We all take after our parents to some extent, in Lara Johnston’s case, she acquired a sense of soul from her father.
The daughter of the Doobie Brothers’ Tom Johnston, Lara will be the opening act on eight stops on the Doobie Brothers tour, including the Oct. 27 performance at the South Okanagan Events Centre in Penticton.
Growing up listening to the same soul legends as her dad like Aretha Franklin, Marvin Gaye and Stevie Wonder, Johnston acquired a taste for the music that still influences her today.
“My dad played a lot of soul music for me growing up. That was something I really latched on to,” Johnston said.
Johnston is currently working on an untitled project to bring that connection to early soul to fruition.
“It’s definitely really soul influenced because that’s what I’ve grown up loving, and that’s kind of where my heart is,” Johnston said.
She is now compiling as much work as possible before putting anything together officially in hopes of being able to pick out the tracks she connects with most.
“It’s always a process but I know that the more you do it the closer you are to finding those moments that really feel genuine,” Johnston said.
Johnston promises an album of honest lyrics with a sense of humour when appropriate.
“It’s very personal, very me,” Johnston said.
Johnston gained more than a taste for soul from her father. Early on she discovered the work ethic that is involved in pursuing a career in music.
“He’s a really hard worker and growing up seeing that really showed me that when you love something you have to put the hours in,” Johnston said.
While work ethic isn’t what comes to mind when most people think “rock star”, Johnston feels it was a cornerstone of her father’s success and hopes to imitate his determination and commitment in her own career.
“He’s so disciplined to this day, he really puts the hours in, he takes it so seriously, and it pays off, he’s amazing,” said Johnston. “Hearing his voice, seeing his work ethic, seeing him perform, he’s an incredible, confident performer on stage and that’s something I’ve definitely aspired to.”
For her, the recent stint on the Doobie Brothers tour has acted somewhat like a small family reunion.
“It’s fun because I’ve known the guys in the band forever, so it’s fun to be travelling alongside them and getting to see their show every night.”
Like many rock and roll fans, Johnston grew up on the Doobie Brothers, perhaps more than anyone else could ever boast, and still gets that familiar feeling when she hears the classic songs.
“It feels so good to me because it’s stuff that I grew up on, so it feels like home,” Johnston said.
Joining in on part of the tour has been an opportunity for her to work on her stage presence and the finer points of her performance as well. Johnston has also taken some time to take in the many subtleties of the Canadian experience.
“It’s cool being somewhere different from America, as silly as that sounds, to be able to see the things that make Canada Canada. To hear the accents, see the signs in English and French and visit Tim Hortons,” Johnston laughed.
Johnston has been making her own waves in collaborations with bands like The New Velvet and winning accolades such as the Unsigned Only award for independent musicians. The competition is put on by the International Songwriting Competition (ISC) and Johnston was the first to recieve the prize with her single K.I.S.S.
“It was a really cool experience,” said Johnston. “It definitely got me a lot of exposure I wouldn’t have otherwise gotten. I got a lot of phone calls and opportunities to talk to people and collaborate,”
Tickets for The Doobie Brothers are $49.50, $64.50 and $82. Tickets can be purchased at www.ValleyFirstTix.com by telephone at 1-877-SOEC-TIX (763.2849) or in person at the Valley First Box Office and Wine Country Visitor Centre.