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  • 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.

  • James Burton & Friends 2019

    James Burton and Friends
    Schermerhorn Symphony Center
    Nashville, Tennessee
    November 12, 2019

    Burton ShowLast night, I experienced a musical night of historic proportions that I haven’t experienced since seeing Elvis Presley in 1973 . . . and I don’t say that lightly.

    I’m talking about a fundraising event hosted by legendary guitarist, James Burton, for his foundation whose purpose is to put music – especially guitars (thousands of them) in schools and rehab institutions.

    Burton invited a large number of his friends to come and perform and they did so on their own dime. What kind of friends, you ask? Legends such as Brian May of Queen, Joe Walsh (The Eagles), Sammy Hagar, Mickey Dolenz (The Monkees), Jason Scheff (Chicago), Paul Shaffer (The Late Show with David Letterman), Vince Neil (Motley Burton and DolenzJames Burton and Mickey Dolenz - Photo by Randy PattersonCrue), Tanya Tucker, Brandie Carlisle, T. Graham Brown, Maggie Rose, Caroline Jones, The Imperials, Alex & Roy Orbison, Jr., Albert Lee, Steve Cropper, John Carter Cash, Chris Whitehall (Griswolds), Tim Rushlow (Little Texas), Steve Wariner, Skunk Baxter, Marty Haggard, Ronnie Tutt (former drummer for Elvis Presley).

    This show was four hours of musical magic. Imagine watching Joe Walsh and Brian May performing Rocky Mountain Way or Jason Scheff with Brian May serving up a scorching version of Chicago’s 25 or 6 to 4. And that doesn’t even scratch the surface.

    What was great about the whole night was that its purpose was to raise money to put music back into schools and into the hands of kids and veterans.

    It’s unconscionable that with all the money collected in taxes for education systems across the country that musical education has been cast aside. But, cast aside it has been. Mr. Burton has raised money to fix that travesty of education. Please help James continue to accomplish his gargantuan mission by contributing to The James Burton Foundation directly (click here). Contribute now. Contribute often. It’s a phenomenal cause.

  • James Pankow of Chicago

    Posted May 2018

     

    James Pankow Cropped

    I don’t know about y’all, but when I was in high school in the seventies, we had a lot of dances throughout the year. I couldn’t dance worth a darn (still can’t so I don’t even bother) so guys like me lived for the slow dance.

    Pretty hard to screw those up, huh, guys?

    Anywho, one of the favorite songs to slow dance to was Chicago’s “Colour My World”. The opening notes of that song had clod-hopping guys like me fist-pumping and anxiously looking for whomever we had a crush on to ask them for that dance.

    Since then, I’ve loved following what this tremendously talented band  over the years as they continued to crank out hit after hit after hit. It was also a personal thrill to have caught them in concert while on tour with Earth, Wind and Fire . . . but more about that, shortly.

    After the launch of Boomerocity, I was privileged to interview one of the band’s co-founder, Robert Lamm (here) and, because of an upcoming show in my neck of the woods, I was recently afforded the opportunity to chat with another co-founder of the group: their iconic trombonist, James Pankow.

    I called Jimmy at his home in the during a brisk winter day. At the beginning of our chat, Jimmy and I were engaging in small talk and he indicated that he lives in the Nashville area. He filled me in on the events leading up to that move and the quality of life he and his family are enjoying there.

    “I relocated the family here almost eight years ago for a better life and, indeed, we found it. We escaped the L.A. area. It was not doable any longer. My children were approaching high school age and I did not like the idea of them growing up in a third world country. It was overcrowded and dangerous. I explored options and, actually, Nashville made a lot of sense – not only for a better quality of life; a simpler life; a more affordable life. 

    “I have a sister here with six kids and two brothers in the Atlanta area with seven kids. Our kids have extended family here. EverythingKnoxvilleLogoEditedThey didn’t have any of that on the west coast. So, it’s all good! I mean, there’s things we miss, you know? The perfect weather. The beach and all that stuff. But, hey, you know, there’s more to life than the environment and its perks. We can visit L.A. when we need to go back there. This is really a better life here, Randy, and I’m glad we chose to move out of that hell-hole. 

    “Los Angeles is getting more dangerous by the day. And, frankly, the whole Hollywood thing; the lack of morality; the materialism. I didn’t want my kids growing up with that ethic.

