America The Beautiful!
Legendary Band Entertains Capacity Crowd At The Colonial
May 28, 2015
Two men together for 45 years recording and on the road is quite an accomplishment considering many folks that tried to do it that long have been gone for years. That does not happen anymore right? It sounds incredible but it’s true. Dewey Bunnell and Gerry Beckley have been doing it for that long as America. I tip my hat to them for their consistency and output of incredibly good music all these years.
The current touring lineup of America is Gerry Beckley (founding member, guitar, keys, and vocals), Dewey Bunnell (founding member, guitar, and vocals), Rich Campbell (bass guitar, keys, and vocals), Bill Worrell (guitar, keys, and vocals) and Ryland Steen (drums).
On a beautiful Berkshire night in Pittsfield at the Colonial Theater the two men and their crackerjack band showed us why it has worked for so long. I went expecting soft rock and a lot of acoustic guitars, which there was, but what came as an unexpected surprise was how many songs they did that rocked the house! That’s right…America is more than just soft rock folks. They have a group of men that know how to compliment all of their hits with pinpoint precision on guitar, bass, keys and drums. In fact a young and versatile musician named Bill Worrell (the sound man’s son) added a lot to the mix. He sang, played keys, acoustic and electric guitar, banjo, and all very well I might add. He really cut loose on the electric six-string several times during the course of the set much to the delight of the audience.
There was no warm up band, they started right on time and played past 9pm nonstop-no intermission for these gents or the audience. I sure didn’t hear anyone complaining.
Gerry started off a little shaky in the vocal department on the first few numbers however he smoothed it all out in short order. When you are in your sixties it’s a bit harder to hit those higher notes than when you are in your thirties. Coupled with the fact he has a very unique vocal style makes it even more difficult to reproduce what he did in the past.
I must say the musicianship was outstanding and Dewey Bunnell sounds spot on and has not lost much with his vocal range. Music is more than a job for these men it’s a passion that drives them daily and like Gerry said “We will keep playing if you keep coming to listen,” and that got a big applause from the crowd. It was nice to see that happen and for this listener it was the first time I ever saw them perform. It’s hard to believe they released their first album in 1972!
All the hits came pouring out along with a screen for a backdrop showing images of the duo when they were younger along with some psychedelic colors and textures to fit the more rock oriented numbers. The images were like a multi-colored lava lamped that smashed on the floor, if you can picture that. Some songs from the new album Lost and Found were introduced along with some surprising covers from a previous recording called Back Pages. “California Dreaming” was especially good. That is still one of the best songs ever recorded in my opinion. There was a lot to like and when they played “Ventura Highway” they hit their stride and there was no turning back.
The one thing all the artists that play there say is the venue is beautiful, which makes me proud to be part of the entire experience, and I have the privilege of enjoying these great shows on a regular basis.
Some of my favorites were “Tin Man,” “Don’t Cross The River,” “Sandman,” the list goes on and on. This band had so many hits. It takes sitting in a theater and watching a band such as America to realize their lifelong achievements. If you were fortunate enough to live in the time when all their music was on the radio then it can be a very special experience to relive your life in a few hours. Music has that kind of magic and America still has what it takes to make all that happen. There has always been a bond or kinship with the people that make the music and those that listen and come out to hear it live. This was yet another night that validated that truth.
Keith “MuzikMan” Hannaleck-Founder of Write A Music Review, Prog Rock Music Talk, New Age Music Reviews, Rate The Tracks and MuzikMan.net
May 31, 2015