THREE OAKS — The Acorn Theater was filled with live music for the first time in over a year on Saturday, April 10.
And not just any music.
The Empty Pockets performed the Beatles’ classic “Abbey Road” in its entirety to a small, socially distanced in-house audience along with a much larger crowd via online live-streaming platforms.
The Chicago-based band consists of Josh Solomon (guitar and lead vocals); Erika Brett (keyboard and lead vocals); Nate Bellon (bass and lead vocals); and Adam Balasco (drums). Solomon and Brett are husband and wife.
“It’s nice to play for humans again,” noted Brett after the band had finished “Oh My Darling.”
Prior to the start of the April 10 Abbey Road show, Solomon said The Empty Pockets “haven’t performed on a proper stage since February 29th, 2020” (a show with George Lopez).
Solomon (with help from his bandmates) introduced each song (from opener “Come Together” – written by John Lennon for a political campaign – to the legendary side-two medley and the aptly titled “The End”).
Solomon said “Something” (the album’s second song, written by George Harrison) was famously praised by Frank Sinatra as being his favorite Lennon-and-McCartney tune.
The three singers took turns being John Paul and George (with Bellon and appropriately drummer Balasco sharing Ringo Starr’s vocals on “Octopus’s Garden”).
The concert concluded with two original Empty Pockets songs and a special rendition of “At Last.”
Solomon said “Abbey Road” is arguably the greatest album of all time, but also a very difficult one to perform live (something the Beatles never did).
During the April 10 concert members of The Empty Pockets urged those viewing the live-stream to consider making a donation to the non-profit theater and read the names of many who did just that (donations can be made anytime via the theater’s website).
“This is a Mecca for music in Michigan,” Brett said, adding “We’re here to help keep the Acorn alive. You can do that by going to acornlive.org.”
Acorn Theater Artistic Consultant Sandra Thompson said revenues from online shows and donations “are a large reason why we have been able to stay afloat and our planning some great things going forward.”
She said April 10 was “the very first show on our stage with anybody listening in the audience since March 2020.”
Thompson noted that the theater has new carpeting, a new entrance door and an additional seating area.
While the doors to the Acorn can’t yet to be opened to the public, Thompson said the Acorn Anywhere outdoor concert series is being planned.
The first Acorn Anywhere outdoor event of 2021, The Great American Songbook, is scheduled for 7 p.m. Saturday, May 22, at the New Troy Community Center’s Allan Boyd Memorial Gazebo Garden. The Dean Allrick Trio and special guest, Livia Gazzolo will perform.
Tickets are on sale now.
Another Acorn Anywhere outdoor live concert, this one with Bruce in the USA (a high-energy, note-perfect, and visually accurate musical experience of a Bruce Springsteen & The E Street Band show), is scheduled for 5 p.m. (Eastern Time) Sunday, June 27, at Sunset Hill Farm County Park in Valparaiso, Ind.
On July 10 Thompson said an Acorn Anywhere Carole King night at Fernwood Botanical Garden will feature “five amazing female performers.”
She said other Acorn Anywhere locations for the summer include La Lumiere School and the Buchanan Commons.
Next up on the live-streaming side to things is a show featuring Corky Siegel and Randy Sabien presenting blues harmonica, jazz violin, “a little laugh out loud silliness,” and a unique “big hug” approach to a virtual concert. To access the free YouTube Premiere video, click on the YouTube link provided on The Acorn website (acornlive.org) at 8 p.m. Eastern Time on April 17th.
Other upcoming Acorn shows are slated to include: Chicago Farmer with opener Jamie Wagner Band; Shining Star (Earth, Wind & Fire tribute); and Journeyman (Eric Clapton tribute)
The Acorn Singer Songwriter Competition will return for its ninth year. The competition offers cash prizes totaling $1,500 plus opportunities to perform at future events. All different types of music are welcome. Submission Deadline is 11 p.m. June 1.
For more, go to acornlive.org.