Guess Who: Real Rock at HerrinFesta 2013

Guess Who: Real Rock at HerrinFesta 2013
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Rich Fabec Blues Band

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Rich Fabec Blues Band

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Herrin Fest

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Cache River Band: Keeping It Real... Outlaw Style
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Who: Guess Who (classic rock) / Cache River Band (outlaw country) / Rich Fabec Band (blues)
What: HerrinFesta Italiana
Where:
When: 2013-05-24
Getting teased by musicians is not anything new; in fact, most of the time, it’s expected. It kinda
Leah Williams Wright

Getting teased by musicians is not anything new; in fact, most of the time, it’s expected. It kinda comes with the territory. But when asked what made Guess Who cofounder and drummer Garry Peterson continue on with the group even after other members had decided to part ways, well, his response was enough to make just about anyone speechless.

“You mean [to ask], is that why we are called the Guess Who?” Peterson joked. “Because you don’t know who’s going to take the stage that night?”

On Friday, May 24, the legendary Guess Who take the stage at HerrinFesta Italiana. Warming up are the Cache River Band and the Rich Fabec Band.

In a candid Nightlife exclusive, Peterson discussed his forty-plus years in rock ‘n’ roll and the excitement of being a part of a diverse band all while trying to keep the creative process going and hope people are listening.

It’s a difficult job, but you-know-who is up for it.

The Guess Who were very much Canada’s first international rock superstars, scoring a large hit in 1965 with “Shakin’ All Over.” Peterson remembers coming to play in Carbondale in the late 1960s, just before the Guess Who charted with the hauntingly beautiful ballad “These Eyes.”

The Guess Who continued into the seventies with the release of the album American Woman. The title track provided the catalyst the band needed, and the Guess Who got a big break with the blowout success of “American Woman” and its popular B-side “No Sugar Tonight.” Preceded by the top-five tune “No Time,” “American Woman” became the band’s only number-one hit.

Peterson, who started playing the drums at just two years old, reflected on his years as a professional musician.

“Mostly I’ve lived in the moment,” he said. “We were happy with whatever. You wake up one day and its been four decades later.”

Today’s Guess Who lineup includes Peterson, Derek Sharp (who, by the way, is of Italian descent) on lead vocals, Jim Kale on bass, Laurie MacKenzie on guitar, and Leonard Shaw on keyboard, vocals, flute, and saxophone. Peterson has played with the Guess Who longer than any other member. Kale left in 1973 and was replaced by Bill Wallace. Kale was part of the initial reunion tour in 1999, and he has been back since 2004. Shaw has been a member since 1991, and relative newcomer Sharp joined the band in 2008.

Peterson explained that he never really thought about leaving the Guess Who because he was getting what he needed musically and professionally with the band.

“We became very successful,” Peterson said. “Why would you close that door? Why not continue unless you are not able to get something else out of it?.... Why [original guitarist Randy] Bachman left, you’d have to ask him. [But for me] we were doing a lot of experimenting musically and I didn’t feel the need to go anywhere else.”

Coming out of the age of psychedelic rock ‘n’ roll, the Guess Who tested the waters with original instrumentation.

“You take three songs-- let’s say ‘These Eyes,’ ‘Undun’ and ‘American Woman,’” Peterson said. “They are so musically different. We were able to create this body of work that was very satisfying creatively.”

Peterson said pop music in many ways reflects the most important elements of everyone’s lives. Everyone has a song that embodies that one special moment.

“Music is kind of a clock of our life,” Peterson said. “You get people coming up and saying ‘These Eyes’ were playing the first time they kissed a girl. These are the most important things that happen in our lifetimes, and music plays a big part of it.”

When the band and the listener each bring their own ties to a song, the end result can be very introspective, Peterson said. Those surreal moments really signify how powerful music can be.

“Recording is a very personal process where you are creating these moments,” Peterson said. “And then you see it on stage, people are creating these connections. Then you find out later that this happened to them then and you think ‘Wow! This is a big responsibility!’”

What’s next for the Guess Who is, well, anyone’s guess, but Peterson said the group plans to continue touring and recording new material for an album.

Unlike country or blues, rock ‘n’ roll seems to be stuck in a time warp, Peterson said, where seemingly popular bands of the past are to remain musically intact for all eternity. Seasons change but the music must sound the same as it did in the seventies.

“Rock acts are supposed to grow old and never do anything again?” he said. “There’s no outlet that has been encouraging to bring new music to the table. How do you stop the creative process? It’s not like a faucet.”

Still, Peterson said he is hopeful that people will listen to the Guess Who’s reformation because after all these years, they are still ready to rock.

“This is the best version of the Guess Who it’s ever been, in my opinion,” Peterson said.

For more information about the Guess Who, log on to <http://www.TheGuessWho.com>.

Other Herrinfesta acts include hair-metal tribute Hairbangers Ball and local metal band Metal Toyz Thursday, May 23; alternative-metal act Papa Roach and locals Thirty-Aut-Six and From Skys of Fire Saturday, May 25; country acts Justin Moore and Savannah Jack with We Got It Covered Sunday, May 26; and more country with fast-rising stars Florida Georgia Line and the Old Southern Moonshine Revival Monday, May 27. A beauty pageant, talent contest, parade, art exhibit, and car show will also take place, among many other events.

For detailed schedules, entry forms, advance tickets, and more information, log on to <http://www.HerrinFesta.com>.

who: Guess Who (classic rock) / Cache River Band (outlaw country) / Rich Fabec Band (blues)

what: HerrinFesta Italiana

where: Piazza Stage

when: Friday, May 24