Strictly Hip teaming up with BPO for show

The Strictly Hip players in 2018, from left: Frank Nicastro, Jeremy Hoyle, Johnny Panic, Alan Sliwinski and Bruce Wojick. The Tragically Hip tribute band will perform an all-acoustic show at the Taylor Theater in Lockport on Saturday; it’s a fundraiser for the Kenan Center.

Jeremy Hoyle was about 18 years old in 1989 when he first heard the Tragically Hip, the Canadian band whose widespread popularity touched rock enthusiasts around the world.

From that moment, Hoyle said, “It was like, yeah, this is the band for me.”

The members of “The Hip,” as it is often called, had a long run as one of the best-selling Canadian bands until August 2016 when they played their last concert. Their lead singer, Gord Downie, had been diagnosed with terminal brain cancer in 2015 and eventually succumbed to the disease in October 2017.

Long before that, Hoyle and his own bandmates, Bruce Wojick, Frank Nicastro, Alan Sliwinski and Johnny Panic, had gathered in St. Catharines, Ontario, in 1995 to “reverently” learn each note of The Hip and reenact its performances live, to the delight of fans who didn’t get to see the original band play.

They call themselves The Strictly Hip.

“What we’re trying to do is create a community around the music and (those) who love the music,” Hoyle said. “It’s 100 percent about the music and the people who it’s touched.”

Fans of the cover band may remember seeing them around Buffalo, including a quick show at the 50-yard line of a Buffalo Bills game in 2019.

“This was maybe the first time they did this,” Hoyle said. “There was no stage and only a few minutes, because of regulations, so we had to run out, play, then run back in. But we pulled it off! I’ve seen videos and it’s still weird to me that we played in front of 70,000 people.”

Hoyle listed a series of upcoming concert dates, including one this past Saturday’s Kenan Center’s Taylor Theater, and back-to-back shows at Buffalo’s Town Ballroom on Feb. 10 and Feb. 11. For those two shows, the tribute band will play the original set lists from the cancelled Hip show at Buffalo’s Outer Harbor due to weather as well as the Tragically Hip’s final performance at the Kingston K-Rock Center in 2016.

JENNINGS: Strictly Hip heading to The Town Ballroom

“It’s a little bit of a struggle,” Hoyle said. “Even when you get a little bit of success. You’re always trying to get road money to make it to the next gig.”

The Strictly Hip’s show at the Taylor Theater will be entirely acoustic. Hoyle thinks that’ll go over well in the 150-seat theater and should be a good time for fans.

The members of The Strictly Hip are always looking for new ways to connect the community with the music and expect to keep doing so for the foreseeable future, Hoyle said.

“We’re going to do it until we can’t,” he said. “We’ve dedicated ourselves to play and understand the music of The Tragically Hip as well as we can.”

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