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The Doobie Brothers at DTE, 5 Things To Know

By Gary Graff
ggraff@digitalfirstmedia.com, @GraffonMusic on Twi

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It’s been a long train runnin’ indeed for the Doobie Brothers.

The group formed during 1970 in San Jose, Calif., and are now back 30 years of consistent work after a six-year break during the 80s. The Doobies had success with its country-flavored 2014 album “Southbound,” and the addition of former Little Feat keyboardist Bill Payne, who also did two tours of duty with Bob Seger’s Silver Bullet Band, has breathed new life into the group both on stage and in the studio...

• The Doobies are spending another summer on the road with Chicago, which longtime multi-instrumentalist John McFee calls a perfect concert bill fit. “First of all, we actually get along,” McFee, 66, explains by phone from Indianapolis. “We like each other. We like each other’s music. There’s a certain amount of overlap with our audiences, I think, but we also bring a larger crowd because it’s not all overlap, either. But everybody seems to enjoy both bands.”

• This year’s tour is a bit different, however, eschewing the usual encore with both bands on stage together, playing each other’s songs. “This time around logistics have made it so we can’t really do that, but that’s been one of the cool things, historically, I think,” McFee says. “I wish we were still doing it, but this year it’s a little tricky.”

• The Doobies, meanwhile, are playing plenty of hits -- “Listen To The Music,” “China Grove,” “Black Water” and more -- but McFee says the group has also been digging deep into its catalog for more rarities and fan favorites. “The set we’re doing this year is a little different than last year,” McFee reports. “There’s a little bit more of, like, the album tracks and deep cuts and stuff like that. We still play the hits ‘cause they’re fun to play and the audience deserves to hear them, but I think the set’s really interesting, the overall approach to it this year.”

• Meanwhile, the Doobies are four songs into their next album, its first since “Southbound” and first of original material since “World Gone Crazy” in 2010. “We’re looking to get a new project going and hopefully get it out probably some time early next year,” says McFee, who’s also working on an album with his previous band, Clover. “It sounds kinda like the Doobie Brothers; What’s cool is from the inside sometimes it’s hard to always judge exactly what’s going on and everything, but I know that our family and stuff, when they heard it they went, ‘Wow, this really sounds like classic Doobies.”

• Having Payne, who also has voluminous session credits, in the Doobies now has been a real lift, according to McFee. “Billy is the guy who played on the original ‘China Grove’ and ‘Rock in’ Down The Highway. He’s played on every Doobie Brothers album,” McFee says. “He’s such a musical guy it’s a big plus to have his input. And stylistically he’s just such a good fit with us and I know Billy feels good about it, too, so it’s really a good situation.”

If You Go

• Chicago and the Doobie Brothers

• 7:30 p.m. Sunday, July 16.

• DTE Energy Music Theatre, Sashabaw Road east of I-75, Independence Township.

• Tickets are $39.50-$125 pavilion, $25 lawn.

• Call 248-377-0100 or visit palacenet.com.

Web Site: www.palacenet.com

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