Keeping History Alive

Looking to treat yourself to a little staycation… one with a little more zip and fun? We like to call that a Playcation. And when you take a Playcation at OLG Slots and Casinos, there’s nothing like making plans to take in some live music. Especially when that live act plays the music of a band or performer you just can’t get enough of.

We all have them… the band we love. Problem is, bands don’t tour as much as they used to and the cost of tickets has, to put it politely, skyrocketed. Planning your Playcation around that can be difficult. So how do you get your live performance fix? Enter the tribute band.

Elton Lammie

Elton Lammie – covers everything from country to opera.


Although they are not the real thing, for many fans almost the real thing is just fine. From Bowie and The Doors to Joe Cocker, Shania Twain and Rush, there are more tribute bands and singers than anyone can count. Well, almost. alone lists 253 Canadian tribute bands.

How did it all start? Beatlemania, the “rocumentary” stage production first put on in NYC in the 1960s, is recognized as probably the first to ignite the tribute band craze.

And  aside, there’s no way of knowing really how many of these impersonator groups exist officially because some aren’t performing with the permits and permissions required to play famous tunes. But Google any well-known band, and you’ll find another band paying homage to them by banging out their hits.

Many of these bands are very good. They’re often experienced, accomplished musicians who get a bad rap for not producing their own material. (Which is kind of strange given symphony orchestra players don’t suffer the same scrutiny for playing Bach, Chopin and Mozart.) The one thing they all have in common is their love for their inspiration.

“I always liked the Dixie Chicks music,” says Jillian Wade of The Dixie Chicklets. And she’s shown it these past 15 years. “A lot of people do cover music, but you’ve got to really like a group if you only cover one band.”


Gino Monopoli

Gino Monopoli pays tribute to the King of Rock and Roll


Elvis is believed to have the most tribute artists recreating his signature style and hip shimmy, and a sweet nostalgia factor is important for their success. Indeed, vintage bands are the bread and butter of the tribute genre, inspiring groups like “Alcoholica” covering Metallica, “ABBA Cadabra”, the all-girl “Iron Maidens,” “Guns + Hoses”, “Wrong Jovi”, just to name a few. But more recent artists are gaining popularity, too: Justin Timberfake, Michael Dublé, Jay ’N Bey (covering the married music royals) and Jay B (for Justin Bieber).

Which brings us back to why tribute bands are so popular. It starts with most of us can’t access or afford the real thing.

When fan favourites retire or just stop touring—AC/DC, Tina Turner, Johnny Cash etc. etc.—tributes keep history alive. And for bands like the Stones, who continue to sell out shows minutes after tickets go on sale, tribute bands give fans a chance to hear the music of their generation at a reasonable ticket price.


Jim Yorfido

Jim Yorfido’s tribute to Johnny Cash is a regular at OLG Slots & Casinos


Another selling point is that tributes know why their fans are there. We want to hear the hits, the songs we know the words to and that bring us to our feet. Some fans aren’t interested in the new material a favourite artist wants to try after they’ve grown tired of their chart toppers. Audiences love chart toppers, and tributes provide them. If you go see the Dixie Chicklets, who perform occasionally at OLG Slots and Casino locations, you will hear Goodbye Earl. Jillian Wade explains, “It’s a fan favourite and we want to get people up and dancing.”

Although imitation may be the highest form of flattery, the real bands have a love-hate relationship with the tributes that pop up in their honour.

Bon Jovi sued “Blonde Jovi” for covering his music, but the real Judas Priest chose a tribute band member to become their new lead singer. Queen even created its own tribute band to commemorate its 40th anniversary. (Three Canadians made it through the online auditions and joined the sanctioned knock-off group.)

Some tributes stay rigidly true to the originals, choosing costumes, makeup and staging carefully. After all, if you’re going to do Alice Cooper, you’d better wear grease paint and leather pants. And who’d want to see a tribute Guns n’ Roses without its own bandana-wearing Axl Rose?

Other tributes add their own spin, though. The most famous might be Dread Zepplin, who plays Led Zepplin to a reggae beat. And as it does for all these artistic impersonators, for some inexplicable reason, it just works. To see which of the almost-famous bands might be playing at your next Playcation at an OLG Slots and Casino location, check out the entertainment calendar here.

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