Central Pennsylvania, USA
Solar Federation is PA’s premier female-fronted Rush tribute band. No kimonos, wigs or prosthetic noses, just faithful renditions of Canada’s best!
In 2015, the iconic Canadian rock band Rush celebrated its 40th anniversary with a career-spanning tour that proved to be the band’s swan song. The death Neil Peart, the band’s legendary drummer and lyricist, in January 2020 sent shock waves across the rock music community and put to rest any rumors of the band ever performing again. Yet the band’s legacy endures, and interest in Rush’s music remains at an absolute peak. Seven years later, there is still a high demand from fans to witness the band’s music played live on stage.
Enter Solar Federation.
Hailing from Central Pennsylvania, Solar Federation performs the music of Rush with passion and precision, tuning into all the fine details die-hard fans analyze with every spin of an album. Formed in 2014, the band spent an entire year honing its initial set list and rehearsing what is often called the most complex and difficult catalog of songs to perform in all of rock music. After only a handful of live performances, the band quickly established itself as one of the premier Rush tribute bands on the East Coast, garnering praise from fans for its accurate interpretation of the material, meticulous attention to detail, and vocalist Julie Schreiber’s passionate delivery of Rush’s dynamic melodies and thought-provoking lyrics. Over the last seven years, Solar Federation has become known as a faithful tribute to the music of Rush and has garnered respect among the vast community of Rush fans around the globe.
Following the death of Peart, Solar Federation was invited to perform at A Night for Neil, a memorial tribute concert organized by Peart’s parents and family as well as the nonprofit organization, Overtime Angels. The concert was held in Peart’s hometown of St. Catharines, Ontario, at the Meridian Center on Saturday, October 22, 2022. Solar Federation was the only Rush tribute band from the United States invited to perform, and headlined the event with an hour-long closing set that brought down the house.
Solar Federation was voted “Best Tribute Band” at the 2021 Central PA Music Awards held at Hershey Theatre on March 24, 2022. Also, the band’s version of “The Necromancer” was selected for inclusion on the Neil Peart tribute album, Songs for Neil: Volume 3, released on September 12, 2022, Peart’s 70th birthday. The artwork for this volume was designed by longtime Rush collaborator and album cover artist, Hugh Syme. Proceeds of album sales benefit Cancer Support Scotland (UK) and Glioblastoma Foundation Neil Peart research Award (USA).
“You can’t fake it with this band,” said Ffej Herb, Solar Federation’s drummer. “Rush fans are incredibly loyal and know this music inside and out.”
Rush is widely recognized for its legions of devoted fans from all corners of the world. “I was floored to learn that people travel from all over the Mid-Atlantic region to attend our shows,” said Herb. “To me, that not only speaks volumes about the loyalty of Rush fans, but it’s also a testament to the quality of our little band.”
Mike Bitts – bass, keyboards
Ffej Herb – drums, cymbals, percussion
Julie Schreiber – lead vocals
Eric Wirsing – guitar, backing vocals
Backup Vocalist, Guitarist
Backup Vocalist, Bassist
2112: I. Overture; II. The Temples of Syrinx; VII. Grand Finale
The Analog Kid
Between the Wheels
Closer to the Heart
Distant Early Warning
The Enemy Within
A Farewell to Kings
Finding My Way
Fly By Night
Ghost of a Chance
La Villa Strangiato
A Passage To Bangkok
Show Don’t Tell
The Spirit of Radio
Stick It Out
Turn The Page
Interview from the Reading Eagle
Rush tribute band Solar Federation headlines show at Reverb in Reading
Click here: http://www.readingeagle.com
Review from Glenn Hamilton
Glenn Hamilton – Radio Personality at 97.3 FM – The River (Harrisburg, PA)
“Attention all RUSH GEEKS – SOLAR FEDERATION is a Rush tribute band from Harrsburg, PA. I love that they have a female lead singer! She kicks ass and totally pulls it off. But can they play La Villa Strangiato? Watch and listen…”
Interview from Lancaster Online
Unscripted: Solar Federation, Presence pay tribute to Rush, Led Zeppelin with scorching live sets!
