Pitch Perfect Reviews: Beasties: A Sci-Fi Rock Opera

Gary Sohmers is well-known as “the King of Pop Culture” for his many appearances on the PBS series “Antiques Roadshow” where his knowledge of pop culture collectibles and toys comes quite handy. However, Sohmers has had a parallel career in music, having produced over 1000 concerts including artists like Mike Bloomfield, Ted Nugent, Bob Seger, The Siegel-Schwall Band, Styx, The Sons of Champlin, Richie Havens and Genesis with Peter Gabriel. His most recent project is Beasties: A Sci-Fi Rock Opera, currently available on streamers.

This album is not just a rock opera, but a “cast concept album” that Sohmers plans to turn into a roadshow event with a Broadway run down the line. Sohmers describes it as “a pop culture work of art aimed at saving the planet and humanity from climate destruction and societal corporate corruption.” Tom Majesky plays guitar. Bill Holloman (Chic, Nile Rodgers) co-wrote, arranged and orchestrated the album, with mixing by Paul David Hagar (Miley Cyrus, Katie Perry, Jonas Brothers). Mastering was by Emily Lazar and Chris Allgood at The Lodge, New York. There are 17 songs over two albums (almost two hours!), so I’ll mention some of the highlights.

The curtain rises, so to speak, with the “Beasties Overture.” You can imagine sitting in a darkened theater as phased clouds of sound slowly rise around you. At the exact one minute mark, a solo electric rhythm guitar blasts forth with a chunky, engaging rock instrumental. “Good Old Friend” features the full band for the first time, and it’s clear the music will owe much to bands like Rush, Boston and even Sohmers’ early discovery, Styx. Lead singer David Bickler appears as Grā, an impulse from the cosmic universe, along with soul singer Barrence Whitfield as the “star” of the concert, appropriately named Voice. The music is classic rock with a prog edge, backed up with chorus singers, horns and wailing leads. All the previous cast members are then joined by Liz Proteau in “Forever Girl” as the female lead Terra. The verses have some of Bowie’s majesty (“Sons of the Silent Age”) while the chorus has a Monkees-like accessibility. Even more surprising is a duet of Allmans-like slide guitars in the middle section.

 

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Pitch Perfect

October Album Reviews: Bloody Red Baron

GUEST POST: Mike Baron

Gary SohmersBeasties: A Sci-Fi Rock Opera (Self Released)

Gary Sohmers published a weekly newspaper in Madison, Wisconsin called the Mad City Music Sheet in the eighties. I read it religiously. When I recently contacted him on Facebook, I asked him what he was doing. “I’m promoting comic conventions,” he replied. That’s not all. Sohmers promotes toys, collectibles, rock and roll, tattooing and cannabis festivals as well. Sohmers has also written a rock opera that stands with other rock operas, in that it succeeds as rock and feels like an opera. It reminds me of Les Mis in social commentary, only Beasties songs are more user friendly. Much of it has a Gilbert and Sullivan feel in its playfulness and tunefulness, and the performers sing like opera singers, with a controlled vibrato, as on “Knock It All Down.”

Grā, a retired singer, lands the job of a lifetime working as a stagehand for the newly successful musician, Voice. However, during the band’s monumental concert in New York City’s Central Park, Grā becomes inhabited by an alien Impulse. Things get even stranger when a corrupt politician interrupts the show, causing havoc and confusion amongst the attendees. As surprises and chaos ensue, Grā and Impulse, along with Voice and his band, must rally humanity and their “Beasties” in order to save the planet. Will the power of music and unity be enough to succeed?

“Good Old Friend” opens the two CD set with a blast reminiscent of Jim Steinman’s “Bad For Good.” “Stand And Fight” is the type of powerful anthem you sing on the way out of a particularly good show. Sohmers uses a vast palette including cello and horn section. Dig that jaunty sax on “Empathy,” and the horns on “Dive” are reminiscent of a Jimmy Jam/Terry Lewis production. You don’t have to go the opera to dig this record. Gary, I hope there’s a live production soon.

