did not end with Belushi's accidental overdose in 1982. Their backup band toured awhile as the Blues Brothers Band, and Aykroyd later got back with the band. A second movie was produced in 2000 -- "Blues Brothers 2000 with John Goodman." Universal Studios won rights to present The Blues Brothers at their theme parks.
In 2004, Judy Belushi Pisano, Aykroyd and Jim Belushi -- John's brother -- decided to create an official revue group. "The goal was, let's not embarrass ourselves," Judy said by phone last week. "Let's make the music great, bring it to people who love it. Let's make it as close to the concert experience someone might have had with The Blues Brothers."
Scores of tribute duos showed up for the auditions. "We didn't want John and Danny; we wanted Jake and Elwood," Judy added. "We were looking at it not from the crowd perspective, but from the characters' perspective.
"It was really important the chemistry between the two. It's not that simple, like thinking you can put on a Spiderman suit and fly. It's not magic. We had good Elwoods and good Jakes, but we were leery of trying to bring them together (from different duos)."
And that's where Catania and Lafferty come in. They'd been a Jake-and-Elwood team in a Legends in Concert show going back years in Toronto. After A&E featured them in a mini-documentary, they were called to Chicago for the Blues Brothers Revival Judith and Dan were producing.
"There were over 200 teams wanting this job," Catania recalled. "As history shows, we ended up getting it."
Judy said they picked the right guys. "Kieron and Wayne are not imitators," she said. "They live the music and embody the characters. They understand the spirit of The Blues Brothers and revel in the joy of being Jake and Elwood."
"As fun as these characters are, I never take them for granted," Catania said. "I wouldn't be here today if not for what Dan and John and Judy created."
"We do all the classics from the movie and the shows along with some of the B-sides," Lafferty said. "It's great fun, and we encourage audience participation."
On becoming the near stoic Elwood for each performance, Lafferty said: "You've got the hat and the sunglasses and the suit, but like any other job it's acting."
Still, "if you can do a verse of 'Rubber Biscuit' without tripping up, you're in the zone. It's party music, great-time music, and these characters resonate with people."
Rick Allen can be reached at email@example.com, 867-4154 or on Twitter @rickallen0103.
Date: Dec. 31. 2018
Location: Treasure Island Resort & Casino
Address: 5734 Sturgeon Lake Rd
Date: Jan. 02. 2019
Title: OBBR At Ram’s Head
Location: Ram’s Head
Address: 40 West St.