Blues Brothers group gets things moving

Blues Brothers the Next Generation, a 10-piece blues and soul band that pays homage to the original Blues Brothers – Jake and Elwood Blues – had folks moving and grooving July 27, during a summer concert at Abbie Griffin Park.

The concert was the fifth and most rambunctious of 10 musical events featured in the 2011 Summer Concert Series hosted by the Merrimack Parks and Recreation Department. The park’s bandstand has presented family friendly rock music, mellow acoustic folk tunes and nostalgic guitar selections.

The one exception to performances held at the park venue was the kickoff concert of the summer season, an evening of patriotic tunes presented July 3 in advance of the town’s Independence Day celebration. The event, led by the Merrimack Concert Association, took place instead at the local high school when thunderstorms squelched plans for the open-air gathering.

The Blues Brothers the Next Generation, founded in 1996, is headed by 29-year-old Hooksett residents Greg Dorfman as “Jake” and Kyle Turner as “Elwood,” along with a third Blues brother, “Zee,” also known as John D’Amico. All graduated from Manchester High School.

Their backup came from a group of instrumentalists who played Blues Brothers favorites, including the “Peter Gun Theme,” “Jailhouse Rock,” the theme from “Rawhide” and “Shake a Tail Feather.” Don Turcotte, of Bedford, played drums and added vocals. Stian Brinch of North Reading, Mass., played guitar. Paul Ackerman of Topsfield, Mass., played trombone.

Another of the music makers was Kai Sorensen, of Boston, who played trumpet. Mike MacEachern, of Melrose, Mass., performed on bass guitar. Rich Greenblatt, of Winchester, Mass., took care of the organ, keyboard and additional vocals. Kyle Moffatt, of Boston, usually mans the sax but on the night of the Merrimack performance, it was Joe Brogan, of Wilmington, Mass.

D’Amico said the group was “awed and amazed” at the reception offered them by Merrimack residents, families and friends from other towns who came for a good time and went home smiling. He said band members get together once a week and practice for at least four hours per session.

“Playing in Merrimack was a great experience,” D’Amico said. “The crowd was great. Kids were dancing and everyone was clapping and laughing and having a great time. It was very inspiring. We had a great time, too.”

Merrimack’s Owen Harrington brought his two youngsters, Brayden, 4, and Camden, 20-months. He said they were attending their first concert of the season that evening but have enjoyed many in the past.

“We have such a good time here,” he said. “The kids can get some fresh air and run around on the grass – and they’ll dance if they get into the beat. Tonight’s concert was great.”

Dark sunglasses, black suits and black shoes accessorized with white socks were the on-stage fashion for the next generation of Blues Brothers. The similarly dressed threesome’s footwork, consisting of rapid running in place and movements resembling jumping-jacks, was a vivid replication of the choreography offered by the band made famous in the Blues Brothers movie of 1980.

The “Blues Brothers” film, a musical comedy directed by John Landis, starred John Belushi and Dan Aykroyd, in addition to celebrities John Candy, Cab Calloway, Aretha Franklin, Ray Charles and James Brown as a high-voltage preacher.

Lots of car crashes, mostly triggered by Elwood’s evasive maneuvers behind the wheel of a beat-up car – a 1974 Dodge Monaco sedan – and thousands of extras populating numerous street scenes played a role in the movie’s success.

Nowadays, with the proximity of The Blues Brothers the Next Generation and the trio of musicians from Hooksett, one need not go far to hear Blues Brothers-style music. The group that played at Merrimack’s summer concert in Abbie Griffin Park also plays all around New England.

Another of the group’s appearances is scheduled for Saturday, Sept. 24 in Boston at the Helping Hands Benefit at the WGBH studios, from 7-9 p.m.

Other performance dates, photos, videos, booking details and information are online at Upcoming concerts presented on Wednesday evenings, 7 p.m., at Abbie Griffin Park, include: Aug. 17, East Bay Jazz Ensemble, a 40s-era preservationist-style music that focuses on ballroom dances and classic swing/blues music as performed by the great big bands.

Aug. 24, Fountain Square Ramblers will present early jazz, also known as Dixieland. Aug. 31, Random Acts of Harmony, an acoustic folk singing group with three-part harmonies to popular tunes. For more information, call the Merrimack Parks and Recreation Department at 882-1046.