Parkland Press

Saturday, November 18, 2017
CONTRIBUTED PHOTOChicago, 7:30 p.m. Aug. 5, Sands Steel Stage at PNC Plaza, SteelStacks, Musikfest, Bethlehem CONTRIBUTED PHOTOChicago, 7:30 p.m. Aug. 5, Sands Steel Stage at PNC Plaza, SteelStacks, Musikfest, Bethlehem

Chicago hits Musikfest with all the hits

Friday, August 4, 2017 by GEORGE VANDOREN Special to The Press in Focus

The celebrated sounds of Chicago will ring out Aug. 5 at Bethlehem’s Musikfest. The Rock And Roll Hall of Fame band concert kicks off at 7:30 p.m. at the Sands Steel Stage at PNC Plaza.

This year marks Chicago’s 50th consecutive year of touring, and trumpeter Lee Loughnane has made all 50. The tour takes the group from the East Coast to the West Coast with stops in Canada and Mexico and concludes after a few weeks off in Shippensburg in mid-November.

Starting in 1967, the group began playing together, including trumpet, trombone, and woodwinds, as well as the more traditional guitar, bass, drums, and keyboards, and the Chicago sound was born. Says Loughnane, “We just started playing together in the basement. We liked what it sounded like and we haven’t stopped liking it.”

During the phone interview, Loughnane notes that, other than adding a percussionist “for a new flavor,” the band’s sound hasn’t changed much over the years. “It’s still the Chicago sound,” he notes. “You play your part and everything else comes out smelling like a rose.” He defines the band’s sound as “a signature conglomeration of musical styles with brass and a rhythm section.”

As for what fans can expect to hear, Loughnane says, “All famous hits. We haven’t been doing anything from the new album.” He maintains that playing Chicago’s big hits never gets old:

“Those songs have never gotten easier to play. They have always been able to resonate with different generations of people. The onus is on us to make it sound like we’re playing it for the first time. The songs are still a lot of fun.”

Chicago’s mega-hits include “Make Me Smile,” “25 Or 6 To 4,” “Beginnings,” “Questions 67 And 68,” “Colour My World,” “Saturday In The Park,” “Does Anybody Really Know What Time It Is?,” “If You Leave Me Now,” and “Baby, What A Big Surprise,” to name a few.

Loughnane indicates that the band is “looking at possibly rerecording and filming the second album, as well as thinking forward to brand new music, most likely recorded on the road [as was their album, ‘Chicago XXXVI,’ released in 2014].”

Chicago original members besides Loughnane include Robert Lamm, keyboards, vocals; James Pankow, trombone, and Walt Parazaider, woodwinds. Other band members are Jeff Coffey, bass, vocals; Ray Herrmann, sax, flute; Keith Howland, guitar, vocals; Tris Imboden, drums; Lou Pardini, keyboards, vocals, and Walfredo Reyes, Jr., percussion.

The group’s first album, “Chicago Transit Authority,” received Grammy Hall Of Fame honors. Robert Lamm and James Pankow, who have been group members from the very beginning, are members of the Songwriters Hall of Fame.

Other Chicago achievements include two Grammy Awards, multiple American Music Awards, Founding Artists of the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts, a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame, a total of 47 gold and platinum awards, and sales of more than 100 million records.

Joining Chicago on the Musikfest stage is Devon Gilfillian who features a blend of gospel-blues and southern soul. Gilfillian released a debut self-titled album in May 2016.

Ticket information: musikfest.org; 610-332-1300