Niagara Gazette

Night & Day

July 8, 2013

In town Tuesday at Artpark, Doobie Brothers taking a step back in style these days

Niagara Gazette — This Tuesday, Artpark welcomes a rock band that has sold more than 40 million albums worldwide with hits like “Long Train Runnin’,” “China Grove,” and “Black Water.” They are The Doobie Brothers, featuring founding members Tom Johnston and Patrick Simmons along with longtime member John McFee.

Opening the show will be a great Buffalo-based original music band, The Informers.

The Doobie Brothers burst on the scene in the late 1960s, landing a record deal with the help of the late Skip Spence, of Moby Grape fame.

Their eponymous debut album appeared in 1971 failed to chart upon its release, but a year later the band’s “Toulouse Street” album proved to be their breakthrough album with hits like “Listen to the Music” and “Jesus is Just Alright.”

After a few years of non-stop touring and recording, guitarist vocalist Tom Johnston was forced to leave the band due to health issues. His role was taken over in part by now former Doobie Brother Michael McDonald.

As Tom Johnston recalled by phone last week, it marked a huge shift in the band’s sound.

“We went from a bar room boogie rock kind of band to what Michael brought was a blue-eyed soul feel. It also went from guitar based to keyboard based,” Johnston said.

“Michael wasn’t originally brought into the band to be the main guy, he was brought in to fill a void instrumentally when I went to get my ulcer fixed in 1975. I decided I couldn’t tour for the “Stampede” album and it put the band in a bad place. I felt bad about it but I didn’t have any choice, I almost died from that ulcer.”

The Michael McDonald era spawned plenty of hits, but not all of the Doobie Brothers fans embraced the new style with McDonald at the forefront and Johnston’s role limited. The band coming to Artpark is closer to the band that Johnston and Simmons formed in the late 1960s

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