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Mike Baron OCT 20, 2023 / Remember The Lightning

Conversations About Her:

Punk-Rock Singer Gary Sohmers Releases ‘Forever Girl’ From The ‘Beasties: A Sci-Fi Rock Opera Act One’ Album

Pop and Punk-Rock singer and songwriter Gary Sohmers has just released a new track “Forever Girl” from his Beasties: A Sci-Fi Rock Opera Act One – Impulse Cast Concept album. With a life full of recording, writing, and performing Gary Sohmers knows how to make things interesting.

It is not surprising to say that this is not an average track of the artist. A Beasties: A Sci-Fi Rock Opera Act One – impulse released across all digital services in conjunction with the first installment of the book series, Book Of Grā.

The new release “Forever Girl” is full of rich instrumentation with additional vocals -which adds great value to the song. Gary’s vocals and the style of singing reminds you that “they just do not make this kind of song anymore”.

With over 80 assessment appearances over 13 seasons of the PBS television program “Antiques Roadshow,” Gary Sohmers is well known for his work as a pop culture appraiser. He has produced over 300 consumer shows, over 1000 concerts, and the NorthEast ComicCons & Collectibles Extravaganzas.

His career in concert production began in 1973 at the Aragon Ballroom in Chicago, continued for ten years in Madison, Wisconsin, and ended with nine years of production on Lansdowne Street in Boston. Sohmers spent his formative years in Madcity as a singer and composer, working with people like Butch Vig and others in the clubs and studio, recording and performing.

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Seda Sayar February 10, 2023 / conversationsabouther.net
Music Existence

Music Existence: EP Review: Gary Sohmers’ and Bill Holloman’s “Beasties: A Sci-Fi Rock Opera”

“It’s a monumentally ambitious work, especially considering the tenor of the times, but not aggressively so. The earnestness of its intentions redeems any meaningful self-indulgence or ego tripping during the course of these three songs and listeners can only assume the same song-first artistic sensibility governs the opera in full. It sounds like a safe bet,” – Music Existence

You cannot claim that Bill Holloman and Gary Sohmers are aiming low. The collaborative work on the new concept album Beasties: A Sci-Fi Rock Opera is a bit of delightful madness for the 2022 music world, a release flying in the face of fashion and following its own path. Sohmers and Holloman recruited an eclectic cast of singers and musicians to bring their vision of rock music, otherworldly forces, and love uniting to usher in ecological Utopia and its idealism never wearies you. Many listeners are going to hear it as welcome and entertaining fare in an increasingly dark and troubled world.

Perhaps that’s what the composers hoped for. Sohmers and Holloman are canny enough to realize the value of introducing this broad conceptual work to their audience piecemeal rather than in one stroke. The three-song teaser EP we’re reviewing presents potential listeners with a trio of sides from the work, a presumably representative sample of what awaits listeners from the longer whole. “Even the Cool Succumb” is smartly written rock for music theatre and has a bright pop gleam. The larger context of the piece and that aforementioned gleam never weaken the song’s punch, thankfully.

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Michael Stover Loren Sperry / Music Existence

IndiePulse Reviews: Beasties: A Sci​-​Fi Rock Opera

“Imagine if you will, an artistic musical concept that is a blend of the weirdness of Weird Al, the musical ingenuity and creativity of Frank Zappa, and ethical lyrical tone linen to George Carlin with an animated front man like Bobcat Goldthwait … yes, and that’s just a start.” -IndiePulse

Beasties: A Sci-Fi Rock Opera is a semi-serious, semi-fictitious, and all-fun creative musical project by Gary Sohmers and Bill Holloman, aided by the talents of Dave Bickler, Chris Farlowe, Barrence Whitfield, Liz Proteau, Gary Sohmers, Bill Holloman, Bill Holloman Jr., LaVon Fisher-Wilson and on Guitar, the very talented Tom Majesky
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Joseph Timmons / IndiePulse

WBUR is Boston’s NPR News Station: In ‘Beasties: A Sci-Fi Rock Opera,’ a talented team revives a latent genre

Is there any genre of pop music that runs more counter to the tenor of today’s times than the rock opera?

