Dear Musician - Music's Universal
By Dendy Jarrett | (edited)
I was recently speaking with a Harmony Central community member who has just completed a 14-year run with his band but is now moving on. He’s decided to form a Chicago tribute band. This caused me to wonder about Chicago tribute bands and how many might exist out in the cosmos. While searching online, I discovered the number one return was a band that completely blew me away.
Some say their tribute to Chicago is even better than the original. Certainly that might start a great debate, but it's the truth—they’re amazing.
Here’s the catch: they’ve never seen Chicago in person. They barely speak English at all. They’re in Russia. And, if I didn't tell you, you’d never know it (unless you check the names when the credits run).
They’ve recreated every subtlety and nuance but have done so with great skill while keeping the feeling and integrity of the music. So after watching dozens of their videos, I thought – well, they’re in the studio—anything can be corrected in the studio. However, I watched videos of them playing live, and they were crushing it.
In the bio on their website, author Scott Schwebke interviews the band leader, Leonid Vorobyev, and he says, “Chicago has never been in Russia and none of us have attended their concerts…we have only audio records and videos (to help us learn Chicago songs).” No charts or scores of the songs existed (in Russia), so Vorobyev transcribed the tunes by ear. They’ve only been playing together since 2014, and their cover videos have gone viral on YouTube (see below).
The band is called Leonid and Friends. What’s important to note about there being a Chicago band, is that because Chicago spanned such a wide time-line, there are bands that do “early” Chicago and do it well. Then there are other bands that do “later” (Cetera) era Chicago. Leonid and Friends do both well. Watching their videos opened the door for me to fall in love with Chicago all over again and gain a greater respect for the music and lyrics.
You may ask, "What’s the big deal?" They are from Russia and fell in love with Chicago’s music to the point that they were passionate enough to pay tribute to it. They didn’t let a language barrier get in their way. It’s proof positive that music is truly universal. After all, where else can you experience Chicago in Russia? -HC-
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Dendy Jarrett is the Publisher and Executive Director of Harmony Central. He has been heavily involved at the executive level in many aspects of the drum and percussion industry for over 25 years and has been a professional player since he was 16. His articles and product reviews have been featured in InTune Monthly, Gig Magazine, DRUM! and Modern Drummer Magazines.
Edited by Dendy Jarrett