It has been three years since the death of the “King of Pop.”
Yet, his music still lives on: Fans of Michael Jackson will get the chance to experience the musical icon’s addictive hit singles and infectious dance moves resurrected through the “ultimate Michael Jackson tribute band,” Who’s Bad, at the Model City Music Fest in Anniston on July 14.
Sunny King, the Anniston City Council and Larry May, owner of downtown music store, CD Cellar, bring some of the best local musicians and headlining act, Who’s Bad, together for the outdoor festival at Zinn Park.
“We could’ve picked any band, but for people my age and younger, Michael Jackson was like our Beatles,” May said. “Michael’s music was just so universal, and I still see the impact his music has on people. We picked the band that best represented what he was all about, and these guys do the best job.”
Far from impersonators and cover bands, Who’s Bad is made up of talented artists who attempt to recreate Jackson’s music and choreography in the same essence in which it was originally performed. The band was formed back in 2003 by Vamsi Tadepalli and his college classmates at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.
“We were just graduating from UNC where I studied jazz performance,” Tadepalli said. “There were plenty of impersonators out there, but there wasn’t a band touring and playing Michael’s music for people, so I said let’s do it.”
For the past nine years, Who’s Bad has toured all over the country and overseas. After Jackson’s death in 2009, the group filled a void for fans wanting to hear his music.
“We’ve played shows in the UK, Singapore, Germany, Romania, Mexico, South America and Canada,” Tadepalli said. “It just shows how much reach his music has because everyone all over the world knows Michael Jackson. We’d be playing in China, for example, where no one could speak English, but they knew all the words to his songs.”
While the lineup has changed slightly since 2003, Tadepalli said the band is full of top-tier musicians with an incredible amount of energy that audiences can feel from the moment they step foot on the stage. The lead singer and New York native Taalib York is the real deal, someone Tadepalli said is “very much a visual representation of Michael from the ‘Bad’ era and pretty much the closest thing that you’ll get to seeing Michael live.”
“Basically, what we’re going to bring to Anniston is 100 minutes of nonstop energy and music with costume changes, choreographed dance routines and a live band,” Tadepalli said. “It’s in your face, but most importantly, it’s family-friendly.”
Local band T.A.D. of Jazz will kick things off with a mixture of jazz and soul tunes. Together since 2007, T.A.D. of Jazz includes musicians from the Anniston and Gadsden area who play the saxophone, trumpet, bass, keyboard and drums.
“The band is so versatile, playing jazz sets from the ‘40s and ‘50s,” May said. “They can also play one of today’s hits in a jazz-type style, and it sounds just as good as anything on the radio.”
Ruben Mitchell, who plays saxophone in T.A.D. of Jazz and is also the band director at Anniston High School, said he was excited to be a part of such a huge outlet for his band and the community.
“I think it will bring the community together because it will be full of music that reaches all generations,” he said. “Hopefully, people will support something positive that Anniston has to offer so we can have many more of these concerts in the future.”
With plans already in the works to contact bands for next year, May said he wants the concert series to continue for the next 20 years and keep it free for the public.
“We’ve got different people interested and we want to make sure two things happen,” May said. “We want to renovate and revitalize downtown Anniston, and we want to give kids and anybody else who is interested an appreciation for the arts.”
After T.A.D. of Jazz performs at 6 p.m., audiences will be treated to local dance troupes and a welcome from Anniston Mayor Gene Robinson and other key speakers from the community. Shortly thereafter, the main event starts at 8 p.m., and May said it is something audiences do not want to miss.
In addition to the live entertainment, there will also be various food and drink vendors. Volunteers will assist with regular and accessible parking, and the Anniston Police Department will provide security at the newly renovated Zinn Park.
“We urge everybody to come out to this free event,” May said. “If people wonder if the show is for them, it’s definitely for all audiences. It’s going to be big.”
“For any music lover, whether they’re a Michael fan or not, this will be a fun show with lots of energy and great music,” Tadepalli said. “We’ll cover all the songs from The Jackson Five era through his solo career. If you like to have a good time, then this is the show to be at.”
Model City Music Fest
When: 6-10 p.m. July 14
Where: Zinn Park, 101 W. 14th St., Anniston
More live music
For more live music this summer, check out the Quintard Mall Summer Concert Series.
The Record Year
Counting the Cost
When: All performances begin at Quintard Mall at 6 p.m. in the parking lot near Sears
Contact: 256-831-4180 ext. 5, then 3