The Official Blues Brothers Revival is not a presentation of The Blues Brothers movie brought to stage, nor simply a revival of the characters Jake and Elwood Blues. Blues Brothers Revival is foremost an homage to Chicago’s rich history of Blues, Gospel and traditional Soul music.
The theme of Revival is the dream of salvation. Jake has spent most of the last several years stuck in Purgatory and the Blues Brothers are on a mission: to get Jake into the ” Kingdom of Heaven.” With the help of Sister Callie, Preacher Man, three intriguing choir singers and the band, Jake seeks redemption through melody, rhythm and verse. After some reminiscing with the band, some impassioned preaching and inspired music, the audience is enticed, ready and willing to join the mission by joining the choir. Which gets to the heart of the show — it’s about the music.
The show consists of 2 sets totalling over 2 hours of non-stop fun that feature most songs from the movie which included “Shake your Tailfeather”, “Sweet Home Chicago”, “Everybody needs somebody to love” and the crowd favourite “Minnie the Moocher”.
The Blues Brothers are what can only be described as a musical, comedic, and cinematic legend. They have become part of our culture, and have spawned countless tribute acts all across the world. Upbeat and uplifting, Blues Brothers Revival is fun for all ages.
In the 1970’s, John Belushi, working with National Lampoon, met with Dan Aykroyd, then a host of a children’s TV program, and owner of a speakeasy called the ‘505 Club’. Dan, from Toronto, put on a record called ‘Straight Up’, by the Downchild Blues Band. John was into rock music and heavy metal, and in spite of being from Chicago, wasn’t familiar with blues music. After listening to ‘Everything I need Almost’, and ‘Shotgun Blues’, John began to think about putting a blues band together. Howard Shore (Saturday Night Live’s musical director), who was also there, suggested the name ‘The Blues Brothers’.
When Dan came to audition for Saturday Night Live, he regularly met with John and listened to blues records. One time, Dan showed John the cover of an album by John Lee Hooker, which showed him wearing the hat and shades that would later become the Blues Brothers trademark look. John said ‘If we ever put this together, this will be the look!’. The suits and the ties that they wore came from the Beatnik Era in the 50’s and the 60’s, where musicians would wear straight apparel, so that they could go out into straight society and not be hassled. Also, this was a reference to the ‘Men in Black’, the guys in black suits that always turn up when there are UFO sightings, and tell you to be quiet about it.
Before being hired for Saturday Night Live, the Blues Brothers went to the Lone Star Cafe and performed for the first time in their full outfits. They jammed with Room Full of Blues and Willie Nelson’s band. Unfortunately, they didn’t have a serious place to play, so Dan and John started talking with the Saturday Night Live band. Howard Shore suggested they do a blues number on the show. Dan and John were reluctant to do that, because they weren’t ready to give away the look of the Blues Brothers. So instead, they performed their first song, ‘King Bee’ wearing bee costumes.
After the ‘King Bee’ number, Dan and John re-assessed things and realised that they had the look, the music and the act for the Blues Brothers. So, the Blues Brothers Band was complete, featuring some of the best musicians around at the time. The Blues Brothers decided to release a full album, so in 1978 they recorded a live concert at the Universal Amphitheatre. The album, called ‘Briefcase Full of Blues’ , went on to sell 3.5 million copies.
After the album went double platinum, John Belushi invited Dan Aykroyd to join him in Hollywood, where they had been asked to do a Blues Brothers movie. Dan started to write a script for the movie, and spent all of his free time doing it. The script was over 300 pages long. Dan had not only written the Blues Brothers movie, but he had also written the sequel, called ‘Return of the Blues Brothers’. The script contained every bit of information there was about the Blues Brothers, including the history of the band members, and detailed biographies of Jake and Elwood Blues .
In 1980, the Blues Brothers recorded another live concert, and released it as the album ‘Made in America’ . This album only sold 300,000 copies, and it was then that Dan and John decided that the act was over. They made the movie ‘Neighbours’ together, then went their separate ways, both going on to make movies in Hollywood.
In March, 1982, John Belushi took an overdose of heroin and cocaine. He died shortly afterwards of a complete respiratory failure. He was buried on March 9, 1982 in Abel’s Hill Cemetery. It was believed that this meant the Blues Brothers was over for good, but nothing could have been further from the truth.
In 1997, Jim Belushi joined the band as the blood brother of Jake Blues , ‘Zee’ Blues . A performance at Chicago’s House of Blues was recorded and released as ‘Blues Brothers and Friends’ .
The Blues Brothers continue to be a legend in the history of blues, as well as the history of Hollywood. There are hundreds of Blues Brothers fans around the world, and also a large number of Blues Brothers tribute shows are appearing all over the globe. It is a phenomenon that will never die.
Jake ‘Juliet’ Blues – Simon Delaney
Elwood Blues – Dale Meeks
Preacher Man – Robert Grose
Sister Callie – Karlene Wray
Soul Sister 1 – Donna Hines
Soul Sister 2 – Lara Martin
Soul Sister 3 – Landi Oshinowo
The Blues Brothers Revival opened at the Tivoli Theatre, Dublin for it’s European Premiere on Friday 17th October 2008. Playing to sell out audiences it closed it’s doors on Saturday 22nd November of the same year having played an extended run.