Click here: https://lancasteronline.com/features
Interview from The Lititz Record Express
Rush tribute band to rock Ephrata Main
Click here: http://lititzrecord.com/entertainment
Review from Ryan H
Co-Host of “Digital Men – The Ultimate Podcast for Rush and Prog Rock” – Ryan H., Co-Host of “Digital Men – The Ultimate Podcast for Rush and Prog Rock”
“To call Solar Federation a Rush cover band or even a Rush tribute band would not be a fair assessment. Solar Federation is a group of Rush fanatics who have listened to Rush with such frequency and in such detail that they have mastered every nuance of Rush’s music. They are expert musicians who leave their hearts on the stage with every performance. If R40 is truly the last time we’ll see Rush live, then it’s people like Solar Federation who will keep delivering satisfying live performances of these songs we all know and love.”
Rush tribute Solar Federation to perform at River Street Jazz Cafe
For Ffej Herb, founding a tribute act started with the impetus that probably should drive the inception of such a project: the intense passion of a fervent fan.
Solar Federation, the Harrisburg-based tribute to progressive rock trio Rush for which Herb is the drummer, will perform at 9 p.m. Saturday at the River Street Jazz Cafe in Plains Township.
“Without a doubt, they’re my favorite band in the history of recorded music,” Herb said with enthusiasm in response to the simple question, “Why Rush?”
“I always thought it was hokey to have a tribute band while a band was still touring. The thing that worked out well with the timing for this band is I put it together back in 2015, right around the time Rush announced their 40th anniversary tour. Knowing it was going to be their last tour, I thought it was the right time. With Rush not touring, their fan base is so fiercely dedicated.”
But recalling the history of Solar Federation’s formation doesn’t do justice to the process of finding the right musicians to reproduce the skills of Geddy Lee, Alex Lifeson and Neil Peart, a task Herb called daunting.
Meeting guitarist and vocalist Eric Wirsing, whom Herb says was accomplished in the virtuosic vein of Eddie Van Halen and Steve Vai, was a step in the right direction.
“Finding a Geddy Lee was … man, you’re talking about a guy who does three things at once,” Herb said.
Veteran instrumentalist Mike Bitts became the solution on bass and keys, and Wirsing’s wife, Berklee-trained singer Julie Schreiber, presented herself as the right fit to take on lead vocals.
“The thing about other Rush bands was they typically had the music down pretty well, but they usually had a guy up there singing songs Geddy recorded in his 20s when he was wailing away,” Herb said. “To have someone up there who can hit the notes pretty effortlessly … she has pretty much the same range as Geddy, and she delivers it with so much passion. She’s the real deal.”
Herb, who grew up listening to heavy metal, said it was a natural progression that brought him to Rush, a band largely known as a “musician’s band.”
“I think Neil Peart put more drumsticks in kids hands … they’ve been influential in that respect,” Herb said.
And it’s Herb who takes on the role of perhaps the most vaunted musician in the revered trio. Peart is widely considered one of the most technically accomplished tubsmen in rock history, his carnival of a drum kit a fixture in rock-drummer lore.
“(It’s) very nerve-wracking, but at the same time, so much fun,” Herb said of the group’s collective responsibility to perform. “That was the first thing I thought of when I considered putting together the band. This is a band that is put on a pedestal and almost worshipped.”
Solar Federation took the challenge seriously, rehearsing their initial set for an entire year before issuing a teaser video of “YYZ” on YouTube.
“We got really good feedback, and our first show went really well,” Herb said. “And that gave us the courage to move forward and take on more difficult pieces.”
In the Rush catalog, Herb noted, it’s not uncommon to find epic-length “9- to 12-minute songs,” but it was one of the band’s celebrated radio hits that became a point of anxiety for Herb during an early performance.
“The drum solo in ‘Tom Sawyer’ is one of those iconic drum solos … you can almost sing it, even if you’re not a musician you can appreciate it,” Herb said. “I was thinking, ‘The future of this band is hinging on me playing this part correctly.’ Luckily, I happened to nail it.”
And nailing it has become Solar Federation’s modus operandi as they have garnered attention from fans throughout Pennsylvania and beyond in nearly three years of touring.
“I remember our first show, there was a married couple who drove from Columbus, Ohio, to Lancaster, Pa., and they said it was well worth it,” Herb said. “That continues to floor me. We’ve had people come see us from as far away as Virginia and North Carolina.”
Built organically through word-of-mouth advertising, the band’s reputation is the result of hard work and critically-acclaimed performance.
“A lot of people, when they think of a tribute band, think of a group of guys standing up on stage and wearing wigs and retro clothing and a show presentation,” Herb said. “Our band doesn’t do that at all. We are strictly focused on the music and try to do faithful, accurate presentations of songs that appeared on studio albums.”