Boomerocity

Iconic Interviews & Reviews

Search - Content
Search - Tags
Search - Categories
Support Our Sponsors
  • Chicago/Earth, Wind and Fire - Atlanta, GA 2015

    Chicago/Earth, Wind and Fire

    August 4, 2015

    Aaron’s Ampitheatre 

    Atlanta, Georgia

     

     

    Photo by Randy Patterson

         

    Two of the most amazing and highly talented bands to ever grace our airwaves and stages are Chicago and Earth, Wind and Fire. Each band, alone, is guaranteed to wow their audiences. Together, you’ve got a night of entertainment that reaches nuclear proportions.

    That is exactly what Atlanta, Georgia experienced recently at Aaron’s Ampitheatre when both bands blew away the capacity, multi-racial crowd of 19,000. And, get this: they didn’t start on time. Nope. They started early and, from the opening notes, Chicago AND EWF (yes, they were both on the stage at the same time) had the crowd on their feet and eating out of their highly talented hands. 

    After a couple of numbers together, Chicago turned the stage over to EWF who continued to keep the crowd on their feet and dancing the night away. Led by remaining original members Philip Bailey (with his still amazing vocals), Verdine White (still playing bass in his wildly energetic way), and Ralph Johnson (drums), the band flooded the crowd with wave after wave of nostalgia by playing their incredibly long list of hits. After the intermission, Chicago returned to the stage and did the exact same thing. 

    After another hour and a half of blowing the crowd away with their hits, EWF joined them on the stage as part of the encore which, in my opinion, was the best part – especially when the finished with a eye-popping performance of “25 Or 6 To 4”. Watching the joint performance of that song, alone, would have been well worth the price of admission.

    What’s always amazing when seeing legacy bands like these two is the sheer talent and staying power of not only the band but their iconic hits. Ageless. Timeless. Deep. Meaningful. So, if you get a chance to see either of these bands (together or solo), do! You’ll be in for a memorable treat.

  • Robert Lamm

    Posted June, 2012

     

    If you were into music at all back in the glorious days of the seventies, one band that no doubt found its way into the soundtrack of your youth was Chicago.  Their music was an integral part of all the great music that radio stations across the land played day and night.

    Many of those hits were written by one of the founding band members, Robert Lamm. Mr. Lamm still the iconic group on a very active and well received touring schedule much to the delight of fans – young and old alike.

    Recently, those fans were turned on to an album of remixes of many of the songs written by Lamm – both from his Chicago work as well as his own solo work (you can read the Boomerocity review of that great CDhere).  The album is entitled, Robert Lamm Songs: The JVE Remixes and is a must-have for connoisseurs of excellent music of any genre but especially Chicago/Lamm music.

    I was so enthused about that album that I asked for – and was fortunate enough to be granted – an opportunity to ask Mr. Lamm a few, short questions about the album. 

    In my work, I’ve interviewed enough artist/songwriters to know that, to them, their songs are like their own children.  They never can pick a favorite (or, at least, will never openly admit to a favorite) and are very protective of their “children”.  To that point, I asked Robert how hard was it for him to turn loose of his “babies” and let Van Eps have his way with them in the studio.

    “John and I had worked with the idea of remixing a few songs from my The Bossa Project and actually included some on the CD. I was so impressed with his ideas on those that to do remixes of Chicago songs naturally occurred to both of us.”

    Although Lamm entrusted his musical children with Van Eps, that’s not to say that he wasn’t involved in the remix project.

    “My role was to listen to each approach and agree or suggest additional ideas, perhaps arrangement structure and always honing in on the beat loops. There were a few remixes that were false starts, but he is very creative and kept coming with different takes.”

    With such a rich and full catalog of music that they had to choose from, I asked Lamm how the song selection was determined.

    “I thought that the most popular RL songs from my Chicago work would be most compelling to listeners. The others I suggested to John from my 8 solo albums.”

    One of my two most favorite songs of Lamm’s, 25 6 to 4, was remixed not once but twice.  I was curious as to what was behind that decision and which of those two remixes was his favorite.

    “The dance remix was the first remix try and I shelved it and asked for another  arrangement, (Latin) which is my preferred remix of the 2. Most folks prefer the dance remix.”

    Since he mentioned what the crowd’s favorite was, I asked Robert what their reaction has been thus far to the entire album.  His answer didn’t surprise me at all.

    “Most people are surprised that they enjoy it more than they thought they would.”

