Sons & Heirs to fill Mauch Chunk with the sounds of The Smiths on Aug. 29.
JIM THORPE — Sometimes a cover band is more than just a group of musicans playing other people’s songs. Vocalist Ronnissey, guitarist Ravi Marr, bassist Fredo Rourke and drummer Flax Joyce perform songs from The Smiths and Morrisey as The Sons & Heirs, a tribute band that has played for fans as far away as Tel Aviv, Israel. The group will perform at the Mauch Chunk Opera House in Jim Thorpe on Aug. 29, and Ronnissey said the Sons & Heirs can’t wait to return.
“When I found out we were coming back I was thrilled,” Ronnissey said. “(The opera house) just has such a beautiful vibe about it, the town is beautiful, (and) the people are so nice. They actually came out of the seats and filled up the front—they were dancing and having a great time, which was amazing.”
Ronnie Scott was a guitar player who couldn’t find a singer to accompany him, so he decided to play gigs by himself until the right person came along. When Scott took the stage and started singing his songs, people heard something—or someone—else.
“People were saying, ‘you know, you have a decent voice. You sound like (lead singer of The Smiths) Morrissey,’” Scott said. “I was thinking it was Jim Morison but they were (saying) Morrissey. I didn’t know The Smiths. A lot of people were saying that and I kind of checked out Morrissey and it wasn’t my genre of music.”
Scott was into grunge—the emotional ’80s band wasn’t in his wheelhouse, and The Moz’s solo material was even more of a stretch. The crowds persisted though, yelling out popular Smiths tunes like “This Charming Man” and “Cemetery Gates” while Scott attempted to perform sets of his own material. It angered and frustrated him. Then an agent of fate called Craigslist intervened and he was forced to come face to YouTube with his new found nemesis.
“There was an ad looking for a Morrissey,” Scott said. “I said, ‘you know what, I’ll go down there and if I land the gig I land the gig.’ I looked up Smiths and Morrissey videos and I saw this guy who was so passionate about the music, everything was right there on display. I thought, ‘this is much more than a run of the mill, passing fad band.’ I became a huge Smiths and Morrissey fan at that point.”
Scott adopted the moniker Ronnissey for the stage and began studying the vast discographies of Morrissey and The Smiths. He settled into favorite songs (Smiths song “I Want the One I Can’t Have” and “Now My Heart is Full” from Morrissey’s solo material) and developed a stage show with his band mates that has taken them to other continents. The Sons & Heirs aren’t The Smiths, but they’ve built a fan base of their own duing their over 9 years of touring, and this weekend they stop in Jim Thorpe. Mauch Chunk, here they come.
Gene Axton is a charming man who starts things he can’t finish. He can be reached by calling 570-704-3943, tweeting @TLArts or meeting at the cemetery gates.
IF YOU GO:
Where: The Mauch Chunk Opera House in Jim Thorpe.
When: Saturday, Aug. 29. Doors open at 7 p.m. and music starts at 8 p.m.
How Much: $23
For more information, visit mcohjt.com