    “So, here we are. Nashville has turned out to be a great place. We might not necessarily be here the rest of our lives, but the kids have spread their wings. They’re safe here. We don’t lock our doors. The schools are amazing and it’s all good, man!

    “I’m getting my irons in the fire locally, here. I’m starting to meet people and hook up with local talent here in Nashville in terms of song writing and stuff like that. 

    “Chicago is so darn busy that as soon as I get something started, I have to put it on the back burner because I’m leaving, again. We were on the road nine months last year. The work ethic is insane! I mean, it’s good, you know? It’s amazing that, after fifty years, the demand is greater than ever. I guess the (Rock and Roll) Hall of Fame, the documentary movie that premiered on CNN. That stuff probably pumped the career even more. 

    “The band is just better than ever. The band is slamming. People are loving the shows. We’re doing sell-out business. We’re far from throwing in the towel!”

    I chimed in that he made a wise choice in moving to Nashville and that he’s joined by a lot of other rockers there. I also mentioned – since he was commenting on Chicago’s perpetual sell-out business – seeing them with Earth, Wind and Fire in Atlanta a couple of years ago and how that concert blew me away. 

    “I came here before the secret was out and, now, it’s not just musicians coming in. I mean, there’s a hundred people a day coming to Nashville. It’s turned into one of the top destination cities. Frankly, now being a local, we’re getting a little concerned about the influx being more than the infrastructure can handle. 

    Everybody in Nashville is worried about the rural charm going away in favor of high-rise condos and fancy restaurants and all that stuff. But it’s still a great place and I don’t blame people for wanting to be here because they probably wanted the same things I wanted. 

    “Tennessee has a comfort to it. I guess that’s the best word: comfortable. I can do music here. I can raise my kids here. It’s centrally located, pretty much. It’s an hour and twenty minutes to Chicago. It’s a couple of hours to New York. When I was in L.A., man, it was flying across the country every time we went on the road. I’ve got family everywhere. I have a lot of brothers and sisters, so I wind up seeing everybody as I travel on the road. I get that done.

    “But, yeah, the career is just leaping and bounding. That Earth, Wind and Fire show, man, I have to agree with you. We package with a lot of people. We’re going to be out – as a matter of fact – with REO Speedwagon together this summer. We went with them once before. I was a little apprehensive about that combination but, then, we went into rehearsals and, man, those guys are veteran rockers. They do it the old fashion way just like we do. Kevin Cronin is still playing his butt off and they put on a great show and it worked! So, we’re doing it again. 

    “We were out with the Doobie’s last year. We’ve been out with Earth/Wind a half a dozen times. I have to agree: That is the most exciting performance I’ve ever experienced in all these years! When we’re up there together, two horn sections – I mean, it’s amazing! It’s a good fit, actually, when we’re together because they’re like the – well, they have their own thing, just like Chicago. They have their own identity. It’s kind of hip, R&B/Funk. But it’s their own, their own brand. You know it’s Earth, Wind and Fire when you hear it on the radio. Like Chicago. 

    “The musician line up in both bands is very similar. When we’re together on stage, it’s just low ‘Wow!’. It’s amazing! I’m up there watching the people with their jaws hanging open because it’s so powerful. They’re watching me with my jaw hanging open. Ha! Ha!”

    When I commented how exhausting it was watching EWF’s Verdine White on stage with his incredible energy, Pankow added:

    “He doesn’t stop for a second. I’m not exactly a static individual, either. I like to run around the stage. Of course, when we perform together, I’m, typically, right next to Verdine. So, my trombone winds up going into the shop every week because I try to stay out of the way of his bass neck! Ha! Ha! 

    “But, yeah, that guy – he’s my hero! He is Mr. Energy. There were nights where I was tired when I didn’t get a good night’s sleep and I show up at the gig and he just pump me up, man! Just being next to him energized me. 

    “We actually just finished a residency in Las Vegas at the Venetian and I noted that Earth/Wind is going to be coming up and doing a residency at the Venetian, as well, I think in May. They’re kinda following the same path as we are this year. Hopefully, we’ll run into each other on the road.”

