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Look out, Baby Boomers, the classics are coming to rock you like a hip replacement.
Except for Beatlemania (March 8, Coral Springs Center for the Arts), classic rock tributes used to be the purview of bar bands. But bars are noisy and, if you can't find a chair, tough on aging joints. What to do? Take the tribute upscale, with the promise of reserved seating at some of South Florida's comfier venues. This concert season, the lineup at places known for musicals and symphony resembles a block of VH1 Classic.
Don't look for that night of Pink Floyd covers at the local dive; it's happening Nov. 8 at Lake Worth's Duncan Theatre, where a Canadian ensemble called Classic Albums Live performs The Wall as part of a returning series of "note-for-note re-creations." The Duncan hosts two more Classic Albums shows: Led Zeppelin's IV (Feb. 7) and the Beatles' Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band (March 13).
Covermania spreads to the Kravis Center in West Palm Beach with Hotel California's "A Salute to the Eagles" (Dec. 11) and Gary Mullen & the Works performing "One Night of Queen" (April 26). The Broward Center in Fort Lauderdale erects its own Stairway to Heaven on Dec. 16 with "Led Zeppelin: A Rock Symphony."
It's not just rock songs that are becoming standards and moving into theaters. Grammy nominee Terry Steele brings "Here and Now: The Legacy of Luther Vandross," celebrating the late r&b crooner, to the Crest Theatre in Delray Beach (Jan. 31). Several singer-songwriters gather Feb. 1-3 at the Kravis for "Sweet Baby James: A Tribute to James Taylor."
As always, the local tribute slate has Elvis Presley on tap. Chris MacDonald's homegrown "Memories of Elvis" show shakes up the Coral Springs Center on Jan. 4.
The American songbook gets its customary seasonal due with conductor Richard Hayman's Florida Sunshine Pops. More of a recital than a tribute, Hayman's orchestra performs the music of My Fair Lady tandem Lerner & Loewe (Dec. 9-12) and Guys & Dolls composer Frank Loesser (March 9-12) at three area theaters.
On Jan. 11 at Boca Raton's Mizner Park Amphitheater, Marshall Turkin's Classic Jazz Ensemble pays homage to songwriter Irving Berlin.
The line between tribute and the real thing can blur in an age of branded oldies tours. Some vocal groups, staffed entirely by stand-ins, send multiple versions of themselves on the road. Others with surviving members split into rival factions: In a battle Under the Boardwalk, it's Bill Pinkney's Original Drifters on Oct. 21 at Coral Springs Center, and Mel Carter & the Drifters on Oct. 28 at Club Cinema in Pompano Beach.
There's no identity crisis in "Solid Gold Soul," an Oct. 26 revival at the Broward Center featuring three undisputed originals: singers Jerry Butler, Billy Paul and Gene Chandler. Miami's Carnival Center hosts an evening of soul and gospel on Feb. 10 with Mavis Staples and the Blind Boys of Alabama. A Motown icon, Mary Wilson of the Supremes, settles in for a two-week engagement, April 1-5 and 8-12, at The Colony Hotel in Palm Beach.
There is music of more recent vintage en route. One could argue that Velvet Revolver, performing Oct. 7 at Sound Advice Amphitheatre in West Palm Beach, deals mostly in 20th century rock references.
But the band featuring Scott Weiland and Slash as your modern-day Mick and Keith technically counts as current. Two contemporary pop singers, lovebirds Jennifer Lopez and Marc Anthony, sing Nov. 2 and 3 at Miami's AmericanAirlines Arena. Their Latin-pop peer, Ricky Martin, inaugurates the renovated, renamed Fillmore Miami Beach at the Jackie Gleason Theater with a three-night run (Oct. 10-12).
Disney's Hannah Montana is, of course, irrepressibly now. The live tour starring singer, actress and tweenybopper idol Miley Cyrus as high-school pop heroine Hannah hits the BankAtlantic Center in Sunrise (Nov. 20).
With a marquee stretching decades from the Skatalites to Cocoa Tea the second annual Jamaica Vintage Music Festival (Oct. 20, Bergeron Rodeo Grounds in Davie) draws an arc from foundational ska to new reggae. Vibraphone virtuoso Gary Burton, a veteran player and Fort Lauderdale resident forever on the cutting edge of jazz technique, brings his most celebrated duet partners to town. He joins with pianist Makoto Ozone at Arturo Sandoval Jazz Club in Miami Beach (Oct. 11, 12) and keyboardist Chick Corea at Mizner (March 13).
Ozone and Corea know better than anyone that Burton is essentially tribute-proof. Nobody seems able to duplicate, let alone improve on, his astonishing four-mallet playing style. The fall-spring calendar promises a few more impossible-to-copy talents, perhaps none more ferociously unique than avant-garde vocalist Diamanda Galas (Feb. 28, Carnival Center).