Want to go?
• WHAT: BrickHouse: The Official Commodores Tribute
• WHEN: 7:30 p.m. Dec. 30
• WHERE: Sandusky State Theatre, 107 Columbus Ave., Sandusky
• COST: $15/ticket
• INFO: 419-626-1950 or sanduskystate.com
If you’ve ever been to a wedding and found yourself dancing to ‘70s classic “Brickhouse,” you have Lionel Richie and The Commodores to thank.
Someone who was deeply inspired by the legendary Motown act — known for hits “Easy,” “Three Times a Lady,” “Nightshift” and more — is Jerry Smith, a former Sandusky resident who over the past two years has pursued his dream of putting together the best Commodores tribute band. That outfit is
BrickHouse, which features former Commodores touring keyboardist Don Williams Sr.
Funcoast talked to Smith, who made a name for himself in the world of motor sports marketing and entertainment, about BrickHouse’s upcoming show Dec. 30 at the Sandusky State Theatre.
Funcoast: Considering all of the tribute acts circling the nation, why exactly do we need a Commodores tribute act?
Jerry Smith: The number one issue is The Commodores are getting older, and I hate to sound mean but as things get older they start to fade out. There is nothing like this in the world. So many people have tribute bands but nobody is copying a Motown band, especially The Commodores because they are unique. They have the most unique sound in Motown because of Lionel Richie and what he did. So I wanted to put together an authentic tribute band and not do what everyone else does, which is go out and throw a bunch of friends together. I wanted to put a band together. I actually went searching and talked to former Commodores musicians. I ran into Don Williams Sr. who was formerly of The Commodores as the keyboardist and it snowballed from there.
Funcoast: How did you come across BrickHouse singer James Ray?
JS: I spent a couple of months in Los Angeles and Florida just trying to find the right singer. After spending all of this money traveling around the world I find this guy in Akron. I found him through a friend. We brought James in for an audition and literally couldn’t believe our ears. We’re like this guy sounds
identical to Lionel Richie, and he was right from Akron. He had been in the R&B music business for years.
Funcoast: So has BrickHouse had any contact from the original members of The Commodores?
JS: We haven’t had any reaction from them personally, but we’ve had some reaction from fanclubs and fans of The Commodores who stay in touch with those guys. We have everybody’s blessing. Nobody has said anything negative at all. In fact, the Lionel Richie fanclub, which Lionel himself stays in touch with, says keep up the good work.
Funcoast: Considering this will be a pre-New Year’s Eve show, what should audience
JS: The music is something different that we don’t hear anymore today. We are a band that plays instruments. We don’t use computers like most tribute bands, and I really want to emphasize that. Most tribute bands you see on stage use a computer for harmonies and everything else. We don’t do that. In 2011, we are an authentic Commodores tribute band. We do harmonies. We do the dancing. We wear the outfits. We do everything. What blows people away, we don’t take breaks. We’re a two-and-a-half-hour hour tribute show. And people are missing that. The world right now is missing authentic music that they grew up with.
BrickHouse — The Official Commodores Tribute Band performs at 7:30 p.m. Dec. 30 at the Sandusky State Theatre, 107 Columbus Ave., Sandusky. Tickets are $15. Information: 419-626-1950 or sanduskystate.com.