After a year of playing together around the Island and many more months of planning and logistics, the Joe Cocker Experience, what founder Gerry Pool calls a mid-Island “all-star” band, is coming to the Port Theatre for the first time.
As most members are from the Nanaimo area, Pool, the group’s drummer, said they are eagerly anticipating their hometown theatre debut.
The Joe Cocker Experience – Pool, lead vocalist Danny Bee, backup singers Chantal Richard and Kristi Kell, guitarist Daryl Marklinger, bassist Ron McKee, keyboardists Rick McDonough and Earle Gibson and multi-instrumentalist Steve Jones – performs at the Port Theatre on April 6.
Pool was inspired to put the band together after watching footage of Cocker from his final tour in 2013. Cocker died the following year and Pool was moved to pay tribute.
Bee was the first musician Pool reached out to when forming the group. Pool said he’d always thought Bee had a strong vocal resemblance to the British singer.
“He opens his mouth to sing and exactly what comes out is Joe Cocker. It’s not forced, it’s not faked, the boy was born with that voice,” Pool said of Bee. “That was the beauty of it.”
With nine members, there was a “really heavy vetting process,” Pool said. Most of the members he’s known for years, but he wasn’t just looking for skilled musicians, he was looking for musicians who were excited to be part of the project. The band members each have decades of touring experience.
The show features intermittent video clips of interviews with Cocker and those close to him, beginning with his early success and covering his struggles with substance abuse and ending with his late-career resurgence and how he has been remembered.
“Nobody thought he was going to come back again, but he did,” Pool said. “He came back on the other side stronger, smarter and with a good sense of what it was he wanted to do.”
WHAT’S ON … The Joe Cocker Experience plays the Port Theatre on Saturday, April 6 at 7:30 p.m. Tickets $35 and $40 at the box office.