Must-see gigs from The Doobie Brothers, Dweezil Zappa, Redd Kross, Mount Holly and Jonny Lang. Plus full gig listings – find out who’s playing where and when.
The band preview their first UK shows in seven years, including BluesFest dates.
As part of the Californian band’s first UK visit since 2010, the Doobie Brothers are to co-headline this year’s BluesFest in London and Dublin, alongside Steely Dan. Their co-founding guitarist, lead singer and keyboard player Tom Johnston sets the scene.
Last month the Doobies played stadium shows in California and New York alongside the Eagles, Fleetwood Mac, Steely Dan, Journey and Earth, Wind & Fire. Were you able to watch the new-look Eagles?
Yeah. I saw them in New York and they were phenomenal. Vince Gill fitted right in – as you’d expect, as he’s an amazing singer and musician. Glenn Frey’s son Deacon also did a great, confident job. They put on quite a show. I was very impressed.
Steely Dan had Larry Carlton depping for Walter Becker, who of course recently passed on. Did you know Walter well?
No, I didn’t. Our bands toured together back in the 1970s and I haven’t seen Walter since, but
I’m a huge fan of Steely Dan. As we started, they were getting started and a lot of their tunes really resonated with me.
Donald Fagen says that he intends to keep Steely Dan’s music alive for as long as he is able and will definitely be at BluesFest. How were they with Carlton on guitar?
I wanted to get out and watch them at the soundboard but had to make do with a monitor in the dressing room, but they sounded great. You guys in London and Dublin are in for a treat – I can’t imagine fans of either band going away disappointed. The BluesFest shows will be great.
Is it stretching things a little to call the Doobies a blues band?
Yeah, I guess so [laughs]. The thing that’s made the Doobies what they are is the amount of influences that go into our music. Blues, and rhythm and blues, is certainly one of them, but there’s also folk blues, and John McFee [guitarist] comes from a country background and has played on many, many rock albums that you would know all about. It’s a conglomerate of sound, but it all fits together really well. We never sought one particular direction.
Why has it been seven years since the Doobies last toured the UK?
Well, it’s a good question and I wish that I knew the answer. We really need to spend more time over there than we do, but at least on this trip we are also doing some dates of our own [in York, Glasgow and Manchester].
At those recent open-air shows in the States, almost all of the band’s set comprised FM radio hits. Do you still believe in playing the songs that people want to hear?
Well, that wasn’t your average show. At our own shows we can get away with playing a few more deep cuts, but we know that anywhere we go, people want to hear the hits. And if you want to get a response then just whip out Long Train Runnin’, Listen To The Music and China Grove.
Bill Payne of Little Feat is the band’s touring keyboardist. That’s quite a coup.
What a phenomenal addition
Billy is – he played on just about every album we ever did, including most of the ones for Warner Brothers, and it’s great to hear that sound of his coming from that corner of the stage each night.
Now seven years old, World Gone Crazy is the band’s last record of original material. Will there be a follow-up?
Yes, and we’re already working on the songs. What stymies that is the fact that we’re on the road all the time. We end for the year in November and we’ll hit the studio right afterwards.
As we’ve discussed, it seems like almost nobody is indispensable in rock’n’roll any more. Would you like the Doobies to carry on after you’re gone?
[After a slightly shocked silence] Nobody’s ever asked me that before and to be honest, I’ve never really considered it. All I can say is that I don’t plan on going anywhere, and I’ll keep on doing this until I no longer can. DL
“The thing that makes the Doobies is the
amount of influences in our music. We never sought one particular
The Doobie Brothers play BluesFest Dublin on October 28 and London 29.
The Doobies were formed in 1970.
none of their members, past or present, are brothers.
Past line-ups have included michael mcDonald and Jeff ‘skunk’ Baxter.