The 1960s was a decade like no other. Social and political unrest, experimentation with drugs, and the fight for long-denied rights reigned supreme — so did the music, which changed drastically throughout the ’60s as it reflected what was going on. Add in the British Invasion and the coming of age of the Baby Boomers, and you’ve got nothing short of legendary rock and roll. On Friday, November 1 at 8 p.m., Bay Street Theater will bring The Sixties Show back to Sag Harbor by popular demand. The ’60s-themed rock show is a cross generational crowd pleaser and the band is widely celebrated and known for spot on, note for note re-creations of the hits, B-sides and deep album cuts from the greatest songs of the 1960s. All of the music is performed live, with no samples, backing tracks or prerecorded music.
Recently, The Sixties Show creator and musical director Craig O’Keefe shared the back story of the group’s genesis and passion for music of the era.
Q: For those who haven’t seen it, can you explain what The Sixties Show is about?
The show is based around a concert experience and is powerfully dramatized by a combination of narration, ’60s archival audio, archival newsreel footage and a light show. It’s a high energy trip back in time that reminds the audience how uniquely inspirational, entertaining, and historically significant the music and events of the 1960s were and continue to be.
Q: What are some of the other bands the musicians in your show have played with?
The band features former members of Bob Dylan’s band, The Who, and NBC’s Saturday Night Live Band.
Q: What kinds of songs do you do?
We are known for re-creating spot-on note-for-note renditions of the greatest songs from the 1960s. This includes hits, B-sides and deep album cuts that sound just like the original recordings by the original artists.
We are meticulous and do extensive research on the precise sounds. Which type of musical or recording gear did they use? What were the production techniques? How about microphone placement, equalization settings, compression settings? To help achieve this we only use vintage and vintage re-issue gear on stage, just like the original artists used in the original recordings.
Q: How will this upcoming show differ from past shows you’ve performed at Bay Street Theater?
This is an updated show from our last appearance with updated content, new songs, new video and new narration.
Q: Do you dress in 1960s garb on stage?
Yes. We wear authentic ’60s period costumes such as authentic mod Carnaby Street suits, which further heighten and contribute to the visual experience.
Q: And, you’re the group’s founder … Why, and how, did this group come together?
Well, I have always loved and been fascinated with ’60s pop culture, the transformative history and events of the decade, and of course, the undeniably amazing music that was created. I have been a professional musician since I was a kid. Back in the day, I was in several bands and had record deals with Warner Bros Records, and BMG Records, among others. I also did lots of touring and songwriting. I composed music for film, TV and commercials.
When I moved from Los Angeles to Connecticut with my wife and kids, it really hit me that for the first time since I was 15 years old, I wasn’t in a band anymore. I really missed it. I wanted to start a band, but wanted to approach it differently this time.
Before we left L.A., I started to put the wheels in motion to launch a multimedia production for a 1960s musical re-creation show that would play in theaters. Much easier said than done. Since most of my musical contacts and resources were back in L.A., and I was now on the East Coast, I had to start from scratch. Getting the very best world-class musicians possible to be part of this was the first and most crucial part.
Q: How did it come together?
I auditioned countless musicians through an ongoing grueling audition process at studios in New York City for over three years. This was an arduous process. I gradually found each musician that I knew would be right for each role in The Sixties Show. The guys are phenomenally accomplished and versatile musicians, singers, and live performers. I was looking for musicians who shared a similar and strong sensibility for 1960s music and pop culture — this was absolutely necessary to deliver the authenticity of the show. I’m so grateful that I found each of them, and of course, have them be a part of The Sixties Show.
Q: What’s the best aspect of being part of The Sixties Show?
There are so many things that are magical each time we play. I love moments during shows when every person in the audience is on their feet singing along. Or, when fans come up to us after the show and tell us how something in the show brought back a certain memory that made them so happy. Or, just knowing that there are other kindred 1960s spirits just like the members of The Sixties Show in the audience that love or have a connection to the 1960s. Getting to take the audience back in time to my favorite decade — that for me is the best part.
The Sixties Show at Bay Street Theater is on Friday, November 1, at 8 p.m. Tickets are $35 and $45 at baystreet.org or 631-725-9500.