The ELO Tribute Band will Headline Show at Delmar Hall on Thanksgiving Eve Nov. 23

By Lynn Venhaus

Majestic splendor.

That’s the sight, sound and the vibe of Mr. Blue Sky, the St. Louis-based Electric Light Orchestra tribute band that makes sure every multimedia production is authentic.

With its 10 bandmates and dazzling visual imagery taking the audience both back in time and into the future, their intricate harmonies and musicianship stand out.

When Mr. Blue Sky takes the stage at the Delmar Hall on Nov. 23, the third time’s a charm for they have sold out that venue twice before (Hint: get tickets now, for the night before Thanksgiving is considered the biggest night out of the year. Tickets are available through Ticketmaster (see link at end of article). Doors open at 7 p.m., show starts at 8 p.m. Delmar Hall is at 6133 Delmar Boulevard.

Local legend Steve Ewing from the Urge (and Steve’s Hot Dogs) will open the show with his duo.

This special night will be different from their triumphant appearance at the Chesterfield Amphitheater two months ago (where they drew 1,500 people), for they like to mix it up for every appearance.

Veteran St. Louis musician Jeff Faulkner, who assembled the tribute band three years ago, said the Nov. 23 show will feature two new songs and a different setlist.

Jeff Faulkner of Mr Blue Sky

“We do all the hits — 22 top ten hits, we always play those,” Faulkner said. “Then we’ll play deeper cuts like ‘Face the Music,’ we play some Traveling Wilburys. We played the ‘Discovery’ album in entirety when we were at The Wildey.”

He enjoys introducing the symphonic rock icons to new fans and reminding longtime fans of their legacy.

“It’s really great music. I think Jeff Lynne is one of the best singer-songwriters in the history of rock ‘n roll,” he said. “He is a musical genius.”

Besides Faulkner on lead guitar and vocals, their all-star line-up includes Dave Watkins on lead guitar and vocals; Anastasia Hamilton, vocals; Abby Stahlschmidt, violin; Jessie Youngblood, violin; Jake Brookman, cello; Stephen Winter, keyboard and vocals; Charlie Brown, keyboard and vocals; Steve Bunck, drums; and Ben Moyer, bass and vocals.

The group’s musicians have performed with local heavyweights Pavlov’s Dog, That 80s Band and the St. Louis Symphony Orchestra. And have toured with The Who and Weird Al Yankovic.

Besides Delmar Hall, they’ve sold out shows at The Pageant, The Wildey Theatre, The Duck Room, and Ballpark Village. They recently performed in the Chicago area, at Impact Fuel Room in Libertyville, to a rocking crowd.

“A fair percentage of people that we’re playing for are familiar with ELO’s music – even if they don’t realize it. Probably 90% of them know ‘Mr. Blue Sky,’ Faulkner said. “They’re used in so many movies, so many commercials. Even if you don’t think you know ELO, you know ELO.”

Faulkner fell in love with the English rock band at an early age. Their fusion of modern rock and pop with classical overtones intrigued him.

ELO was formed in 1970 by songwriters and multi-instrumentalists Jeff Lynne and Roy Wood with drummer Bev Bevan, and following Wood’s departure in 1972, Lynne became the sole leader, arranging and producing every album – and wrote nearly all their original material.

Lynne disbanded the group in 1986, but Bevan formed his own, ELO Part II, which later became the Orchestra. Apart from a brief reunion in the early 2000s, ELO wasn’t active again until 2014, when Lynne reunited with Richard Tandy as Jeff Lynne’s ELO.

During their original 13 years of active recording and touring, they sold more than 50 million records, and had 15 Top 20 songs on the Billboard Hot 100. Their most successful album, the double album “Out of the Blue” in 1977, was among their top 10 albums in the ‘70s and ‘80s. They had a disco-inspired album “Discovery” in 1979 and a science-fiction themed “Time” in 1981.

In 2017, Bevan, Lynne, Tandy, and Wood were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.

Faulkner discovered that there wasn’t a tribute band in St. Louis, so he decided to go in that direction.

“It hadn’t been done before. With the strings and the orchestral sound, ELO is just different. That’s what makes it unique. We have a three-piece string section,” he said.

He is very proud of the work that the band has put into capturing “the majestic splendor.” “It’s taken a lot of work to get it there, but we have gotten it there,” he said.

To hear our podcast with guest Jeff Faulkner, co-hosted by Carl “The Intern” Middleman and Lynn Venhaus on March 11, here is the link:

Take Ten Q&A with Jeff Faulkner:

1. Why did you choose your profession?

“It’s what I’ve been most passionate about since I was 11 years old.”

2.  How would your friends describe you?

“Outgoing, and a big sense of humor.”

3.  What do you like to do in your spare time?

Traveling, seeing live music and theatre

4. What is your current obsession?

Rufus Wainwright

5. What would people be surprised to find out about you?

“I’m 9-1/2 years sober.”

6. Can you share one of your most defining moments in life?

“When my son was born.”

7. What do you admire most?

“Kindness, and humility.”

8. What is at the top of your bucket list?

“Going back to Europe and visiting Germany and Italy.”

9. How were you affected by the current pandemic years, and anything you would like to share about what got you through the pre-vaccine part?

“It shut down my industry completely for three months. I spent a lot of time hiking various trails, and binge-watching sit coms.

10. What is your favorite thing to do in St. Louis?

Hanging out in the Loop, Forest Park, and going to Blues hockey games

11. What’s next?

Mr. Blue Sky has great shows coming in 2023!

