Honoring Harmonies

The “Legends of Motown Show” has been a big hit with audiences at the Riverside Resort for five years running. Producer Rudolph Peters wants to keep the music and memories associated with the biggest acts of Motown Records fresh in the hearts and minds of not only veteran fans who experienced it first hand, but new fans who could be introduced to the soul genre for the first time.
During the show’s tenure with Don’s Celebrity Theatre, Peters has brought a smattering of tributes, including the Four Tops, the Temptations and the Marvelettes. Previous shows also included Lou Rawls, Stevie Wonder and Barry White, as Peters is always changing up the lineup to offer audiences a different variety.
This time, Peters will bring a larger contingent of Motown’s roster for the biggest show to date, because this time the show is also a celebration.
“This is the big show I’ve been promising to bring down there for the last four years,” he said. “So this is our 14th year anniversary in the business and our celebration happens to fall on this performance at the Riverside. We’re going to come down and bless everybody with our anniversary show.”
The lineup includes tributes to the Four Tops, Martha Reeves and the Vandellas, Smokey Robinson, Diana Ross, Marvin Gaye and Tammi Terrell, Barry White, Gladys Knight and the Pips, Stevie Wonder, and the Temptations, with a special guest tribute to Aretha Franklin.
“It will be 40-plus people, performing a lot of music in the time we have,” he said. “It’s just what we do for a living — we create a 10-act roster in 80 minutes. It’s an old-school tribute show.”
Because of Motown’s large stable of performers and catalogue of material, Peters’ biggest challenge is deciding what music to leave out.
“That is a concern because we’re trying to make everybody happy,” he said. “And this time, we’re honoring Aretha Franklin, so we gotta put an Aretha Franklin tribute in the show, too. The highlight of the show is seeing the full ‘Legends of Motown’ act in its glory. We’re even bringing the horn section.”
“These folks will be singing harmony all night long,” Peters said. “They don’t look like the originals but they create the same ambience — from the choreography to the vocals. And they dress to the max.”
Of course, that razor-sharp choreography will be front and center.
“Like anything else we do, you’ll swear that’s the same people up there,” he said. “I got blessed again finding somebody with the quality of entertainment I’ve been trying to bring to the show the last four years to Laughlin.”
Leading the groups through the paces of the show is emcee Nick Harper.
“I couldn’t leave out our world-renowned emcee Nick Harper who has been on the radio for 30 years,” Peters said. “We’re blessed that he’s the original emcee in our show. He brings a lot of knowledge and a lot of energy to his introduction, just like he did when he introduced the originals.”
Backing up all the performers are real players.
“We always have the fabulous Motown Band with us,” Peters said. “They’re a fantastic band that plays behind the show. Each of the musicians has credentials playing in groups like Earth, Wind and Fire and with some great blues players.”
A Motown show needs energy and Peters said the group will not disappoint.
“We’re bringing the same energy people expect to experience at a Motown show where you know you’ll see something you’re really familiar with.
“We’re just blessed to be able to do it on a level that people like to hear it and like to see it in this current time,” he said. “That’s what has kept us coming back the last four years.
What is it about this genre of music that moves generations of music lovers?
“Motown was when music was real,” Peters said. “They had real notes, real musicians playing it, and real people singing it. The musicians didn’t have to say, ‘Well, we left the computer at home so it may sound a little different tonight.’ We play music the way it is supposed to be played.
New listeners may not understand that R&B was the foundation for rock and roll, Peters said.
“It’s home-grown American music. That’s why the ‘Legends of Motown’ is out here going strong for 14 years — and hopefully we’ll be blessed with another 14.”
According to Peters, his group has opened for everybody from Ben E. King to Jeffrey Osborne, playing Vegas, Palm Springs and casinos throughout California and Nevada.
Peters pointed out that his show isn’t a “pretender” show.
“We’re not like groups who are trying to pass themselves off as the originals,” he said. “The main priority is to pay tribute to the phenomenal writers and artists from Detroit, Michigan, who were pioneers and helped pave the way for even more writers, artists and musicians alike. Even if you’re too young to remember the power of the Motown sound, this show will be entertaining. It’s not just about nostalgia, it’s about good music.”
Expect to hear all the big hits by each of these groups like “My Girl,” “Baby, I Need Your Loving,” and “Please Mr. Postman.”
“We say ‘thank you’ to the art, the Motown listener and the Motown fans for embracing us and making us feel like we’re doing it the right way…and they’ll let you know when you’re not. You do not mess up Motown.”


LEGENDS OF MOTOWN

Don’s Celebrity Theatre within the Riverside

Wednesday-Sunday, Oct. 10-14 (8 p.m.)

Se “Showtimes” for ticket info