Being the Gypsy

A mystical aura and pure musical talent made Fleetwood Mac simply magic. Selling more than 120 million records worldwide, it’s clear they have created a timeless sound that resonates with every person who gives the band a listen.

Although the group formed back in 1967, their popularity is ever present, creating a space for a tribute act to have its own success with the right members. Fleetwood Nicks is one such tribute that has gained its own following by capturing the true essence of Fleetwood Mac and Nicks in their prime, during the ‘70s and ‘80s. Fleetwood Nicks stays true to the original studio recordings that made these artists two of the best-selling and most iconic acts in rock history. Stevie Nicks has been inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame twice — her first honor with Fleetwood Mac, and later celebrating her solo career.

Fleetwood Nicks brings a spot-on recreation of Fleetwood Mac’s legendary sound to the stage at Don’s Celebrity Theatre within the Riverside Resort Oct 20-24 (8 p.m.).

Singer Julie Torchin takes on the challenge of filling Nicks’ role in the tribute. Torchin grew up listening to Fleetwood Mac and came to find that her own voice was noticeably similar to Nicks.

“You know, when ‘Rumours’ came out, it was the album that we all listened to,” Torchin said. “My friends and I would drive around and I remember it was just constantly playing. And I had no idea back then that I could sing like Stevie Nicks. In fact I was just singing along a lot to the Christine McVie songs, even though I liked the Stevie Nicks songs the best.

“I didn’t really figure out that I sounded like her until I did karaoke one night. I was living in Phoenix at the time and back then they had karaoke but they didn’t have hardly anything to choose from. So I chose a Tanya Tucker song called ‘Walking Shoes.’ My sister was like ‘get up there and sing.’ So I did, and people were like ‘oh you sound like Stevie Nicks.’ Then it just went from there.”

Torchin had to put her musical aspirations on hold while she raised her young children, but in the mid-‘90s she started a Heart/Fleetwood Mac tribute with bass player Danny Buss in Chicago. They were the opening act at festivals for national acts such as Cheap Trick, Grand Funk, Joan Jett, Three Dog Night and many more.

“We were very successful for six years playing the Chicago club circuit and festivals, but we were only able to perform on weekends” Torchin said. “So we moved out west to Las Vegas to form a new band that could play any night of the week. It wasn’t until a few generations of band members later we found the right players to make it one of the most recognized tributes in the business.”

Along with Torchin and Buss, the band’s current lineup also includes Brad Torchin filling Lindsey Buckingham’s role on lead guitar and vocals, with Betsy Holm heading up the third harmony covering Christine McVie’s vocals. Drummer Dave Davis throws down the powerful rhythm section along with band mates Aaron Olson on rhythm guitar and percussion, and Todd Rogers on keys and vocals.

They still do a Heart tribute called Heart Alive, but they separated that show from Fleetwood Nicks because there was simply too much material from each band to cover in one show.

Fleetwood Nicks has been nominated as “Best Tribute Show” three times and Heart Alive was awarded “Best Tribute Band” by Vegas Rocks! Magazine, and they walked the red carpet and received their award with stars such as Sammy Hagar, Geoff Tate and Sebastian Bach.

“Sally Steele (Vegas Rocks! Magazine founder and CEO) is truly amazing — she runs a major rock magazine, she personally knows all these famous rock musicians, puts on an incredible yearly awards event in Las Vegas, and yet she always makes sure to showcase and support local rock bands and tribute acts,” Torchin said.

Fleetwood Nicks earned that recognition by putting in the effort to recreate a true depiction of the music, as well as an authentic stage presence. Torchin said in the beginning she studied Nicks’ movements but after some time, it simply came naturally to her.

“In the past, when I first started the band, I used to study her and watch her moves but I don’t do that anymore, it just comes natural to me,” Torchin said. “I do know that what I loved about her was back when she was just starting her solo career — the Bella Donna tour — that’s kind of what I emulate on stage. So that’s kind of where my stage presence comes in. But I don’t think about it, it just happens because I’ve been doing it for so long.”

She also has amassed quite a collection for her Nicks closet to help bring her presence on stage.

“I have a wardrobe that’s really extensive that I’ve just been collecting over the years,” Torchin said. “I’ve got some really great pieces — all of the chiffon and lace and everything, and the top hat, of course.”

While the outfits are part of the fun, what’s most important is staying true to the music.

“We are very honest when we say we ‘rock it like the record,’ focusing on the original studio recordings, and we don’t hold back on anything,” Torchin said. “Of course we all add a little of our own creativity and sometimes choose a live Fleetwood Mac version over the studio. For instance, with ‘Rhiannon’ we choose to do the live version from their ‘Fleetwood Mac Double Live’ 1980 album. This version has an instrumental part that leads into a very powerful ending.

“Tusk is another song that we’ve made into our own creation. Fleetwood Nicks actually has three percussionists in this band — Dave Davis, Aaron Olson and Danny Buss — and all are excellent percussionists. When these guys get together on Tusk, it’s definitely one of the tunes in our set audiences will remember most.”

The crowd is always on the edge of their seat, waiting to hear one song in particular — “Landslide.” The beautiful stripped down Nicks solo is a favorite no matter where the band performs. Torchin said it can be a challenge to sing, and it’s the one that you absolutely cannot screw up.

“You have to have such control and it’s so delicate and everyone’s just completely silent,” Torchin said. “It’s just me and the acoustic guitar, so I kind of have to get lost in the moment to make it unfold. For me, I have natural vibrato, unless one of two things happens — if the monitors are really dry and I can’t hear myself or if I am nervous at all. So when I know the sound is good there and I’m in the moment, it just comes natural, but it’s probably a harder song to sing because there’s lots of control and it’s just you and an acoustic guitar. So you really have to have that mindset, where you kind of get lost in the song, because you want to do it good, you don’t want to disappoint them.”

The show will consist of about 75% Fleetwood Mac songs and 25% Nicks’ solo career, with Torchin taking on her big songs like “Edge of Seventeen,” “Stand Back” and “Talk To Me.” They may even throw in a Heart song to switch things up.

“Fleetwood Mac and Heart go so well together, and it’s what we do best,” Torchin said. “So you never know, we just might pop one of those in the setlist.”

The band members play in both the Fleetwood Nicks tribute as well as Heart Alive, among several other projects. Torchin’s original albums, “Surrounding Sara” and “Love Survive,” both are available in digital stores. Torchin joins the fight against child trafficking by offering all proceeds for downloads of the “Love Survive” single “Rescue Me” to be donated to childrescuecoalition.org. See lovesurvive.com for more of her original music.