Tribute to Carpenters coming to Austin

Published 9:37 am Saturday, April 28, 2018

Downey, California, 1965. A local production of “Guys and Dolls” includes a keyboardist and drummer who happen to be brother and sister. The first live performance where the two collaborated is certainly an ordinary beginning for two people who would go on to sell more than 90 million records worldwide.

Those siblings were Richard Carpenter and Karen Carpenter, who debuted as the Carpenters in 1968. Within a year, the duo scored the offer of a recording contract from Herb Alpert, owner of A&M. When they signed on April 22, 1969, Karen was only 19 years old and had to have her parents co-sign the document.

The Carpenters released a critically acclaimed album, “Offering,” that same year with just one single, “Ticket to Ride,” cracking the Billboard charts. That would change just months later when the group released a single, “(They Long to Be) Close to You.” It entered the charts at No. 56 and reached No. 1 on July 25 and stayed there for the next four weeks.

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Over the next five years, 1970 to 1975, the Carpenters gave 814 concerts, made 23 television appearances and released eight albums. Legions of fans still admire their distinct soft musical style, combining Karen’s contralto vocals with Richard’s arranging and composition skills.

Lisa Rock and her band, known as Close to You, will take the Paramount stage on Saturday, May 5 to pay tribute to the music of the Carpenters. Lead singer Lisa Rock has been performing to sold-out crowds for years. She arranged a six-piece band, complete with back-up singers, and together they have been creating a Carpenters experience like no other for eight years.

Rock’s four-octave range allows her to sing the hits like “We’ve Only Just Begun” and “Rainy Days and Mondays” in their original key, keeping the songs genuine and more recognizable for the audience. “When she hits the lower range of her marvelous voice,” notes critic Alan Bresloff, “if you close your eyes, you can see Karen Carpenter’s face.”

“We do everything of the Carpenters in the original key, the original arrangements,” Rock told the Aurora Beacon News in 2015. “My band listened to all the records and have emulated and worked very hard getting that same sound. We do it all in the original key that the Carpenters did, which is what makes us unique. And that’s what makes it familiar to the audience.”

Make plans to join us at the Paramount on Saturday, May 5 to enjoy Close to You. Tickets are available now — $25 advance; $30 day of — at or at the ArtWorks Center.

Coming soon at the Paramount Theatre

•May 2: “Gone with the Wind,” 2 and 7:30 p.m.

•May 5: Close to You: “A Tribute to the Carpenters,” 7:30 p.m.

•May 9: “Artsenic & Old Lace,” 3 and 7:30 p.m.

Coming soon at the ArtWorks Center

•May 1: Artistic Side of Photography, 5 p.m.

•May 10: Handbuilding Closed Vessels with Emily Wartsbaugh, 6 p.m.

•May 12: Family Art Studio, 1 p.m.