‘When we are on stage, we are dancing fools. We just have a ball'
© Submitted photo
Jim Belushi, left, as Brother Zee, and Dan Aykroyd, as Brother Elwood, of the Blues Brothers, are set to perform at the Dutch Mason Blues Festival in Bible Hill on Saturday.
BIBLE HILL - The Blues Brothers can't believe how many families they have reached over the years.
"I love the impact we've had on families," said Dan Aykroyd, who is known as Brother Elwood, after a jaunt in the Ottawa mountains with his father this week. "We really do have three generations of fans now and we never have an audience go unhappy."
The Blues Brothers, created in the early 1970s on an idea by John Belushi, also known as Brother Jake, have become icons throughout the world through their skits on Saturday Night Live and numerous movies and blues albums. John Belushi passed away in 1982.
Elwood and Brother Zee (Jim Belushi, John's younger brother who joined Aykroyd 17 years ago) will take the stage Saturday night at the ninth annual Dutch Mason Blues Festival at Truro Raceway.
"Our latest song is from the 1970s. We play a lot of songs from the 50s and 60s, and even the late 40s. It's a great show for families and music lovers - people don't want to miss this show," Aykroyd said.
The Ottawa native credits The Great American Songbook for some of the music the Blues Brothers draw from.
"Many have sang and performed those songs," said the 61-year-old actor-musician.
With classic films such as ‘Driving Miss Daisy' and ‘My Girl' under his belt, Aykroyd said performing as Elwood gives him the biggest rush.
"Music gives me one-and-a-half hours of my life where I don't think about business and any problems. I just deliver the music. The most fun I have is entertaining - to me it isn't work, it's a cardio aerobic workout. The work is the travel.
"When I'm on stage, I'm looking for that first chord of music and then I go from a 61-year-old investor to a marionette. As soon as that first chord is played, I'm up. I get a charge of adrenaline," he said, adding he gets a kick out of watching Belushi perform on stage and marvels at the musicians in Belushi's band, the Sacred Hearts.
The Blues Brothers' first album, Briefcase Full of Blues, was released in 1978 and went triple platinum a year later.
The first film, The Blues Brothers, was released in 1980 and featured car chases involving the Bluesmobile.
After John overdosed in 1982, Aykroyd kept on with the Elwood Blues Revue, which is when he invited the younger Belushi to join him as Zee.
"It's a very interesting story," said Belushi. "He told me ,‘you should be in the Blues Brothers band.' I told him there was no way I can do that.
"I can't eat cheeseburgers, I can't pick up a sword ... John did all that already."
Belushi said Aykroyd told him Jake "willed" it to his brother, who finally gave it a try.
"I told him, ‘I can't sing the blues. I can sing light opera and musicals, but I can't sing the blues.'"
Belushi met with Aykroyd and sang 10 songs.
"I sucked, and he thought it was great," said Belushi.
From there, Elwood and Zee performed at benefits and charity events. Belushi joined the Sacred Hearts band, bringing Aykroyd into the fold.
"We have some of the best musicians and it's been great over the past 17 years," Belushi said. "In 17 years, we have played so many festivals and casinos. These are legendary characters - I play Brother Zee and it's an iconic movie. It's epic."
Along with Aykroyd, Belushi can't get over the families that continue to fall in love with the Blues Brothers.
"All of these people that loved the Blues Brothers are having kids and their kids are having kids, and those kids come to see us play," he said. "They show up dressed up in the iconic hats and sunglasses. It's a great outfit and great for Halloween, I love it."
Belushi said performing on stage with Aykroyd never gets old.
"You can have a fever and aching muscles, but as soon as the music starts that all goes away. When we are on stage, we are dancing fools. We just have a ball.
"The Dutch Mason Blues Festival is going to be a riotous time, with a little bit of magic and a little bit of Jake."
THE BLUES BROTHERS
- Started with an idea by John Belushi in the early 1970s.
- Began as a musical sketch with Belushi as Joliet Jake and Dan Aykroyd as Elwood on Saturday Night Live in 1976.
- The Blues Brothers band, with Belushi on vocals and Aykroyd on harmonica, released its first album, Briefcase Full of Blues, in 1978.
- ‘The Blues Brothers' film was released in 1980 and told the tale of parolled convict Jake and his brother Elwood taking on a mission from God to reform their blues band to raise funds for the Catholic orphanage where they grew up.
- The film's soundtrack was released in 1980, with their third album, Made in America, released that same year.
- After Belushi's death in 1982, the Blues Brothers continued to perform with a rotation of guest singers and band members.
- Belushi's younger brother, Jim, joined Aykroyd as Brother Zee in the mid 1990s, but didn't appear in the 1998 film ‘Blues Brothers 2000.'