Phil Barone channels the Lizard King at tribute showWritten by Brigitta Burks | News Editor | BBurks@toledofreepress.com
Concertgoers can contribute to a good cause and get their fires lit at A Tribute to Jim Morrison on Jan. 28.
“When I put the leather pants, snakeskin boots, the belt buckles and the poet’s shirt on, I go into the Lizard King world,” said Phil Barone, who will perform as Morrison.
Barone and his backing group, The Maxx Band, are staples on the Put-in-Bay music scene.
“Everybody would say, ‘Why do you always play at Put-in-Bay, why don’t you play in Toledo?’” Barone said. He brought the show to the Glass City last year with a sold-out show benefiting the YMCA. The performance raised $7,000.
This year’s proceeds will go toward the IBC, also known as the International Boxing Club. Harry Cummins started IBC in 1998 as a boxing club, but when he realized that 75 percent of the boxers were failing in school, he revamped the program. To box, participants must maintain good grades so Cummins provides tutoring via The Learning Center. About 15 IBC participants are enrolled at local universities. IBC also offers vocational training and community outreach.
Cummins recently decided to add wrestling, girls’ softball and volleyball after talking to Toledo Public Schools about needed programs. He specifically wanted to help inner-city girls with the new additions.
“It hit me one night,” he said. “We keep thinking of the boys, and what about the girls?”
To accommodate the additional programs, IBC moved into a larger space at 525 Earlwood Ave. on Jan. 23.
“It means a lot. It’s very helpful. It’s helping us expand the program. It couldn’t come at a better time,” Cummins said of the tribute show.
“It’s a win-win situation. That’s a cool thing — we give the money to charity and we get to entertain people,” Barone said. He is also planning a June event to benefit the Boys & Girls Club.
Barone has always had a passion for music. “I grew up with The Rolling Stones, The Allman Brothers, the Eagles and Iggy Pop,” he said.
The co-owner of Rosie’s Italian Grille found he had a knack for impersonating The Doors’ frontman about eight years ago.
“I just felt that I could hit the notes and sing a little bit like Jim. When I would practice, it just felt right. I love the music; I love the lyrics and I think it’s timeless,” Barone said, “There’s people that have seen him and say, ‘You have the same spirit as him’.”
Barone doesn’t just use hair and clothes to transform into Morrison — he hits the books.
“It takes some doing. I really get into the music; I study the lyrics; I read the books. Every song is very deep and it has a story,” he said.
Being a musician while working in the busy restaurant industry has required some sacrifices from Barone.
“It can get a little crazy at the restaurant. You always need to be there. I gave up golf and basketball just so I could pick up the microphone,” he said.
George Leist, who opened for Lynyrd Skynyrd and Joel Hazzard, who himself played with jazz vocalist Jon Hendricks, will also perform with Barone and The Maxx Band. The tribute act has opened for Jefferson Starship, Thin Lizzy and Foghat.
The two-set performance will include 22 songs, featuring “everybody’s favorites and a few that only real serious Doors fans will remember,” Barone said.
VIP tickets are available for $65 and include a reception with hors d’oeuvres and drinks.
General admission is $25 and tickets can be purchased at (419) 897-8902, Rosie’s Italian Grille and The Maumee Indoor Theatre. The show is at 8:30 p.m. Jan. 28 at the Maumee Indoor Theatre, 601 Conant St., Maumee. Visit www.ibcprograms.org/ to donate to IBC.