BROOKSVILLE — Music fans of the 1970s who yearn for the spectacle of the popular musical and film Mamma Mia! may want to check out Sunday's concert by the vocal group Adbacadabra at the Hernando High School Performing Arts Center.
The troupe, which bills itself as offering the "ultimate ABBA tribute concert," has been winging its way through Florida the past few weeks before it makes a trek to the Caribbean in March.
Though together for about six years, playing mostly casinos and cruise ships, the group's fortunes really began to take off this past year with the release of the critically acclaimed film Mamma Mia!
Perhaps more amazing, said the group's producer and arranger, Gary Raffanelli, is that the band came to fruition at all.
A former keyboard player in a lounge duo, Raffanelli and his singing partner, Sandy Selby, performed a few ABBA tunes in their act, but neither had the desire to put together a tribute act.
Raffanelli said the idea of forming Adbacadabra came to him while listening to a cassette of the Swedish band's greatest hits collection in his car.
"I thought, 'I'll work on this, and it'll take six months,' " he told Best Bets magazine. "It took seven months just to dissect the vocals, eight hours a day. Some of the songs have as many as 20 vocal parts."
Raffanelli teamed up with friend and guitarist Fred Sampson and recruited Selby and another friend, Christine Shelton, to round out the quartet. Together, the four set out to duplicate not only ABBA's sound, but its appearance as well, using elaborate, flowing costumes modeled after outfits worn by the supergroup during its disco heyday of the 1970s and '80s.
During the two-hour show, Adbacadabra faithfully covers about 20 ABBA songs, including hits such as S.O.S., Dancing Queen, Waterloo, Take a Chance on Me, and of course, Mamma Mia! And since the real ABBA hasn't toured for more than 25 years, the tribute group gets to enjoy the frenzy of fans who are still starved for more.
In fact, says Raffanelli, half the fun of being in the band is seeing the crowd's reaction.
"If (fans) think they remember three ABBA tunes, we'll show them they really know about 15," Raffanelli told the Republican of Springfield, Mass. "We try to sound as close to the record as we possibly can. And I think the audience will be surprised to find out how much ABBA rocks."
Logan Neill can be reached at [email protected] or (352) 848-1435.