It might only seem like the Doobie Brothers have been on the road for the past 50 years.
The quintessential 1970s American power rock band and 2020 Rock & Roll Hall of Fame inductees, actually took a couple of months off earlier this year.
“We came off a tour last year in August and we took off for about five months,” said guitarist Tom Johnston, a founding member of the Doobie Brothers. “We just got off a (Las) Vegas residency and now we are back on the road. Some of that is picking up where we left off last year because a couple of guys got COVID. We are ready to pick it back up.”
The Doobie Brothers (currently Johnston, Patrick Simmons, Michael McDonald and John McFee) will be at the Freedom Mortgage Pavilion in Camden June 23 as they continue their 50th anniversary tour. Tickets are available at livenation.com.
“You know, it’s just, it’s a different reality when you do that, as opposed to sitting around the house or, you know, even working in the studio or whatever,” Johnston said. “Once you get back into the flow of it, you know, it’s like you never left.”
Which is something the fans of the Doobie Brothers appreciate. Evan after 50 years, the band’s songs are played just about everywhere.
“The (songs) I like the most are the ones that get the crowd to respond,” said Johnston. “And it really kind of doesn’t matter in a sense what the song is. I know which ones are gonna do it every time. It always works from ‘Jesus is Just Alright’ to ‘China Grove’ to ‘Black Water’ and the rest. That’s kind of like a high spot in the set because the crowd’s up and singing back to you and screaming and yelling and it might have been up and down before, but then they’re just flat up.”
While Johnston revels in the fan feedback, he also likes playing newer music to longtime fans and younger ones just being introduced to the Doobie Brothers’ sound.
“Essentially I like playing new songs for one thing,” Johnston said. “We’re doing three of those in the set right now off the new album.”The Doobies released an album of all new music, ‘Liberté,’ in October 2021. Johnston is surprised as anybody the band is still going strong.
“There’s no way in hell I knew I’d be playing now,” said Johnston. “I don’t think in those days it was all about right here right now. Nobody was thinking about later.
“If you’re still doing it, you are doing it right. When’s there still a lot of going on, what’s going on with the band right now, other than to try and keep it going in a positive direction and do things that will help the visibility to band, like the book like the new album, TV shows, whatever it is, the best thing you can do in life is keep playing.”
The Doobie Brothers were inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame in 2020 during a virtual ceremony. Even though they missed the big shindig, Johnston said the honor is “a big deal.”
“Simply because out of tens of thousands of people that are out there making music and having popularity for whatever length of time, there’s about 200 something, 300 people max in that hall,” Jonstons said. “And you’re in there with people that you came up listening to they’ve affected you and, and how you played and guys that you looked up to as far as their playing styles from when I was very young for that matter to be in the same consideration and crowd is fantastic.”
Like most musicians, Johnston’s personal musical tastes are all over the map.
“I think I’m a typical music listener,” Johnston said. “Some days I listen the blues, other days I listen to rock. Other days I listen to jazz. Okay. Sometimes I listen to a conglomerate of all of it. Sometimes even, um, what they call Americana now that I call not folk music. It’s fingerpicking kind of stuff. Whatever I’m in the mood for.”
Source: Berkshire mont