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Oakfield Labor Daze

Pink Floyd tribute band new to Labor Daze festival

By Joanne Beck
the floyd concept
Photo courtesy The Floyd Concept

Just as it sounds, The Floyd Concept is a Pink Floyd tribute band, founded in 2016, that’s been playing with its current lineup for the past year, plus its newest member, female vocalist Samantha Hoy.

Michael Diggs, keyboardist and one of the founding members, thought it was important to add a female singer since the actual Pink Floyd group employed a few of them, and the Floyd Concept formerly only had five guys.

“But on some of the music that we do, our harmonies are important, and this is where there's certain signature voices that we need to try to get as close as possible. So we decided to add the female singer,” Diggs said during an interview Sunday. “This year we are doing the 50th anniversary of ‘Dark Side of the Moon,’ and there's a song, you know, there's a great one that they call ‘The Great Gig in the Sky,’ one of the songs on the album, which has a female singer.”

They will be performing the album during their show as one of the new groups at this year’s Oakfield Labor Daze Music & Food Festival from 7 to 10 p.m. Monday. 

“If you like Pink Floyd, then you want to come and see this group because we get it as close as possible. And you will love the light show that we give you because you're in for a complete show,” he said. “You'll want to come see this group. We have people who have left the show just blown away from our live show and the music. So you'll definitely be in for a treat when you see our show.”

Diggs first joined a group called Hey You in 2000, and that was a regional Pink Floyd tribute band. He was drawn to Pink Floyd as a kid and then got to see them live in 1989 while stationed with the Army in Germany. 

“And that just made it even better for me,” Diggs said. “And it just kind of, you know, solidified my love for the group and when the opportunity came for me to join a Pink Floyd tribute, I did. So, that group dissolved in 2012. And the founder of that group, George Root, and we started the Floyd Concept together.

“I always loved the music, but after seeing them live, the production just blew me away. And I mean they use like a 25-foot circular screen with movers, you know. The production is unreal. That really did it for me. We wanted to kind of almost try to replicate that type of production on our own for our show. So we … we built a nine-foot screen, a circular truss, with the movers, and we started buying our own light show. So we try to replicate the production side of it as much as we can.”

Band members include: 
Tony Aversa on lead guitar and vocals, an “international recording artist whose music has been used in radio and television across the globe,” according to the group’s website. He began playing guitar in 1980, infatuated with Van Halen, settling into a love for the blues, and becoming hugely influenced by Pink Floyd’s 1982 release of “The Wall,” moving on to his own music label, recordings, bands, songs and now The Floyd Concept.

Tim Toole, on guitar and vocals, described on the site as delivering “the fun, melodic and emotional dynamic experience so common to all great music shows.” A lifelong fan of Pink Floyd and David Gilmour melodies,  Toole has played in various bands throughout his life, amassing more than 100 shows with his guitar rig of several Fender Stratocasters, Taylor 6 string 314 CE, Fender 12 string, various classic tube amps and modulation effects. 

Bryan Owczarzak, bassist, began his piano studies at age 10 and has early professional experience recording music for local TV and radio commercials while in high school and college. He’s played keyboards and bass in several local jazz and progressive rock bands since the mid-1990s.

Chris Collesano is on percussion, drawn to music at an early age, he started banging on “anything that sounded cool to me,” he says on the website. He bought his first electric guitar at 15 and his first drum set at 12, teaching himself how to play both. Collesano has done several side projects and sessions and studio work, plus solo work, playing tame star classic drums and a variety of snares and cymbals. 

As for Diggs, a Hamburg resident, he won first place in a star search while stationed in Germany, and was nominated for best rock keyboardist for the Buffalo Music Awards in 2011 and 2012 and again in 2017, 2018 and 2019. 

He’s had some time to practice, taking up keyboards at age 8 and never putting them back down, the 55-year-old said. However, he does seem to like talking technology every bit as much as the music — maybe even more. The video production, choreography, lighting, movers on stage in rhythm with the melodies, they all lend that legitimacy and spirit of Pink Floyd to the experience, he said. 

Take the song, “Welcome to the Machine.” 

“You know, the screen is all red. There’s a video of a robot doing office work. You'll see the video footage of that. When you see ‘Dark Side of the Moon.’ I mean, we'll have actual clips from Pink Floyd stuff, ‘Dark Side of the Moon’ there. We like to use stuff of space, earth and stuff like that,” he said. “So ‘Money,’ of course, we'll use the actual footage of the video for money. And the same thing with ‘Time.’ Also, with the ticking clocks and stuff like that. It's very, very video-driven. And our movers are mounted to our screen. And it kind of flows with the music, which is where our lighting director comes in. And then, plus, we have other types of lighting.”

The band is a side gig for the members, and they perform at least a dozen times a year at festivals and theaters, he said. For Diggs, he’s an electrician for Erie County, and his bandmates are insurance agents, school teachers and the like. It’s not uncommon to go from working a job to performing, and “Western New York has some amazing talent,” he said. 

“It's unbelievable, all the groups that we have around here, and we're very, very fortunate to be playing for the Labor Daze, bringing our show to the Batavia area,” he said. “I’ve been doing bands probably since 1988. Even while I was stationed in Germany, I played in some bands over there, and it was pretty cool. We got a chance to play in places like Frankfort and different venues while I was there, you know, but as far as doing the Pink Floyd stuff, that's always been a dream of mine to do.  I've done like Blues Brothers, progressive rock, stuff like that, but yeah, Pink Floyd just happens to be a passion that I love to do.”

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