    When I asked Mr. Pankow what has changed the most and the least over the years of his career and business-wise, he shared:

    “Well, you know, the one thing that has, thankfully, remained constant is a demand for this music. I said this at the Hall of Fame and I say it many nights on stage. What we do is really rewarding. As a songwriter and a performer, you create songs. It represents a personal moment, writing your thoughts down. It’s a catharsis. It’s therapy, really. It’s probably prevented me from jumping off the deep end. You vent when you write songs. It’s a great release and when you share those ideas – those songs – with an audience, that’s when the song takes on a life of its own; when a song lives and breathes because it’s the audience who embraces that music that makes it come alive. It validates it. 

    “I tell people all the time, ‘This wouldn’t matter – none of this would matter – Chicago; Earth, Wind and Fire – if people didn’t appreciate and enjoy and have a need to experience this. So, we’re very fortunate that we’ve had such a long career because of that. You could be the greatest artist since sliced bread but if nobody gave a damn, it wouldn’t matter. You couldn’t get arrested. If nobody cared, it would be meaningless. 

    “The fact is, people not only love this music, they keep wanting more. They want to come back and they want to re-live the moments in their lives that these songs represent. We get on stage and we look at an audience and we can see these people re-living whatever song is the song that is meaningful to them. We can see them making that connection – that emotional connection. These songs have become the fabric of their lives and they come to have that communion with the band. That’s what makes it magical. It’s that give and take with an audience. That has not changed. And, thank God it hasn’t because I’m still putting food on the table doing something I love, which is a real blessing, as I’m sure you understand.

    “As we matured; as we become more experienced and more knowledgeable, we’ve become more in touch with the business. It isa business. There are P&L sheets. There are expenses out there. It’s a big business. You have lots of big trucks, buses. You have support crew of dozens of people who without you could not do a show and you have to take care of their travel and their expenses. The stage. The production. There’s a lot that goes into putting a show together and you have to keep a thumb on those expenses. 

    “We didn’t really care when we were kids. We had people doing the business for us, but things fell through the cracks and we didn’t know about it. So, we decided that it was important to have an idea of what was going on because it’s good business. It’s the right thing to do. It’s smart. So, as we’ve gotten older, we treated it more as a much as a business as entertainment. 

    “When we’re on that stage doing that show, there’s nothing else on our mind. I mean, a bomb could go off and we wouldn’t know it because when we’re on stage, the business, the day-to-day situations are not on our minds. We’re absorbed absolutely 100% in the moment; performing these songs and having a great time doing it, man! It’s like the first night every night because it’s a different audience. There’s certain songs that everybody wants to hear. There’s the requisite songs: ‘You’re The Inspiration’, ‘Saturday In The Park’, ’25 or 6 to 4’, ‘Color My World’; the usual suspects. 

    “But this year, we’re doing something that we’ve never done before. This year, we have kind of an experimental change, if you will. The second album, Chicago II, is being considered for the Lifetime Achievement Grammy and we video-taped the performance of the entire album on a soundstage in Chicago. It’ll be airing on public television networks around the country later this month. This album is arguably the template for all of the music that followed. I would venture to say that this album represents everything musical for Chicago. This is kind of the album that set the groove for all of the music to come. 

    “It’s a challenging piece of work. And, this year, we’re going to be doing a two-part show. The first set will be the performance of Chicago II from top to bottom . It’s a challenging record, musically. I dare say – I’m performing this stuff now forty-plus years later – I’m going, ‘Holy cow, man! We were twenty-year-old kids and we did this?’ I’m getting this moment of clarity. 

    “Maybe there is a reason that we’ve lasted so long. This is amazing stuff, man! We didn’t know what it was when we were doing it. We didn’t see the forest for the trees. We were just a bunch of kids writing down and recording what we heard. We didn’t know the rules and we didn’t give a s***. But now that we’re performing this stuff back-to-back, it’s a daunting experience. 

    “I didn’t write any rests, man. The horns are non-stop. There’s a lot of very intricate instrumental work that most hit songs don’t necessarily include. It’s not hit after hit. Of course, ‘The Ballet” is part of this; ‘Make Me Smile’ and ‘Colour My World’, ’25 or 6 to 4’ is part of this, which is a rock and roll anthem. 

