REO’s Cronin comes home to perform at the Silver Creek Event Center – Leader Publications


REO’s Cronin comes home to perform at the Silver Creek Event Center

Published Sunday March 12, 2023 11:55 am

NILES – For REO Speedwagon frontman Kevin Cronin, returning to Southwest Michigan to perform is like a homecoming.

Cronin and REO Speedwagon are heading “home” on March 24th to perform at the Silver Creek Event Center at the Four Winds Casino in New Buffalo. A limited number of seats are still available for the show, which is scheduled to start at 9 p.m

Southwest Michigan is something of a homecoming for Cronin because growing up on Chicago’s South Side, it was normal to go to Michigan for vacations in the summer. He is familiar with the area’s lakes and golf courses, such as the Indian Lake Hills Golf Course near Eau Claire, where he and his family would play, according to course owner Suzy Vanderburg.

“Chicago is a strange place,” Cronin said. “It’s a long city. The people of Chicago’s South Side and the people of Chicago’s North Side live in two different worlds. Northside folks go to Lake Geneva and up to Wisconsin. On the south side I would go through Gary [Indiana], through New Buffalo, and we would be vacationing in Grand Haven. That was our point of contact.”

Cronin said the family would load up in the car and drive to the dunes.

“We would go to Indiana Dunes or Michigan Dunes State Park and hang,” Cronin said. “Those were definitely my playgrounds.”

Cronin was formed in 1967 and signed to a record deal in 1971. In 1972 Cronin joined REO Speedwagon. Since then the band has been on the road. It’s not uncommon for the band to play more than 50 shows a year. According to Cronin, that kind of work ethic comes from growing up in the Midwest.

“I feel like the happiest person in the world,” Cronin said. “The Beatles were my first influence, but next came Crosby, Stills & Nash. This first Crosby, Stills & Nash album is as close to a perfect album as you can get, and “Suite Judy Blue Eyes” is the closest thing to a perfect song. So I’ve always been a fan of theirs. I’ve met Stephen Stills over the years and he’s something of a hero. I met him at a charity event I attended in the early 80’s. Later in the 80’s I saw Stephen again outside of a club. The club was full and the bouncers wouldn’t let him in so I somehow saved him. This led to us writing a song together that actually appeared on two Crosby, Stills & Nash albums.

“As if that wasn’t enough, this past weekend I was part of a free concert that was being held in Las Vegas and featured ZZ Top’s Billy Gibbons; Vince Gill, a great country artist who is now part of the Eagles, Stephen Stills and me. Stephen and I ended up on the same plane to Vegas and ended up doing a duet, “Almost Cut My Hair,” as a tribute to David Crosby. My feeling is still a bit off the ground after this experience.”

Cronin said it’s that kind of dedication to their craft that has made the band a success over the decades.

“They have put in a lot of hard work and REO Speedwagon has paid its dues. You sacrifice a lot, but the rewards are so great if you’re lucky enough to have lasted as long as I have,” he said. “It’s at that point cool things start to happen because there’s a lot of mutual respect there for those of us that survived and I’m always honored and surprised and excited by the opportunities I get as a result of the fans, mostly from the middle West, especially in the early days when for us it was Illinois, Indiana, Michigan and Wisconsin. The people of this area gave us a foundation and the confidence that we can spread our wings further.

“We’ve always had this loyal Midwest fan base, and really, New Buffalo is kind of the epicenter of that. You are right there with Illinois right next to the store and Indiana right next to the store. So when we come to New Buffalo, I feel like it’s a bit of a homecoming for me because I know this area so well and I have a lot in common with the people who live there because I’m right down the street I used to play a piece.”

Reo Speedwagon is one of the most successful bands in rock history and the group has sold more than 40 million records over the decades. From 1977 to 1989, REO Speedwagon released nine consecutive albums that went at least platinum.

REO Speedwagon broke the glass ceiling in 1980 with the release of “Hi Infidelity,” an album that stayed at No. 1 for 15 weeks and spawned hits like “Keep On Loving You” and “Take It On the Run.”

Cronin said having so many hits that are so familiar to all REO fans who expect to hear those songs means the band needs to keep working on them even after all these years.

“I’m always working to make them better,” he said. “A song is a constantly evolving organism, at least that’s how I see it. One song is ready in time to record the record, but that’s not the end. I’m constantly tinkering with the arrangements and changing the vocal phrasing a bit. But you have to be careful to keep it like the record so people can sing along. I can’t possibly sing it the same way every night, so every night is a new experience. When we come to town it’s usually been a while since we’ve been there. At least a year or two, so I want to show people who saw us last and come back. I want to show them that we haven’t lost a step. If anything, we’ve gotten better. I want people to leave this venue feeling, ‘Gosh, I worked hard to earn the money for these tickets, but it was worth it. These guys have exceeded my expectations. I do it with pleasure. Exceed expectations.”

With the departure of founding member and keyboardist Neil Doughty in January, Cronin becomes the longest-serving member of the band, which also includes bassist Bruce Hall, guitarist Dave Amato and drummer Bryan Hitt.

The band’s newest member, Derek Hilland, who replaced Doughty on keyboards, has breathed new life into the band as they return to the road.

“Until last December, him [Doughty] was the only person to have played at every single REO Speedwagon concert in the band’s history and on every single REO album in the band’s history,” Cronin said. “He was definitely a constant. He and I have grown closer as friends over the years and I miss his camaraderie, his sense of humor, his intelligence because he was always interesting to talk to. But we all come to a point in our lives when it’s time to step back and do something else.

“Neil had been on the streets all his adult life. He has a loving wife. Their daughter had two kids who just started calling Neil “grandpa” and Neil didn’t care about kids as much as he did “oh my god this little guy loves me and calls me grandpa” I’m so glad he’s able to experience this. He was burned out. It’s a tough life physically and Neil is five years older than me and that’s a big difference. I’m happy for him. He is happy. He will be well taken care of until he retires.”

Cronin is also excited to have a talented replacement for Doughty.

“We have a great new keyboard player in Derek Hilland, recommended by my good friend Rick Springfield,” he said. “Derek played with Rick for about 15 years. Rick simply described him as a phenomenal organist, pianist and a very funny and decent human being, and Rick was right. He is all of those things.”

To check the availability of the remaining seats for the show, visit fourwindscasino.com and click on the Silver Creek Event Center link.

Source link

Related Articles

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *