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article imageRobert Lamm of Chicago opens up about 2018 North American Tour Special

By Markos Papadatos     Jul 16, 2018 in Music
Wantagh - Robert Lamm is an acclaimed singer-songwriter, keyboard player and founding member of the multi-platinum-selling rock group Chicago. Lamm chatted with Digital Journal about their 2018 North American Tour.
On August 3, 2018, they will be performing at the Northwell Health at Jones Beach Theater in Wantagh on Long Island, with REO Speedwagon, as part of their "Chicago II + The Worlds Longest Encore." "After we play 20 minutes of the Chicago II album, I ask the audience if there are any millennials. There is a sizable number of them in our concerts, and we realize that they don't recognize any of that music, so going forward they will start to recognize some of the songs. It's a funny moment," Lamm said. "The audience can expect a really dynamic performance of Chicago II. Those songs and compositions were really pushing the envelope for us. It's a very emotional album, and we feel those emotions when we play those songs now, for many reasons."
This concert will be unlike any other show that Chicago has done previously. They will be playing their landmark album, Chicago II, in its entirety for the first half of their show. Their second set will be the "World's Longest Encore," where Chicago will be playing their greatest hits. This upcoming show will be Chicago's longest concert to date. "In some shows, we will play with an intermission, but other nights, there is no intermission, and we have to play a rather long show. Our pacing is still great," he said.
Chicago has been praised as one of the "most important bands in music" by U.S. President Bill Clinton; moreover, they were the first American rock group to chart Top 40 albums in six consecutive decades. In 2016, Chicago was inducted into the coveted Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, in the "Performers Category." "It was a long time coming," he admitted. "I am a firm believer when things like that occur, there's a certain reason for it. Sometimes, somebody has to wait before the good things."
In 2017, Robert Lamm and James Pankow were inducted into the prestigious Songwriters Hall of Fame. These esteemed songwriters wrote such smash Chicago hits as "25 or 6 to 4," "Saturday In The Park," "Feelin' Stronger Every Day," and "Make Me Smile," among countless others. "That was really fun. It was more of an individual honor than a band honor. It was fun meeting so many of the songwriters that I have respected over the years, whom I've never met before. It was a real honor," Lamm said.
Chicago has earned two Grammy Awards, two American Music Awards, a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame, and a street in Chicago named in their honor, among countless other awards and accolades; moreover, they have sold in excess of 100 million albums, which makes them one of the best-selling groups of all time.
In Chicago, there are four original band members remaining, such as Robert Lamm on keyboards and vocals, Lee Loughnane on trumpet and vocals, James Pankow on trombone and Walt Parazaider on woodwinds. In addition, the line-up includes Wally Reyes, Jr. on drums, Keith Howland on lead guitar and vocals, Lou Pardini on keyboards and vocals, Ray Herrmann on sax and flute, Neil Donell on lead vocals, Brett Simons on bass, as well as Ray Yslas on percussion.
2018 marks Chicago's 51st consecutive year of touring, and they haven't missed a single year. They continue to be ambassadors for their beloved hometown, Chicago, while proudly carrying their city's name with grace and dignity all over the globe.
On the key to longevity in the music business, Lamm said, "Always discover new things and old things that you didn't know before about music. Staying interested in music and not being sidetracked by the business side of it. Just keep at it."
While his personal favorite song to play live changes all the time, Lamm listed "It Better End Soon," due to its emotional content. "Mostly because of Ray Herrmann's tenor sax solo, which is very emotional," he explained. "The way the band has been performing this song now is probably better than the original version."
Lamm shared that he would love to someday work with Bruno Mars, whom he dubbed as a "modern-day Prince," Maroon 5, and Charlie Puth. "Charlie Puth is obviously a good singer," he said. "I have always dug Maroon 5 too."
For his fans, he said about the North American Tour, Lamm said, "For folks who are really fans, we just inagurated a new fan-based chapter on our website, where we will be interacting with fans. We will be doing a forum and some chatting and blogging. We have several new band members including Neil Donell, our new lead singer, who sings all the tenor vocals beautifully. Our bass player Brett Simons is just an amazing musician, and the fans are enjoying him. He fits in very nicely, and is an amazing addition to the band."
A Rock and Roll Hall of Famer, Lamm defined the word success as follows: "Success is a result of keeping your eye on the ball. Really, paying attention to what it is you are doing in any walk of life. That's the key: pay attention to what you are doing, and give it everything you have. Be generous with your audience, and do it because you love doing it."
Digital transformation of the music industry
On the impact of technology on the music business, Lamm said, "It is just another development in what we call the record business. It's probably beneficial in some ways. It is tough for emerging artists, but on the other hand, I think there is a whole new generation of musicians who are making incredible music. It is funny to think in terms of how CDs and compact discs are ancient now. I'm sure there will be further developments that we can't even comprehend. It will be interesting to see what comes next."
To learn more about Chicago and their 2018 touring schedule, check out their official website.
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