Turning Postmodern Jukebox -- his project that plays contemporary pop hits in vintage styles of jazz, swing, ragtime and more -- has been a labor of love for Scott Bradlee.
"We've worked out that kind of the best way to present what Postmodern Jukebox is about is like an old-time variety show," says Bradlee, 33, a Long Island-born musician who formed the collective during 2013 after previously posting his musical mashups on social media and releasing albums such as "Mashups By Candlelight" and "A Motown Tribute to Nickelback."
"At any given show we have a rotating cast, maybe five to seven vocalists -- a lot of the performers on my (YouTube) channel -- an emcee, a tap dancer, things like that. There's a different setlist, different songs, different singers from show to show. It's really kind of an interesting thing."
It's also, Bradlee confesses, "a pain in the ass" to deal with something different on any given night. But, he adds, "It's worth it for the benefits we get out of it. It's become a very new type of entertainment that's really hard to describe. It's not Blue Man Group. It's not the 'American Idol' tour. But it's a combination of all those things. It's obviously a lot more work, but it really stimulates the creativity."
Postmodern Jukebox has scored a few "hits" over the years, including a doo-wop cover of Miley Cyrus' "We Can't Stop," a ragtime rendition of Gloria Jones' "Tainted Love" and jazzy interpretations of Iggy Azalea's "Fancy," Lorde's "Royals" and Meghan Trainor's "All About That Bass," re-titled "All About That (Upright) Bass," that each netted more than eight million hits online. Saxophonist Dave Koz has been among Postmodern Jukebox's celebrity guests, and the group has performed on ABC's "Good Morning America" and Fuse TV.
"The one caveat I have is songs that are already retro-sounding, usually I won't touch them," says Bradlee, who uploads a new song online each Thursday. "I figure they've effectively Postmodern Jukeboxed themselves. So something like (Mark Ronson's) 'Uptown Funk, which has a throwback, 70s feel, there's noting to make vintage out of that. I'm partial to things that have more of an electronic element, which you wouldn't necessarily picture with jazz or Motown instrumentation. That's something I can sink my teeth into."
Scott Bradlee's Postmodern Jukebox
Friday, June 5. Doors open at 7 p.m.
Royal Oak Music Theatre, 318 W. Fourth St.
Tickets are $20-$35.
Call 248-399-2980 or visit www.royaloakmusictheatre.com.
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