    “So, there are hit songs on that record. It’s a double album. Wow! You get to the end of this record and you know you did some work. We’re getting great responses. We did it in Vegas and we’ve done it on some of the tour dates that we’ve done up ‘til now. The spring is typically warm-up dates. We’re getting our chops ready and the production ready for the summer tour with REO. 

    “But, the folks in Knoxville as well as the rest of the tour will be hearing this album performed in its entirety. People – even the young fans – are amazed at the musicality. There are time changes. There are key signature changes. There are multiple vocalists. There are incredibly interesting moments, instrumentally, that don’t really happen for music that was written in the eighties and beyond because as the business evolved – you know, back in the day when this album was recorded – as well as the first album – I would venture to say the first three albums for sure – the fourth a live, four album box set at Carnegie Hall. It was a live performance. 

    “The seventies, particularly, were a renaissance. It was amazing for an artist to be around and to be fruitful and writing to the chop in those days because you could manifest songs that were not ‘hit singles’. You wrote what you heard in your head. It didn’t have a time limit. It didn’t have a hook, necessarily. It didn’t have the formula pop necessities that songs in the eighties and beyond had to have. Record companies wanted that brand song. They wanted that niche on the radio. So, you went in the studio and you made three or four-minute singles/songs. But, back then, man, you did whatever you wanted to do, and it was really fantastic for an artist because you had free reign to be creatively uncensored. 

    “So, to be able to perform this again, live, is really a trip because people are hearing the essence of what Chicago is, musically, without hit, hit, hit – three-minute little commercials; hit singles. 

    “However, the second set is an hour and fifteen-minute encore because it’s all of those hits. So, the first set is a listening set – it’s a journey for the audience and, then, the second set is all hit-bound. It’s all the songs that they hear on the radio and it’s the songs that they’ve embraced as part of their lives. The songs that they hum in the shower. It’s really a great time. It’s the first approach like this that we’ve ever done. And, so far, the reaction has been incredibly positive. So, we’re hoping that the folks in Knoxville are just as enthusiastic about this approach. 

    “So, they’re getting a little of everything. They’re getting the formative music that put this band on the map and they’re getting all the greatest hits. It’s a heck of an evening.

    “We’re looking forward to taking this show on the road this year. Actually, we’re gonna be climbing all around the mid-south. We’re going to be doing Memphis and Chattanooga. We’re doing Nashville later in the summer with REO. It’s really great, now that I live here, it’s even more meaningful. We’re excited to be out, again. It’s the 51st year on the road. The band, like I said, is slamming. We have a couple of personnel changes. I was apprehensive, a bit, about the signature – the musical signature. But, man, I was delightfully surprised because things happen for a reason, apparently. 

    “Tris had some issues. He had to do his own thing. His personal life needed more attention. So, he parted company. And Walfredo Reyes – who is an amazing percussionist and who we discovered is an amazing drummer, as well – he moved over to the drum chair. 

     “And Jeff Coffey, who had replaced Jason Scheff, also had some personal commitments, hence, he had to depart. We replaced him with one of the most amazing voices in the business. Neil Donell is probably one of the top session singers, commercial legit studio vocalists in Toronto, Canada. He’s a celebrity in his own right up there. We ran into him for the last year/year and a half. Turned out he was a big fan. We invited him on stage to sing a song when we were in Toronto. When Jeff left, we reached out to him and he was thrilled with the invitation and he is now covering the tenor vocals.  Chicago Publicity Final Reduced

    “We have a bass player who is amazing as well as a very accomplished vocalist: Brett Simons, who was with Zak Brown for years as well as a studio bass player in L.A. and in Nashville. Young, good looking guy. Plays his butt off. Also plays upright bass the old fashion way. 

    “The band, now, is just – I mean, I just cross my heart, ‘Thank you, Jesus’ when I heard the band at rehearsal before we went to Vegas. We had the new line-up at rehearsal in L.A. I was so delighted to hear – not only was it great, it was better than ever. 

    “So, we have a great line-up with a whole new show. We’re looking forward to an amazing year!”

    And the U.S. is looking forward to being a part of Chicago’s amazing year. 

    Keep up with all things Chicago by visitingChicagoTheBand.com. Be sure to check out if and when this legendary, exciting band will be performing near you.

     

  • Robert Lamm

    Posted June, 2012

     

     

    robertlamm2If 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.