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RIDGEFIELD — Sure, garage bands have been attempting to do it since their members came running back from local record stores back in the day with the latest 45s from then up-and-coming bands like The Who, The Stones, and Bob Dylan.
But more than a half-century later, Ridgefield resident Craig O’Keefe has meticulously re-created dozens of the songs from those bands virtually note-for-note, amassed a slew of accompanying 1960s-era visuals, and tapped several talented veteran colleagues to dress the part and present those songs in an immersive two-hour-plus musical experience dubbed The Sixties Show.
In a chat with The Newtown Bee, O’Keefe confided sketchy memories of sneaking down to New York City when he was 16 and 17 to catch some of those groundbreaking and history-making musicians in person.
“I was a senior in high school, like 16 and 17, and we were sneaking down to New York to get into The Ritz and The Peppermint Lounge,” he said. “But after high school, that’s when I really started seeing these bands. My first concert was Black Sabbath and Blue Oyster Cult at the New Haven Coliseum.”
O’Keefe acknowledges the “amazing things” happening on the music scene today, but admits, “as far as the 60s — I do have a special love for it and a connection to it. The politics and pop culture, as a transformational era, and especially the music of the 60s is what I connect with.”
The Sixties Show — with O’Keefe as musical director, and bouncing between bass, vocals, guitar, and keyboards — is hitting The Ridgefield Playhouse stage at 8 pm on November 11.
Billed as “The Greatest 1960s Musical Re-Creation Show in the World,” O’Keefe and his band will be performing everything live, with no samples, backing tracks or prerecorded music of any kind.
According to his advance, the band uses a state-of-the-art sound system, but only plays authentic 60s-period vintage and reissued vintage gear and instrumentation just like original artists and original recordings. This combined with genuine mod costumes adds to the meticulous detail and authenticity of this production.
O’Keefe said that he found so much potent and popular material from between the time The Beatles played The Ed Sullivan Show for the first time in 1964 and their swan song London rooftop concert in ’69, there was not much room for any crossover early rock hits from 1960 to ’63.
“We’re not going that far back in this show, but we have performed Ricky Nelson’s ‘Travelin’ Man’ before,” he said, referring to the 1961 Top 10 hit. “The material in this show is geared to the period between the Beatles first show on Ed Sullivan in 1964, until 1969.”
O’Keefe said the music is the most important part, but the projected visuals and costuming makes the set all the more authentic.
“It’s a full-on multimedia show,” he said. “We go to meticulous lengths to make sure all our songs sound exactly like the record. So we research how the artists got those sounds — and for the audience, it’s unique to hear a live act perform material so precise to the records.”
The band members also throw in a few anecdotes O’Keefe calls “a fun history lesson.”
“We try not to do a lot of talking, but there are some very quick and unique stories that set up some of the songs,” he said.
While virtually every song in The Sixties Show will be recognizable, O’Keefe says those looking for some deeper exploration of songs that defined a generation, he has laced in a few key B-sides and deep album cuts.
“We try not to get too obscure, but we do a couple of songs that were huge, but people don’t hear a lot anymore.”
While The Sixties Show steers clear of heavy production and prog-rock bands like Yes, Deep Purple, and Todd Rundgren, O’Keefe says they do sneak in a more expansive Moody Blues number. And from a geographical perspective, the set is evenly pitched between the hottest hit-makers from both the US and UK.
“Certainly British Invasion stuff like Beatles, Stones, Yardbirds, Tom Jones, but certainly you’ll hear The Mamas and The Papas, Dylan, and The Turtles. So we try to make it about 50/50 of the best stuff,” O’Keefe said.
He said the members of The Sixties Show were previously handpicked to perform and record with with Sir Paul McCartney, The Beach Boys, Brian Wilson, The Bee Gees, Mick Jagger, Bruce Springsteen, and other legends.
Those musicians, Jim Boggia and Tom Licameli on guitar and vocals; Chris Parker on drums; Peter Chiusano on keyboards/orchestrations; and John Cardone on bass and backing vocals, have individually performed at the most renown venues in the world, including Madison Square Garden, The Hollywood Bowl, Wembley Stadium, The Grand Rex in Paris, and The Budokan in Tokyo.
Show tickets are $35. An AllShows.com VIP Party Pass ($25 extra) is available for this performance, which includes priority parking and free house wine and beer from 6:30 to 7 pm.
Reserve party pass and/or tickets by calling 203-438-5795.
For more information, visit: https://ridgefieldplayhouse.org/events/the-sixties-show/
Check out a sample of The Sixties Show with Music Director and Ridgefield Resident Craig O’Keefe.