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Black Water keeps on rollin' for the Doobie Brothers
A visit south wound up shooting the Doobie Brothers' trajectory decidedly north again.
Last year the venerable, nearly 50-year-old northern California rock troupe released "Southbound," a set of new recordings of its old hits with a batch of contemporary country artists. The project was not only "a blast to record," according to guitarist and co-founder Patrick Simmons, but also netted the Doobies their highest chart position since 1980.
"It's brought some good visibility to the band, which was something on our radar," Simmons, 66, says by phone from at our stop in northern Michigan. "We were just doing our thing and this came along, and we were like, 'Wow, the superstars of country, that's going to be really positive for us.'
"And musically it's turned out to be one of the coolest projects we've done in many years."
And even if he's not necessarily seeing a sea of cowboy hats in the crowd now, Simmons is confident that "there's probably some people who heard ('Southbound') and who maybe are fans of some of the folks that participated in the record that maybe are now showing up at our shows as well." But he's most happy to see "a lot of younger people coming to see us. I'm not sure if it's because of ('Southbound') or just because a lot of college kids, I think, are sort of into retro music these days."
Or perhaps they just like the band name?
"Oh, I'm sure," Simmons says with a laugh. "I'm sure a lot of pot still gets smoked by kids in school these days. Always did -- always will, probably. So that's probably a good thing for us, too."
Simmons adds that "Southbound" also "stoked the fires" within the Doobies to get to work on an album of new original material, the group's first since "World Gone Crazy" in 2010. The Doobies have already tapped "Southbound" producer David Huff for the set, which is just at its beginning stages.
"I think at any given time we are always writing and thinking about doing another record," Simmons says. "We're always looking for a producer, too; that's always on our radar as well. Working with David was kind of a real positive experience, and that's who we're looking to do a new record with right now.
"We're in the process of finalizing a record deal with someone. We would like David to produce the record because we had such a great experience with him at the helm."
The Doobie Brothers and Solid State
8 p.m. Friday, July 10.
Rockin' On the Riverfront at the GM Renaissance Center in downtown Detroit.
Admission is free.
Call 313-567-3126 or visit www.gmrencen.com.
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