The giants of rock opera, productions like “Jesus Christ Superstar,” The Who’s “Tommy” and “Quadrophenia,” The Kinks’ “Preservation,” Meat Loaf’s “Bat Out of Hell” and “The Rocky Horror Picture Show” came from long ago and far away.

We live in a short-attention-span world, with myriad entertainment options at our fingertips. Statistics and pundits tell contradictory stories, but the perception is out there that rock itself is not even that popular in the musical realm, with hip-hop. K-pop and bro-country driving mainstream pop culture.

And it’s at this point where veteran Boston area musician, songwriter and entrepreneur Gary Sohmers has launched “Beasties: A Sci-Fi Rock Opera.”

“It is out of step with the times,” says Barrence Whitfield, who sings the part of the album’s protagonist, simply called Voice. “But don’t you think those times should come back?”

Whitfield waxes a bit wistful for those classic rock opera days of the late-1960s and ‘70s. “They had a story to tell. Today, there is no story. It’s just ‘Give me a beat, mumble and jumble up some lyrics and that’s it.”

Perhaps that’s what the composers hoped for. Sohmers and Holloman are canny enough to realize the value of introducing this broad conceptual work to their audience piecemeal rather than in one stroke. The three-song teaser EP we’re reviewing presents potential listeners with a trio of sides from the work, a presumably representative sample of what awaits listeners from the longer whole. “Even the Cool Succumb” is smartly written rock for music theatre and has a bright pop gleam. The larger context of the piece and that aforementioned gleam never weaken the song’s punch, thankfully.

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Jim Sullivan Music Writer / wbur.org
The RingMaster Review

RingMaster Review: Beasties: A Sci​-​Fi Rock Opera

“Musically and in its character, Beasties: A Sci-Fi Rock Opera is a proposition which is like a mix of War Of The Worlds, The Little Shop Of Horrors and Banana Splits…” – RingMaster Review

That is the premise to Beasties: A Sci-Fi Rock Opera, the rock experience created, crafted, and conducted by US producer, musician, author, and entrepreneur, GARY SOHMERS. Its tale brings a collection of dilemmas and characters sculpted in a real-world hell-bent on destruction and brought to voice by a cast of singers including Dave Bickler, Chris Farlowe, Barrence Whitfield (The Savages), and Liz Proteau. With Tom Majesky on guitar and the release orchestrated and arranged by Bill Holloman, mixed by Paul David Hager, and produced by Sohmers it is a collective experience that only adds to the drama and imagination of Sohmers’s lyrical tale.
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The Ark of Music
Keith Pro for Indie Band Guru

Indie Band Guru Review: ENTER A NEW WORLD WITH BEASTIES: A SCI-FI ROCK OPERA

“The teaser opens with “Even The Cool Succumb” to get the party started. Energy exudes from the speakers as vocals are delivered with a raw attack to present the picture. The combination of strong steady drums and wailing guitars brings the rock to the needed level. The drama has begun.” – Keith Pro for Indie Band Guru

When there is a full story within a song it can make it much more interesting. Stories attract our minds to dive deeper and really connect with the music. Pictures present in our heads to add another layer to the songs. Our recent discovery Gary Sohmers has taken this to the next level with his newest project Beasties: A Sci-Fi Rock Opera. We had the chance to preview 3-song EP Teaser.

The talented songwriter/producer is also an appraiser, musician, author, hustler, mentor, and entrepreneur. Gary Sohmers is known as the “King of Pop Culture.” He is widely known as an appraiser of collectibles, pop culture items, and toys on the PBS television series Antiques Roadshow as well.

