Story By Ayano Hodouchi Dempsey

If amped-up Led Zeppelin sounds like a good idea, head over to the Thunder Bay Community Auditorium on November 24 to hear the Thunder Bay Symphony Orchestra joined by the Jeans ’n Classics band and vocalist Michael Shotton.

The ever-popular Jeans ’n Classics has been coming to Thunder Bay for several years and this month, the rock band brings Led Zeppelin’s hits to the city. Since it was founded in 1996, Jeans ’n Classics has become a well-known name amongst North American orchestras, helping them bridge the gap between classical repertoire and legendary rock and pop hits. Far more than just a tribute act, the band brings “interpretations that have their own unique dynamics,” says Gerald McEachern, executive director of the TBSO.

The programme includes hits such as “In the Evening,” “Dazed and Confused,” “Good Times Bad Times,” and “Kashmir.” “You will hear the artists you love, enhanced with orchestral sound in one of the best halls in Canada,” says Daniel Bartholomew-Poyser, who is conducting the orchestra for the show.

Former school teacher Bartholomew-Poyser’s first job as a conductor was with the TBSO in 2011, and while he is now Artist in Residence with Symphony Nova Scotia, he still regularly conducts the TBSO. This month, he performs with Juno Award-winner Rita Chiarelli on November 9 and 10 as well as with Jeans ’n Classics on November 24. “It was a great experience,” he says of his time in Thunder Bay. “The musicians were so welcoming and forgiving, and the community opened its arms to me. Now I live in southern Ontario; when I meet someone from Thunder Bay it is always a mini-reunion, discussing mutual friends, streets, restaurants, and memories.”

This is McEachern’s second season at the helm of the TBSO, but his relationship with the ensemble goes back decades. In fact, he designed the orchestra’s logo back in 1977 when his marketing company was working with the TBSO, and since taking up the top post in 2017, he has designed a new one. Burdened with debt, the TBSO has shuffled through several executive directors in the past few years, but McEachern assures us that it was the difficult aspects of the job that convinced him to take it. “A lot of my past work has been about turning around organizations, so the challenge was what finally convinced me to take the job,” he explains.

The concert takes place on November 24, from 7:30 pm to 10:30 pm at the TBCA. Tickets range from $12 to $52.50.