By Jasmine Haroun
Sixteen years ago in Toronto, Ontario, Canada, Craig Martin was driving home, listening to the radio. As he heard to some of his favorite music, he thought to himself, “Why doesn’t anyone ever play the full album…all the good songs in a row?” and thus was born his company, Classic Albums Live (CAL).
In 2003, Martin began hiring musicians to play an entire Classic Rock Album such as Pink Floyd’s The Wall or The Beatles’ Sergeant Pepper. His sister, Tracy Martin, joined the business and became head of operations. He began the company in Toronto and in that same year began working with a booking agent who got them their first gig the U.S., playing in Rochester, NY. From there, their agent booked concerts at Hard Rock in Orlando and soon their journey started.
Currently, there are about 40-50 people working for Classic Albums Live performing in Performance Arts Centers across North America.
During each show, the musicians will usually dress in all black and perform the same way an orchestra would.
Rob Phillips, music director for Classic Albums Live, said, “It’s almost like we are trying to be invisible. We don’t dress up in costumes or anything like that because we don’t want the audience to focus on us—we want them to focus on the music.”
Each show includes them playing a full album of a popular rock band.
“CAL represents music that endures and will continue to accompany us all through and around this mortal coil,” said Martin.
His saying has always been “note for note, cut for cut.” It is something he has always said—something he has always strived for when creating these performances. It is a tribute to the extensive collection of music from over three decades of rock history.
As Phillips mentioned, “It’s like when you watch a comedy show on TV. It’s different than you actually being an audience member. When you’re actually there on set, you just find yourself laughing all the time. No improvising, no costumes, just the music—live.”
This summer, the band is performing its annual summer series with time to catch Pink Floyd – Wish You Were Here, Friday, July 19 at 8 p.m.; Rolling Stones – Let It Bleed, Friday, August 9 at 8 p.m.; Beatles – Abbey Road, Friday, September 20 at 8 p.m.; and Tom Petty – Damn the Torpedoes, Friday, October 18 at 8 p.m.