Old Time Rock

Long before dipping their toes in the world of tributes, most bands were doing their own thing performing their own material or covers of classic rock or country, and life was good. They were happy as weekend warriors, showing people a good time with good music. Then by some twist of fate, an impromptu song or set takes on a life of its own, and sparks the crowd in ways the band never would have guessed. The idea of “what if” takes root, the band takes a chance and the tribute takes flight, taking these seasoned musicians on one hell of a ride.
That’s what happened with Turn The Page.
By playing some Bob Seger & The Silver Bullet Band tunes during a gig one night, they knew they were onto something special. Known primarily as Southern rockers and performing their original songs, the Seger session opened doors and booked more gigs than their “night moves” would have imagined. As a Bob Seger tribute they’ve made countless trips to Laughlin and other places over the past several years because people love the music.
“We started the band in 2000 as a Southern rock band,” said Sam Morrison, band founder and lead vocalist. “And, at times, we still are. We do two different shows — one full of Southern rock and the other, the Bob Seger tribute.
“We’d been doing just the rock thing for a long time when my friend who’s in the Eagles tribute band Hotel California told me how much they were working. He said that I should be checking out the tribute thing, too, because it was going through the roof.
“Well, one night we played a couple of Bob Seger songs and people really kept wanting us to do more and more Bob Seger. We said to ourselves, ‘let’s try it (a tribute) to see if it works.’ It just went crazy.”
That was more than 20 years ago.
According to Morrison, the inadvertent selection of doing Seger was a good thing because it had a lot to do with timing.
“I think part of the reason was Bob Seger didn’t tour at the time,” he said of the initial strong reaction to the group. “He took an 11-year hiatus and people were starving for his music played live. So we started playing it and people were like, ‘oh, yeah’.”
“One of the cool things that happened to us was when Michael Vail Blum, the southern California engineer/producer for people like Madonna, Pink Floyd and Julian Lennon, came up to us after one of our shows and asked if we wanted to make a recording of Bob Seger songs,” explained Morrison. “Our question was, ‘Why would we want to do that? Why would people want a tribute album when they can just buy Bob Seger songs?’ His answer, ‘Because of the fact that Bob Seger is not on ITunes.’”
So Turn The Page recorded Seger’s music and the downloads and streams not only introduced many people to his music, it also introduced people to Turn The Page.
Since that time, Bob Seger not only tours, he records new music, his war with digital media is over, he’s no longer off the grid and his music is now available on ITunes and other outlets. So how does that play out with Turn The Page these days? Granted, Seger sometimes has to cancel shows because of health issues, but he does reschedule and he does get back out on the road. Does that have any effect at all?
“Yes and no,” Morrison said. “I don’t know if it’s because people were all psyched up to go see Bob Seger and then when he hurt his back and had to cancel his shows, that created more of a demand for us. I’d hate that to be a reason people come see us. Anytime he comes out with anything or there’s some kind of Bob Seger news, it always stirs up interest in his music again, and that always winds up bringing more people to our shows ’cause they remember him.”
So when Seger comes out with new material does that change up the tribute genre? Not with Turn The Page, which finds many ways to keep the show fresh.
The biggest change recently, the band’s female singer left the band, so adjustments had to be made.
“It’s kind of sad to see her go because she was with us for 19 years,” Morrison said. “When we first started, she joined us, so it’s bittersweet because she was a big part of our family.
In addition to Morrison on lead vocals and guitar, Turn The Page includes Bart Robley (drums), Greg Kasparian (bass guitar), Karl Sanger (saxophone), David Kurtz (guitar) and Walt Thompson (keyboards).
“We’ve made some other changes — everybody is singing except a couple of guys, to cover all the vocal parts,” he said. “We’re just a leaner, meaner musical machine.
“We always have people requesting songs, but Seger has so many hit songs, and so many albums, there’s no way we can do them all. Even at a recent show where we played for three hours, we couldn’t do all of them.
“We’ve added some of his new songs and we have a whole new acoustic bit, so when we come back to Laughlin, we’re alternating the show each night to make it a little bit different,” he explained. “Some songs you can’t leave out like ‘Old Time Rock and Roll,’ ‘Night Moves,’ ‘Against The Wind,’ and ‘Turn the Page,’ along with ‘Rock and Roll Never Forgets,’ ‘We Got Tonight,’ and ‘Like a Rock.’
“We try our best to mix it up, so every night will be a different show,” he said. “We’ll do the new acoustic medley, but not every night, but it’s gonna be a lot of fun I think.”
There is still demand for Segar’s music, if digital downloads of Turn The Page recordings are any indication.
“As far as our downloads and the stuff we’ve recorded, we are still seeing a lot of streams and a lot of our songs are well, well over three million streams,” Morrison said. “So people are still listening to the stuff we did. And again, he’s got a lot of his material up online, but there are still a lot of the deep cuts that aren’t up there.
“A lot of the stuff he did in his movies, a lot of that soundtrack stuff is not online,” he added. “So we did an album called Soundtrack that has all the Bob Seger movie songs, stuff like “Understanding” from the Teacher movie, “Chances Are” that he did with Martina McBride for Hope Floats, “Living Inside My Heart” that was in the movie All About Last Night, and a lot of those are really getting a lot of streams.”
The fact that Turn The Page continues to stay busy speaks volumes about the demand they have created.
“We’re always working on new projects, we got a tour bus now so we’re able to venture a little further out,” he said. “We’re just expanding, and moving all over the place so that’s a good thing.”
Morrison said his band is not limited to solely Bob Seger songs, the group has several irons in the fire.
“Yes we are also working on original material,” he added. “Ever since we were on that ‘World’s Greatest Tribute Bands’ show, it kind of opened the doors for a lot of other venues for us and that’s been a really great thing. This has actually been the busiest year we’ve had to date, so we’ve been really blessed.”
The band is well-known on the stage at Don’s Celebrity Theatre, and Morrison said playing the Riverside is a treat for them as well.
“We’re real excited to be coming back to Laughlin and the Riverside Resort. It’s been a while since we were there.
“We love playing the Riverside,” he added. “It’s one of the coolest places in the world to gig. That’s a great showroom, they treat us really well, and anytime we get to go there, we jump up and down. We love it.
“We’ve got a lot of fans that come to see us and we’re hoping to put some new stuff in the show they haven’t seen us do yet, so please, please come out and see us.
For more on the band, visit their website at: TurnthePageOnline.com.


TURN THE PAGE

Don’s Celebrity Theatre within the Riverside Resort

Wednesday-Sunday, March 4-8 (7 p.m.)

See “Showtimes” for ticket info