Rock musicians and business acumen can be mutually exclusive. Billy Joel, John Fogerty and Little Richard are just some of the many rockers who were cheated out of millions of dollars.
And then there is Mike Bailey, aka Vic Ferrari, who fronts Symphony on the Rocks. The charismatic vocalist means and knows business. An ad for a Symphony on the Rocks date in Minnesota in early February notes that if the Minnesota Vikings play in the Super Bowl, refunds will be given for those who bleed purple.
A calculated gesture, the Vikings have a shot but aren’t favored to go to the big game in two months, by Bailey, a lifelong Green Bay Packers fan.
“If the Vikings make the Super Bowl my hat is off to them,” he said by phone from his Green Bay home. “It’s their turn to win the Super Bowl anyway. Having something like that is a great way to get attention.”
The Symphony on the Rocks promotion for the act’s show Friday (12/7) at the Paramount Theatre in Cedar Rapids is a buy one, get one free deal. “You can’t beat that,” Bailey said. “You get a ticket on the house, if you buy one, and you hear some amazing music.”
Symphony on the Rocks offers its versions of such disparate songs as the poppy Peter Gabriel hit “Sledgehammer,” to the nu metal version of Disturbed’s “Sound of Silence” to Queen’s baroque signature song, “Bohemian Rhapsody.”
“We mix it up,” Bailey said. “We have those rock songs and we play some Christmas songs. Mark Wood plays violin. He played violin for Billy Joel and Trans Siberian Orchestra. We play some holiday songs, such as Mark’s ‘Wizards of Winter’ and ‘Carol of the Bells.’ What we play in Cedar Rapids in December will definitely be different than when we come back next year.”
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There are similarities between Symphony on the Rocks and Trans Siberian Orchestra, both offering a mix of vocals and instrumentals.
“It’s a big but tight crew,” Bailey said, noting his group has seven vocalists and 26 instrumentalists. “We need all of those musicians in order to pull this off. If we didn’t have all of these musicians, we couldn’t have a cello versus violin duel.”
The group, based in Green Bay, Wis., primarily performs in the Midwest.
“When the time is right, we’ll make it to the coasts, but we’re content playing in markets that really enjoy what we do,” Bailey said. “It’s working out. We have a really great fan base.”
University of Iowa alum and NFL standout Dallas Clark is such a huge fan of Symphony on the Rocks that he catches the act often and will introduce the band at the Paramount.
“Dallas promised that he would do the honors,” Bailey said. “Dallas has seen us about 15 times, and we even played his wedding. How cool is that? The guy was Peyton Manning’s roommate for nine years. He’s a Super Bowl champion. But he’s one of us. We’re from little small farm towns. We’re called hay seeds, but we wear that with a badge of honor and so does Dallas. He’s an Iowa guy.”
Bailey has a deep appreciation for Iowa having played countless gigs throughout the state.
“I have so many memories,” he said. “But my favorite memory was when we played Waverly. We were set up and a massive thunderstorm approached. We stayed by our gear, holding tarps over drums and electronics. We frantically left the stage after lightning struck the fireworks off of stage left. Everything and everybody was soaked to the bone. The committee and our road techs saved the day. We played the full show in the 4-H building nearby.
“We could have taken our guarantee and (gone) to the next show, but instead, we made a memory and helped our friends in Waverly.”
WHAT: Symphony on the Rocks
WHERE: Paramount Theatre, 123 Third Ave. SE, Cedar Rapids
WHEN: 8 p.m. Friday (12/7)
TICKETS: $35.50 to $63 — buy one, get one free — Paramount Ticket Office, (319) 366-8203 or Paramounttheatrecr.com
BAND’S WEBSITE: Vicferrari.com/symphony-on-the-rocks/