CLEARWATER — Little River Band, Lords of 52nd Street and John Waite will perform as part of ‘70s Fest III, set for Friday, Feb. 28, 7 p.m., at Ruth Eckerd Hall, 1111 McMullen Booth Road, Clearwater.
Tickets start at $35. Call 727-791-7400 or visit www.rutheckerdhall.com.
The event also will include the ‘70s Fest Marketplace starting at 5 p.m. in the venue’s Grand Concourse as well as a classic car show, Vintage Vinyl Vault, ‘70s inspired vendors, live pre-show entertainment, food for purchase and more.
Little River Band was dubbed as “the best singing band in the world” by Glenn Frey of the Eagles. Through the ‘70s and ‘80s, LRB enjoyed huge chart success with multiplatinum albums and chart topping hits such as “Reminiscing,” “Cool Change,” “Lonesome Loser,” “The Night Owls,” “Take It Easy On Me,” “Help Is on Its Way,” “Happy Anniversary,” “We Two,” “Man on Your Mind,” “The Other Guy” and “It’s a Long Way There.” With worldwide album and CD sales of more than 30 million copies, they were the first band to set a record for having Top 10 hits for six consecutive years.
Wayne Nelson, lead singer and bass player of Little River Band, recently spoke to Tampa Bay Newspapers.
Tampa Bay Newspapers: What drew you to the music industry?
Wayne Nelson: I was surrounded by music as a kid. My dad was a college drum major, and my mom loved the classics and Broadway. So, we had everything from “Camelot” to Mozart to Souza marches playing in the house at any given time. They were also both active in church choir and local theater. Being that immersed in music and the arts got into my blood ... and music went from a hobby to a career after I got out of college.
TBN: I know many musicians have rituals or routines they go through before every show. What do you do to prepare for a performance?
Nelson: I don’t do anything that would qualify as a ritual ... but I do warm up vocally for probably 20 to 30 minutes prior to a show. LRB vocals are an athletic venture. We have to be ready for that first song, and then be able to maintain quality and stamina for 90 minutes. Matter of fact, the highest note I sing in the show is the very first one of the night. At my age and stage, that takes some preparation.
TBN: Taking into account the longevity of Little River Band, how have audiences changed over the years?
Nelson: The mix of ages is broadening. There are plenty of people in the audience who heard the music when it was new and being played on the radio in the ‘70s and ‘80s. Then 20 some years ago, their kids started coming to shows as young adults. Now the third and fourth generations of fans are showing up. We have grand- and great-grandkids bringing their elders to the show ... and vice versa. And I think theater crowds are getting more expressive. They used to be a bit subdued because they were inside in a nice building. They’re getting a little rowdier now We like that a lot!
TBN: When I was in middle school, our music teacher had us sing the same two or three songs every week. One of the songs was “Lonesome Loser.” If you had one message to give a young aspiring musician, what would it be?
Nelson: Practice enough to be confident in your craft. Doors will open for anyone who sticks with music long enough to get noticed. Musicians need to be ready to satisfy whoever is on the other side of that door. Being confident and agile on your instrument will help you fill that role ... and practice is ultimately what gets you there.
TBN: Ruth Eckerd Hall, the concert venue, is billing this show as the “third annual ‘70s Fest.” In your opinion, what sets 1970s’ era songwriting apart from other decades?
Nelson: I’m not sure songwriting is what’s different. I think stylization is different. Being a product of the ‘70s era, I certainly have my favorites. They’re attached to my memories of the time, so they carry even more weight for me. But when I overcome my prejudices and am able to listen to a new song with a different stylization, I usually find we’re all writing about the same things: love, loss, joy, heartache. It’s how we package those subjects that more define our eras. I will say that the ‘70s seemed in general to rely a lot more on band vocals than current groups do. You don’t hear as much three- and four-part harmonies on a regular basis now. LRB even layers guitar harmonies to go with the vocals. We’re lucky that the “packaging” made famous in the ‘70s is still in demand!
In addition to Nelson, Little River Band members include Chris Marion, keyboards and vocals; Rich Herring, lead guitar and vocals; Ryan Ricks, drums, percussion and vocals; and Colin Whinnery, guitar and lead vocals.