HomeBlocksFront-GridTribute Bands Entertain Burbankers at Starlight Bowl

Tribute Bands Entertain Burbankers at Starlight Bowl

Photos by
David Laurell
Burbank Leader


While Linda Ronstadt never performed at the Starlight Bowl, between 1975 until 1996 she did sing a number of her greatest hits in Burbank, always at the same venue: 3000 West Alameda Ave., the erstwhile studios of NBC.

Her first Burbank appearance, on “The Midnight Special,” gave viewers of the Wolfman Jack-hosted show the opportunity to hear Ronstadt sing her hit version of the Everly Brothers “When Will I Be Loved?” From there she went on to appear on “The Tonight Show” with hosts Johnny Carson and Jay Leno.

Ronstadt, who released her final solo album in 2004 and her final collaborative offering in 2006, performed her last live concert in 2009, four years before she disclosed that she had been diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease.

While audiences will never again have the chance to see the rock, pop, country, opera and Latin songstress perform in concert, last week gave Burbankers the next best thing as Ronstadt Revival, featuring Shannon Rae took the stage along with The Eagles tribute band The Long Run at the Starlight Bowl.

The show provided a timely tribute to Ronstadt and The Eagles, not just because of the recent celebration of her birthday and passing of founding Eagles member Randy Meisner, but also to remind people that the formation of The Eagles stemmed from their work as Ronstadt’s early-1970s backup band.

Prior to Saturday’s performance, Southern California native Rae, who recreates Ronstadt with the help of her band, said she had really been looking forward to this show.

“I have played the Starlight Bowl before and it’s a great venue, like a mini Greek Theatre,” she said. “I love the variations it offers. People can stretch out on the lawn and have a picnic, sit in a seat, or come right down to the front of the stage and dance. You can’t do that in many venues so that’s what makes it great for both the audience and the performers. I also love that it gives people the chance to gather with their friends and family and have a great night for an affordable price.”

A talented recording artist and performer in her own right, Rae and her band 100 Proof have shared the stage with numerous country rock icons including Wynonna Judd, The Marshall Tucker Band, and the late Roy Clark. She also played with two all-girl trios, the pop band Demimonde and the country influenced Sweetwater Junction.

While she loves performing as herself, Rae said the opportunity to do a tribute to Ronstadt is something she has always wanted to do.

“I was a latchkey kid, and my sisters were older than me, so being alone a lot listening to records was a big art of my life when I was young,” she recalled. “The first album I ever bought with my own money was ‘Linda Ronstadt’s Greatest Hits,’ which I listened to over and over. I actually learned how to sing by listening to that album.”

In 2019, Rae’s hope to perform as Ronstadt became a reality, although it just as easily could not have happened.

“When I auditioned for the role, I was so nervous,” she revealed. “I know that Linda’s fans are very protective of her, and I didn’t want to disappoint people. While I really wanted to do it, I wasn’t sure if I was capable of living up to the standard.”

Having dressed and made herself up to resemble Ronstadt, Rae auditioned along with two other singers.

“I did four or five songs and had the audition recorded,” said Rae. “When I got home, my husband and I watched the audition, and we both felt it wasn’t good. But then, the next day, they called and offered me the gig. I told them I wasn’t sure about doing it. We went around a bit until two of the guys from the band finally invited me to Starbucks and threatened to tie me to a chair until I said yes,” she added, with a laugh.

Explaining that she and the band quickly grew together, Rae felt that by their third rehearsal she was really in command of what needed to be done to present a proper tribute to the 11-time Grammy Award winner.

An in-demand model who was constantly working during her 20s, Rae said she missed out on a lot of things in life due to work and, unfortunately, never got to see Ronstadt perform live.

Although she never got to see Ronstadt in person, or even meet her, something she hopes will happen someday, Rae said she has spent untold hours studying her every inflection and move.

“I also feel that I get more into my portrayal because of the custom costumes I have had made,” said Rae. “My neighbor’s mom is a talented seamstress from Russia who has recreated many of Linda’s iconic outfits for me. I have also watched her 2019 documentary ‘Linda Ronstadt: The Sound of My Voice’ about 100 times. I have diligently studied her every move because I so want the audience to be transported back in time and get a real sense of what it was like to see her in concert.”

Before last week’s show, Rae and her band members, Dan Segal, Kevin Ryan, Jeff Hale, Rich Sanders, Forty and Julie Pusch, did what they do before every show, gather in her dressing room, stand in a circle and hold hands.

“We say a prayer and do some breathing exercises led by our fiddle player Julie who is a vocal coach,” said Rae. “It gets us all in the right mindset before going out on stage.”

Once out on stage, Rae and the band did all the classic Ronstadt hits the audience came to hear.

“After every show I get such a great response from people,” said Rae. “I’ve had people who come up to me and are emotional because a certain song was integral to them at a special or difficult time of their life. Linda’s music has brought such joy to people, and I am so grateful to do this, to share the stage with The Long Run to do the music of The Eagles and Linda Ronstadt, to keep their legend alive.”

Tonight’s show at the Starlight Bowl will feature tributes to Bruno Mars and Prince. For more information and to purchase tickets, visit starlightbowl.com.

The members of Ronstadt Revival do their pre-show ritual of circling up, holding hands, saying a prayer and doing breathing exercises.
Along with Ronstadt Revival, bowlgoers enjoyed The Long Run, a Los Angeles-based tribute band dedicated to faithfully recreating the music of The Eagles.
After Saturday’s performance, state Sen. Anthony Portantino stopped backstage to congratulate Shannon Rae on a great show.
Gary Grantham (left) and Roby Duron of The Long Run recreate the sound of The Eagles.
Dianna Fowler, Vickie Cusumano, Rachel Freeman and Jill Machula “takin’ it easy” at the Starlight Bowl.

DAVID LAURELL may be reached by email at dlaurell@aol.com or (818) 563-1007.

First published in the August 5 print issue of the Burbank Leader.

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