Pensacola, Florida
Monday December 22nd 2014

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Old Twist on a New Favorite

By Trevor Webb

Run, rabbit run and see White Tie Rock Ensemble perform the songs of Pink Floyd with orchestral accompaniment Saturday at the Pensacola Little Theatre. The performance will include songs from “Wish You Were Here” and “The Wall,” as well as the seminal album, “The Dark Side of the Moon” in its entirety. The concert is the first in a series of tribute shows produced by The Album Preservation Society.

The Show

The stage is set for sensory overload.

The show will lead with an eight-piece rock band dressed in all black with white ties.  Backing them is the Emerald Coast Honors Orchestra, a 25-piece private youth orchestra. The crowd of musicians, young and old, will join talents in homage to a band that earned its place in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and an album that spent more than 14 years on the Billboard Top 200 charts.

The idea of bringing a symphony to a rock show may draw scoff, but despite the cultural attachments, the two genres come together quite easily. Classical music shares many of the same cornerstones of rock such as the focus on melody and chord progression.

“A symphony is essentially a cover band that plays big works, timeless works,” said bassist Jonathan Clark. “The White Tie Rock Ensemble is like a symphony, but we play classic albums instead of classical pieces.”

Be it by violin bow or by guitar pick, the band is committed to playing the music of Pink Floyd as faithfully as possible to the original recordings from the early 1970s.  Through diligent research, the group focused its attention on copying every detail down to the use of period instrumentation.

“I didn’t realize that as much as I’ve listened to Pink Floyd, especially ‘Dark Side of the Moon,’ for the last 25 years, there are parts that I’m still hearing for the first time,” said Joel Bouchillon, keyboardist.

The group isolated each sound effect by wading through a sea of layered samples and loops. The legwork was an important part of presenting the audio in quadraphonic (four speaker) sound as the music was originally intended.

“When you think Pink Floyd,” said Bouchillon “Those sound effects of a murmur or a plane flying over are just as embedded in your mind as the guitar solo.”

And if the sound isn’t true and large enough, the performance will also include the screening of original films used on stage by Pink Floyd, and a laser light show that is sure to test the circuit breakers of the PLT.

The Society

Three local musicians established the Album Preservation Society: Jonathan Clark, Joel Bouchillon and Jerry Dawson. The trio also forms the basis of White Tie Rock Ensemble.

The founding members are life-long professional musicians who appreciate epic works of successful complexity. They came together as a group of aging purists determined to glorify a dying art form—the concept album.

Their ultimate goal is to maintain the tangibility of music as it slips away into the digital age. When albums are converted to file names, once-nostalgic details are lost in translation. The society promises that “liner notes will be read, cover art will be appreciated and the B-side will not be forgotten.”

The Strings

The ECHO Rockestra is a recently established private youth symphony. It features honors orchestra students of varying ages. This show, however, is a much different experience than the usual recital.

“It will give those kids the opportunity to play with a rockin’ band on stage in a nice theater,” said Clark, an instructor and co-founder of ECHO. “It’s great to show them there’s more than just classical music out there that they can go play and have fun doing. The best thing about a violin is that it’s used in so many different areas from classical music to rock to country to jazz and even rap.”

White Tie Rock Ensemble is counting on the success of the first concert in the series to lay the groundwork for future shows. Plans are already in the works for tribute performances that might include albums by The Police, Led Zeppelin and the Beatles. What’s the next piece of vinyl to come to life?

WHITE TIE ROCK ENSEMBLE
WHO: White Tie Rock Ensemble with ECHO Rockestra
WHEN: 7:30 p.m. Saturday, May 12
WHERE: Pensacola Little Theatre 400 S. Jefferson St.
COST: $15
DETAILS: facebook.com/whitetierockensemble