OGDEN — Syracuse musician Jeff Clark says it was a recurring compliment that led him to fronting a tribute band for the 1970s soft-rock group Bread.
“As I’ve performed throughout the years, people would come up to me and say, ‘You sound a lot like David Gates in Bread,’” the 55-year-old said.
Clark, who admits he was a huge Bread fan growing up in the 1970s, says that compliment was always quite flattering. And he believes that’s what planted the seed that someday he’d like to celebrate the group’s songs with a Bread tribute band.
Two years ago, Clark finally decided to do something about it. He contacted a few musicians he’d played with before, and all agreed it would be fun to work up a tribute to what is arguably the biggest soft-rock band of the 1970s.
And what do you call a tribute to the band that gave the world such hits as “Make It With You,” “It Don’t Matter to Me,” “If,” “Baby I’m-a Want You” and “Diary”?
Why, A Toast to Bread, of course.
Their first concert was at Layton’s Kenley Amphitheater, in June 2017.
“We had a great time, and it was a great response from the crowd,” Clark recalls. “We enjoyed it so much we said, ‘Let’s see if we can keep this going.’”
Since then, the band has played shows in an ever-widening geographic circle. A couple of months ago, they played a show in Oregon. This year they’re headed for venues in Arizona, Nevada, California, Michigan, Pennsylvania and New York. And Clark says they just booked some shows in the Philippines this spring.
And this June, A Toast to Bread will open for Little River Band at a concert in Brigham City.
But before all that, Clark and his bandmates will be in Ogden on Saturday night for a concert at Peery’s Egyptian Theater. The show starts at 7 p.m. in the theater, 2415 Washington Blvd. Tickets are $20 and $35, through www.smithstix.com or 801-689-8700. The concert is open to ages 12 and older.
In addition to classic Bread songs, Clark says they’ll also do three or four covers from Gates’ solo career.
Along with Clark, A Toast to Bread also features musicians Sam Cottrell, Brett Hart, Troy Jolley and John Uibel. The members are spread along the Wasatch Front, from Utah to Davis counties.
Clark says the tribute band has been a fun ride, but its members all have day jobs so it’s been difficult to juggle the two. For example, Clark works as a massage therapist at the Salt Lake International Airport. As concert demands have grown, it’s become an even more delicate balancing act.
“We keep thinking it will come to the point where we’ll have to sit down and decide how much time we can devote to it,” Clark said, “but we haven’t really talked that out yet. We’re just booking what we can at the time, and let the cards fall where they may.”
Clark says the response from audiences thus far has been overwhelming. It’s more than 40 years since Bread last had a hit single, and Clark thinks the passage of time has allowed audiences to rediscover a music that many thought was uncool at the time.
“It wasn’t always cool to be a Bread fan in certain circles,” he admits. “In fact, I think some people that were closet Bread fans back then are coming out now. They’re old enough that they don’t have to worry about peer pressure anymore.”
And Clark says band members know not to take themselves too seriously.
“At shows, we’ll tell people we’re just like ‘Bread Zeppelin,’ or the ‘Rolling Scones,’ he laughs. “We pull out the puns and see if we can get some eye rolls.”
The fact that Bread wasn’t considered as hip as groups like Led Zeppelin, the Rolling Stones or the Beatles may be the reason the soft-rock group’s music was largely forgotten for so many decades.
“As we’ve looked around, we haven’t been able to find any other Bread tribute bands out there,” Clark said. “So we’ve kind of got the market cornered — at least for now.”