Mention the Doobie Brothers and numerous classics come to mind - "China Grove," "Black Water," "Long Train Runnin'" - just to mention a few.
After racking up diamond, platinum and gold records galore, 27 chart singles and multiple Grammy award trophies over nearly four decades, the southern California-based band will perform its soul-inflected rock at 7:30 p.m. Oct. 25 at the Jaffa Shrine Center in Altoona as the closing event for Penn State Altoona's two-day 70th anniversary celebration. Student band Hope Fallacy will open the show at 6:30 p.m.
"We are so excited that the Doobie Brothers are going to be the headliners for our celebration. This is our college's way of saying thank you to the community for 70 years of support," Shari Routch, director of university relations, said. "It's a great opportunity to see a great band - and for just $10. They really do have a broad appeal to a wide ranging audience in this community. And we wanted to include as many people as possible in our celebration."
Members of the Doobie Brothers include: (from left) Skylark, Pat Simmons, John McFee, Michael Hossack, Ed Toth, Marc Russo, Tom Johnston and Guy Allison.
In addition to the Doobies' broad appeal, the band gave the college a reduced rate, she said. Proceeds from the concert will go toward the college's Future Fund, which helps enrich campus life and provides emergency scholarship assistance for students in financial crisis.
"I think there's about 1,000 tickets left, but they're selling fast," Routch said. "So far, I think we've sold close to 2,800, and the seating capacity at the Jaffa is about 3,800 seats."
The Doobies became one of the most popular California bands of the '70s, evolving from a mellow, post-hippie boogie band to a slick, R&B-tinged pop band fronted by Michael McDonald by the end of that decade, according to allmusic.com. Other smash hits included "Listen to the Music," "Jesus Is Just Alright," "What A Fool Believes" and "It Keeps You Runnin.'"
If you go
What: The Doobie Brothers,
with the Hope Fallacy
When: 7:30 p.m. Oct. 25
Where: Jaffa Shrine Center, Altoona
Admission: Tickets are $10 plus a handling fee, and are available at the Railroaders Memorial Museum or by calling 1-888-4-ALTOONA. Day of show tickets available at the Jaffa Shrine Center beginning at noon.
For more information on Penn State Altoona's 70th Anniversary event, visit www.altoona.psu.edu/70/.
The group is at work on a new album, kicking off an 80-date tour earlier in May that includes dates across the U.S., Canada and Japan, long-time manager Bruce Cohn said in a press release. The group's current incarnation includes founding members and principal songwriters Tom Johnston and Pat Simmons (both on guitars and vocals), longtime guitarist John McFee, original drummer Michael Hossack, veteran bassist Skylark, keyboardist Guy Allison, saxophonist Mark Russo and drummer Ed Toth. Toth replaced the late Keith Knudsen to provide the band's customary two-drummer attack.
Johnston, 61, attributed the band's longevity to its exuberant stage performances and musical diversity.
"We cover everything from rock and roll to blues to R&B to finger picking - it's all integrated into the show," he said in a telephone interview from a hotel in Los Angeles. "And it's all high-energy from front to back. We've got no let-down songs."
He takes the group's enormous success in stride.
"I don't ever think about that kind of stuff. I'm just a down-home kind of guy," he said. "We're just working stiffs just like everybody else, except we're doing it musically. There's quite a few perks to being in this business - the only downside is the traveling. We give people a good time and get paid for it - it's really a wonderful job. It's been a pretty good ride - we're pretty fortunate to be able to keep doing it."
The band's as-yet untitled new disc (due for release in the first half of 2010) will be their first collection of new material in more than a decade and features a fleet of new tunes penned by himself and Simmons, Johnston said. Guests include Willie Nelson (on the ballad "I Know We Won") and Little Feat keyboardist Billy Payne, who lends his talents to two tracks.
"There are definitely some departures from what people might expect from a Doobie Brothers record," Johnston said. "We're stretching out into some new territory."
The project also has reunited the Doobies with legendary producer Ted Templeman (Van Halen, Eric Clapton, Little Feat, Van Morrison), who produced all 12 of their classic Warner Bros. albums.
"It's worked pretty well so far, especially with helping us with song selection, lyric stuff and musical direction," Johnston said of the collaboration. "We've taken on more of a role these days than we did in the '70s, simply because we've been doing this so long."
He's never heard of Altoona but thinks the band might have passed through before.
"I'm sure I've been there - I can't imagine that I haven't," he said. "I've been to just about everywhere else in the country."
Routch said getting the band to Altoona was easy.
"This kind of thing always goes through agencies, and if their tour is coming nearby, you work with the agency to book it," she said, adding popular local pop-punk band Hope Fallacy is "extremely excited to be opening for such a major band right here in Altoona."
"I just hope people turn out for the daytime festivities as well as the Doobies concert," she said. "Because rain or shine, cold or warm, we will be here."
Mirror Staff Writer Jimmy Mincin is at 946-7460.