Chances are you know John Landis' 1980 comedy classic, “The Blues Brothers” – the mission from God; bottles exploding against chicken wire; the most deranged car chase ever committed to celluloid.
But the Blues Brothers are much more than a movie, as the Official Blues Brothers Revue will remind local fans on Jan. 24 at the Pantages Theater.
John Belushi and Dan Akroyd debuted “Joliet” Jake and Elwood Blues on “Saturday Night Live” in 1976, initially in bee outfits before they donned their iconic black suits and shades. Drawing inspiration from Northwest soul man Curtis Salgado – who Belushi met while filming “Animal House” in Eugene, Ore., in 1977 – the duo became “SNL” fan favorites and built a top-notch band that they took on the road.
The Blues Brothers' live album, “Briefcase Full of Blues,” even topped the charts in 1978, powered by hit remakes of Sam and Dave's “Soul Man” and the Chips' “Rubber Biscuit.” What started as a goofy comedy bit had grown into a loving tribute to some of the most infectious blues, jazz and soul tunes of the 20th century.
Wayne Catania and Kieron Lafferty will take on the roles of Jake and Elwood during this weekend's show, which they developed with Akroyd, Belushi's widow, Judy Belushi Pisano and musical director Paul Shaffer.
“The evening really is all about recreating Jake and Elwood as you would have seen them in their concert appearances at Universal Amphitheatre and on 'SNL' during their opening and closing bits,” Lafferty explained. “It's also carrying on in the Blues Brothers tradition of respecting the music for its wonderful depth – all of those great, great tunes.”
Fans can expect to hear most of the music they loved from the movie, he said, along with lesser known cuts from the live albums, like Mel London's “Messin' with the Kid” and Delbert McClinton's “B Movie Boxcar Blues.”
“We cover four decades, from the 30s up to the 70s, really,” Lafferty said, “and it's a bit of an encyclopedia of American music, in blues and R&B, for those decades. We go from (Cab Calloway's) “Minnie the Moocher” right up to – probably the most recent thing – Wayne Cochran's 'Going Back to Miami.' We really cover a wide spectrum musically.”
“It's been growing, and it's mainly because of the music and the characters of Jake and Elwood are so strong,” Catania said. “The band really rocks and the audiences have always had such a good energy to it.”
The Blues Brothers Revue will be selling a new live CD recorded at Joliet Correctional Facility with a cast that included Shaffer, Matt “Guitar” Murphy, Tom “Bones” Malone and Blue Lou Marini.
They may also be coming to a TV screen near you. Catania and Lafferty revealed they have been developing a series about the further adventures of Jake and Elwood Blues with Judy Belushi Pisano and former “SNL” writer Anne Beatts.
“We've written a pilot, but we're not shooting at this point,” Catania said. “It's been a lot of fun to do and write, and it makes us laugh, and the music is great.”
“I can't say much about it,” Lafferty added. “But it's the spirit of those characters as would have played out after they had spent considerable time incarcerated,” Lafferty said.