As published in the Kerrville (TX) Daily Times Spotlight
Oct 19, 2017–The big, bright, brash sound of the seminal rock band Chicago had such an impact on Mason Swearingen, he remembers clearly the first time he heard it.
“My earliest childhood memory is sitting in my parents car and hearing Saturday in the Park on the car radio,” he said. “It’s ironic that I ended up in the tribute band to Chicago.”
That band is Beginnings, an eight-piece group formed in 2002 that is bringing the catalog of Chicago tunes to Cailloux Theater audiences on Oct. 27.
Swearingen and his bandmates are now 40-somethings, and their admiration for Chicago has only grown with time. All have wide experience playing all types of popular music in a variety of bands, but there was something about the band Chicago that continues to inspire and challenge them.
“When it came down to putting a band together, we were a group of guys looking for a little bit more out of what we were playing,” he said. “A lot of rock and roll is simple. As long as we’ve been playing Chicago’s music, we still find little nuances that keep us on our toes. I just can’t say enough about their music.”
Their music comprises a catalog that spans four decades and includes five Number One albums and 20 Top Ten hits including 25 or 6 to 4, If You Leave Me Now, You’re the Inspiration, Feelin’ Stronger Every Day, Color My World, Does Anybody Really Know What Time It Is, and, of course, Beginnings.
The vast range of repertoire is a challenge for any musician. The horn section has built its own charts, and the rhythm section has its own work to do every night. Chicago is not just horns, but also harmony. Beginnings is “very lucky” to boast four members able to sing lead.
“Yes, the harmonies are a big part of that Chicago sound,” Swearingen said. “Chicago had three different lead singers. It’s nice to mimic that and be able to pass the lead vocals around the stage as well.”
It all makes for a dynamic sound and stage presence.
Swearingen describes the show as “very interactive.” The performance begins with the big hits from the 1970s, with medleys of hits from later years, mixed with trivia and bits of information on the band.
“We are trying to touch as much of their career as possible,” he said. “It is a fun show, with lots of smiling, lots of movement, and lots of excitement. We feature horn solos and vocal solos, something for everyone, and something everyone will enjoy.”
Swearingen notes that the original band has had a 50-year career, so a certain part of the crowd is indeed older. But they also had a more recent musical resurgence that brings in a younger group.
“We find younger people are just discovering Chicago, but they are excited by it and tend to want to come back and hear it again.”
As a footnote, Beginnings has even received the stamp of approval from members of the band Chicago. During a performance in Atlanta, several members of the actual band came out and watched their performance.
“They were very gracious and friendly,” Swearingen said. “One jokingly told us, we were just a few auditions away from being members!”
Playhouse 2000 presents “Beginnings”, a tribute to rock legends Chicago, on Friday, October 27 at 7:30 p.m., at the Cailloux Theater, 910 Main, Kerrville TX.
Tickets can be purchased by visiting www.caillouxtheater.com or by calling (830) 896-9393.
This show is part of the Cailloux Performance Series.