February 2, 2005

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Nite: Abba Cadabra

’70s disco kings and queens inspire man to form band

By Richie Victorino  rvictorino@hippopress.com

Perfection is a necessity for James Riel.

By daytime he’s a quality assurance tester. He makes sure everything is flawless.

When he leaves his office, he’s a singer, a performer, and the creator of NOTEable Decades. Again, he makes sure everything is flawless.

“Everything has to be perfect,” Riel said to me when I met him at Cheers in Concord.

Riel is in hyperactive mode these days. His brand-new endeavor, the six-piece NOTEable Decades, hits the stage for the first time ever later this month.

And he can’t stop talking about it.

By the time I finished my lunch, Riel had barely taken five bites of his.

He and NOTEable Decades have been practicing since May for this very day.

Riel is a marketing machine when it comes to the music business. He knows how to sell his product. And he’d better sell it well if he hopes to reach the goal he’s set for NOTEable Decades.

“My goal is to be the number one band in the state,” he said in a nonchalant tone.

The band
NOTEable Decades is made up of three vocalists (an alto, soprano and baritone), as well as a bassist, drummer and pianist.

The band performs songs from the decades spanning the ’50s to the ’80s, including Broadway hits.

But the band pays special tribute to Abba, by performing nine songs from the ’70s disco giants.

It was Abba that spurred Riel to create NOTEable Decades.

Riel used to perform in the swing group Swell Party but it disbanded last year.

Riel was left figuring out what he wanted to do next. He knew he needed to be on stage, to entertain.

Swell Party had focused on music from the ‘30s and ‘40s, and Riel wanted to do something different.

Then he remembered Abba.

“Abba hit me like a rock,” he said. “They had it going on. They had phenomenal harmonies.”

He remembered seeing Mama Mia in Boston. He remembered seeing 5-year-old children and 95-year-old men and women dancing.

He wanted to see people of all ages doing the same thing when he was on stage.

He recruited musicians and vocalists. He mixed and matched voices (using his skill as a vocal teacher) and found what he was looking for: talented professionals willing to commit to something big.

The show at The Annichiarico Theater on Feb. 11 is the only one Riel has booked for his band. But he’s no stranger to self-promotion. He’s working the wedding reception circuit, trying to get some gigs. He’s putting a lot of energy into the summer series that pop up everywhere in New Hampshire around June.

He’s ready to be the biggest band in the state.

Comments? Thoughts? Discuss this article and more at hippoflea.com

Take a chance

NOTEable Decades’ inaugural performance is Saturday, Feb. 11 at 8 p.m. at the Annichiarico Theater. at 1 Thompson St. in Concord. The cost is $10 at the door.

What to expect: Expect some impressive vocals and harmonies as well as a huge variety of tunes (from “Master of the House,” from Les Miserables to the show’s finale, “Dancing Queen”). The audience will participate (if they want to) by singing here and there, such as some parts of “Where the Lions Sleep Tonight.”

NOTEable Decades is: Sarah Wicks, alto; James Riel, baritone; Tara Dallaire, soprano; Paula Brennan, piano; David Couture, bass; Jared Steer, percussion.