Listen to the Music Saturday in the Park(ing lot)
June 16, 2010
Despite nearly a combined century of experience, Chicago and The Doobie Brothers are far from burning out.
“Playing music is never tiring,” Rober Lamm, singer-songwriter and founding Chicago keyboardist, said.
“If I wasn’t having a good time I would quit,” Tom Johnston said. Johnston, along with fellow guitarist-songwriter Patrick Simmons, formed The Doobie Brothers in 1970.
On Saturday, both bands will take the stage as part of Harveys 2010 outdoor concert series. Featuring two of music’s longest-running acts, the night air will be filled with auditory nostalgia combined along with a few new surprises.
Leading the Doobie Brothers to harmonious victory will be original band members Johnston and Simmons, along with longtime Doobie guitarist John McFee. Due to a recent illness, Michael Hossack, who has served as the band’s drummer since 1972, will be unable to perform. Sitting in for Hossack will be highly regarded session drummer Tony Pia.
With album sales topping the 50 million mark, the Doobie Brothers have accumulated multiple Grammy Awards, 16 top 40 singles (with two No. 1 hits), 13 Gold albums, 11 multi-platinum albums, and the seldom received Diamond Award for the sale of 10 million units of the album “Best Of The Doobies: Vol. 1.”
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The Doobies have blended elements of blues, folk, jazz, R&B, and good old fashioned rock ‘n’ roll to create a constantly evolving sound that can only be described as “Doobie Brother’s music.” On Saturday, fans will witness this diversity first hand as the band plays such favorites as “Black Water,” “Listen to the Music,” “China Grove,” “Long Train Runnin’,” and “Jesus is Just Alright.”
The Doobies also will play music from their upcoming album which will hit stores on Sept. 28. The album is the first new Doobie’s music to be released in a decade.
“The working title (for the album) is ‘World Gone Crazy’ or ‘Far From Home,'” Johnston said. “I tend to lean more towards ‘World Gone Crazy.’ ”
Joining the band in the studio was legendary producer Ted Templeman. In addition to producing all 12 of the band’s albums with Warner Brothers Records, Templeman has worked with Van Halen, Eric Clapton, and Van Morrison.
In keeping with Doobie tradition, the new album includes a wide variety of musical styles and presentations.
“The direction is a little different than before,” Johnston said. “There are a few songs that are unmistakably Doobie, but then there are a few songs that are really something different. I think that’s a good thing. I like to branch out.”
Three years before the Doobies came into being, musicians Walter Parazaider, Terry Kath, Danny Seraphine, Lee Loughnane, James Pankow, Robert Lamm and Peter Cetera came together to create a new style of music: a rock ‘n’ roll band with horns.
When the group coalesced, they had no clue as to what was in store,” Lamm said.
“We were all fresh – either dropouts from music school or recent graduates,” he said with a laugh. “We were just kind of learning by doing and hoping some day to record an album. No one could perceive that we would have a career this long.”
Since their inception in 1967, Chicago has become one of the most successful groups in history. With more than 100 million total records sold, the band had 21 top 10 singles, five consecutive No. 1 albums, 11 No. 1 singles, and 25 albums which have been certified as platinum. In total, the band has 47 gold and platinum awards. A recent Billboard Magazine ranking of the top 100 artists of all time, Chicago was ranked 13 – the highest ranking for an American band.
Some of the band’s biggest hits include “If You Leave Me Now,” “Just You ‘N Me,” “Make Me Smile,” “25 or 6 to 4,” “Does Anybody Really Know What Time It Is?,” “Saturday In The Park,” and “You’re The Inspiration.”
“I would say that in the last decade we sort of universally discovered that music is our life,” said Lamm. “This is what I was ment to do, but I’m still learning.”
Although the band’s has achieved extreme studio success, the heart and soul of Chicago really comes out through their live performances. After playing countless shows throughout the years, the band still strives to make their concerts better.
“The way that we do it is we try to play the songs as perfectly as we possibly can, and it never comes out that way,” Lamm said. “It always comes out with a slight imperfection, which I think is the whole point of live performance – to see something that you’ve never heard quite the same before. I think the audience enjoys that.”
Joining Lamm on stage Saturday will be fellow original Chicago members Loughnane on trumpet, Pankow on trombone, and Parazaider on woodwinds.
Serving as the band’s percussionist will be Drew Hester, who some fans may recognize as the drummer from another band: the Foo Fighters.
“We kind of forgot that a lot of our stuff in the ’70s was really driven by a percussionist,” Lamm said. “We had been without one for about 20 years, so we got Drew. He’s been with us for well over a year. It’s been really great to get some new blood on stage.”
When Chicago played the Harveys stage last August, the lineup included Bill Champlin. This year, however, the keyboardist-singer who first joined Chicago in 1981, will not be appearing. After almost 30 years with the band, Champlin left after the Stateline show to pursue solo efforts.
Taking a break from their national tour, on May 26 Chicago appeared on the season finale of “American Idol.”
“We were really flattered to be invited to be apart of the last ‘American Idol’ finale,” Lamm said. “That was really a trip.”
The band, along with soon-to-be crowned American Idol Lee Dewyze, performed a meadly of some of their biggest hits.
“(Dewyze) was very excited, and nervous since it was the finale and he was singing with Chicago,” Lamm said . “We reminded him that it is all about having a good time, and he really did when he found out that he won.”
After Chicago and the Doobie Brothers finish their individual sets, the night will culminate with both bands sharing the stage for a six-song performance. This is not, however, the first time the two groups have worked together.
“We toured with the Doobies first in the ’70s,” Lamm said. “It’s a very comfortable situation on stage.”
“It’s a high-energy show from front to back,” Johnston said. “There’s no letdown. The show is as good as its ever been. We always put on a good show. That’s our thing.”
For their 2010 national tour, Chicago is focusing on much more than just music. Teaming up with the American Cancer Society, the band is working to create “a world with less breast cancer and more birthdays” through the “Sing With Chicago” promotion.
“We were approached (by the American Cancer Society) because they saw that the model of concert fundraising we used worked so well last year,” said Lamm.
The band generated hundreds of thousands of dollars to combat world hunger in 2009 by asking fans to bring donations to the concert in the form of cash or canned goods.
This year, in every city the band is performing, fans have the opportunity to bid on a VIP package which includes two premium tickets, backstage passes, and the once in a lifetime opportunity to sing the hit song “If You Leave Me Now” onstage with Chicago.
The bidding takes place online through Mission Fish, a philanthropic extention of eBay with all proceeds going directly to the American Cancer Society. Additionally, fans can make a one time $10 donation to the Society by texting the word “Chicago” to 20222. For more information on the campaign, visit the band’s Web site at http://www.chicagotheband.com.