After 40 years, seven multi-platinum albums and four Grammy Awards the Doobie Brothers are still bringing their signature rock and roll sound to the stage.
The quintessential rock band will be playing the South Okanagan Events Centre in Penticton on Oct. 27 touring their classic songs and new collaborative album Southbound.
This marks the first time the band has played in Penticton, but according to founding member and frontman Tom Johnston, playing a smaller population centre has little effect on the show.
“I think basically people are people no matter where they live. Once you get inside a show and you’re playing music, if you doing your job right, they start reacting and everything starts working,” said Johnston. “That’s pretty much what playing live has always been about, no matter where it is. People are just as responsive in smaller areas as they are in a large one.”
Performing with different members on and off, the name Doobie Brothers has been alive and well in the hearts and minds of rock fans for nearly half a century. The band has been playing with big names like Boston and Peter Frampton during their summer tour and from Johnston’s perspective rock is still alive and well.
“It’s gratifying. It makes you feel good. You’re still able to draw in large crowds, and the people want to hear the music or they wouldn’t be there.”
Not only is the music reaching the fans who were alive during the height of the band’s popularity in the 70s and 80s, but a whole new generation is coming out and enjoying the same music and lyrics that remain relevant today.
“You see all demographics, you see people in their 30s and 40s and 20s because they’re discovering the music and not through mom and dad like the old days. They’re discovering it through streaming downloading.”
The new album Southbound, out Nov. 4, will be casting some of the biggest hits from the Doobie Brothers lengthy catalogue of songs in a whole new light, collaborating with almost every big name currently in country music.
“It’s not a tribute album we actually played and sang on it so it’s more of a collaborative album.”
Country musicians including the Zac Brown Band, Blake Shelton and Toby Keith brought their own style to classic tunes like Blackwater, Listen to the Music and Long Train Running, respectively.
Johnston wasn’t able to be in the studio to see all of the guest stars on the album, but he was able to step in on a few sessions including Blake Shelton’s rendition of Listen to the Music.
“A lot of it was chosen by the artists. It turned out really interesting because we’re singing it, but then they’re singing it. You’ve got the guy that sang it originally singing it all the way through and then you’d get the other artists to come in and they would sing it all the way through.”
After both artists recorded their rendition, it was up to the production masterminds to blend it all together to make one fresh sound for the classic tracks.
“It was really cool. It worked out really neat. I didn’t know what to think about all this when we first started,” said Johnston “We’re not really considered a country band, but we are an American band and we’ve got roots in all kinds of music, so it worked out really really well. I was very happily surprised.”
The idea was brought to the band by producer David Huff, perhaps best known for drumming in the short-lived 80s rock band Giant.
“We were on the road when it was brought to us and we looked at each other and said ‘well, this should be interesting’.”
Johnston knew the artists brought together for the album were talented, but he was blown away by the dedication they would bring to the booth.
“They all came in and really gave it their best shot. They didn’t just come in and phone it in, they worked, they wanted it to be as good as it could possibly be and I thought that was really great.”
Michael McDonald, who originally joined the band in 1976, and left in 1982, returned to bring his baritone sound to the album, however he won’t be joining the band on tour. It was an easy and unsurprising reunion for Johnston, who usually sees McDonald once or twice a year.
“We just pick up where we left off. It’s always good to see Mike. We all get along and it’s fun hanging around with him.”
Tickets can be purchased online at www.valleyfirsttix.com or by phone at 1-877-763-2849.