Soothe the Soul

“Old time rock and roll, that kinda music just soothes the soul. I reminisce about the days of old, with that old time rock and roll.” The sentiment shared by many, that “today’s music ain’t got the same soul,” is what made fans fall in love when the Sam Morrison Band started playing Bob Seger songs at a gig one night.

“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, but 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.”

Seger was not touring at the time, so the desire to hear his music live only bolstered the success of Morrison’s tribute, called Turn the Page. Just like the lines in Seger’s smash hit, “Old Time Rock and Roll,” fans were dying to hear his songs and be taken back to the good ol’ days.

“People were starving for his music played live,” Morrison said. “So we started playing it and people were like, ‘oh, yeah!’”

Morrison is a huge Seger fan and has seen him play live many times, so he already knew most of the music.

“It wasn’t really difficult to learn the songs. I mean I had been listening to this music my entire life, so I already knew the stuff,” Morrison said. “The challenge for us was getting it to be perfect. When we very first started working on the songs, we kind of had bar band versions of a lot of these tunes and we thought that was going to work, but when you’re doing a tribute, it’s got to be perfect.”

They had an opportunity to record Seger’s music in a studio, which forced them to relearn the songs to match the originals perfectly.

“We got signed to a record label called Titan Tribute Media and he had us come in and record a bunch of the Bob Seger songs,” Morrison said. “We went in to do the recordings and he pretty much told us, ‘Yeah, those are bar band versions. You guys need to go back and actually learn these songs.’ So we went back and note for note put them all together and we had to actually get more people in the band because at the time we were only a four piece, but in order to really cover all of the Bob Seger material, we had to add a sax player and we had to get another keyboard player to make sure that we could be able to play all of the songs the way they were on the recordings.”

While Turn the Page will play the songs to perfection, their tribute does not try to play a role and impersonate Seger.

“We’re a little bit different than a lot of the tribute bands. We don’t wear costumes and we don’t go up there pretending to be Bob Seger,” Morrison said. “When we introduce it, it’s the Sam Morrison Band presents Turn the Page. I’ve got my own band, it’s exactly the same band, but we have other shows that we do, we have original material, we’ve got albums out, kind of more in a Southern rock vein. So in that respect, we don’t go out there and try to mimic all of his moves, but we do make sure that the music is perfect.”

Turn the Page doesn’t need costumes to put on a great show and engage the audience.

“It’s really an interactive kind of a thing,” Morrison said. “We kind of give some of the history and talk about Bob Seger trivia kind of stuff. We really make it a show, not just a concert where it’s just a bunch of guys up there jamming.”

Although they don’t impersonate the originals, their tribute still stood out and earned them a spot on AXS TV’s “World’s Greatest Tribute Bands,” with the opportunity to play on the stage at Hollywood’s Whiskey a Go-Go.

“It was really surreal,” Morrison recalled. “I mean the place was packed, the Whiskey is an iconic venue and it was really exciting to be able to go up there and play. And knowing there was all those people watching as well, it was nerve-racking, but at the same time it was really exhilarating.”

The current lineup for both his original band and the tribute, includes Morrison on guitar and vocals, Bart Robley on drums, Greg Kasparian on bass, Karl Sanger on sax, David Kurtz on guitar and Walt Thompson on keyboards.

They have been busy on the road as Turn the Page, yet they also are working on original music.

“The Seger thing is definitely our bread and butter,” Morrison said. “Right now we’re working on the next album we’re going to do, so the focus has been more on finishing the album than touring it. But once we get it finished, we’re definitely going to go out and start hitting venues with the original show as well.”

As Turn the Page, they will be returning to Laughlin Sept. 29-Oct. 3 (8 p.m.) at Don’s Celebrity Theatre within the Riverside Resort.

“We are very, very excited to come back to Laughlin,” Morrison said. “Playing the Riverside is probably my favorite venue, out of every place that we’ve been. The people out there are always great and we’re really looking forward to coming back and bringing them another show.”

Morrison said they have been making some additions to the setlist to change up the show over their five-night stay in Laughlin.

“We’ve tried to go back and learn a bunch of the lesser known songs to mix in, especially with this show we’ve got coming up in Laughlin,” he said. “We’re going to take a different album each night and do some deep cuts from that album, as well as the hits, so that way the people that come in, they will not only hear the hits, but also some of the album cuts that they love.”

Of course, they will keep in the classics that always bring the crowd to their feet. The setlist typically includes “Night Moves,” “Against the Wind,” “Still the Same” and the rest of the hit tracks.

“Probably ‘Travelin’ Man Beautiful Loser’ is my favorite one to play,” Morrison said. “But ‘Old Time Rock and Roll’ and ‘Turn the Page’ are great too, because every time you do it, everybody goes nuts.”

Get your fix of some real, good old rock n’ roll and remember the “days of old” with this fantastic tribute.