    As a teen in the 70’s, I wasn’t a good dancer but still went to the school dances. There were two slow dance songs that everyone hoped would be played (and the usually were).  Color My World was one of the two.  If I didn’t dance but one dance at those events, it would always be to that song.  I asked Lamm why that song didn’t make it to the album.  His answer reminded me that the songwriting efforts in Chicago were – and are – truly collaborative in nature.

    “This is album is Robert Lamm Songs: The JVE Remixes I did not compose Colour My World!”

    In the area of remixing classic songs, sometimes the results can be less than favorable. I asked Robert if there were any songs that he was pleasantly surprised as to how they turned out as well as any songs that he thought would be shoo-ins but discovered that they didn’t work after they were remixed.

    “I love both of the remixes from my Subtlety & Passion album, You’re My Sunshine Every Day’ and It’s a Groove, This Life. They are both so very beautiful.

    “There were other songs besides On the Equinox from the new solo album, Living Proof that I wanted for this album, but were already sort of Electronica sonically and musically, that John felt would be difficult further remix.”

    Because of the tremendous technology and incredible wizardry that’s involved in the remixing of music, I was naturally curious if this project affected Lamm’s approach to music, songwriting and performing.

    “I have become more comfortable with some of the ‘plug-in’ software we used, so that I have begun using this software in my composing of new work for Chicago and another solo project with Mr. Van Eps, an Electro Bossa Album.”

    My final question was a two-parter: Will there be a sequel to the remix album and do he and Van Eps plan to work together again.

    “Never say Never.  Another solo project with Mr. Van Eps, an Electro Bossa album. The first Bossa Project was organic, but I want to combine Brazilian feel with modern grooves.”

    One thing is for certain: Whatever Robert Lamm sets his hands and mind to, will undoubtedly turn into many enjoyable hours of listening pleasure and Boomerocity certainly looks forward to hearing it.

  • Verdine White Of Earth, Wind & Fire

    Published March 2017 

    verdinewhiteAs a teenager in high school during the seventies, one of the most endearing and danceable bands to grace our school dances and car/home stereos was none other than Earth, Wind & Fire. 

    Their first huge hit was “Shining Star” took our school – and the whole world – by a dancing storm. Even today, the opening notes of that song immediately take me back to the sun-drenched campus of Moon Valley High School in Phoenix. Bell-bottom jeans, platform shoes, and some of the funkiest shirts ever made draped our youthful bodies. 

    Fast-forward to today: The band has repeatedly toured the everything knoxville logo editedworld and has reportedly sold 100 million records. With a couple of their songs hitting the 2016 movies, Dr. Strange and Trolls, EWF is reaching all new audiences and creating another generation of life-long fans.

    Sadly, the founder and genius behind EWF, Maurice White, passed away a year ago last month. His musical legacy is still being felt today and the band honors his memory by carrying on its mission of blessing the masses with their iconic hits.

    Leading that mission is Maurice’s kid brother, Verdine White, who has been with the band as bass player since its inception. To say that Verdine is not only exceptionally talented but also high energy would be a severe understatement. The man doesn’t stop from the moment the hits the stage until the final bow. He makes the Energizer Bunny appear catatonic.

    With Earth, Wind & Fire preparing to hit the road for another tour, I called Verdine at his California home to chat about his late brother, Trolls, and what fans might expect during this tour.

      With the band having been in existence for almost fifty years, I started by asking Verdine if he thought that the band would last that long or that the songs would still stand so well.

    Clip Above To Listen To The Actual Raw Interview

    “No, not at all. When you first start, you hope to get a couple of hits and things like that. You just hope for the best and then I thought I’d go back to teach and go back to school. But every year obviously got better and better and better. We have to thank my late brother, Maurice, for that. You know he passed away last year in February. He was the one with the vision. We’re just basically following the blueprint that he laid out.”

    I mentioned to White that I had seen EWF with Chicago and that it was one of the best shows I’d ever seen.

    “We just got done with Chicago in the fall. It was really fantastic and a great thing. They’re a great, great, great band! They were inducted in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2016. We’re really happy for them!”

    Speaking of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, EWF was inducted in 2000 so Chicago is in excellent company.

    During our chat, I laughingly commented Mr. White’s hyper energy on stage and joked by asking what kind of cereal he eats. 

    earthwindandfirecropped“I try to eat as good as I can and it’s the music, man. The music really does it! It’s what keeps it together and that’s always so inspiring.”

    Discussing the current tour, Verdine shared what fans can expect at the shows.

    “Well, it’s going to be a great show. A lot of great energy. A lot of great songs. We’re on our fifth generation. Our music’s everywhere.

