If you’re “looking for a place to happen” this Friday night, head to the Capital Complex, where the Fabulously Rich will pay tribute to one of Canada’s greatest musical treasures, the Tragically Hip.
Taking their name from the opening line of Hip classic “Grace, Too” (“He said, ‘I’m fabulously rich’…”), the Charlottetown-based band is comprised of five old friends—much like the the Tragically Hip itself—who “played in every local bar in Charlottetown through the mid to late ‘90s,” their writing “very much influenced by the Tragically Hip,” said band member Greg Stapleton.
After a reunion show in 2016, the band decided to keep playing music together—but following the news of Gord Downie’s illness, they decided that instead of playing their own old songs, they wanted to pay tribute to the band that had inspired their musical careers in the first place.
After receiving an extremely positive response to what they thought would be a one-off gig, the band “decided to try another show…and it just took off from there.”
Following Downie’s tragic passing in November, the band’s performances have taken on a new level of significance, as each performance helps fans remember the beloved frontman.
“We want to keep this music and Gord’s memory alive in every person that comes out to one of our shows,” Stapleton said. “We want to keep that magical connection to this iconic band, their incredible music and their undying sense of national pride.
“So many of the songs have special meaning to each fan, so we try to play these songs with that in mind, and try to deliver the same emotional connection and energy that we felt in every Hip performance we’ve been to.”
These deep, personal bonds to the music can make the song selections difficult, which Stapleton said is “one of the most challenging aspects of what we do.”
“There are so many great songs that you feel emotionally connected to that it’s almost impossible not to want to pick every song they’ve ever written. Our goal is just to keep learning as many songs as we can and not play the same setlist twice.”
The band’s performances honour Gord Downie and the Hip not only by playing their music, but by helping to continue to spread awareness for the causes Downie spent the last bit of his life promoting, with proceeds from each Fabulously Rich show going to the Downie Wenjack Fund, a charity started by Downie that is dedicated to improving the lives of First Nations peoples.
“The Hip wrote songs about Canadian things and they shed light on Canadian issues, which is another major reason we are doing what we do: we want to help ‘do something,’ as Gord asked us to do, by raising money and awareness for the charity he so passionately promoted.”
Despite the undeniably big shoes the band has to fill, they admit there is “no real secret” to pulling off a great Hip cover, but that they “just try to stay true to the music, stay true to the passion, and stay true to the national pride that is attached to every Hip song.”
In other words, the Fabulously Rich simply perform with will and determination. And, of course: grace, too.
The Fabulously Rich take the Capital Stage on Friday, Dec. 8. Doors open at 8:00 p.m., show starts at 9:00 p.m.