Freaky Saturday: The Esoterics Join Foreigner at Tulalip
Obviously, this story needs to begin with The Esoterics founder Eric Banks taking an urgent phone call. He wasn’t called in the middle of the night, but it was urgent. Just maybe not an emergency per se. The rock group Foreigner wanted to know if his chorus would like to sing “I Want to Know What Love Is” with them at Tulalip Amphitheatre this Saturday, August 25.
Banks is not sure how his group’s name up in this context–The Esoterics pride themselves on a repertoire of “contemporary a cappella choral settings of poetry, philosophy, and spiritual writings from around the world.”
He’d just gotten back into town from work on three chamber operas for Seattle Opera, and is preparing for CAGE (September 7, 8 & 9; tickets: $15), a three-night celebration of John Cage. The Esoterics will present “42 of the 92 entries from Cage’s Songbook, including every single solo vocal work and theatrical piece that does not require electronics,” along with Four2, Four6, and Five.
On the other hand, Banks has always believed his singers can conquer any musical challenge, and the chart-topping 1984 power ballad did not faze them. In fact, he had to regretfully tell some Esoterics members that they already had enough people for the Tulalip appearance (there was room onstage for just 30).
It turns out that Esoterics of all generations (the song recently popped up on the soundtrack of Alvin & the Chipmunks: The Squeakquel) have been dying to sing Foreigner–plus, the singers have been invited to enjoy the whole concert. As you–and they–no doubt know, this is the Kelly Hansen-fronted Foreigner, reformed by Mick Jones in 2004. (Former lead singer Lou Gramm has his own solo career now.)
It’ll be a different kind of night than at CAGE, which is being performed in churches: All Pilgrim’s (500 Broadway East), Queen Anne (1316 3rd Avenue West), and Holy Rosary (4152 42nd Avenue SW, West Seattle). There, The Esoterics will surround the audience, singing short solo pieces “in the round,” interspersed with ensemble works, the tying and untying of shoelaces, maybe some solitaire. This is John Cage, after all. A mere hundred years isn’t going to soften his work up that much.
Here are The Esoterics throwing down an earlier jukebox hero, Richard Strauss.