Nelson to bring tribute show to TiffinWritten by Vicki L. Kroll | | firstname.lastname@example.org
A few years ago, Nelson was in Japan to play a concert for the troops during the holidays. The base commander was a big fan of Gunnar and Matthew Nelson’s father, Ricky Nelson.
The twins hadn’t played their father’s music at their concerts.
“We thought, OK, we’ll do this for the first time,” Gunnar said. “And what really struck us was … the kids that were filling the dance floor and just getting off to this music did not grow up with Ozzie and Harriet, did not grow up with Ricky Nelson music, they just loved the songs for what they were.”
The duo decided to put together a tribute show for their dad.
During his career, Ricky Nelson charted with more than 50 songs, including “Hello Mary Lou,” “Never Be Anyone Else But You,” “Travelin’ Man,” “Poor Little Fool,” “It’s Late” and “Just a Little Too Much.” Millions listened and watched as he grew up on radio and TV shows starring his parents, big-band artists Ozzie and Harriet. In 1985, he died in a plane crash at age 45; two years later, he was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.
“We actually argue that he was the most televised rock star in history. With the 435 episodes of ‘The Adventures of Ozzie and Harriet’ to choose from, we put together a show that’s a full multimedia experience,” Gunnar said during a call from his Nashville home.
Gunnar and Matthew will perform “Ricky Nelson Remembered” at 7:30 p.m. Jan. 22 at the Ritz Theatre in Tiffin. Tickets range from $10 to $35.
“[The tribute show] really accomplishes what I think the family was best at which was connecting with the fans. And the fans feel connected not only with our dad’s music and with [the Nelson] heritage in entertainment, but also with their place in Americana,” Gunnar said. “The Nelson family was just notified a couple weeks ago that we’re being inducted into the Smithsonian Institution for cultural impact on American history, which I thought was pretty cool.”
Gunnar does have his favorites to play during the concert.
“The first one is ‘Lonesome Town’ because I get to sing that one and it’s so elegantly simple; it’s just an acoustic guitar and a voice. And I think our dad really sang ballads better than anyone back in the day,” he said.
“And the second song, of course, is ‘Garden Party’ because it was a statement of his motto of life. It was his experience to get booed off the stage at Madison Square Garden for not being an oldies act, and he just wanted to let everybody know that you can’t please everyone, he’s got to please himself.”
While Gunnar and Matthew keep their Nelson and tribute shows separate, the brothers are ready to rock with a new disc, “Lightning Strikes Twice,” due out in February.
“This record, even though it’s 20 years later, it’s a seamless follow-up to our first album, ‘After the Rain,’ which sold five million copies,” Gunnar said. “It was a record I’ve always wanted to make … [Grunge] was the single largest paradigm shift in music history; it was no fault of our own, but we went home after doing that monster tour, and everything had changed. In America, they were not playing any of our kind of music anymore.”