Welcome (back)… to The Machine


Photo by Michael O’Brien

By George V. Nostrand

No doubt about it — Rutland loves a good tribute band.

In recent years, tribute bands of all shapes and sizes have brought various shows to the area; performing the music of bands including The Beatles, The Allman Brothers, Grateful Dead, Led Zeppelin and even Guns N’ Roses — to name a few.

These shows inevitably do very well with the local crowd.

And, why not? Many of the bands no longer perform, and people still love their music.

One band in particular seems to channel its inspiration in a way that keeps Rutland, and other towns, coming back for more.

The Machine recently rolled into its 26th year of paying musical homage to the band Pink Floyd. While the two remaining members of Pink Floyd released a final album in 2014 called “Endless River,” and three core members put out “Division Bell” in 1994, some would argue the band really ended when Roger Waters left after the album “The Final Cut” in 1983.

Regardless, Floyd fans now span generations, and the band’s popularity lives on. By example, Pink Floyd’s most popular album, “The Dark Side of the Moon,” is not only one of the best-selling albums of all time, it also continues to sell on average 10,000 copies every week, 40 years after its release.

While today you may find multiple tribute bands for any major artist you can think of, back when the group that would become known as The Machine began, the craze had yet to fully take off. The band originated 20 miles north of Manhattan in 1988, with humble beginnings like many cover bands.

To make the distinction clear — whereas cover bands may play material from a wide range of artists, tribute musicians generally choose one famous band and devote all their energy into learning that band’s material. Many even dress up and try to mimic the mannerisms of the artists.

Drummer and original member Tahrah Cohen describes the choice to become a Pink Floyd tribute band as a very organic one. Not only was Pink Floyd the band members’ favorite group, they also found it was still hugely popular with music fans.

“Whenever we played Pink Floyd, fans went crazy for it,” Cohen said. “It wasn’t the kind of thing you heard in the clubs in the late ’80s. The term ‘tribute band’ didn’t even exist yet and we had no idea it would lead us to touring the world.”

In The Machine’s case, band members don’t go for the whole dress-up-thing, but the audience is treated to a first-rate light show that has grown over the years, and includes a large screen that shows clips from Pink Floyd’s “The Wall” and other video projects by the original band.

Adding to its overall credibility with diehard fans, at certain shows The Machine also pulls off the cult classic performance of playing the music from “Dark Side of the Moon” album while showing the movie, “The Wizard of Oz,” where the music appears to synch with the movie and plot.

As it now stands, The Machine has arguably lasted longer than Pink Floyd. And it doesn’t look like they have any plans for slowing down. In recent years, they’ve averaged 75-90 shows a year.

“We love playing smaller venues like the Paramount,” Cohen said. “The main goal for a show is establishing a connection with an audience. Smaller venues are more conducive for the experience … there’s something special about the intimacy of a smaller space.”

And as for why they keep coming back for more, Cohen said Pink Floyd’s music is timeless.

The Paramount Theatre
The Paramount Theatre presents The Machine at 8 p.m. Friday, Feb. 26, at the theater, 30 Center St. in Rutland. General admission tickets are $34.50; call 802- 775-0903, or go online to www.paramountvt.org.

George Nostrand

George Nostrand is a Vermont musician, writer and calendar editor for the Rutland Reader and Rutland Herald. You might see him around as his alter-ego, the front man for George's Back Pocket.

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