- Leslie Gray Streeter Palm Beach Post Staff Writer
Hey, what’s that? It’s just an old-fashioned love song, coming down in three-part harmony. Also with some fringe, tie-dye and at least one impressive Bjorn Borg-style wide white headband.
It’s the sound of Celebrate!, South Florida’s only Three Dog Night tribute band, bringing “Joy To The World” to “One” and all this weekend at Atlantis County Club. It’s a show so full of recognizable and well-sung hits that no one will believe you if you say that “Mama Told Me Not To Come.” Even “Eli’s Coming!”
That’s a goofy way of saying that Vocal Group Hall of Fame inductees Three Dog Night had the kind of career in the 1960s and 1970s in which you don’t realize how many songs they sang until you think it about it. They had seven gold albums and one platinum, which featured 10 Top Ten Billboard hits that include several of the aforementioned songs as well as “Easy To Be Hard,” “Never Been To Spain,” “Black and White” and, of course, the one from which the Palm Beach County tribute band takes its name.
“How many Fleetwood Mac bands are there? How many Eagles? You see them all. But you haven’t heard us,” explains singer and group founder Frederick Moore.
Moore, also the singer in local Chicago tribute band Solid Brass, is a long-time Three Dog Night fan who says that “growing up, I liked that they were a rock band, but with a soulful sound to the singers.”
He said he made “several attempts” to find two other singers that could replicate that aforementioned three-part harmony before teaming up with John Justice Parker and Fred Ferrese.
According to the Internet, there are two or three other Three Dog Night tributes in other parts of the country, including Ohio and New York. (And the original Three Dog Night is sort of a tribute band, since only original vocalist Danny Hutton remains, along with early guitarist Michael Allsup.)
But “as far as I know we’re the only Three Dog Night band” around these parts, Moore notes. Although Ferrese and Moore grew up listening to the band, Parker is in his early 30s. He says he was excited not only to learn the music, but to find that they were dressing in period outfits.
“We had a vote,” says Parker, the one sporting the white headband and the white billowy shirt his father hand-made for his own 1977 wedding. “I begged!”
All three members of Celebrate! have numerous credits to their name; Ferrese has fronted local bands like Soulshine and No Respect, and done lots of solo and duo work, and Parker, a graduate of Dreyfoos School of the Arts, has a musical theater background and sings in the local band Steel Pony. The three, along with a seasoned band of musicians backing them, made their debut this past July at Atlantis and want to spread their harmonious gospel throughout the land.
Celebrate! has a 25-song set that includes the hits you know as well as some deeper album cuts, like “I Can Hear You Calling” and “I’ll Be Creeping,” including “some I hadn’t even heard before,” Ferrese says. “We try to mix it up, with not just a couple of obscure songs in a row.”
As a singer, he says he’s challenged by the sheer number of harmonies in the set, whose parts were crafted for Celebrate! by Moore, “because there are so many of them it can be hard to remember them. But both these guys sing so well.”
Celebrate! is just the newest addition to the local tribute band landscape, that includes Solid Brass, Billy Joel act Turnstiles, Bon Jovi tribute Keep The Faith and Journey tribute Odyssey Road. As the band says, you don’t see many Three Dog Night acts. What you will see and hear, they promise, is fun.
“That’s what makes it go by so fast,” Ferrese says. “It’s a 90-minute show but it doesn’t seem like it.”
While Celebrate! books more gigs, the three singers have formed another vocal trio that will be performing the work of other groups including Crosby Stills and Nash. They don’t have a name yet.
“I suggested the name ‘Two Freds and One John,” Parker says, laughing.