As former front man & guitar player for the legendary rock band BOSTON, musician David Victor absorbed a unique perspective performing nightly in front of 20,000 people upon stadium stages across the country, which two years ago formed the springboard from which he evolved his idea for Rock, Stars & Stripes, an innovative concert experience that takes audiences on Virtual Rock ‘n Roll Road Trip that celebrates the rich musical heritage generated from regions spanning the landscape of America.
“Throughout my career, I’ve had the opportunity to travel our country many times and experience the sights, sounds and culture of each of the great places I’ve performed,” explains Victor. “I created Rock Stars and Stripes to offer everyone this same experience. The way we do it is by focusing on American Rock & Roll, only instead of celebrating the artists we celebrate the people, which may sound a little corny; but the artists that created all this great music are American citizens and they sprang from the same collective cultural heritage that we all did.”
“From my experiences touring with BOSTON, I realized there are basically eight different regions across the United States that each evolved their own unique sound, so how we present the music is by doing a medley of hits from each of these regions that has its own unique flavor,” he continues. “With our Southern Comforts set, for example, we’ll cover hits by artists like Tom Petty, Lynryd Skynrd and The Black Crowes; and then we’ll move to a different geographical region. For our Michigan segment we’ll include artists like Bob Seger, Grand Funk Railroad, Rare Earth and Alice Cooper. So basically, we present a rock & roll joy ride through different types of American music in this medley format.”
Through his experience of performing for five years and two tours in large stadiums with BOSTON, Victor also gleaned the importance of infusing an audience with spectacle & showmanship; so rather than simply performing this medley of classic Rock ‘n Roll hits, he decided to also present this virtual road trip by setting the music against a backdrop of engaging video from some of the U.S.’s most iconic landmarks, places, and people.
“We decided to bring a Live Video DJ into the mix as part of this road trip, so it wasn’t simply a presentation of the music,” explains Victor. “We wanted to enhance the experience, so while we’re taking people on this road we show images of each region while we’re performing that region’s music, so it’s a real immersive thing – the video and audio working together, with the DJ mixing up the imagery so that every show we do is totally unique. It’s pretty ambitious and honestly one of the most challenging components of the show.”
More Than Music • Honoring Local Saginaw Charities & Heroes
As part of this “experience”, Victor has also created the “Local Heroes” program, which recognizes local community members for their service. Heroes include teachers, community advocates, police, fire or military organizations, volunteers -- anyone who has had a positive impact on the community.
In addition to the Local Heroes program, the concert will benefit the Major Chords for Minors charity, a Saginaw-based non-profit that provides musical instruments and lessons to under privileged children. The students will also perform a selection of their favorite songs during the concert.
“When I conceived the idea for Rock, Stars & Stripes, I also decided that I wanted this show to be about the communities in which we perform, continues Victor “so we want to honor the people from these areas because each city has heroes that do things in everyday life. The essence of this show is about how this incredible music was made possible from the sacrifices of many people that helped keep our freedom and educate us, so I wanted everything about this show to flow back to celebrating the community as opposed to be being an artist worship festival.”
“I wanted to turn the whole concert thing on its ear,” which was another inspiration for this show,” he adds. “When I was playing with BOSTON I would come into a community, stand on my mark, play the songs and leave. I never really knew where I was, so it’s kind of an impersonal experience touring with a national act. I wanted to turn that on its ear and shine a light on the community and reflect it.”
The ‘Local Heroes’ selected for the March 4th show consist of the following:
• Samantha Stricker. Samantha is 10 years old, and her father, Robert, nominated her to be a ROCK STARS & STRIPES Local Hero. Samantha was named '2015 Great Lakes Bay Kid of the Year. In July of 2015, Samantha had a lemonade stand and sold each cup for 25 cents in her family's driveway. She told her family that she wanted to donate the money to someone who needed it more than her. That's when her mom heard about a veteran in a nearby town that was injured in Afghanistan in 2013, and he was still waiting for his military benefits. So, Samantha donated her lemonade profits to the veteran because she said, “it is better to give rather than to receive”. Samantha also performs at Pit and Balcony Theatre in Saginaw. She received a 'brick' for Christmas that says, “Our Star Samantha Stricker”, and her brick will be placed on the Walk of Fame in front of Pit and Balcony Theater in the spring.
• Jesse Karls. Jesse was nominated by Pat Hascall of Ames United Methodist Church in Saginaw where he is a youth Pastor. Jesse has been mentoring inner city youth for several years; he never gives up on them. These children were failing in school and struggling in many ways, and with the help and guidance of Jesse, have become successful, are getting good grades and staying out of trouble. Jesse began a Drive ministry where the youth are trained in a skill of fixing computers and they then give away the repaired computers to people who are in need of them. Last year, 351 computers were refurbished and given away; 76 just in December which was a record for Drive ministry.
• Robert C. King. Robert was nominated by Tamar Chipp of The Michigan Blood Bank. Robert recently donated his 30th gallon of blood with Michigan Blood Bank and was awarded a 30-gallon pin and a 'Local Hero Award' for his ongoing commitment to blood donation and saving lives in Michigan. After Robert left the military, he gave his first pint of blood in 1965, and this year will mark his 52nd year of donating. Through his donations, Robert has impacted the lives of more than 700 patients in Michigan hospitals. He is one of the Great Lakes Bay Region's top African-American gallon blood donors and was instrumental in helping Michigan Blood launch its 'Diversify the Blood Supply' initiative in Saginaw. Robert found that only about 2% of the African-American community were blood donors, and he would like to see that percentage rise to 100%.
“Actually, what gave me the inspiration for Rock Stars & Stripes was a performance that we did for the Boston Marathon Bombing Benefit, which was the first time BOSTON had played in Boston in 25 years,” reflects David. “It was a pretty big deal and we opened the show and played the Star Spangled Banner, which was a very emotional moment and a pretty epic scene with 20,000 people in Boston Garden. At that moment I thought ‘this is the kind of thing and connection I would like to have’. And this is what inspired the current project. American Rock & Roll and our shared cultural heritage and history with music. Music is all about connecting.”
With six musicians in the stage band, one female vocalist and everybody else taking turns at singling lead vocals, Victor notes the group is capable of executing some pretty incredible vocal harmonies.
“It’s a very talented group and this is only the second year we’ve been presenting Rock Stars & Stripes,” he concludes. “This is something that has to be seen to be truly understood. From the very first show we performed the entire group realized what we had created at that point.”
“Another moving part of the show is our ‘Live Guitar Auction’. People can bid on it with their smartphone while the show is going on, which is another interactive element; and all the money goes to help the local charity. Plus, the profits from our tour books go to the charity as well.”
“We’re trying to make a show where the community can participate and come out ahead on many different levels. Our goal is not only to entertain audiences, but engage them in a way they never have from a normal rock concert.”
Tickets to the Temple Theater show can be purchased here: http://templetheatre.com/event/rock-stars-and-stripes-the-american-rock-experience/
For more information about “Rock Stars & Stripes: The American Rock Experience” visit http://www.rockstarsandstripesshow.com