'Eaglemania' flies in


MANCHESTER >> Okay, so maybe The Eagles aren't the only popular recording and performing group that can lay claim to being the "soundtrack of the seventies."

When you have other contenders like Bruce Springsteen, Bob Seger, the BeeGees (for those who simply couldn't get enough disco), to say nothing of groups like The Rolling Stones who were still going strong, nominating just one band, artist or group of artists for the honor isn't easy. And after all, everyone has their own personal soundtrack of favorites.

But Wikipedia tells you all you really need to know about The Eagles musical significance.

"The Eagles are one of the world's best-selling bands of all time, having sold more than 150 million records—100 million in the U.S. alone—including 42 million copies of Their Greatest Hits (1971–1975) and 32 million copies of Hotel California. 'Their Greatest Hits (1971–1975)' was the best selling album of the 20th century in the U.S. They are the fifth-highest-selling music act and the highest-selling American band in U.S. history."

You can break it down further into all the songs that were hit singles or ones everyone who was musically conscious at all during that decade and well afterwards can remember: "Hotel California." "Witchy Women." Already Gone." Peaceful Easy Feeling." "Take It Easy." "Life in the Fast Lane." "One of these Nights." "Desperado." "Lying' eyes." "Take it to the limit."

And on a sadder note, the legacy of the group was reinforced earlier this year when founding member and guitarist and vocalist Glenn Frey, who along with band mate and drummer Don Henley wrote most of their songs, passed away at the age of 67.

But if going back for one more Eagles concert (the band broke up or stopped touring in 1980, reunited in 1994 and were frequently on the road and in concert for the next 20 years, drawing huge sellout crowds) isn't in the cards, the next best thing is about to arrive in Manchester.

"Eaglemania" is a tribute band based in New Jersey who reproduce the sound and excitement of an Eagles concert. They will be performing at Riley Rink this Saturday, July 9, at 7 p.m.

The six-member band got started in 2011, but it was a year before the right assortment of musicians were in place to take the show on the road, said Frank Marino, the band leader who sings, and plays guitar and keyboards. All of them are veterans of the bar and club circuit who wanted to step it up and do something different, he added.

Why The Eagles? Well, there's a lot of material to chose from (see above) and few groups enjoyed the wide appeal across some many different musical tastes as did The Eagles. They played sweet acoustic pieces (Peaceful Easy Feeeling), and hard crunching rock (Life in the Fast Lane). Not only that, but the song quality, especially when it came nailing the vocal harmonies, was top notch, Marino said.

"It was far more challenging than we thought it would be, because their harmonies are so meticulous," he said. "Not only do you have to be able to sing harmony and sing it well but you need to be able to blend well. There are few bands that come close to the quality and popularity of their music, and the wide demographic they appealed to."

The band members are "weekend warriors," Marino said. They hold down other jobs and make their living doing something else, but when the weekends hit, look out. The group tours up and down the East Coast and well into the Midwest. It's a way to have fun and perform music they love before audiences that have come to hear old favorites that don't need a lot of introduction.

Being in a tribute band may seem at first a strange choice for a musician skilled enough to perform not only solid covers of other people's material, but could also place their own individual stamp on original material. However, being in a tribute band has definite benefits, along with the artistic rewards of playing recognizable music precisely and true to the original version, Marino said.

As a working musician, it's very difficult as an "originals" band to draw an audience, play frequently, and not insignificantly, get paid for it and make money.

"People come out to hear familiar songs they know and can sing along with," he said. "We're all 50 year-olds — and it's a youth oriented business. We kick around the idea of doing originals — the subject comes up frequently — but then we get realistic about what will we do once we record them. Because taking it further at our age, it's just not realistic anymore."

All of which can be a tough pill to swallow, he added, but the offsetting fun of performing regularly in concert before appreciative crowds helps — plus they are all Eagles' fans themselves anyway, he said.

Eaglemania's concert will be part of a series being present this summer by L.E.A.D., or Law Enforcement Against Drugs. Three more concerts will follow Eaglemania's show during July and August.

L.E.A.D.'s goal is to create a comprehensive program for law enforcement, through a partnership with educators, to provide effective methods to combat drug abuse and bullying in schools, said Nick DeMauro, the executive director and CEO of the charitable organization. DeMauro owns a home in Manchester and knows Don Benasich, a local resident who's helping organize and promote the concert series and the organization's efforts, through their work in the Special Olympics, he said.

"A group of police chiefs and sheriffs got together and felt it was important to start this organization," DeMauro said. Proceeds from the concerts and the ones to follow — Southside Johnny and The Asbury Jukes on July 23; Buddy Holly and Bruce Springsteen tribute bands on Aug. 6; and the Marshall Tucker Band (remember 'Take the Highway' circa 1975?) on Aug. 19.

The organization offers programs like "Too Good for Drugs," and "Too Good for Violence," to help at-risk teens develop positive self images, social responsibility and tools to manage anger and other emotional triggers that could lead them in wrong directions, according to its website.

The doors at the rink will open at 5 p.m., with the headlining concert acts — Eaglemania this week — scheduled to start at 7 p.m. For more information or to purchase tickets, visit leadrugs.org.


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