The Essentials
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The Essentials

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Music

The best kept secret in music

Press


When you enjoy listening to a band or a vocal group repeatedly you know they must something going for them. In the days of the big bands, it didn't matter how many times you turned on the radio heard Glenn Miller, Tommy Dorsey or Harry James. And you wanted to hear the tunes that were associated with those bands everytime you tuned them in. Such is the case with The Essentials, the a cappella vocal group which opened at the Black Forest Inn in Conestogo on Friday night for what must be their fourth engagement there. Even though many of the songs in the show are in their standard repertoire, it was a real treat to hear them again and watch them work, for they are consummate entertainers who really love what they do - and it shows. Not that this was just a rehash of what they've done before - there were a lot of changes. With a few new songs strewn about in the mix, they were sporting new modern outfits, new lighting, new cordless microphones and new choreography. And now their great show is becoming a superb show. They've never sounded better, for one thing. Their blend is always superb, but the balance now is dead on all the time, thanks to their sound tech and road manager Mark Watson. Watson, by the way, is Anson Williams nephew - I'm sure you remember Potsie from Happy Days. The Essentials have taken many of the standards from the 60's to the 90's and turned them into four-part harmony arrangements which are better than the originals. For onet hing, these guys have good voices, both in the group sound and in solo. And, while they've captured the feel of the originals, they've added a more sophisticated edge - which makes the songs sound new. When they romp through Some Kind of Wonder, Happy Together, Runaround Sue, My Girl, California Dreamin' and Under the Boardwalk there is an energy which tumbles off the stage into the audience. You can see it in their faces, feel it from their body movements, and their joy of performance is totally infectious. They kid each other onstage, both during the songs and in their patter, and this kind of fun is a treat to watch for it's completely spontaneous. They play to the audience, too, and aren't afraid to come right off the stage and work on the floor. One notable instance: during each show they like to put down the microphones, walk into the audience and sing a tune without any electronic amplification. On Friday they used In the Still of the Night, singing it purely and perfectly, and you could have heard a pin drop in the audience. Not many pop or rock acts would dare do this. Of course there are some rhythm tracks on some tunes, but this never detracts from the voices, simply adding a framework in which to work. Some of these tracks have been upgraded, Too, adding more excitement to the show. A couple of the new tunes were Your Song and Stay a Little Bit Longer; both of which are on their third CD. - The Record - Kitchener, ON


Discography

“Oh What a Night” (1995) (Debut Album)

- Produced by Jack Richardson (Best known for his work with The Guess Who, Bob Seger and Alice Cooper)
- Features fan favorites: “December 1963 (Oh What a Night)”, “Sixteen Candles”, “Runaround Sue” and “Blue Moon”.
- “… high energy quintet, devoting their harmonious labors on this album to the art…” (Primarily A Cappella, San Francisco, CA)

“… And Then Some” (1995)

- Also produced by Jack Richardson
- Features fan favorites: “My Girl”, “Lean on Me”, “California Dreamin’” and “Twistin’ the Night Away”
- “… the harmonies are as tight as ever… “ (Primarily A Cappella, San Francisco, CA)

“Bare” (1999)

- Live album, recorded on November 10th, 1999 in Sault Ste Marie
- Features fan favorites: “Some Kind of Wonderful”, “Brown Eyed Girl”, “The Lion Sleeps Tonight” and “River of Dreams”
- “… The Essentials “Bare” is undoubtedly the most exciting of their 3 discs…” (Kitchener Record, Kitchener, ON)

Photos

Feeling a bit camera shy

Bio

Based in Toronto, Canada, The Essentials have been performing together for over 9 years. They have captivated audiences around the world with a repertoire that spans 50 years of classic rock and roll and continues to break new ground with modern hits and exciting, new original material.
In just a few years, The Essentials have moved from their humble beginnings in a parking lot of an ice cream shop in London, Ontario, to international acclaim as one of the "finest a cappella groups in the world". Their unique arrangements of songs from the 50's to modern day have won the respect of fans everywhere. Their busy touring schedule has taken them to hundreds of cities in North America and Europe including Chicago, Detroit, Philadelphia and New York. Their trip across the Atlantic saw them performing for thousands of enthusiastic listeners throughout Great Britain. As well, they have performed with some of the most respected names in the entertainment industry including Little Richard, The Platters and Burton Cummings.
Their first two independent CDs have helped to spread the word of their talent around the world and have entertained thousands of fans on every continent. In collaboration with legendary music producer, Jack Richardson, The Essentials’ first CD, "Oh What A Night!' " took no time at all to reach the top of the indie charts and created a huge demand for a follow up album. The result was a second CD "The Essentials ...And Then Some " which garnered the group a host of glowing reviews and several prestigious industry nominations. With two consecutive home runs, the group decided to try a little twist. They recorded a live show in Sault Ste Marie, Ontario on September 10, 1999 and the result was their third album "The 'Bare' Essentials".
In 2000, The Essentials were cast in the CBS movie “A Holiday Romance”, starring Andy Griffith, Naomi Judd, and Gerald McRaney. More recently, they were cast in a national ad campaign for Bell XpressVu, which featured them singing the Canadian National Anthem. This sparked several invitations from both the Toronto Raptors as well as the Toronto Blue Jays to sing both the U.S. and Canadian anthems at their home games.
Currently, The Essentials are based in Toronto and are working on their 4th CD. The new CD will contain an entertaining play list of classic remakes and fan favorites. A release date has not yet been confirmed but is expected for early 2005.
The Essentials are also in the process of putting together their first full album focused on original material. They are planning to take a new musical direction by incorporating light acoustic instruments into the production. A release date for this album has also not yet been confirmed, but late spring to early summer of 2005 is expected Until then, The Essentials will continue to perform and sell out shows across North America. With the support of those who know them already, and the enthusiasm of the those who will discover them this year, The Essentials will continue to enjoy what they do like no other group… sing!