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Peace Frog pays homage to The Doors in Lamp Theatre show

| Thursday, Aug. 9, 2018, 12:03 a.m.
Peace Frog will perform songs of The Doors at The Lamp Theatre, Irwin.
Peace Frog will perform songs of The Doors at The Lamp Theatre, Irwin.
Peace Frog’s Tony Fernandez performs as Jim Morrison.
Peace Frog’s Tony Fernandez performs as Jim Morrison.
Peace Frog’s Tony Fernandez performs as Jim Morrison.
Peace Frog’s Tony Fernandez performs as Jim Morrison.

Tony Fernandez doesn’t hesitate when asked why the music of Jim Morrison and The Doors lives on long after his death.

“It continues because what The Doors’ music invokes is the very essence of existence,” says the musician who has portrayed Morrison in the critically acclaimed Peace Frog, The Doors’ tribute band, for 20 years. “The music forces one to go inward and face mortality, identity and authority. And, of course, Jim Morrison was a great poet.”

The national touring band returns to the Lamp Theatre, Irwin, Aug. 11 after a previous sold-out performance there.

The band takes its name from the song “Peace Frog” on the Doors’ “Morrison Hotel” album.

“My favorite part of this show is the authenticity. Tony Fernandez is a spot-on re-creation of Jim Morrison,” says Bill Elder, operations director of the Lamp. The band holds true to the original Doors and brings four members, he adds.

“Peace Frog is always welcome at The Lamp. I’m sure we can expect to see them again in 2019,” Elder says.

Celebration of the Doors

“My main goal is for all of us to get together, have a great time, and celebrate the music of the Doors. If I can accomplish that, then I’m happy,” says Fernandez.

He says he sees 13-year-olds to 80-year-olds in the audience, and it just gets bigger every year as more young people are introduced to the Doors’ music. “It’s like Elvis, Marilyn Monroe and James Dean. The Doors and Jim Morrison are American icons. They will never die,” he says. He has never seen The Doors live and he was only 3 when Morrison died in 1971.

Blessings of the band

“But I’ve been fortunate enough to play with them and enjoy their company. I enjoy mostly having a chance to talk to them outside the atmosphere of a fan, and just sit down and talk,” he says. “I have the blessing of all the Doors.”

He thinks if Morrison were still alive today he would be involved in the film industry.

“Remember, he came to Los Angeles to attend UCLA film school, and it was just by accident that he got into rock music. I believe he would have hung out with people like Dennis Hopper, Francis Ford Coppola and other directors,” Fernandez says.

He is working on a play that he says “will present to the audience the opposite of what the Oliver Stone movie ‘The Doors’ did.

“It will show a kind, intelligent, decent Jim Morrison that the world unfortunately for the most part is not familiar with,” he adds.

In his stage tribute to Morrison, Fernandez says there is no particular era or appearance he is trying to re-create. In portraying Morrison, he says he does not feel like he is doing anything contrived or forced.

Blends Kilmer, Morrison and himself

“I mix a little bit of Val Kilmer (who played Morrison in the film), Jim Morrison and myself in the show,” he says.

He says one of the greatest compliments he ever received came from a fan who said, “You know, you could come out in a white suit and people would still react the way they do at your shows. ”

“It was then that I realized that this goes way beyond myself,” he explains “and that this is really about The Doors’ music.”

Rex Rutkoski is a Tribune-Review contributing writer.

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