If it sounds like the voice of Stevie Nicks is emanating from SOhO Restaurant & Music Club tomorrow night, it’s actually that of Diana Grace. Accompanied by guitarist Monty Sommer, drummer Rich Smith, bassist Jeff Bennett, and keyboardist Dan Haley, the frontwoman of Huntington Beach-based tribute band Stevie Nicks Illusion will embody the Fleetwood Mac singer’s mystical stage persona, don her trademark black hat and lace dress, and deliver a set of classic songs recorded by both the iconic 70s band and by Ms. Nicks as a solo artist.
Though Stevie Nicks Illusion is only two years old, Ms. Grace and her bandmates have far more history than that and for a long time played together in a Top 40 cover group. Their repertoire included a few songs that Stevie Nicks sang, including “Dreams” from Fleetwood Mac’s 1977 chart-topping album “Rumours,” “Rhiannon” from the band’s eponymous 1975 album, and “Stop Draggin’ My Heart Around,” the 1981 duet between Ms. Nicks and Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers. Upon hearing that Ms. Grace’s voice had a “rasp” similar to that of Stevie Nicks, some audience members encouraged her to do a full-blown tribute to the singer.
“Whenever I would do a Stevie Nicks song or a Fleetwood Mac song, people told me, ‘You should do a tribute,’” she recalled.
She and her band also perform a tribute to new wave band Blondie, but as of late Stevie Nicks Illusion has taken priority. Ms. Grace’s admiration for Stevie Nicks goes back to when she was young. While her mother cleaned their house, she often played records and frequently spun Fleetwood Mac’s albums, particularly “Rumours.” Ms. Grace’s favorite Fleetwood Mac songs include “Gold Dust Woman,” “Gypsy,” and “Landslide,” which she said receives a particularly moving reaction from the audience.
“Sometimes when I’m singing ‘Landslide,’ the whole crowd will be singing along… They know every word,” she said.
That audience she said spans multiple generations, from people in their 20s to senior citizens pushing 80 years old. In Ms. Grace’s estimation, the reason so many people enjoy the music of Stevie Nicks and Fleetwood Mac is similar to why she loves it so much. Ms. Grace described Fleetwood Mac’s music as “ethereal” and its lyrics as “real,” the latter particularly referring to the way Ms. Nicks and her bandmates put their personal lives into lyrics. This she said makes Ms. Nicks’ music “so relatable to so many people,” and when combined with the band’s individual instrumental talent made Fleetwood Mac a truly unique group.
“The way that she puts her lyrics together with the beautifully ethereal music that’s so nuanced… it’s so different,” she said.
Ms. Grace said her bandmates are also long-time fans of Stevie Nicks, so when the group first got together to rehearse her songs not already covered in the Top 40 act’s repertoire, it didn’t take long to become a whole new tribute band.
“It came together because we’re all fans of Stevie Nicks and Fleetwood Mac,” she said.
While she serves as the group’s main frontperson, her bandmates do sing background and lead vocals at various points during the set. Guitarist Monty Sommer handles vocal parts originally sung by Fleetwood Mac guitarist Lindsey Buckingham as well as Tom Petty’s part on “Stop Draggin’ My Heart Around.” Drummer Rich Smith sings with Ms. Grace on “Leather and Lace,” the duet Ms. Nicks sang on her 1981 solo debut “Bella Donna” with Eagles drummer and singer Don Henley. Other Stevie Nicks solo numbers in the band’s repertoire include “Edge of Seventeen,” “Bella Dona,” “Talk To Me,” and “Stand Back.”
Santa Barbara is one stop of many the group will make throughout California this year and Ms. Grace said they are greatly looking forward to performing once again at SOhO.
“We’re really excited to be back at SOhO… It’s a wonderful venue and sounds great,” she said. Tickets for Stevie Nicks Illusion can be bought on the SOhO website www.sohosb.com. Tickets are $12 and the show begins at 8:30 p.m., with doors open at 7:00 p.m.