Right now, it looks like the Blues Brothers don't have much of a reason to sing the blues. For a band that started off on a TV show, this outfit has an extremely impressive repertoire.
These guys have played with all the gods of soul music and rock 'n' roll. Aretha Franklin, Eric Clapton, Stevie Wonder, The Grateful Dead, Ray Charles, Elton John and countless other megastars have had the privilege of working with them. Not to mention many of the old '80s "Saturday Night Live" cast members.
"It's been sort of the world's greatest part-time job," said Blues Brothers sax player Lou Blue Marini. Lou has been with the band since its conception, when the founding members backed Dan Aykroyd and John Belushi dressed in bumble-bee costumes on a cover of "I'm a King Bee" by blues icon Slim Harpo.
After a hit movie and a successful run up the charts, the Blues Brothers called it quits until 1987 when they were brought together again to surprise Aykroyd on his birthday. Now the band has a new vocalist and is touring the world, doing 40 to 50 concerts a year.
Although a big percentage of the Blues Brothers' playlist is covers of R&B classics, they've also added some new material to their sound. Because they can tell instantly what an audience likes by their dancing, the Blues Brothers mold the songs they want to play and how they play them. "It's not a band that plays in a mechanical or reproduced kind of way. It's a band that's very free," Marini said.
And after 25 years, it doesn't get tiring playing a lot of the same tunes. "It never really sounds the same. It's sort of like a good symphony orchestra playing a Mozart symphony," Marini said. "You can play it and sit on your ass and nothing happens, or you can play it and make it feel fresh. And that's what this band does."
Part of the freshness also comes from working with a humorous and laid-back group of people. In addition to the funny men of "SNL," Marini swears that if trumpet player Alan Reuben weren't in the band, he'd be a great stand up comedian. "There was always stuff firing back and forth. We were laughing all the time. It was just constant funny stuff," Marini said.
Marini remembers being tricked during the filming of the Blues Brothers movie by being told not to look up until the end of his scene. After what seemed like an eternity of waiting for his cue and pretending to wash dishes, he finally got tired of following directions and looked up to see what was going on. Instead of filming the take, everyone else was back in the studio having a cup of coffee.
But everything else aside, Marini has had a great run with the "cats" of the Blues Brothers.
"Anybody who told me that 25 years later I'd still be playing with the same guys, I'd say, 'You're crazy,'" Marini said.
The Original Blues Brothers Band will perform at 8 p.m. on Saturday at Centennial Hall, 1020 E. University Blvd. Full-price tickets cost $25, $35, $50 or $62. UA staff and faculty tickets cost $15, $32, $50 or $62. Student and child tickets cost $10, $32, $50 or $62.