    “One of the things we did is we have three songs in two of the biggest movies that came out before Christmas. Dr. Strange with Shining Star and wealso did the Trolls soundtrack with Justin Timberlake and Anna Kendrick. We have three songs in the number one and number two movie in the whole world – back-to-back; same weekend.

    “What happened the other day, my wife and I were at dinner and a woman brought her three-year-old daughter to take pictures because she had just seen the Trolls movie and she was doing backflips in the theater. A three-and-a-half-year-old! And the parents brought them! They had just left the Trolls movie and said, ‘Can we take a picture? Can we take a picture?’ That’s amazing, isn’t it? That’s really a blessing and shows you the power of songs.”

    As Mr. White mentioned, his brother, Maurice, passed away a year ago. I asked what thoughts he would share about his late brother.

    “That he was a great person, first of all. He was a wonderful brother. He was just a great person. All those things first. And, of course, he was just a marvelously talented person! He was the best big brother that anybody could ever have. If it hadn’t been for him I wouldn’t be doing what I’m doing.”

    With almost fifty years in the music business, I asked Verdine what has been the biggest and smallest changes in the music business that he’s witnessed.

      “Well, of course, in my career I’ve seen a lot of changes in the music business. It’s evolved, you know what I mean, to the point that now everybody can get your music in one second. All your work can be over the whole world. I’m encouraged by the new developments because now we’re having some really wonderful, new artists and they all sound different. It has the ability to get to the audience. I’m really encouraged. Those are the biggest changes I’ve seen.

    “The change that I haven’t seen is that you still have to put the work in. That doesn’t change! You still got to put the work in! You still got to put the effort in. That part hasn’t changed!”

    I hypothetically asked White what he would do to fix the music business if he were appointed “Music Czar” by the president.

    “I think all the businesses – we’ve all had to adjust to the new world – the digital world. That’s not just only our businesses. Magazines, newspapers, a lot of our print media has suffered, you know what I mean? I’m sure you know because you’re in that world, as well.

    “But what I would do to fix it is put think tanks together to adjust at every change. The changes are happening faster and faster and faster. That’s what I would do. Put a think tank together for how to reach the audiences, listening to the audiences. Remember, we used to have suggestion boxes when we were at work, right? I think you could do those kinds of things and find out what the audience wants; how to price it for them, and serve the public. I think that’s all our job. That’s what I would do. 

    As for what’s on the band’s radar for the next year or two, White said, “We haven’t really thought about it yet. It’s a long way. The most things that we’re doing right now is getting for the tour and then we’ll take it from there.” 

    And what would he like to do musically that he hasn’t done yet? 

    “God, there’s so many things! I would still love to play with the London Symphony Orchestra! That’s what I would love to do!”

    As we wrapped up our chat, I asked the renowned bass player what I often ask artists at the end of an interview: When you step off the tour bus of life at the Great Gig in The Sky (to paraphrase Pink Floyd), how do you want to be remembered and what do you hope your legacy will be? 

    “When you’re at this point in our career, that’s the question you get. If you were a young act you wouldn’t give them that question. I think it’s still in process, you know? It’s still in process, you know what I’m sayin’? That’s my answer. It’s an obvious question to people like us, when you’ve been around for quite some time. I think it still begs to be written. People ask me about Maurice’s legacy I say that it’s still being written.”

    Then, almost as if he didn’t want to pass up the opportunity to give meaningful advice to the current generation of artist, Verdine adds:

    verdinewhiteinthestudioVerdine White Mentoring Students“One of the things that I tell young artists who come up to me is that I tell them to take care of themselves. Take care of themselves! Start now! That’s the one thing that I do say. I always say, ‘Stay strong! Stay healthy!’ That’s what I tell the younger artists when they come up to me.”

    After our chat, I talked to Verdine about his charity, The Verdine White Performing Arts Center. It’s an organization he put together to help kids who have musical talent by way of providing instruments, lessons, or scholarships. Boomerocity is proud to help this worthy cause by making our readers aware of it. Please consider making a contribution.

    Also, be sure to enjoy the music of the movie, Trolls, as well as catch Earth, Wind and Fire at one of their tour stops near you.

    You can keep up with Verdine and the rest of Earth, Wind and Fire atWWW.EarthWindandFire.com.

     

Featured Photo

 

 

george lynch

Our Featured Photo by Boomerocity friend and famed rock photographer, Rob Shanahan (robshanahan.com), is of Dokken's George Lynch! Check out more of Rob's work at RobShanahan.com!

 

 

The Boomerocity Interview Vault

Interviews

Posted August 24, 2014 Over a year ago, a Boomerocity reader turned me on to a remark...

Read more

Boomerocity on Facebook