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Asia invigorated by guitarist switch

Digital First Media, @GraffonMusic

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Asia has been through a bit of trauma during the past couple of years.

Then again, that's nothing new for a band that's seen 26 members pass through its ranks since it formed in 1981.

The latest departure is founding guitarist Steve Howe, who ended his third tenure with Asia in 2013 in order to concentrate on his duties in Yes and his solo career. Drummer Carl Palmer -- who remains part of Asia with fellow co-founders John Wetton and Geoff Downes -- says Howe's decision was disappointing but not debilitating.

"Asia's been a big family for many, many years, so it doesn't sort of mean that much to us, the fact that we left," explains Palmer, 64. "Yes, we would like him to stay, but we understand his reasons, so it wasn't even going to be questions; 'If you want to go, Steve, please go ahead and do what you've got to do, whatever makes you happy.'

"And who knows what the future might bring with him. He might come back. He might not. Who can tell?"

For now, Palmer says Asia is satisfied with current guitarist Sam Coulson, who the group found doing instructional videos on YouTube. Asia made its 14th studio album, "Gravitas," with Coulson, releasing it in March, and the newcomer made his mark on the set both as a songwriter and a player.

"He's got something that's valid," Palmer says. "He might actually add another element that we've been missing, which is a slight harder edge that takes us out of that middle of the road, sort of softer thing that Asia's got quite a lot of. ('Gravitas') has got some heavier pieces. He seems to be a good fit, so we're happy."


Wednesday, Oct. 8. Doors open at 7 p.m.

Royal Oak Music Theatre, 318 W. Fourth St.

Tickets are $39.50 in advance, $45 day of show

Call 248-399-2980 or visit www.royaloakmusictheatre.com

Web Site: www.royaloakmusictheatre.com

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