Opening for Jay Leno is The Tri-City Rat Pack, a Capital Region group that represents the essence of cool. Adopting their moniker and style from Sinatra’s Vegas Rat Pack, Tri-City is the ultimate tux-attired, smooth jazz night club act singing, telling jokes and doing the odd impression.
The charismatic group is composed of Terrell Edwards, Christian Mena, Donovan Weihmann and Tyler Hamilton.
Not only does the group realise this show could be a career maker for them, but they also have a high degree of respect for Leno’s work ethic and the level he’s taken his craft.
“He’s an extremely funny guy and a great guy as well. He has a unique perspective. I would say he keeps it pretty classy. Weihmann says.
So are the boys keyed up about performing for such a prominent celebrity? I get nervous. For any show I perform at. I have butterflies. But you don’t have them, you could get blasé,” said Weihmann.
“Having said that, between us we have had lots of experience and we’re prepared. That takes the edge off being nervous.”
Tri-City Rat Pack met several years ago in a dressing room preparing for a sell out crowd, but doing solo performances.
“Here we were in tuxes in the dressing room singing and harmonising together and we discovered we had the same taste and liked the same stuff. Terrell had the idea of starting a group that sings old jazz standards just like the Rat Pack of the old days. The unique thing is that no one else in Canada was doing it. We loved it and jump on board.
Terrell Edwards style is that of a grooving rhythm and soul vocalist working consistently through the years with multi platinum R&B producers as a song writer and is an accomplished show producer. Hamilton and Mena are both versatile tenors, shifting seamlessly from contemporary to pop, while Weihmann brings out the blues-rock vibe.
They officially came together in 2014 and shot to prominence when they performed a Motown-focused concert produced by Edwards that rocked the theater.
“Through big events like this one, we’ve built and developed a show people really enjoy.”
The high-profile gig for Leno actually fell into their lap through an event management company. The promoters were searching for a jazzy a cappella act – something “with a classy style” that fit with Leno’s comedy and the casino ambience.
Within a few brief hours, the group received a link and forwarded a demo to Leno’s people.
They loved the performance video of the group, and the Tri-city rat pack has been opening in Edmonton for Jay for his last two visits to the city. After their second opening, Jay invited the group to perform with him at the Mirage on the Las Vegas strip. I was kind of stunned because we were done talking and he called me back to offer the invitation, Terrell recalls.
The crooning group are typically called upon to do a 20 min show for Leno. That is time enough to deliver four charts in their inimitable style laced with jazz, soul and other popular tunes. Can the seasoned Crooners satisfy the hearts and souls of a venue packed with swooning jazz enthusiasts for a full show? No problem.
“It’s an honour to be chosen. An opportunity like this comes along once in a lifetime, and to perform to sell-out crowds is always incredible.
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