The unmistakable sound of organ chords fills the air, as the band plays The Door’s hit, “Light My Fire,” electrifying the stage. The Door’s lead singer Jim Morrison died more than 45 years ago; however, tribute band Mojo Rising is bringing the iconic band’s music to a new generation.
“It takes a sincere passion for the original band and their music to play tribute and Mojo demonstrates this in every show,” says lead singer Billy Baty. “Our goal is to honor The Doors and their music by keeping it alive and active in the music scene and maybe turning on a few new listeners of the next generation in the process.”
Tribute bands in the Triangle are becoming increasingly popular with performances spanning a wide range of genres from the beach music of Jimmy Buffett to legendary Johnny Cash to rockers AC/DC.
“I get to dress up and emulate one of my guitar heroes and play the music I grew up listening to,” says Jeff Young of Thunderstruck, a local AC/DC tribute band. “Feedback from fans is always positive. They love seeing the band because of the nostalgia and how it brings back memories of high school or their first concert.”
The band members of Joe Hero, a Foo Fighters tribute band, started playing covers of the band that influenced their musical careers, and it turned into a regular gig. While Bad Incorporated was born almost two years ago from Neil Wells’ dream to play tribute to idol Paul Rogers of Bad Company. While Beatles-inspired band, Liverpool, wanted to celebrate the magic of Paul McCartney and John Lennon.
“As we pay homage to their music, we notice how the music reaches all ages,” says band member Scott Gibbons. “Most of the songs are love songs with PG lyrics and not only do a lot of people know the words, their songs inspire people to dance.”
These bands take celebrating iconic musicians very seriously, and they recognize that fans are there to enjoy the original music. “For the most part they aren’t there to see or hear us. We never forget that. Our fans are there to enjoy the music of Johnny Cash,” says David Burney of Johnny Folsom 4, a band who has been paying tribute to the Man in Black for the last eight years. “Nothing could be more fun, nor more of an honor, than to play the music of Johnny Cash. He recorded 1,500 different songs and many different styles over a long, legendary career. It never gets boring. It always inspires.”
Liverpool tries to authentically replicate The Beatles recordings by using vintage amplifiers and guitars, an effort than fans appreciate. This engagement with the crowd is a key element at performances with people often singing along. “On so many occasions, the crowd would sing along so loudly, I could not hear myself sing,” says Mojo’s Baty. “We consider that the biggest compliment ever!”