Another year with Richie Lee covers slightly broader rock era

Published 9:00 am Sunday, May 13, 2018

For those who left their time travel machines at home, May 19 presents a window of opportunity — specifically, a window that spans the 50s and 60s.

Richie Lee and the Fabulous 50s, a quartet with a flair for early rock ‘n’ roll, will perform at the Marion Ross Performing Arts Center at 7:30 p.m. May 19.

“I grew up listening to all the music my parents, that’s the music they listened to around the house,” Richie Lee said. Lee primarily sings and plays guitar for the group. “… It’s the type of music I never get tired of.”

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Lee said he is open-minded about all kinds of music, but early rock ‘n’ roll stuck out.

Bass player and vocalist Dennis Niedert said the show will move forward almost chronologically, starting in the 50s with some rockabilly through to the recreation of rock ‘n’ roll with bands like the Beatles and Beach Boys, finishing up just before the timeline hits psychedelic rock.

“You get a really good, good forte of the entire rock ‘n’ roll experience, not just the early ’50s,” Niedert said.

Over the last two years, the band’s influence has expanded as members come in with different ideas, Niedert said. According to Lee, the group is continually learning new songs and working on new things.

“We do know a little bit of everybody, really, not just one thing,” Lee said.

This year’s show has also brought more vocal harmony than in the past, Niedert said. But the group is mixing it up in more ways than one. Lee said the band members are all skilled on several of the on-stage instruments.

“We literally switch it up from song to song at a time,” Niedert said. “It’s not one person in the middle anymore … it’s a very shared team atmosphere.”

That team feel extends into the group’s chemistry, which he said is strong. Ideas proposed by one band member will be expanded by another person.

“We’re having fun,” Niedert said. “Just being together, we’re having fun and that radiates off stage through the entire performance. If we’re having fun, they’re having fun.”

Lee said listeners can expect an educated sound.

“We try to get as close to the record as we can,” Lee said. The band members try to capture the essence of the songs they play.

“We actually try to figure out what makes the song good and, you know, try to replicate that live,” he said. He said the resulting sound is more authentic than just playing the music.

And for the audience, Niedert said he wants them to take away a genuine experience: “A smile. A tear. A memory.”

For instance, “‘That reminds me of this car,’” he said. “‘That reminds me of this ex-girlfriend.’ ‘That reminds me of the puppy I had when I was 16.’”

Tickets, please

Who: Richie Lee and the Fabulous 50s

When: 7:30 p.m. May 19

Where: Marion Ross Performing Arts Center

How much: $15. Tickets can be purchased at, by calling 877-730-3144 or at the door.

About Sarah Kocher

Sarah covers education and arts and culture for the Tribune.

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