The fashion, news, and culture of the 1970s were unlike any other decade, so why would the music be any different?
Featuring ballads of the open road and anthems for the broken-hearted, FST’s electrifying new musical revue, Take it to the Limit, celebrates the evolving sound of '70s Rock & Roll. Paying homage to beloved artists like The Eagles, Fleetwood Mac, and Linda Ronstadt, Take it to the Limit honors the rebels that brought Rock & Roll back to its Southern roots.
"Take it to the Limit came out of our work putting together last season's hit revue, The '70s: More Than A Decade," said Rebecca Hopkins, one of the show's developers. "Music in the '70s was wild. On one side, you had disco and white leisure suits. On the other, you had blue jeans and Rock & Roll. They existed both separately and together. When we were building The '70s last season, we were more focused on disco and pop music. However, all this wonderful rock music was just sitting there, unexplored. I kept saying, 'That’s the next show.'"
COME ON THE RISING WIND
In the wake of The British Invasion, rock musicians in the ‘70s began to experiment with styles that were already woven into the fabric of American culture. Blending the acoustic twang of country music with the soulful groove of R&B, Rock & Roll artists created a new sound that was raw, gritty, and told powerful stories.
"The artists featured in Take it to the Limit each have their own unique style and sound, but they all played a pivotal role in shaping the musical fabric of the era," said show director Catherine Randazzo. "CCR’s swampy, blues-infused rock, The Allman Brothers’ soulful improvisations, and Fleetwood Mac’s harmonious storytelling all contributed to the rich tapestry of '70s Rock & Roll."
In true ‘70s fashion, this music was a rebellion against the status quo. If you wanted a funky, dance-crazy distraction, disco was a great escape. But if you wanted a real, honest look at life and its struggles, Rock & Roll was the way to go.
While disco was electronic, layered, and overly polished, ‘70s Rock & Roll was raw and visceral, embracing the beauty of a simple beat with honest lyrics.
A PEACEFUL EASY FEELING
Many of the musicians highlighted in Take It to the Limit can be considered the first generation of rock stars, and they created music romanticizing every aspect of their lives. Their songs spoke about life on the road, whirlwind romance (and heartbreak), the price of fame and wealth, and about every other lesson gained from living life in the fast lane.
Some view “Hotel California” by The Eagles as a metaphor for cocaine, but the song also symbolizes the self-destructive nature around high-profile rock artists, and the addictive allure of fame. “When Will I Be Loved” rings with the frustration and pain of unrequited love and relationships that always seem to hurt.
“What sets '70s Rock & Roll apart is its ability to strike a chord with a wide range of listeners,” said Randazzo. “It bridges the gap between generations by weaving together elements of longing, rebellion, and a deep appreciation for life’s simple pleasures.”
Unafraid to sing about the hardships of life, groups like CCR broke the mold of what society thought was appropriate or popular to sing about.
"These artists were writing for a reason," said Ken Sandberg, a member of the Take it to the Limit cast. "They had stories that they had to tell, and this was the only way they knew how. These artists knew the power they had and used it to tell stories that mattered to them."
I CAN SEE CLEARLY NOW
Whether they were singing about heartbreak or the promise of meeting someone new, '70s Rock & Roll musicians crafted songs that were soulful, authentic, and relatable.
"There's an everlasting magic in hearing the music of that era in a live setting, performed by a cast of performers playing their own instruments," added Randazzo. "It's there that the artistry and emotion of the musicians—both the original artists and those onstage—are palpable."
Take it to the Limit begins playing November 29 in FST's Goldstein Cabaret. For tickets and more information, click here.
by Analisa Salinas and Lydia Baxter
Header Image: Ken Sandberg, Sarah Hund, Joe Casey, and Hannah Taylor.