Just Strange Brothers to perform Elton John’s music at Fitton Center

The Just Strange Brothers band performs an Elton John tribute show at the Fitton Center in Hamilton. CONTRIBUTED

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The Just Strange Brothers band performs an Elton John tribute show at the Fitton Center in Hamilton. CONTRIBUTED

Just Strange Brothers, a band that continues to sell out shows at the Fitton Center, will return to showcase some of the songs of Elton John on Saturday night.

“We are excited to have Just Strange Brothers for our season finale. We will have the incredible music of Sir Elton John live on the stage at the Fitton Center and we can’t wait,” said Ian MacKenzie-Thurley, executive director of the Fitton Center.

Just Strange Brothers will present “Goodbye Yellow Brick Road: A Tribute to Elton John” on Sat., May 21 at 7:30 p.m. Tickets for the concert are $29 for members; $37 for non-members.

MacKenzie-Thurley said the show was originally booked in 2018 but it had to be rescheduled due to COVID-19. With the tribute show, the artists aren’t trying to be Elton John or dress like him, they are trying to serve the music, so when audiences come and hear it live, they will enjoy hearing the music from performers who love the music and appreciate the opportunity to play it.

“Just Strange Brothers have been a great partner to the Fitton Center. They bring astounding musicianship and incredible energy to the stage, and you’ve seen that with shows like the Bowie show, Women of Rock and Kickin’ Some Brass that they’ve brought to the Fitton Center in recent years. They are bringing some of the best local musicians, many who tour nationally and internationally, to the stage,” he said.

Just Strange Brothers is made up of a 12-piece band, including a five-piece horn section, along with accomplished singers. The band has previously performed at the Fitton Center with Life on Mars, A Tribute to David Bowie and the sold-out Women of Rock and Kickin’ Some Brass shows. The band also performed a 70′s & 80′s Jukebox show at Fitton on the Hill at Pyramid Hill in 2020 and returned to Fitton on the Hill in 2021 with the Yacht Rock show. Most of the shows have been exclusively commissioned for the Fitton Center.

“At the Fitton Center, we talk about before Bowie and after Bowie. Life on Mars, A Tribute to David Bowie really was a landmark night for us at the Fitton Center, and the ability for them to bring everything together for us. It changed the way people thought about how we could use the stage, how it could look, and how it could sound at the Fitton Center. Just Strange Brothers sets such a high bar with their musical standards, level of performance, and they really engage with the crowd,” MacKenzie-Thurley said.

Danny Manning, singer, musician and band leader for Just Strange Brothers, said the group has partnered with the Fitton Center every year since the Bowie show.

“We put this show together for the Fitton Center. What we did is try to cover the bases, all the way from the early days, through the 80s. So, we hit the high points all along the way. He has so many hits that you can only do so much. Elton is such a hit machine,” Manning said.

He said the group has a strong female vocalist in Rio Van, which is different than some versions of Elton John’s music as far as the vocals. Steve Goers, another accomplished Cincinnati musician and top musical theater performer, will serve as the group’s “Elton,” playing the grand piano and singing. Pete Hall will also be featured on vocals throughout the evening.

“It’s a multi-singer show, which is a little bit different than you would probably ever see,” Manning said.

Attendees can expect to hear an array of Elton John hits, from his earliest songs, such as “Mona Lisas And Mad Hatters” and “Where To Now St. Peter?” to “Rocket Man,” “Don’t Let the Sun Go Down on Me,” and other songs from the Goodbye Yellow Brick Road album, into the 1980′s with hits like “I’m Still Standing” and “Sad Songs.”

“I think the electric vibe that happens in that room is unmatched. We are going to open the show with ‘Funeral For a Friend,’ which is one of the more complicated pieces of music Elton John has done. This band affords us the luxury of doing whatever we want as far as nothing is particularly too challenging, because of the level of musicians that are in the group,” Manning said.

He said from the opening note, the band always feels the love and support of the fans at the Fitton Center.

“When we hit the stage, and we start with that first, eerie opening with ‘Funeral For a Friend,’ which is also what Elton, typically, opens his shows with, you just feel that vibe from the crowd. We always feel super supported there. They know us, and we know them, and they know everything they’ll see for the next hour-and-half is going to be top notch…It’s just a special thing to be that connected to the audience,” said Manning.

How to go

What: Goodbye Yellow Brick Road: A Tribute to Elton John with Just Strange Brothers

When: 7:30 p.m. Saturday

Where: The Fitton Center for Creative Arts, 101 S. Monument Ave., Hamilton

Cost: Tickets are $29 for members; $37 for non-members

More Info.: fittoncenter.org or (513) 863-8873 ext. 110

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