NACOGDOCHES, Texas – The Rockin’ Axes at Stephen F. Austin State University will present “The Sounds of the ’80s” when the two student ensembles perform at 7:30 p.m. Thursday, Dec. 8, in Cole Concert Hall on the SFA campus.
Andrew Sperandeo, director of the Rockin’ Axes groups, chose a theme that chronologically followed popular music through the decades because he wanted his students to experience “great music and great artists.”
Beginning with songs of the ’50s and ’60s three years ago, moving to the music of the ’70s last year, and forward to the music of the ’80s this year, Sperandeo’s students have seen how music, culture and style have changed over time, and they have seen how the music of previous decades influenced musicians that followed, he explained.
Among the program selections are “Rosanna,” written by David Paich and recorded by Toto; “Let’s Groove,” written by Maurice White and Wayne Vaughn and recorded by Earth, Wind & Fire; and “Owner of a Lonely Heart,” written by Trevor Rabin and recorded by “Yes.”
Toto was comprised of talented studio musicians from the ‘80’s who played on many of the big hits by other artist of the time, including Michael Jackson’s “Thriller,” Sperandeo said.
“‘Rosanna’ can be appreciated by so many because it has solid half-time shuffle groove, catchy chord progression and amazing vocals and harmony,” he said. “It contains a bit more advanced elements such as key changes and style changes, notably in the outro.”
Sperandeo chose “Let’s Groove” because he “always loved the intro bass line double with a vox vocoder, and also because this band is the epitome of groove – great horn lines and vocal harmonies,” he said. “I knew the kids and the audience would have fun with this one.”
Performing “Owner of a Lonely Heart” will allow student to experience a little of the “progressive rock scene” of the ‘80’s, Sperandeo said, “and Yes definitely fell into that category.”
“I love the different textural layers in this tune created from great guitar tone and effects, with synth orchestral hits, hard-hitting bright snare and high clean vocals,” he said. “All of these elements and great mixing and mastering make it sound very progressive, even 30 years later.”
The Contemporary Ensemble will also perform after the two Rockin’ Axes Groups.
“Bust out your leg warmers, jean jackets and parachute pants for this concert as we try to transport you back 30 years to a time where MTV music videos changed the course of music history and culture,” Sperandeo encouraged audience members, “to a time we can all look back at our hair styles and wardrobe and honestly say, ‘What were we thinking?’”
The concert is a presentation of the SFA College of Fine Arts and School of Music. Cole concert Hall is located in the Tom and Peggy Wright Music Building, 2210 Alumni Drive.
Tickets are $8 for adults, $6 for seniors and $3 for students and youth. For tickets or more information, call the SFA Fine Arts Box Office at (936) 468-6407 or (888) 240-ARTS or visit http://www.finearts.sfasu.edu/.