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Concert Reviews:
Dick Wagner Memorial Concert, 6 Best Moments

Digital First Media, @GraffonMusic

Posted: Saturday, March 25, 2017

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DETROIT -- "I want to see my dad up on that screen," Robert Wagner said early on in the third annual Dick Wagner Remember the Child Memorial Concert, held Friday night, March 24, at SoundBoard in the Motor City Casino Hotel.

That cued one of several videos of the late Michigan music hero talking about songs he wrote. But truth be told, no visual image was needed for Wagner's spirit to fortify the night.

Raising money for good causes -- the Children's MIracle Network Hospitals and the Hurley Children's Hospital -- the all-star show was a celebration of the many musical accomplishments that earned Dick Wagner the moniker of Maestro of Rock. Over nearly three hours of music, the concert -- significantly tighter and more efficiently run than its two predecessors -- spotlighted Wagner songs from his bands such as the Frost and the Bossmen as well as his solo work, as well as his contributions to artists such as Alice Cooper and Aerosmith.

There were, of course, plenty of highlights from the 23 songs performed, but here's a half-dozen of the best takeaways from this year's show...

Though Wagner was the focus of the concert, its most notable moment belonged to another artist. Former Grand Funk Railroad frontman Mark Farner and Suzi Quatro paid tribute to Chuck Berry, who'd died six days earlier, by tearing through a raucous "Sweet Little Rock and Roller," with Quatro's daughter Laura Tucker and sister (and former Pleasure Seekers) bandmate Patti Quatro on backing vocals. In a rare homecoming, Quatro also played "If Only," a song she co-wrote with Wagner, and vowed to visit Lafayette Coney Island on Saturday.

Farner, per usual, took the reins during his part of the show with a commanding six-song set that included Wagner ("Mystery Man," "I'd Take the Bullet," "Rock And Roll Music") and Grand Funk favorites, accompanied by onetime Alice Cooper band member Kip Winger and John Ellison of the Soul Brothers Six, who wrote "Some Kind Of Wonderful" and dueted on the song with Farner on Friday. And even a botched bridge couldn't rob the majestic from "I'm Your Captain/Closer To Home."

Thornetta Davis was accompanied by members of Traverse City's the Accidentals on an affecting version of "Liberty & Justice" that took on even greater resonance in the current political climate.

The Accidentals, the youngest performers by decades on the bill, also distinguished themselves with a stylized version of "Sunshine," blending a fresh bit of rootsy pop into the song's psychedelic core.

Wagner protege Maryann Cotton delivered his usual sturdy Cooper tribute, bringing on a small corps of young children to help sing the choruses of "School's Out."

The Remember The Child Foundation takes donations year-round for its work to promote music therapy for ailing and abused youths. For information visit dwrtc.org.

Web Site: www.dwrtc.org

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