Boston Pops goes New Wave as The B-52s join them at Tanglewood
LENOX — Cindy Wilson, one of the vocalists for the New Wave band The B-52s, laughs a bit when asked about her favorite bands growing up.
"Oh my Lord, you are really dating me," said Wilson with a laugh. "When I was growing up in Athens, Georgia, my parents gave me an allowance. One dollar. And every week, I'd run down to the record store and buy the latest 45s."
She asks a reporter if he knows what "45s" are. She is told that, yes, the reporter also purchased 45s as a youth.
"Well then," she said. "My favorites were the Beatles and Petula Clark. I loved Petula Clark."
Wilson and the rest of the B-52s will be appearing at Tanglewood Friday night. They will be performing with the Boston Pops.
The setup will be similar to the performance earlier this summer by Warren Haynes, who also fronted the Pops with his band.
"We've done this a couple times before," said Wilson. "The last time was at a show in [Los Angeles].
"It's worked out really well in the past," she said. "I enjoy it very much. The musicians we've worked with are just so professional and well-trained. There's never a problem."
Wilson explained that, in most cases, the orchestra with whom the B-52s play will rehearse a few times before the show. When the band gets into town, there is a joint rehearsal before the show that evening.
Wilson added that while it might sound like an unlikely pairing, the New Wave band and the classically-trained orchestra, the result is quite dramatic, as well as pleasing to the ear.
"The arrangements always come out very well," she said."There are a couple that stand out for me. I think you're going to like what we did with [the B-52s song] 'Planet Claire', for example."
The B-52s were formed when Wilson, her older brother, guitarist Ricky Wilson, organist and singer Kate Pierson, percussionist Keith Strickland and singer Fred Schneider played an impromptu concert at a Chinese restaurant in 1976.
The band played their first actual gig at a Valentine's Day show for friends.
The band's 1979 debut, "The B-52s" showcased their campy, vocal-based sound. The disc yielded two big hits, "Rock Lobster" and the aforementioned "Planet Claire."
The band cranked out hits over the next several years. Their meteoric career was interrupted by Ricky Wilson's death in 1985 of complications from AIDS.
Wilson told an interviewer in 1990 that her brother never confided in anyone except Strickland that he was so ill.
"It was tough," she said. "I got a phone call telling me my brother was dying."
Wilson is the principal vocalist for the band, and she has written a number of B-52s hits, including "Rock Lobster," "Dance This Mess Around," as well as the entire "Cosmic Thing" album in 1989.
Contact Derek Gentile at 413-496-6251
Who: Boston Pops Orchestra with special guests The B-52s. Keith Lockhart, conductor
When: Friday night at 8
Where: Tanglewood, The Shed, 297 West St. (Route 183), Lenox
Tickets: $124-$22 (lawn)
How: 888-266-1200; tanglewood.org; in person at Main Gate box office, 297 West St. (Route 183)
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