Doobie Brothers Bring All-Star '70s Lineup to EKU Center

Friday, September 15, 2017

Here’s a paradox for you: The current performance repertoire of the Doobie Brothers relies heavily on music the band cut in the early 1970s, when the songs “Listen to the Music” and “China Grove” ruled the airwaves and a string of hit albums led by 1973’s “The Captain and Me” topped the charts and tapped into the formative days of FM radio.

That might suggest that the present-day Doobies, which retain singer/guitarists Tom Johnston and Patrick Simmons from those heyday years, are living off that legacy with whatever proficient pick-up musicians they can find, as so many elder classic-rock acts do with back catalogs. Well, get a load of the all-stars who pack the current Doobies roster.

First, there is guitarist John McFee, who joined in 1978, when the band reinvented itself as a massively bankable pop-soul unit with Michael McDonald as featured vocalist. Next comes Bill Payne, mainstay keyboardist for Little Feat, who sat in on most of the early Doobies albums, including “The Captain and Me.” Now things get really interesting. On bass is John Cowan, co-founding member of New Grass Revival and a champion among regional bluegrass and Americana audiences. On saxophone is Marc Russo, an alum of the veteran funk and soul troupe Tower of Power and jazz-fusion favorite Yellowjackets. On drums, formerly of Vertical Horizon, is Ed Toth.

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