Leonid & Friends bring the hits of American supergroup Chicago to life this week in downtown Owensboro.
The 11-piece contemporary jazz-rock band from Moscow will perform at 7 p.m. on Thursday, October 14 at the RiverPark Center as part of their 32-date tour.
In 2014, Leonid Vorobyev, musical director and leader of the band, started the project at the age of 60, after years of working in the music business as a sound engineer and sound producer. While others contemplated retirement, Vorobyev wanted to continue and decided to “deconstruct” the songs of the rock band Chicago, a band Vorobyev was fond of, by transcribing and reproducing the recordings by ear. in a Chicago studio of the 60s and 70s, with some artistic liberties.
Vorobyev has invited friends, musicians from all over Russia, Ukraine, Moldova and Belarus, to join him on this new musical journey, with the sole intention of being studio-based.
The band stayed at work and recorded their sessions live and uploaded them to YouTube. A chance visit from Chicago drummer and founding member Danny Seraphine put the band on the map. After Seraphine featured Vorobyev and company’s music videos on the official Chicago website, fans started pouring in – with over 50 million plus views and 200,000 Facebook followers.
With the Chicago members’ newfound fame and respect, there was a demand for more content, leading to well-attended live performances in Moscow and three albums of Chicago covers with hits like “Questions 67 & 68 “, “If You Leave Me Now” and “Hard to say I’m sorry.
Shortly after, the band made their US debut at Sony Hall in New York, before playing three sold-out shows at Village Studios in Los Angeles in January 2019, and receiving the Chicago Award at the Rock Justice Awards. , with Seraphine and Chicago keyboardist Robert Lamm on hand to congratulate the band on their growing success.
RiverPark Center Executive Director Rich Jorn was attending the International Entertainment Buyers Association (IEBA) in Nashville when he first saw the band’s set in 2019.
“They were just amazing,” Jorn said. “Everything was so perfect (with) the musicality – the band was tight, the vocals were tight. Everything was just perfect.
As the band continues to play Chicago discography, it has diversified its repertoire to include songs by Blood, Sweat & Tears, Earth, Wind & Fire, The Rolling Stones and Steely Dan.
The group also devotes time to Ksenia Buzina, a contestant in the Russian adaptation of “The Voice” and the group’s only female vocalist, to take center stage, showcasing her talents as a singer and pianist.
Jorn looks forward to sharing the talents of Leonid & Friends with a wider audience.
“It’s my biggest thrill from my job,” Jorn said. “Of course people… have their groups that they can say they like, like and follow…. But, the biggest thrill for me is to bring something that people don’t know…. I want to develop people’s appreciation for everything related to art, music and theater.
Jorn doesn’t think viewers will be disappointed come showtime.
“It’s great music (and) a great story,” Jorn said. “And, I mean this with no disrespect, but if you bought a ticket to see the current Chicago lineup and bought a ticket to see Leonid & Friends, Leonid & Friends is the best band. They will sound more like Chicago than Chicago.