Celebrate band members L-R: Fred Ferrese, Robert Viands, Ron Esposito, John Justice Parker, Steve Rowley, Alan Melnick, Fred Moore. [Photo by Celebrate]
Tribute acts to popular bands and artists have become all the rage, but some of the best tributes are the rare ones to specific genres and sounds.
Nationally, veteran Massachusetts-born drummer Jonathan Mover (Joe Satriani, The Tubes, Aretha Franklin) started touring in 2022 with ProgJect, his nod to progressive rock icons like Genesis, Yes, Jethro Tull, Rush, and Emerson, Lake & Palmer. Another drummer, West Palm Beach-based Tim Moss, started T's Express this year to salute iconic jazz and fusion keyboardists and composers Chick Corea and Herbie Hancock.
But another area tribute beat both of them to the punch. Celebrate (www.celebrate3dn.com), a seven-piece act with three lead singers, performs a wide range of classic vocal harmony pop hits from the 1960s and 1970s -- including those by Three Dog Night, The Beatles, The Zombies, The Monkees, The Eagles and beyond.
Celebrate appears at the Arts Garage in Delray Beach on May 28. As its website address indicates, the band started out to pay homage to Three Dog Night, the sweet-singing Los Angeles group that topped the singles charts from the late 1960s to mid-1970s. Celebrate performs all of their hits, including "One," "Joy To the World," "Mama Told Me Not To Come," "Black and White," "Shambala," "Never Been To Spain," "Eli's Coming" and, of course, "Celebrate."
"That band had around 20 top hit singles," says Fred Moore, who shares Celebrate's vocals with fellow singer John Justice Parker and singing acoustic guitarist Fred Ferrese. "They had great three-part vocal harmonies, and were a rock band that, to me, sounded soulful. We started out playing Three Dog Night about seven years ago, and have added songs by other artists for about the past five years."
Like Parker and Ferrese, Moore has a long list of previous area bands (Coconut, Out For Kicks, Soul Motion, Solid Brass). Celebrate's three front men also perform with The Trio (which Moore calls "Celebrate unplugged"), and Moore and Ferrese are both part of another thematic area tribute, the adult contemporary group Yacht Rock.
"The Trio plays once every couple months at Village Music in Wellington," Moore says, "because we have a lot of friends in that area. But Celebrate and Yacht Rock mostly perform throughout South Florida at homeowner's shows in various communities, where they all now seem to have huge auditoriums with great sound and lighting systems."
Backing Moore, Ferrese and Parker are Celebrate's integral musicians in electric guitarist Steve Rowley, keyboardist Robert Viands, bassist Alan Melnick and drummer Ron Esposito. Together, they add to the celebratory sound by replicating the exact same instrumentation as Three Dog Night's during that band's classic run.
And it isn't surprising that Celebrate plays in several different community concert halls coast to coast throughout South Florida, considering the diversity of its members' residences.
"I live in Boynton Beach," says Moore. "John Parker is in Port St. Lucie, Steve and Alan are in Wellington, and Robert is in Coral Springs."
Ferrese has been a car salesman at AutoNation in Lake Worth for close to 30 years, and Esposito owns an auto body and paint shop in Lake Park, adding to the group's regional mobility.
Outside of the occasional ampitheater gig, the forthcoming Arts Garage booking provides a rare opportunity to see Celebrate somewhere other than a gated community.
"We've played at the Arts Garage a couple times before," Moore says, "and we seem to sell out there every time, which is pretty cool. I'm very happy to be part of a really good three-part vocal harmony section. Fred is so adept at working out the lower-register vocal parts, and John Parker is the younger firebrand who's hard to keep up with. But it's always fun to try."
See Celebrate at 7 p.m. on May 28 at the Arts Garage, 94 N.E. 2nd Ave., Delray Beach. Tickets: $40-$45. For further information, call 561-450-6357 or visit artsgarage.org.