The Guess Who at HerrinFesta– 10 p.m. Friday, May 24; opening acts Rich Fabec at 7 and Cache River at 8:15; Ticket prices for The Guess Who are $13 on line at herrinfesta.com and $15 at the gate.
Many of the greatest songs ever written were not planned. An idea simply pops into a songwriter’s head, the notion quickly gets cultivated and words magically start to flow from an unexplainable thought process.
The biggest hit in the repertoire of super group The Guess Who came out of nowhere. After an exhausting tour of the United States, the band was back in their Canadian homeland playing at a curling ring.
Lead guitarist Randy Bachman starting playing some funky riffs at the start of the second set in an effort to fire up the crowd, then lead singer Burton Cummings stepped to the microphone and started pulling words from thin air, his feelings inspired by the rock-star treatment the band received on a recent tour through Detroit, New York and Chicago.
The group was already on the fast track to stardom with hits like “These Eyes” and “No Time,” but when the members of the band collectively put the finishing touches on “American Woman,” it would become one of the cornerstone songs of the classic rock era, and it instantly propelled them to superstar status during the summer of 1970 as the tune topped the Billboard singles chart for an impressive three weeks.
The Guess Who will be in concert at 10 p.m. on May 24 at HerrinFesta Italiana. Opening acts include Rich Fabec at 7 p.m. and Cache River at 8:15 p.m. Tickets are $18 and will be available at the gate.
One of the most popular music festivals in the Midwest since 1991, other headliners at HerrinFesta this year will include Hairbangers Ball on May 23, Papa Roach on May 25, Justin Moore on May 26 and Florida Georgia Like on May 27.
The Guess Who released a total of 24 singles and had additional hits like: “Clap for the Wolfman,” “Hand Me Down World” and “Share the Land.”
Drummer Garry Peterson, a founding member of the group, says the current membership of the band is highly capable of reeling off the group’s greatest hits and infusing new life into live shows with high quality original material.
“You are going to see an excellent version of the songs and hear exactly how they should sound,” Peterson says. “We’re coming at a new generation of fans who are seeing how the band can execute with enthusiasm.”
With origins dating back to 1958 as Al and the Silvertones, the band steadily built a fan base in Canada operating under names like Chad Allan and the Expressions, The Reflections and The Silvertones. After recording “A Tribute To Buddy Holly” in the mid-1960s, promoters tried to drum up support for the single by asking listeners to “guess who” was singing. Though unplanned, the moniker stuck and the group became The Guess Who.
Fame caused many personnel changes through the years. Cummings would quit the group and start a solo career. Bachmann would branch off to form popular Bachmann-Turner Overdrive.
Several original members joined forces to perform for the Pan Am Games in Winnipeg in 1999. The configuration, including Bachmann and Cummings, stayed together a few years and headlined a major event with the Rolling Stones and AC/DC in 2000.
Currently, Peterson and bass guitarist Jim Kale are the only original members in the band. A majority of lead vocals is provided by vibrant stylist Derek Sharp.
Sharp joined The Guess Who as new lead vocalist in 2009. He replaced Carl Dixon, who had a near fatal car accident in Australia the previous year.
At 48, Sharp isn’t a rookie replacement tossed into an unfamiliar role. Probably the most valuable free agent on the Canadian rock ‘n’ roll market, he is an impressive singer, an accomplished guitarist and a veteran front man—-three priceless tools in music’s major leagues.
A Toronto resident, Sharp has been musical director for Juno Award winning songstress Sass Jordan for 25 years. He has also toured with Rainbow, Deep Purple, Santana, Alannah Myles and the late Jeff Healy.
Honored for a body of work that includes 13 Top 40 tunes from 1965-74, the band was placed in the Canadian Music Hall of Fame in 1987.
The concert will offer fans three distinctive sounds from the three different bands.
Fabec has been a driving force on the local music scene for more than a decade.
“It is a great honor and privilege to get to open the show for a legendary band like The Guess Who,” Fabec says. “Opportunities like this don’t come around too often.”
Fabec plays a wide assortment of blues-tinged material. The one constant is his favorite guitar, a red hollow body 335 Hamer.
“It’s special,” Fabec says of the instrument. “I have a lot of guitars that cost a lot more money, but this one is special. It was a father’s day present and has taken its place as my No. 1 beater.”
Cache River has its own guitar virtuoso, long-time area picker Steve Jones, who dates back to the late Billy Cole Reed and has been an instrumental cog in numerous area bands over the past 20 years. Jones is equally comfortable picking out outlaw country and southern rock, which is exactly the strong suite of Cache River.
VINCE HOFFARD can be reached at 618-658-9095 or firstname.lastname@example.org.