Over the weekend, I got the chance to attend "Faithfully: A Symphonic Tribute to the Music of Journey", featuring Orchestra Iowa and a touring tribute band devoted to capturing the Journey experience...with a symphonic twist. I was a first-time symphony-goer but not new to the music they played this weekend.

Maestro Tim Hankewich was not present for the event. The conductor subbing in did a spectacular job in his absence, as Orchestra Iowa alone introed the show with a symphonic medley of Journey's hits, before the tribute band came out.

The group consists of several musicians who all multi-task, playing their respective instruments and singing vocals (except the drummer and keyboardist). Jesse Bradman handled the bulk of the singing, as well as guitar player Dan Kalishner and the delightful Alisha Zalkin. Bradman has played with the likes of Eddie Money and Night Ranger, according to Hoopla, so he's no stranger to classic rock.

But the whole band did Journey proud, playing all the hits I expected to hear--and then some, starting with "Any Way You Want It" and ending, appropriately, with "Don't Stop Believin'."

They told funny jokes and stories, like the one about feeling sad the night they took a baby squirrel found in their yard to an animal shelter, as the song "Open Arms" came on in the car ride there. Lots of great interaction like this with the audience, which was considerably large.

Orchestra Iowa again got the chance to shine when a couple of solo Steve Perry hits were played, the melodic "Foolish Heart" (with sultry vocals by bassist Jennifer Fekete) and "Oh Sherrie".

All in all, I couldn't have picked a better introductory performance to Orchestra Iowa and I hope for more shows like this. I look forward to my next chance to see the symphony itself. They are a crown jewel to Cedar Rapids.

As for the band Journey themselves, it's onward to the iWireless Center in Moline for their show April 3. Your chance to win tickets is coming very soon from 104-5 KDAT!

Let us know if you attended either of this weekend's performances and share your thoughts in the comments.

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