Taking patrons on a "trip through time and memories gone by," Still Standing — A Tribute to Elton John will open the 2018-2019 Century Bank Entertainment Series at The Grand Theatre Nov. 3. The series will feature five concerts through April 13.
"We are very excited about playing at The Grand Theatre and kicking off the Century Bank Entertainment Series," said Michael Maddox, drummer and manager for the Elton John tribute band. "It's our first time playing here and … we always feel we are — in a sense — carrying on Elton's timeless legacy by bringing all these legendary songs to people who have never had the chance to hear them in a live setting or to people who haven't heard Elton in concert in a long time. So [honestly] when we perform in front of an audience, especially for the first time, we get a tremendous rush seeing their faces and their excitement, and we feed off of that.
"In regards to playing The Grand and other intimate theaters/venues of that size, there is a comfort that is welcoming to a band, especially in a time where everyone is always trying to create the next big-thing establishment — and there are great places, like those, popping up all over the place nowadays — but you can just tell when you enter a venue along the lines of The Grand from what we have read that there is a history or legacy if you will of performances gone by. And it may sound weird, but musicians can 'feel' that. And you can actually see the crowds at the smaller venues. One can become detached from the artist-crowd relationship when you play bigger venues if you aren't careful."
Led by vocalist Ben "Almost Elton" Frey, Still Standing also consists of bassist Loyd Flowers, guitarist Erich Berger and Maddox.
"The short answer was a collective love of Elton John's music and the words of Bernie Taupin," Maddox said, regarding the band's formation. "The long answer is that I had at the time been playing drums for most of my life as my dad was a drummer. So I paid my dues in clubs and venues for a long time. I had grown tired of playing all the songs that most cover bands had to play and wanted to do something that made me happy. From as far back as I can remember, Elton John had been a constant in my life through my parents playing him constantly and then once I got their record collection I dove further into his catalog and I have been there ever since.
"So in early 2014, I put out a flier to start an Elton John tribute band, and I then received a call from a bass player who already was playing with an Elton John tribute show and they needed a drummer. So it all kind of fell into place very quickly. Ben 'Elton' and I really jelled really quick as both of us knew almost all his material. The bass player left the band, and we then met Loyd who took over the bass duties and after going through a couple [guitarists] we were lucky to connect with Erich and this incarnation has been together for two years and the rest is history."
Following Still Standing — A Tribute to Elton John, the series will continue with the Atlanta Pops Orchestra, Dec. 8; The Travelin’ McCourys, Feb. 2; Little Texas, March 2; and John Berry, April 13. Each concert will start at 7 p.m.
"We try to include a tribute band of some kind every year, and this year is no exception,” Grand Theatre Administrator Matt Santini said. “Still Standing – A Tribute to Elton John works with an extensive catalog of hit songs that spans decades and will take us on a trip through time and memories gone by.
"They have [performed] all over the Southeastern United States, and they were recommended by the same agency that brought us The Petty Hearts last season, so it should be a fabulous show. I expect that this show will have a lot of people singing along and dancing throughout the show."
Launched in the early 2000s, the series was fine-tuned following the results of a community survey more than 11 years ago. Conducted by The Grand, the survey sought public input on a variety of items, from preferred types of music to performance dates and times. In addition to pinpointing Saturday as the concert day of choice, the survey revealed area residents enjoy country and bluegrass music and tribute shows.
"This year’s lineup, once again, features some big-name talent that is [a] blend of acts that will be at The Grand for the first time and a couple that are back-by-popular demand," Santini said. "… The series concludes in April when John Berry returns to Cartersville. This will be John’s third time as part of the series, and he continues to be one of the most requested artists from our patrons. His previous shows were acoustic sets, and this time he is bringing the full band.
"… The biggest draw for this season is a talented mix of big acts that we bring to Cartersville. You don’t have to travel out of town to see top name artists, and we are an excellent value for the performances that we bring. I also think the entire downtown Cartersville experience is a draw for the theater. We are surrounded by a bunch of great dining options that are within walking distance of the theater. It makes planning a fun and entertaining evening out with friends easy."
Season and individual tickets currently are available for the Entertainment Series. Individual event tickets are $30 for orchestra level seats and $25 for balcony level seats, with season ticket holders receiving a 10 percent discount.
Further details and tickets can be obtained by phone, 770-386-7343; online, www.thegrandtheatre.org and the Facebook page, “Century Bank Entertainment Series at The Grand Theatre;” or in person at the ticket office, 7 N. Wall St. in Cartersville, Monday through Friday from 8 to 11 a.m. and 12:30 to 5 p.m.