Tribute bands are bands that love the music of a specific—and usually well-known—band and play only songs from that band in their live shows.
Mere mention of the term “tribute band” may induce eye rolls, sighs and other nonspecific condescension from musicians and fans who are simply too “real” to have time for a band who doesn’t play its own music.
But, in contrast to many bands that play original music, tribute bands boast an impressive touring schedule, playing throughout the year and all over the world at an array of clubs, festivals and casinos.
Is it because it’s easy to play the music of another band so any second-rate group of musicians can take the music, practice and make money off of it? Hell, that’s basically what wedding and bar mitzvah bands do anyway.
But a closer look reveals a deeper bond with the music and the fans who enjoy it. The simple fact of the matter is that tribute bands aren’t just musicians. They are fans just like us, and because they are fans like us, they bring the same level of enthusiasm and excitement that any of us would bring if we had the chance to rock out playing the songs of our favorite band.
Beginnings, the group, which formed in 2002, has grown steadily, boasting 32 shows across the country in 2017—and that’s only through May.
To understand the mindset behind a tribute-band musician, I spoke with musician Mason Swearingen of Beginnings. And at the end of the day, I found a musician who, like every other musician, lives to play the music he loves, and has followed any opportunity he could find to keep playing.