Blue Morning at night

Local band plays ‘Foreigner’ for hometown

Times Observer photo by Stacey Gross Rich Alcorn (left) and Anthony Brown (with studio dog Ziggy) make up part of Blue Morning, the Foreigner tribute band that will be playing Saturday at the Struthers Library Theater.

The guys of Blue Morning are no strangers to good music.

Anthony Brown (keyboard, vocals) and Rich Alcorn (lead guitar, vocals), along with Jim Cheronis (lead vocals), Darrin Payne (drums, vocals), and Russ Brunco (bass, vocals) make up the Foreigner tribute band that will be performing Saturday at the Struthers Library Theatre. The band was born out of a sort-of tragedy.

Okay, maybe tragedy is a strong word.

But definitely a bummer, at least.

Brown had been auditioning, of sorts, to join the Lou Gramm Band.

Lou Gramm was the lead singer for Foreigner, guys. Come on.

Brown had been working toward becoming the band’s new keyboardist. It seemed as though all was going well, he said. He even got a call to say that he was as good as in the band. He had plane tickets lined up for his first two shows, even – New Jersey and Chicago, back to back. Then, as is often the case in artistic endeavors, someone changed their mind. The keyboardist that Brown was about to replace decided to hang tight for a while longer. “I was a little deflated,” said Brown, “just because of all the work I had into it.” He’d been going back and forth to play, and in between, he’d been doing a lot of mixing and practicing. But, said Brown, “it didn’t work out, and that’s fine. It is what it is. But I had all this time into it, all this sound programming, which is tons of time. So I called Rich up.”

Brown asked Rich Alcorn whether he’d be interested in doing a Foreigner tribute band with him.

Alcorn was on board. It didn’t take long to find the bass and drums for the band. What took a minute, said Brown, was finding the lead vocals.

“We didn’t have a singer, and with Foreigner, that’s kind of key.”

Though they’re often confused with Journey by people who think they know more about classic rock than they do (it’s fine, I’ve done it too, but don’t tell anyone), Foreigners vocals are pretty distinctive. One singer the band had basically settled on was good, they said, but not quite the right fit. The singer himself agreed. “He’s got this great, raspy, bluesy voice,” explained Brown, and while he liked the band and participating, “it was a little high for him.”

Cheronis, who’d been across from the studio one night, stopped over to hear what the guys were working on. He jumped on the mic for a rendition of Jukebox Hero, said Brown, and that was it. “We were like kids,” he said, as they listened to the sound come together around Cheronis’ voice, which was a great match for Foreigner. “We’ve all been friends for so long, and even though it was a little rough that first time,” said Brown, “I could hear the potential.”

The band has done one “under the radar type” of show in Oil City this year to get a dry run in, said Brown, and they played the Fourth of July Festivities this year. This will be their third show, said Brown, and it’s everything they’ve been looking forward to. “We’re not a bar band,” said Brown. “We kind of really look forward to more theater type venues. That’s where this kind of music can really shine.”

The band isn’t all about complete fidelity to Foreigner, said Alcorn. “We take their music and we recreate it,” he explained. The goal is to give fans everything they loved about the band they’re paying tribute to, he said, while still making it a little bit their own, and giving it its own unique flavor.

Blue Morning will play Saturday, Oct. 6 at 8 p.m. at the Struthers Library Theatre. All seats are $20, and tickets may or may not be available at the door, said Brown. “They went quick,” he said, adding that the theatre was getting ready to open an extra set of seats that they hadn’t been expecting to need when the show all but sold out by last week.