NEPA Scene Staff

The HillBenders put bluegrass spin on The Who’s ‘Tommy’ at Theater at North in Scranton on Feb. 10

The HillBenders put bluegrass spin on The Who’s ‘Tommy’ at Theater at North in Scranton on Feb. 10
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From a press release:

There have been many versions of The Who’s “Tommy” over the years, but The HillBenders have created “Whograss” with their own bluegrass version of the iconic concept album that the band will perform live at The Theater at North in Scranton on Friday, Feb. 10 at 7 p.m.

Tickets are $25 and can be purchased in advance via Ticketfly or at the door (1539 N. Main Ave., Scranton).

“Ever since I was a young boy, I played the silver ball.”

Maybe it’s not your standard bluegrass lyric, but it’s a line known by all the world from the biggest rock opera of all time, The Who’s “Tommy.”

45 years after its original release, this classic of classic rock has now been fully realized as a full-length bluegrass tribute featuring Springfield, Missouri’s The HillBenders. Conceived and produced by SXSW co-founder and longtime musician/producer Louis Jay Meyers, this “Bluegrass Opry” brings a new perspective to “Tommy” while paying total respect to its creators.

Originally composed by guitarist Pete Townshend as a rock opera that tells the story about a deaf, dumb, and blind boy, including his experiences with life and his relationship with his family, the original album has sold 20 million copies and has been inducted into the Grammy Hall of Fame for “historical, artistic, and significant value.” In 2003, Rolling Stone magazine ranked “Tommy” No. 96 on its list of the 500 greatest albums of all time.

Meyers had been looking for the right band to pull off this high-wire bluegrass approach for several decades, and The HillBenders are just that band. With a perfect mix of virtuoso musicianship and rock star vocals, The HillBenders bring Townshend’s original vision to life in a new and exciting way.

It’s amazing to hear banjo, dobro, mandolin, bass, and guitar bring the same energy and vision to “Tommy” as The Who did with a full rock band and orchestra.

The HillBenders are one of the few bluegrass groups that recognize their ability to bridge the gap between the common music consumer and the bluegrass genre, selecting material that defies any hillbilly stigmas. With their widely varied influences, they are trying to bring to bluegrass songs that unify.

“We wanted to pair bluegrass with the other music we grew up with – rock and roll!” says HillBender Nolan Lawrence.