The Blues Brothers' magic hits the road again
JUDITH Belushi puts the enduring popularity of The Blues Brothers down to the underdog spirit of its charismatic stars.
Belushi's late husband John created the blues and soul revivalist band with fellow comedian Dan Aykroyd for the TV series Saturday Night Live.
The sketch was so popular, it spawned the hit 1980 movie featuring cameos by musical greats James Brown, Cab Calloway, Ray Charles and Aretha Franklin.
The musical adventure followed Jake and Elwood Blues as they got their own old rhythm and blues band together to try to save the Catholic home where they were raised from the taxation department.
The characters live on more than 30 years later in The Official Blues Brothers Revue: a live show sanctioned by Belushi and Aykroyd, who still performs on occasion with John's younger brother Jim.
"Jake and Elwood were blood brothers raised in an orphanage,” Judith says.
"They were these out-of-luck guys who didn't need to have a lot of money in their pockets.
"They just loved music.
"They were not opposed to breaking a law such as a speeding law, but then they would step into these moments where they would end up helping people.”
Australian fans are set to get a nostalgic musical fix when the tribute show arrives from America.
Kieron Lafferty and Wayne Catania star as Elwood and Jake respectively.
Judith recalls the special chemistry the duo had when they auditioned for the show, standing out from 200 other performers.
"People put on a suit and they feel like it makes them have that look or the power or something, but it's actually really hard to sing and dance the way they do,” she says.
"Some people had the moves but couldn't sing, or could sing well but couldn't move. When you put two people together, they have to fit. A lot has to do with chemistry between the two characters. They (Jake and Elwood) were funny. They were rebels ... they were not a comedy team but they had a relationship that was often funny. They (Kieron and Wayne) had that.”
Judith says the revue is more than a tribute show.
"A lot of cover bands will think about the movie and work around that. We're thinking more about who were the Blues Brothers? When they rolled into town, how did they perform?” she says.
"We consider the show the concert version of The Blues Brothers. We also take some of the dialogue from the tour John and Dan did.
"It was important to them to do a shout out to whoever wrote the songs and pay respect to the musicians and we are respectful of that.”
Judith's creative relationship with Kieron and Wayne continues.
They recently joined forces with Anne Beatts (head writer of Saturday Night Live from 1975-80) to write the pilot for a television show based on the continuing adventures of Jake and Elwood.
"We're working on taking the film to Broadway and that's when the idea for an animation came to us,” she says.
"It's in an experimental stage.”
Whatever form the stage and TV shows take, they'll stay true to the central premise of the original Blues Brothers.
"It started with the love of the music, and wanting to get up and sing a song with people,” Judith says.
"Initially, John and Dan wanted to create music that brings energy to people ... it's important for your soul to experience music.”
* The Official Blues Brothers Revue plays Aussie World, Palmview, on January 5 and Twin Towns at Tweed Heads on January 6.