Bermuda dances to Motown music

  • The Legacy Motown Revue - Demo

  • Remembering Motown: Performers, from left, J.P. Phifer, James Pressley, Richard Figueroa and Tristan Smith (Photograph supplied)

    Remembering Motown: Performers, from left, J.P. Phifer, James Pressley, Richard Figueroa and Tristan Smith (Photograph supplied)

At the movies, in advertising and on the radio — the music of Motown just won’t quit.

Band leader Stan Stigall is bringing the classic sound to the island with The Legacy Motown Revue.

The group and its six-piece horn band will perform tonight and tomorrow at the Mid Ocean Amphitheatre. Bermuda’s Wall Street Band will open the show.

“These songs have become timeless,” he said.

“A lot of these were hits when I was in junior high school. I played them the first time around when they were on Billboard’s Top 40.

“They’ve been in so many movies. Just last night I was watching TV and I Heard it Through the Grapevine was in one of the commercials. Everywhere you go, you hear the songs — The Temptations, The Jackson 5, The Four Tops.”

In the 1970s, he toured as music director and pianist for Bill Pinkney and the original Drifters. He formed singing group Sound Express in 1977, but dreamt of starting a tribute to the groups that he grew up listening to.

When Mr Pinkney died on July 4, 2008, the idea bugged Mr Stigall further. It prodded him still when he went to see a story about Motown at North Carolina’s The Barn Dinner Theatre.

“We played a lot of corporate parties, a lot of wedding receptions and just wanted to do something different. Then Robert Andrew, one of the guys that used to play with The Drifters, called me and we’ve been rolling strong since.”

Their first show, a tribute to Mr Pinkney, was on July 4, 2010 in his home town of Kernersville, North Carolina.

With a sound that takes you back to the days of The Drifters, The Coasters, The Jacksons, Earth Wind & Fire and The Temptations, among others, Mr Stigall said the tunes have not wavered in popularity.

They played 90 dates last year and are booked from Washington DC to Atlanta; from Chicago to Palm Beach.

“I’d spent 25 years as an entertainment agent,” said Mr Stigall, whose company Much Moore Entertainment closed in 2005.

“I was always a playing entertainment agent.

“I enjoyed the African American singing groups and the rhythm and blues — the vocal styles I grew up on. The Drifters music is great, but people were more interested in Motown — The Temptations, The Four Tops, that sort of thing.”

The ten performers run from 26 to about 66 years old.

Tristan Smith, the group’s baritone-bassist, had been part of Love Machine, a musical spoof of older Motown guys looking back over their career; Lee Black, the sound engineer, has worked with numerous heavy hitters including Lady Antebellum. Mr Stigall compared vocalist Janice Price to Gladys Knight.

For their first time in Bermuda, the 63-year-old band leader promised a “high-energy” performance.

“We create a real party environment. When we play theatres where people sit and watch, we still have people up in the aisles,” he said.

“The whole point is to get them excited. For the hour and a half or so that we play, I want them to forget about anything that’s going on in their life and focus on having a good time.”

The Legacy Motown Revue runs tonight and tomorrow night at 7.30pm in the Fairmont Southampton. Tickets are available at Saturday’s show is sold out. Visit for more details

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Published Apr 20, 2018 at 8:00 am (Updated Apr 19, 2018 at 8:44 pm)

Bermuda dances to Motown music

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