Mr Bue Sky

More to Know About Jeff Faulkner:

Age: 47
Birthplace: St. Louis
Current: Brentwood, Mo
Education: 2 years of college
Day job: Musician
First job: Dishwasher
What you like about what you do: I love everything about being a musician
Dream job: I have it
Awards/Honors/Achievements: Mr. Blue Sky has finished as a finalist for best cover band in St Louis Mag the last two years
Favorite quote/words to live by: Carpe Diem
A song that makes you happy: “Mr. Blue Sky”

For tickets, go to this link:

For more on the band, visit:

Mr Blue Sky

The Hettenhausen Center for the Arts (the Hett) at McKendree University will continue to connect its audiences to the arts in its 2020-2021 season, in some creative new ways if necessary.

The COVID-19 pandemic has posed unique challenges for scheduling, contracting and preparing to host events months in advance at the 488-seat auditorium, said Liz Crabtree, director of the Hett. Performances will be held on site if conditions are within the appropriate recovery phases of the governor’s Restore Illinois plan.

“We are reimagining our 2020-2021 season and remaining hopeful and flexible,” said Crabtree. “Performances could take place inside the auditorium, outside as a ‘concert in your car’ in the Hett parking lot like a drive-in movie, or virtually on-demand or live-streamed. I am committed to finding ways for us to connect with the arts.”

The Hett will adhere to state and local public health recommendations for events and will take appropriate precautions to protect audience members’ health and safety. Indoor seating capacity may be reduced to create more distance between individual seats, or pairs of adjacent seats, in order to minimize contact. The box office ticketing system may be adjusted accordingly, potentially making some seats unavailable.

A video preview, as well as ongoing updates, will be posted on Dates and times are subject to change. Friends of the Hett may purchase tickets starting on Aug. 3; the general public may do so beginning Aug. 13 at noon. Visit or call 618-537-6863 (1-800-BEARCAT, ext. 6863) for tickets or more information. All events are open to the public. Prices will range from $5 for children to $38 for adults, with discounts for seniors and students.

Local and regional artists are the focus of the “Discovery Series” in 2020 and early 2021:

Aug. 29, 7:30 p.m.: Mr. Blue Sky, a recreation of the ultimate Electric Light Orchestra experience.

Oct. 1, 7:30 p.m.: The Traveling Salvation Show, an energetic Neil Diamond tribute.

Oct. 23, 7:30 p.m.: U.S. Air Force Starlifters play current and ’70s hits, rock, pop, jazz and country.

Nov. 10, 7: 30 p.m.: Old Salt Union, a progressive, high-energy Americana bluegrass-string band.

Dec. 6, 2 p.m.: Janet Evra gives bossa nova, samba and Latin a modern, indie twist.

Dec. 12, 7:30 p.m. and Dec. 13, 2 p.m.: U.S. Air Force Band of Mid-America in a joyful holiday season concert.

Dec. 16, 7:30 p.m.: Big Muddy Dance Company’s “Scrooge,” a contemporary dance satire on the classic tale of love and redemption.

Jan. 24, 2021, 7:30 p.m.: Dave Dickey Big Band performs jazz classics by Count Basie, Woody Herman, Stan Kenton, Buddy Rich and Duke Ellington.

“Discovery Series” performers may also include country singer Alexandra Kay, Randy Holmes, The Wee Heavies and The Brothers Jefferson. Check for updates.

“McKendree Presents,” a series of national and international touring acts, will resume in 2021:

Annie Sellick, Nashville jazz vocalist, known for her pleasing, expressive voice.

Pat Hazell’s “Permanent Record” dives into the former “Seinfeld” writer’s personal records to confront his past, present and potential future with humor.

Beauty Slap combines funky, bold, big-band brass with electronic dance music grooves.

Leonid & Friends, an 11-piece band from Moscow, captures the spirit and musicality of jazz-rock super group Chicago.

The ReMINDers mixes soulful vocals and reggae-tinged hip-hop beats with inspiring messages.

Schoolhouse Rock Live! The hit cartoon is brought to life, updated for a new generation with a rock ’n roll feel.

Women in Jazz celebrates the legendary Bessie Smith, Billie Holiday and Nina Simone.

Goitse, an energetic, award-winning Irish quintet plays traditional and original tunes.

Carpe Diem String Quartet, an indie chamber ensemble with a repertoire of classical, Gypsy, tango, folk, pop, rock and jazz.

Pilobolus, dancers whose speed, accuracy and strength breaks barriers between disciplines.

ETHEL + Robert Mirabal: The River, a collaboration of music, narrative and ritual by an adventurous New York string quartet, a Native American artist and the Cahokia Mounds State Historic Site.

The McCammon Distinguished Speaker Series will host two Nat Geo Live!speakers, Dr. Zoltan Takacs, a snake venom scientist; and Bertie Gregory, a wildlife photographer. Ishmael Beah, a former child soldier and human rights activist, and the idea lab, a TED Talk-style evening of speakers, will return next spring.

The Hett’s free Film Art Series will present “Booksmart,” Sept. 22; “The Night of the Hunter,” Oct. 12; “Scotland, Pa.,” Nov. 12; “Spider-man,” Feb. 11, 2021; “The Last Black Man in San Francisco,” Feb. 23; and “The Anthropocene,” Apr. 22.

The “McKendree University Series” proudly presents talented students from the Division of Visual and Performing Arts throughout the year.


The Russel E. and Fern M. Hettenhausen Center for the Arts—“The Hett”—is Southern Illinois’ premier performing arts venue, presenting world class dance, drama, classical music and jazz. The 488-seat auditorium is located on the McKendree University campus in Lebanon, Ill., 25 miles from downtown St. Louis.