For the imaginative Beasties: A Sci-Fi Rock Opera, Gary brought in some top talent to make his dream a reality. Singers Dave Bickler (Oscar nominated, Grammy winning singer on “Eye of The Tiger” by Survivor); British rock star Chris Farlowe (1966 hit “Out of Time”); soul singer Barrence Whitfield (of The Savages) and new-comer Liz Proteau. Each has a real role in the story in addition to lending their voices.
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Keith Pro / Indie Band Guru

The Ark of Music Review: Beasties: A Sci-Fi Rock Opera – Good Old Friend

“High-energy, a superb cast of musicians, and some seriously compelling songwriting from this opening number serve as the perfect teaser-style introduction for the rest of the show…” – The Ark of Music

Good Old Friend sets a high bar for the rest of Beasties: A Sci-Fi Rock Opera. High-energy, a superb cast of musicians, and some seriously compelling songwriting from this opening number serve as the perfect teaser-style introduction for the rest of the show – it’s nearly impossible to listen to this song and not want to hear what else this talented group, with Gary Sohmers at the helm, is capable of. Stream this energetic number for yourself below.   Full Review

The Ark of Music
https://stereostickman.com/

Stereo Stickman Reviews: Beasties: A Sci-Fi Rock Opera Part One

“…professionally crafted, creative and passionate, skillful, and consistently impressive…” – Stereo Stickman

Introducing things is an infectious anthem of a stage-ready hit, with multiple layers of organic rock guitar, bass, drums, horns, and additional instrumental flickers. Even The Cool Succumb provides a memorable taste of the upcoming EP from Beasties, and instantly feels like a contemporary classic just waiting for audience participation.
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Rebecca Cullen / Stereo Stickman
NANOBOT ROCK

NANOBOT ROCK Review: Gary Sohmers – Beasties: A Sci-Fi Rock Opera

“It is a solid demonstration in serious musicianship tightly packed into an intensely entertaining three tracks. In fact, I haven’t had this much fun since Peter Frampton as Billy Shears squared off against Aerosmith’s Future Villain Band (FVB for those in the know).” – NANOBOT ROCK

In 1969 The Who released Tommy and the concept of a “Rock Opera” was thrust to the forefront. Six years later Tina Turner would begin to haunt our dreams as the Acid Queen. No, that has nothing to do with the EP I’m talking about, but I needed to remind you of that moment. I digress. Whether Tommy caught your attention, or it was 1977’s Bat Out of Hell (again with the creepy memorable moments put to screen), perhaps it was 1975’s The Rocky Horror Picture Show, anyway we reflect it is apparent the rock opera was something that lived in the 1960s and 70s. Pink Floyd tried in the 80s, but we’re not talking about them right now (looking at you Roger) and most recently My Chemical Romance took a swing in 2006; you know, when they were, a young boy.

From the origins in the 60s to the present we can almost graph the decline of rock operas in both frequency and quality.

Until now.

Gary Sohmners, the “King of Pop Culture” (Antiques Roadshow/For What It’s Worth), known for his wealth of knowledge, has taken a profound step to solidify just how far that goes with the visionary three-song Beasties: A Sci-Fi Rock Opera.
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Greg / NANOBOT ROCK
Independent Music. Everywhere.

The Static Dive Review: Gary Sohmers – Beasties: A Sci-Fi Rock Opera

“Gary Sohmers and crew tell their wild tale with all the drama of Broadway and plenty of side-eyed rock & roll irreverence…” The Static Dive

Inspired by classic rock operas like Rocky Horror Picture show and The Who’s Tommy, “Beasties: A Sci-Fi Rock Opera ” pairs classic rock power with a big theatrical production. From the surf rock intro and Memphis horns of “Even the Cool Succumb” to the orchestral pomp of “Stand Up and Be Counted,” Gary Sohmers and crew tell their wild tale with all the drama of Broadway and plenty of side-eyed rock & roll irreverence.
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Bob Smith / The Static Dive

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