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WVSO promises to rock you

Courtesy photo
Canadian singer Michael Shotten brings a blast of rock n' roll to the WVSO this weekend for "One Vision: The Music of Queen." The vocalist promises to rock you.

WANT TO GO?

WVSO presents Jeans n' Classics "One Vision: The Music of Queen."

WHERE: Clay Center

WHEN: 8 p.m. Friday and Saturday

TICKETS: $10, $22, $34, $50 and $62

INFO: 304-561-3570 or www.theclaycenter.org

CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- Jeans n' Classics vocalist Michael Shotten believes there's something to be said for the sound of arena rock backed by a symphony orchestra.

It's just cool.

He said, "Do you know what it's like singing Queen's 'Somebody To Love' with a band, an orchestra and a choir? Think of that. It's insane."

Shotten will be singing "Somebody To Love," along with a treasure trove of classic Queen fans' favorites like "We Will Rock You," "Bohemian Rhapsody," "Killer Queen" and even "Flash" Friday and Saturday night at the Clay Center with the West Virginia Symphony Orchestra for "One Vision: The Music of Queen."

Shotten is part of Jeans n' Classics, a touring show that plugs in rock musicians with symphony orchestras, mixing the big sound of symphony horns and strings with the over-the-top themes of rock n' roll. The idea is to bridge the gap between rock audiences and classical audiences, exposing one to the other in a way where both sort of meet in the middle.

"One Vision" is just one of several different programs the group offers. According to Shotten, Jeans n' Classics does about 70 different kinds of symphony rock collaborations featuring the music of everybody from The Beatles to Bruce Springsteen.

"And we also do shows that mix it up," he said.

Shotten has worked on The Eagles show, The Beatles Show and even KISS, but the Queen show is a personal favorite and it's a big show, he said.

"We do a lot of the early stuff and some of the later stuff like 'The Show Must Go On' and 'Who wants to live forever.'" He said, "People who are Queen fans will walk away feeling like their money is well spent."

And people who are more classical music fans than classic rock fans, he believes will find something there, too. Classic rock connects with classic listeners.

"I don't know how many times I've had conservatory-trained musicians come up to me and say, 'You know, this Frederick Mercury was a rather talented fellow, wasn't he?'"

Freddie Mercury was the lead singer for Queen and wrote many of their best-known songs, including "Bohemian Rhapsody" and "Killer Queen." Although Mercury died in 1991, the band has continued on occasionally with other singers since.

Shotten said classical musicians not knowing about rock music cracks him up. He added, "But why should I expect them to know anything about him?"

It's new to them, but what really surprises him are the kids. 

"We've done the Led Zeppelin show and you'd be surprised at how many 10-year-old kids sitting in the audience know the words to every single song."

Shotten, a singer in several other bands, a record producer and a songwriter, said he's been listening to and singing Queen songs for most of his life.

"I never get tired of them," he said.

And there's just nothing like performing them with an army of musicians behind you.

"We did this show in Denver a while ago, and they had like a 175-piece choir," Shotten said. "When you think about all the people on stage and you're standing in the middle of that -- I just shake my head sometimes. It's surreal.

"You're in the midst of all that sound, singing away, and you can hear all these people singing on top of it, adding layers -- it's really phenomenal."

It's a great night of music.

"At least it's better than going to see that 'American Reunion' movie," he said.

Reach Bill Lynch at lynch@wvgazette.com or 304-348-5195. 


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