By Christina Fuoco-Karasinski
Roger Langdon sees The Heart of Rock and Roll as much more than a Huey Lewis & the News tribute act.
It’s a true appreciation for a band who rarely performs due to Lewis’ diagnosis of Ménière disease, a disorder caused by buildup of fluid in the chambers in the inner ear. It causes symptoms such as vertigo, nausea, vomiting, loss of hearing, ringing in the ears, headache, loss of balance, and sweating.
“It’s a love letter to Huey Lewis & the News, their fans and that era of music,” says Langdon, a Temecula, California, resident who’s a dead ringer for Lewis.
“We take what we do very seriously, but we have a lot of fun with it. It’s a very, very fun, high-energy show.”
Huey Lewis & the News found success in the 1980s with songs like “Heart and Soul,” “The Heart of Rock & Roll,” “Stuck with You,” “Do You Believe in Love,” “I Want a New Drug” “If This is It,” “Hip to Be Square” and “Doing It All for My Baby.” The group’s latest album, “Weather,” was released two years ago.
In The Heart of Rock and Roll, Langdon is joined by six musicians, who have toured with legends like Carrie Underwood, Kenny Loggins, Jim Messina and Olivia Newton-John. Saxophonist Steve Nieves played with Loggins and Messina.
The band also includes guitarist/co-founder Tony Langdon, drummer Jay Smith, keyboardist George Logemann, bassist Russ Reshaw and guitarist Nick Costa.
This year, The Heart of Rock and Roll celebrates 10 years of telling the News’ story. They’ll play throughout Arizona this February.
“The reason we started it 10 years ago was because I was in another variety/cover band that played a lot of Southern California venues,” says Langdon, who is friends with Sean Hopper, the saxophonist for Huey Lewis & the News.
“When we did our shows, I would try to imitate the singer. I tried to change my voice to imitate certain people. When we were doing James Brown, I’d try to sound like James Brown. When we were doing Michael McDonald, I’d try to sound like Michael McDonald. Huey Lewis is in my natural range.”
He admits he didn’t particularly look like him until he lost weight, changed his hairstyle, and started wearing sunglasses onstage.
“That’s why we chose it,” Langdon says. “I look and sound like him. Nobody really around the country is doing a Huey Lewis tribute. We cornered the market.”
If venues permit it, The Heart of Rock and Roll features videos from the 1980s, creating a high-energy tribute.
“You will feel like you saw them again,” Langdon says. “We hear all the time, ‘You guys are just like them. You guys are nailing it.’ That’s the best compliment we can get. It’s a very professional show. We’re not cheesy.”
The Heart of Rock and Roll: A Tribute to Huey Lewis
WHEN: 7 p.m. Thursday, February 23
WHERE: The Venue at Farnsworth Hall, 6159 E. University Drive, Mesa
COST: Tickets start at $20
WHEN: 7 p.m. Saturday, February 25
WHERE: DesertView Performing Arts Center, 39900 S. Clubhouse Drive, Tucson
COST: Tickets start at $30
INFO: 520-818-1000, hueytribute.com