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king Sha a tail feather; Blues Brothers come town hot from US tour.


If the Blues Brothers were on a mission from God in the cult classic 1980 film, their fans and imitators have been praying at their altar ever since.

The world is not short of tribute acts to fictional siblings Joliet Jake and Elwood Blues, the creation of comic actors John Belushi and Dan Aykroyd.

To this day, they remain instantly recognisable in their black suits and skinny ties, white shirts and socks, topped off by sunglasses and porkpie hats.

Few, however, come with the pedigree of The Blues Brothers: Approved, which has been given the thumbs up by no less than Aykroyd himself and Belushi's widow Judy.

It means a lot to star and producer Brad Henshaw but what really shakes a tail feather was the show's successful six-week residency in the home of the Blues Brothers, Chicago, in 2011.

He said: "I found it really hard to accept that we were going to perform in Chicago, not just for a night or two nights but a six-week residency.

"I was wondering what an American audience would make of what we had done. The gravity of where we were was playing quite hard on people's minds. But I had confidence in what we had.

"We had a fantastic band and had rocked all over Europe for many years, and we thought, 'You either go down fighting or you wither away'.

"We came out on stage, got a fantastic reception and we just went from strength to strength. I realised at that point that we had something very, very special.

"We were back for a nationwide US tour last year, including a week in Los Angeles. That in itself is a tribute to everyone across the UK who had come out and supported us for all these years."

While the film featured Jake and Elwood getting the band back together to raise money for the Catholic orphanage where they were raised - encountering nuns, Nazis and rednecks along the way, not to mention Ray Charles - the live show, which is heading to Glasgow, concentrates on the music.

Brad stars as Belushi's character Jake while Elwood is played by Chris Chandler. They are joined by all-girl backing singers the Bluettes and the Blues Brothers Band performing songs including Gimme Some Lovin', Think, Shake a Tail Feather and Sweet Home Chicago.

Brad, who has 17 years with the production, is a regular visitor north of the Border, where the audience is ever changing.

He said: "We've been up in Scotland many times and we get a massive cross-section of people who come to hear the great sounds. Some people bring their children. We also get senior members of the community because they love the music.

"It's also about having fun and we expect our audience to get involved - people do come dressed up as nuns, the Blues Brothers or the Good Ol' Boys and that's important to us."

While the show is inspired by John Landis's film, which was itself derived from sketches Belushi and Aykroyd performed on Saturday Night Live, it takes its lead from a real-life tour the actors undertook as Jake and Elwood.

Brad said: "They actually went on the road. It was a 52-date tour with some of the musicians that you see in the first film like Steve Cropper and Donald "Duck" Dunn - those guys.

"They wanted to live the life of a rock and roll blues band. It was called the Road to Ruin tour and they were so serious about it they insisted they were called Jake and Elwood.

"There are parallels with the film, of course, but storyline-wise, you can't imitate on stage one of the greatest car chases of all time."

As for the film, he still watches it - and still really enjoys it. He added: "I do watch it from time to time and I marvel at what director John Landis has done because there are still elements that surprise me.

"For instance, I didn't know Judy Belushi is in the film until I met her. I will never tire of it."

The Blues Brothers Approved is at the King's Theatre, Glasgow, March 25 - 27, Tel.

0844 871 7627.


DOUBLE ACT... Brad and Chris take to the stage
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Title Annotation:Features
Publication:Sunday Mail (Glasgow, Scotland)
Date:Mar 17, 2013
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