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"LIVE" on AXS TV - The World's Greatest Tribute Bands

Britain's Finest - Beatles Tribute Band
Britain's Finest - Beatles Tribute Band
Photo by Sal Gomez

I take great pleasure in writing about what I know or experience. I suppose all writers feel the same about their passions. Two of my passions are photography and music. And although I am not musical myself I have surrounded my life with music starting way back to the music of my youth and those fabulous lads from Liverpool, The Beatles. Back in the early part of 2013 a Beatles tribute band I had come to know and admire for their fabulous and faithful renditions of the Beatles experience and music, Britain's Finest was to appear on a brand new television program that was to broadcast nationally from the Roxy Theater on the Sunset strip. The show called itself "The World's Greatest Tribute Bands" and it boldly promised to showcase exactly that, musicians in costume and makeup playing and singing LIVE the feel and music of the bands they set out to pay tribute in front of a live audience. In watching Britain's Finest that night I was enveloped in the energy and experience of that night and knew immediately...I had to be back.

Host Katie Daryl at Club Nokia for The World's Greatest Tribute Bands
Photo by Sal Gomez

And so I have. I have also had the privilege of being a part of the photographer pool that has been photographing the show with our captured images helping to showcase these acts to fans far and wide. And so when season 3 aired it's last show with Mr Speed, a KISS tribute band, host Katie Daryl announced a special bonus show to cap off 3 fabulous seasons of tribute acts and present the band that helped kick off this great show, Britain's Finest.

Having had the privilege of attending both of those shows I felt it only fitting to take a moment to find out what the experience is like for the talented musicians and artists selected to appear on this nationally broadcast television show. And what about the show's fabulous host Katie Daryl? I asked for her thoughts on the show and the experience of being not only the on-air host but the producer as well.

Katie Daryl: "I've now produced 38 episodes of The World's Greatest Tribute Bands and I might actually be more excited for Season 4 than any other season! The word is spreading about the show; I have bands reaching out to me from all over the world wanting me to review their submissions. And I have fans emailing daily suggesting their favorite bands and expressing their love for The World's Greatest Tribute Bands. So getting to roll up my sleeves and start the scouting process for Season 4 has me really amped up!"

SG: And what can you tell us about season 4?

Katie Daryl: "When it comes to my vision for Season 4, first and foremost I think about our TV audience. Sure this is a really fun free event to go to in LA, but the purpose of The World's Greatest Tribute Bands is to make awesome LIVE TV. It's so incredible to work in the LIVE TV format, knowing that anything can happen during our broadcast and our AXS TV viewers across the nation will get to witness that is pretty thrilling. So as I look for my bands to feature, I have to keep in mind what our AXS TV audience likes to watch. AXS TV just broadcasted LIVE from the Coachella, Jazz Fest and StageCoach festivals, so I know our viewers appreciate great music, the like country, they like current, and they love the classics so I guess you could say Season 4 will reflect that this fall!"

All of this sounds very interesting and enticing. This would mean there are acts out there probably very curious to know about the experience is like to actually perform on stage and in the living rooms of households across the country. As I said, having attended a good portion of these shows and getting to know these performers, I was able to reach out to a few of them to get their take on this experience. This is what they had to say:

Mick Adams and the Stones - Rolling Stones Tribute Band
Mick Adams: "I think "The Worlds Greatest Tribute Bands" has done a number of things for the tribute band community. First of all, it's afforded us an even greater exposure by putting us in homes all over the country. Two, it's really brought the tribute bands who've been exposed to this even closer together creating somewhat of a "tribute fraternity". We've all become very supportive of each other and love the fact that if we're not playing on a Monday night, that we're at the AXS shows supporting each other, the artists performing that night as well as Katie Daryl and the show itself. I personally, have appeared on the show twice and now my band, "Mick Adams and The Stones" have recorded on itunes for AXS TV's, "The Worlds Greatest Tribute Bands". I just heard an hour ago that we currently as of this writing hold the #1 slot which makes me feel pretty good! I guess you could say the show's been really good to me. I feel we all owe a debt of gratitude to Mark Cuban as well as Katie Daryl for putting together such a fabulous concept to showcase all these great bands talents!"

Michelle Tyler, Bella Donna a tribute to Stevie Nicks
Michelle Tyler "Working with AXS TV and Katie Daryl was one of the highlights of our 12 years as a tribute band. Bella Donna (Tribute to Stevie Nicks) was given the opportunity to reach out to a wider audience and connect in ways with our friends and fans that was impossible before WGTB's. The community spirit was alive and the camaraderie among all the acts was electrifying. We all became fast friends in a supportive and non competitive way. It was magical"

Kenny Metcalf as Elton and the Early Years Band
Kenny Metcalf: "Being selected by Katie Daryl and being approved by Mark Cuban and Ryan Seacrest's network AXS-TV was an honor. To be given a LIVE broadcast to a nation audience impacted our lives and increased our credibility. Since our LIVE broadcast show, we have been considered the best Elton tribute, but not because we say so, but because of the support of AXS-TV and it's name behind us. The tribute world is a world of serious actors, musicians, singers who take recreating iconic music to the limit. From sounding like the artist, looking like the artist, and recreating the costumes.. It is really "musical theatre"... The very thing the 70's were all about, from Tommy, to Rocky Horror Picture Show. A full on tribute is like watching a movie about a specific artist.. That is what we do. It is not simply a cover band, but a thought out, calculated production by professionals. All the bands on AXSTV The Worlds Greatest Tribute Bands have become closer as a result of the show, and Katie Daryl is our leader.

