On Saturday, Sept. 12, super group REO Speedwagon will play one show only at 7pm inside the Seneca Allegany Casino Events Center.
Starting out almost 50 years ago, in the late 1960’s at a college in Champaign, Illinois, the band paid their dues by playing endless small gigs until all the hard work and countless shows earned them critical acclaim as a band that started the rock movement in the Midwest.
That was the early 1970’s. By the time they released their 9th album, “Hi Infidelity” in 1980, they were ready to be catapulted into music history with the biggest selling rock album of 1981, which went on to sell well over 10 million copies.
That album garnered the band some of the most recognized songs around the world – songs that are still staples on classic rock or adult contemporary radio stations today. Songs from that album, like “Keep On Loving You” and “Take It On The Run”, are considered rock anthems by music industry standards.
Touring through the past couple of decades and teaming up with other power groups like Styx and Chicago - their Midwestern cousins, and vocalists like Pat Benetar and Ted Nugent, REO Speedwagon has laid claim to some of the biggest concert events that have sold out venues wherever they go.
2015 has the band in the middle of uncharted territory with their “Family First Tour”, which lead singer Kevin Cronin and I talked about when I caught up with him recently.
We also talked about mixing it up with other genres of music and collaborating recently with a country music leading lady.
Cronin and the band are stoked to return to the Western New York area, where they have played many, many times over the past four plus decades. The lead singer extended a personal invitation to readers and fans saying, “Come on out to Seneca Allegany Casino and join in for what is sure to be another rockin’ party!”
A CONVERSATION WITH KEVIN CRONIN
HULICK:You guys are touring machines! Are you still having fun out there?
CRONIN:Yeah, we love to play live ... always have.
HULICK:Does it get old singing some of the songs from the early years night after night or do the audiences keep it fresh?
CRONIN:I love singing these songs now perhaps more than ever. Standing up there on stage together, playing songs that everybody knows, feeling the energy of the audience when we hit the first chords ... it is an unbelievable feeling.
HULICK:Your current tour for 2015 is called the “Family First Tour”. The concept of course is self explanatory … spending more time with family. What made you come up with this?
CRONIN:The Family First idea came out of necessity. As much as we love to play music, we all have families and children who are growing up and need their Dads. This year we simply tilted the balance a little more in that direction. It's just life.
HULICK:You just collaborated with country music superstar, Sara Evans, for an episode of CMT Crossroads that will air Sept. 19. What was that like working with Sara?
CRONIN:We were honored to be invited to do a Crossroads show with the amazing Sara Evans. Our songs have a country feel in them … and the truth is, the lines between country and classic rock music have pretty much been erased.
HULICK:You are right about that. It is more like “anything goes” at concerts these days.
CRONIN:When I heard that Keith Urban plays "Keep On Loving You" for his sing-along encore, I knew that the shift was complete. REO has always been a song, melody, lyric oriented band, and we just put it across with a powerhouse rock feel. As Sara and I said many times during the Crossroads taping, "It's all about the songs."
HULICK:You’ve sold over 40 million albums around the globe … can you even put that into perspective in your mind?
CRONIN:No matter how many records we have sold, or how many big tours we have done, we still get that same thrill when one of our songs comes on the radio, or gets used in a movie or TV show. I just heard from Carrot Top yesterday that we actually get some kind of mention in the new movie "Straight Outta Compton". It's all good. We are the luckiest guys in the world.