Stuck in the ’80s

DPAA’s Rewind: Music of the ’80s

By CC Hutten

Photo: Grammy Award-winner Sheena Easton will perform with the DPO for Rewind: Celebrating the Music of the ’80s

Rewind: Celebrating the Music of the ’80s is the grand finale of the Dayton Performing Arts Alliance’s partnership with the City of Dayton’s Summer in the City, having been preceded by Guitar Heroes, Music of ABBA with Arrival and The King: Music of Elvis.

“[Rewind] is the final show,” says David Bukvic, marketing director of the Dayton Performing Arts Alliance. “It wraps it all up. Fifty years of rock and roll, spread over four concerts. Each one is a different animal.”

The concept of the music festival is to celebrate the decades of rock and roll. Rewind is the 1980s—and the climax of the festival, featuring the “Rewind” band, known for its Journey tributes; legendary vocalists Sheena Easton and Sam Harris; and Dayton Philharmonic Orchestra, conducted by Patrick Reynolds.

According to Bukvic, Dayton has been the leader in the country for melding orchestral and rock genres into one concert.

“The key to making the rock/orchestra model work is having arrangements,” Bukvic says. “In other words, our folks like the richness and lushness of the orchestra background. If those are good, then we have a winner.”

Orchestra blended with rock is nothing new—but Bukvic says these types of groups are only beginning to gain more visibility.

“We are probably one of the few, maybe the only one, who devotes a whole series to this approach,” Bukvic says. “[There’s a] certain understanding in the rock world that it can be a real plus to have an orchestra behind them.”

The influences between orchestra and rock connect through musical history, specifically in the development of progressive rock—something that is not only prevalent, but celebrated, alongside a memorable decade in the Rewind performance.

Easton and Harris’ fans arc over multiple decades, as do their tributes to timeless moments in musical history.

Harris came into the public eye by winning the Grand Champion singer title on Star Search in 1983; since then he landed in Top 40 in 1986, has been nominated for a Drama Desk and is a Drama League Award Winner.

“To orchestrate ’80s songs … it’s kind of glorious,” Harris says. “It’s wonderful to be standing on the stage and hearing this behind you.”

The show is for all ages, but for audience members who grew up in the ’80s, there exists a certain appreciation.

“The great thing about doing any kind of retrospective from any decade is that you can remember where you were, what was going on, who you were with, who broke your heart. There’s a preciousness about that,” Harris says.

Everybody knows the Michael Jackson songs, the Journey songs. And let’s not forget “Girls Just Wanna Have Fun” by Cyndi Lauper. Other notable tunes are Easton and Harris’ own hits from the decade, to be closed with a surprise special encore.

“These songs survive the test of time,” Harris says. “I’m still shocked they were 30 years ago. Some of the songs I’m singing in the show are songs I’ve loved or related to…to perform them again is a new interpretation.”

Harris says the powerful songs for him are “Time After Time” by X, “Open Arms” by Journey and “Still Haven’t Found What I’m Looking For” by U2.

“The thing about a great song, whatever decade, it means something different at different times of our lives,” Harris says.

The perspective is not only changed from an emotional standpoint of the listeners or performers, but from a production standpoint as well. Pop and rock songs of the 1980s are heavily synthesized—mostly developed in a studio with a few musicians and programming. Rewind takes the calculated charm of the ’80s and brings it to an orchestra’s stage.

“When you hear real things, real players, live instruments, it brings a whole new element,” Harris says. “The orchestra is not in a pit. It’s glorious to have a full symphony playing … while the band is extraordinarily talented, with an orchestra, there’s a much larger feeling with just a band.”

All of the artists that tour with Rewind add something different to the mix, and Bukvic and Harris both agree that Sheena Easton “is a blast.”

Easton debuted at the beginning of the aughts on the British reality show The Big Time: Pop Singer and is a two-time Grammy Award winner and six-time nominee who topped the U.S. Hot 100 in 1981.

“She’s the real thing,” Harris says. “Many people can [perform] on the record but can’t do it live. She’s a great person and that shines through in her performances.”

Bukvic says that DPAA tries to put the orchestra in front of as many groups as possible in order to celebrate the part that orchestra has played through the history of music.

“Beatles, Bee Gees, Cyndi Lauper and beyond,” he says. “[The concerts] are an art form, a blend of the music people love and grew up with, with orchestra. You can’t get this in an outdoor festival. It’s a high quality level sonic experience in the summer that is not otherwise available.”

The performance blends old with the new, adding a new perspective to ’80s nostalgia.

“I think there was a freedom in the ’80s,” Harris says. “It was a decade that broke out in a different way, the decade of MTV. All of a sudden, pop music was something you could visualize as well as hear. You could actually see the individuality of the artist firsthand. It changed everything. The ’80s brought that to life and it stood the test of time. The wacky styles did not, though,” Harris says. “Let’s just hope the mullet does not return.”

Rewind: Celebrating the Music of the ’80s will take place Friday, July 31 at 8 p.m. at the Schuster Center, 1 W. Second St. Tickets range from $17 to $69 and can be purchased at For more information, please visit


Reach DCP freelance writer CC Hutten at

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