The Traveling Milburys Celebrates One of Popular Music’s Most Iconic Sounds

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With members selected from some of Canada’s best tribute bands, The Traveling Milburys faithfully recreates the look and sound of The Traveling Wilburys supergroup, including members Jeff Lynne, Roy Orbison, Tom Petty, George Harrison and Bob Dylan. The tribute group performs at the Market Hall Performing Arts Center in downtown Peterborough on November 29, 2019 (Photo: The Traveling Milburys)

For a band that hasn’t been around for a long time, the musical feast for the ears of the Traveling Wilburys remains as fulfilling as it started out.

Popular music heavyweights George Harrison, Bob Dylan, Tom Petty, Jeff Lynne and Roy Orbison accidentally reunited in 1988, recording two critically acclaimed albums and winning a 1990 Grammy Award before going their separate ways – a move influenced by the sudden death of Orbison in late 1988 which preceded the release of the second album.

While the formation of The Traveling Wilburys was the result of a series of circumstances, the formation of tribute band The Traveling Milburys was very deliberate, according to band founder John Cassano – who also plays as “Otis Milbury,” the The tribute band’s take on Jeff Lynne’s “Otis Wilbury” character (each member of the Traveling Wilburys had adopted a tongue-in-cheek pseudonym as half-brothers of a fictional family of traveling Wilbury musicians).

“It’s a group of stars that pays tribute to a group of stars,” says Cassano.

“The first call I made was to Gerry Parsons. He is part of a tribute group called Practically Petty. The second call I made was to Jerry Boyer. He is part of a tribute group called The Liverpool Four. The third call I made was to Roy Leblanc. He is one of the first tribute artists to Elvis and Roy Orbison in the world. And the fourth call I made was to Matt Greenberg (who is now replacing Randy Shook). He made a tribute to Bob Dylan called The Dylan Tree which was widely acclaimed across Canada.

“These are the best tribute artists dedicated to these particular artists that I have found in Canada.”

VIDEO: Presentation of Traveling Milbury

On Friday, November 29, The Traveling Milburys will perform songs from The Traveling Wilburys – as well as selected songs written by the group’s individual artists – at the Market Hall Performing Arts Center (140 Charlotte St. Peterborough).

Tickets for assigned seats for the 8 p.m. show are $ 35 including fees, available at the market hall box office, by phone at 705-749-1146 or online at markethall.org.

“When we got together I insisted that we had all the right instruments, so we’re chock full of Rickenbackers, Gretschs and Gibsons,” notes Cassano.

“We produced a video for each song, so it’s eye candy for each song. And then there’s the audience participation with lots of songs to sing along to, anecdotes and prizes. We have a lot of fun with it. We don’t take ourselves too seriously on stage, other than producing a performance that is as faithful to the original as possible.

The Traveling Milburys is John Cassano as Jeff Lynne, Roy Leblanc as Roy Orbison, Gerry Parsons as Tom Petty, Jerry Boyer as George Harrison and Matt Greenberg as Bob Dylan.  Each member of The Traveling Milburys comes from tribute groups dedicated to individual artists.  (Photo: The Itinerant Milburys)
The Traveling Milburys is John Cassano as Jeff Lynne, Roy Leblanc as Roy Orbison, Gerry Parsons as Tom Petty, Jerry Boyer as George Harrison and Matt Greenberg as Bob Dylan. Each member of The Traveling Milburys comes from tribute groups dedicated to individual artists. (Photo: The Itinerant Milburys)

In the early 1980s, Cassano formed a Beatles tribute group that also performed hits from New Wave music that were popular at the time. Later, working full time as Creative Director with several Toronto advertising agencies, Cassano maintained his musical talents, particularly gravitating towards the music of the Electric Light Orchestra, conducted by Lynne.

When he first considered making The Traveling Milburys, Cassano leaned into the role of Lynne, but not before “going back and rechecking a lot of their songs and making sure I could hit it. these notes “.

Like countless popular music fans of his generation, Cassano is as captivated by the sound of the Traveling Wilburys as he is by the story of his formation.

As the story goes, in April 1988, Harrison was asked by his record company for a new song to serve as the B-side for the European release of “This Is Love”, his third single from his. Cloud album. While enjoying a meal with Lynne and Orbison, he asked Lynne to help him record the track and invited Orbison to accompany him.

VIDEO: “Milbury Twist”

This recording took place in Dylan’s studio garage in Malibu, which was available at short notice. Petty was invited to come over when Harrison went to his house to collect his guitar.

The resulting track, “Handle With Care,” was deemed too good to be relegated to B-side status. With mutual admiration serving as an anchor, the five musicians came together to record and release. Voyager Wilburys Vol. 1, with “Handle With Care” among its 10 titles. Released in October 1988, the album won multi-platinum sales in the United States, Canada, Australia and England.

In March 1990, still devastated by the loss of their friend Orbison, the four remaining musicians recorded their second album, the mischievous named Voyager Wilburys Vol. 3 – with the reissue of the 2007 CD including two bonus tracks: covers of “Nobody’s Child” by Cy Coben and Mel Foree, first recorded by Hank Snow, and “Runaway” by Del Shannon.

VIDEO: “You got it”

“I had seen them individually in concert, with the exception of Bob Dylan, but when you put those voices together, the sound they made was a treat,” Cassano marvels. “Everyone was a fan of the other. The egos were checked at the gate.

“George asked everyone to sing a version of the song they were doing and then they sat in the studio and decided which one they liked best. It was a labor of love from the start.

When Petty passed away in October 2017, Cassano was playing with a Top 40 tribute band. Deciding he didn’t want to do this anymore, he decided to consider forming a Traveling Wilburys tribute band.

“The atmosphere when we first got together was electric,” he recalls.

“We were all smiling because we all secretly wanted to do something like this. When it happened, there was electricity in the air. We started to learn the songs. Because we were all in tribute groups dedicated to one of the Traveling Wilburys artists, we all loved this component.

VIDEO: “I will not back down”

Having performed a number of dates across Ontario and Nova Scotia, The Traveling Milburys incorporates into their set a pinch of hit songs from all five of Traveling Wilburys’ members as individual artists.

“Because the members of the Traveling Wilburys have had such a longevity, their music transcends the baby boomer crowd,” says Cassano of the enduring and age-old appeal of the songs they perform.

“Ours is a performance for all the senses. When I put this thing together, I didn’t want a band that just played the songs. It was to be an experiment with public participation. It also had to be a visual experience. The result is a comfortable and relaxed atmosphere. It’s a fun night.

While Cassano isn’t sure what to expect in The Traveling Milburys in the future, he’s encouraged by the response so far.

“We all have day jobs and we get there in years,” he says. “Can we do it after our real careers are over?” He’s growing up, as more and more people find out what the band is, so who knows where he’ll go?

For more information on The Traveling Milburys, visit travellingmilburys.com.


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