When tackling the extensive catalog of a legendary act like Fleetwood Mac, you can’t just rush out and perform after a few rehearsals.
It’s not garage rock. Presenting the classic act’s material takes musical dissection and plenty of work. Just ask Kathy Simpson (vocals, keyboard, guitar), Gary Hill (vocals, guitar), Scott Ankeney (bass, vocals) and Loren Patten (drums, vocals) of Fleetwood Dreams, performing at Gilly’s in Dayton on Friday, Dec. 12.
“We spent about a year getting everything together,” Simpson said. “We tore the songs apart and analyzed how the vocals, harmonies and instruments fit together to create that very distinct Fleetwood Mac sound. It’s kind of a science to recreate everything so it sounds authentic but we’re really starting to nail it.”
Fleetwood Mac formed as a blues band in England in 1967. However, Simpson and her bandmates are focused on the chart-topping pop incarnation from the ’70s and ’80s.
“We start with ‘Rumours’ because that’s the big album,” Simpson said. “We basically learned all of the songs off of that but we also researched Fleetwood Mac’s most popular songs. We started working on those but there really are a lot to draw from that fall into that category so we’re not hurting for material.”
Simpson has the unenviable task of tackling two powerhouse female vocalists in Stevie Nicks and Christine McVee.
“For me, it’s not just learning the lyrics, it’s actually trying to produce the type of feeling each has when they sing the song,” Simpson said. “When I studied their vocal styles I actually looked at what parts of their throats and mouths are making those sounds to differentiate the styles.”
While Simpson is pulling double duty, Hill and Ankeney are sharing vocals on the Lindsey Buckingham songs.
“We’re just splitting those up depending on who can do that particular song the best,” Hill said. “We try to put our egos out of the way and do what sounds best for the big picture. It’s fun because we even do some solo songs like (Buckingham’s) ‘Holiday Road’ from ‘National Lampoon’s Vacation.’
“We do ‘Leather & Lace’ and ‘Stop Dragging My Heart Around’ and nobody does Stevie Nicks like Kathy does,” Hill added. “She nails it.”
While it has taken some work to get the iconic songs dialed in, the members of Fleetwood Dreams feel they’ve met the challenge.
“The good thing about a tribute band is the music sells it,” Hill said. “Before people get there, before they know who you are, they know the music and they like it. We have the right lineup to do this so we worked hard to have everything just right.”
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