Revenge of the ’70s rockers

The Triangle braces for a week of nostalgia rock

dmenconi@newsobserver.comAugust 2, 2012 

  • More information Saturday Time Warner Cable Music Pavilion at Walnut Creek Allman Brothers (1973) Lynyrd Skynyrd (1977) Southern rock will never die. Sadly, however, you can’t say the same thing about the people who play it, and here are exhibits A through L. The Allmans and Skynyrd have persisted through massive amounts of drama and bad karma, including the deaths of key figures – and figures don’t get any more key than guitar god Duane Allman (gone since a 1971 motorcycle accident) and iconic Skynyrd frontman Ronnie Van Zant (who died in an infamous 1977 plane crash). While Skynyrd made more of an impression during both bands’ initial runs, the Allmans are the worthier 21st-century act thanks to Gregg Allman’s enduring bluesman’s voice. His 2011 solo album “Low Country Blues” wasn’t just lively, but stellar. Saturday Cat’s Cradle Little Feat (1978) Speaking of untimely deaths, the initial incarnation of this beloved cult-roots-rock band ended when original guiding light Lowell George passed on in 1979. After a nearly decade-long hiatus, the rest of the lineup reconvened in the late ’80s – and it’s hard to believe, but this model has been together twice as long as the original. Keyboardist Bill Payne and guitarist Paul Barrere are both still in place, and Little Feat is a wise-elder figure to the jam-band nation. The group’s new album “Rooster Rag” (Rounder Records) comes with a subtitle on the cover: “No Excuses, No Regrets.” Sunday Walnut Creek Chicago (1972) Doobie Brothers (1979) You could say that the Doobie Brothers are the most current act on this list, since their peak came “only” 33 years ago. That was during Michael McDonald’s time as the Doobie’s signature voice. As for Chicago, the horn band’s chart peak might have coincided with Richard Nixon’s apex; by now, the group is probably better known for the early-’80s soft-rock hits featuring then-frontman Peter Cetera. Neither Cetera nor McDonald is in either group anymore, of course, but the trademarks live on. (See related story on page 5D.) Tuesday Booth Amphitheatre Kris Kristofferson (1971) Kristofferson is the anomaly on this list, since he’s more a country act than a rock act nowadays. He’s sharing this bill with honkytonk icon Merle Haggard, after all. Still, Kristofferson was undeniably a rock star in the ’70s. As good as his spare 2009 album “Closer to the Bone” is, his main drawing card remains the signpost songs he wrote for others, including the Janis Joplin and Johnny Cash standards “Me and Bobby McGhee” and “Sunday Mornin’ Comin’ Down.” (See related story on page 6D.) Thursday Durham Performing Arts Center Ted Nugent (1976) Now that he makes most of his headlines for gonzo political pronouncements, it’s easy to forget that Nugent used to be a psychedelic rocker in the ’60s-vintage band Amboy Dukes. That laid the groundwork for a solo career that’s always been long on party-down primitivism, which reached its peak the year that Jimmy Carter was elected president. This show will no doubt feature an ample dose of The World According To Ted; a place where, it seems safe to say, Barack Obama is not welcome.

Since the mid-1990s, the concert industry has had a persistent problem: Fewer and fewer new acts capable of drawing large crowds have emerged. Aside from the occasional Coldplay, almost no rock act that has broken out over the past decade can dependably fill arenas.

But it’s not like the nation’s concert stages have stood empty. Those older acts are still out there, singing songs you know by heart. This summer has already brought the likes of the Beach Boys, Kiss and Alice Cooper to the Triangle. And then there’s this week, which you could call “Revenge of the ’70s Rockers (Or, What Decade Is This, Anyway?).”

Consider these seven acts, who will all play the Triangle in the coming week – and all of whom had their commercial peaks back in the days of rotary phones and leaded gasoline. Peak year of popularity is, according to Billboard magazine, based on album-sales chart positions.

david.menconi@newsobserver.com or blogs.newsobserver.com/beat or 919-829-4759

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