To sound like an artist of the past, with all their costumes, mannerism's is not something everybody can do. AXSTV gave us the opportunity to show a nation what we work so hard at doing. All alumni of the show have joined an exclusive club we have all coined "Tribute U". We are all forever grateful for what we were given and for the fans we gained and jobs received from our performance on The Worlds Greatest Tribute Bands"

Robert Bielma, Britain's Finest – Beatles Tribute Band
Robert Bielma: "The show has given a voice to the tribute bands that before went unnoticed. AXS TV is giving a chance to those unknown acts and helping them get national exposure. Tributes were once regarded as has been musician's, but WGTB's is showing everyone that this is a very viable industry. Just because your original band doesn't make it, doesn't mean you can make it in the music business. I know for Britain's Finest, AXS TV and Katie Daryl have helped us get our name out to the masses, in turn helping us achieve better success for us and our booking agency Music Zirconia"

Dan Johnson - Which One's Pink, Pink Floyd Tribute Band
Dan Johnson: "We were very excited about being selected for the program. Our turn came up on August 19,2013. We, of course, knew a bunch of the bands that had already been on the program before us so we called everyone to get a feel for what it was going to be like. Most of us then attended The Police Experience show in person and were blown away at the energy in the room (as well as the band's incredible performance). So we felt that we had good idea of what to expect when our turn came up We were wrong. We loaded in our gear that afternoon and went through our entire set in sound check. We could hear our fans outside the Roxy reacting to the songs we played in sound check. But we were unprepared for the unbridled electricity the crowd was feeding back the second we were introduced. I think our fans took this personally - they believe that Which One's Pink? is one of the World's Greatest Tribute Bands and they want to prove it to the rest of the country. It's ironic that Sunset Strip crowds have a reputation for being jaded and aloof but our crowd at the Roxy could not have been more engaged or LOUD! They may have been at their loudest AFTER the broadcast performance when, after an hour set of the FM radio hits we gave them the "deep cut" "Set the Controls For The Heart of the Sun."

Space Oddity - David Brighton's Tribute to David Bowie
David Brighton: "I have a lot of respect for Katie Daryl. She's a great person... and a she's a very hard worker. The show has been a lot of fun and has really helped cement a lot of positive relationships between the bands who have performed on it. This odd little sub-culture we call the Tribute Band scene has become a tightly knit community of good friends... I am honored to be a part"

The phenomenal success of the World's Greatest Tribute Bands has sent reverberations throughout the LIVE venue community with club owners and patrons now seeking out more than ever the music they love, performed LIVE by talented and seasoned musicians. If you are lucky enough to live in proximity to Los Angeles and desire to attend one of the broadcast show nights I recommend you do it. Having attended many television productions I can say the experience of attending a WGTB show is like no other. You can meet and get up close with all of these artists and musicians. Believe me when I say, they would definitely love to meet you.

And one other can now take some of this music home with you because the World's Greatest Tribute Bands now have 3 volumes of music from selected bands that have appeared on the show from the last 3 seasons. These tracks are freshly produced recordings and are a fantastic companion piece to the show. And watch out...Vol 4 season 4 is already in the works. You can purchase your copy of Vol. 1, 2 & 3 on iTunes today.

Dan Johnson of the band "Which One's Pink" was instrumental in presenting the idea of a stand alone CD "soundtrack" showcasing the bands from each season as an alternate vehicle to reach out to the tribute band community and it's very loyal fan base. I asked Dan to give us a breakdown on how all this came about:

Dan: "I started thinking about a plan to get as many of the World's Greatest Tribute Bands to record studio tracks and make them available on iTunes and Amazon. Which One's Pink? had recorded with Michael Vail Blum, a critically acclaimed record producer and engineer whose credits range from Madonna to Pink Floyd to Suicidal Tendencies to Toy Matinee. I knew that most of these tribute bands have been focused on live shows and had not yet made the transition to record. I wanted to capture as much of this talent on record as possible. So I spoke with Katie Daryl about recording "her" bands and releasing the records under the AXS TV brand. She was very enthusiastic and has encouraged everyone to record with Michael.

So far we have released 57 songs on 4 volumes. We have amazing tracks from Led Zepagain, Mick Adams and The Stones, Bonfire, No Duh, Hollywood U2, The Police Experience, The Who Revue, Bella Donna, Queen Nation, The Fab Four, Kenny Metcalf as Elton, the Early Years, Damage, Inc, Rumours. Alice in Cooperland, The Pettybreakers, True to Crue and, of course, Which One's Pink? On a side note, my 10 year old daughter and her 4th grade friends have all made their recording debut singing "School's Out" with Alice in Cooperland.

The feedback from the bands about their experiences with Michael Blum has been incredible. The quality of these recordings is overwhelming! The years of experience these bands have all put in paid off handsomely in the studio. We are now in the process of gearing up to record as many of the Season 4 bands as possible before the Season premiere. Of course, there are many bands from Seasons 1, 2 and 3 we are still trying to get "on wax." Of course many of these bands have no time for recording given the surge of popularity they experienced as a result of their WGTB appearances. Stay tuned -- there will definitely be a Volume 5 out shortly and we hope to release as many as 5 additional volumes by the end of 2014"

The WGTB show now broadcasts live from the historic Whisky A Go Go on the Sunset Strip. Look for season 4 to premier on AXS TV in the fall.

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