Remember 1975? Me neither, even though I did live through it. But I'll tell you one American institution that surely remembers that particular year, the U.S. concert industry. And here's why: If you average out the year of peak popularity for seven of the biggest acts playing on various Triangle stages over the coming week, it comes to...1975. That's right, 37 long years ago. For more particulars, see this story in Friday's paper.
It's always nice when folks from here go on to bigger things without cutting ties to the old hometown. Consider two Triangle expatriates who move in vastly different circles, theatrical singer/actress Lauren Kennedy and rock bassist Robert Kearns.
Like her fellow Triangle-to-New-York transplant Tift Merritt (who also gets back down this way pretty regularly), Kennedy had some of her earliest performance training at North Carolina Theatre camps. She's giving back by performing at a Monday night benefit for NCT. For details, see this interview in Friday's paper.
Meanwhile, Kearns plays in the venerable Southern rock band Lynyrd Skynyrd nowadays. But before the group's current tour got underway, he came back to Raleigh to play at the Mike Gardner benefit show earlier this month. The show was a great help to Gardner, who is suffering from Parkinson's disease but does not have health insurance.
"It was amazing, and raised a lot of money for Mike," Kearns said in a recent interview. "I heard they raised about $17,000 after expenses, too. It was a great experience, a lot of love in the room for Michael. I've written a lot of songs over the years with Mike and Phil Gardner. I'd like to get them to come to Nashville to record, although a lot of it is in bits and pieces. I'm always good at starting songs -- that first riff and verse, maybe a chorus -- but I'm terrible at finishing complete songs. I need to make myself sit down and finish 'em."
For more on Kearns' doings with Lynyrd Skynyrd, plus details on the group's Friday night show in Raleigh, see the interview in Friday's paper.
New to the concert schedule, another golden oldie: Southern rock titans Lynyrd Skynyrd will roll on into Das Shed in Raleigh for a show on June 18, with Poison-frontman-turned-reality-TV-star Bret Michaels also on the bill. Among other things, this will also get old Raleigh hand Robert Kearns back to his old hometown again.
The "official" public on-sale date is Friday.
You can take the rock star out of Raleigh but not Raleigh out of the rock star, and here we have proof: That's old Raleigh hand Robert Kearns onstage at Walnut Creek Friday night, rocking some Raleigh nightspot apparel.
The former Cry of Love/Sidewinder/Bottle Rockets bassist was playing with Lynyrd Skynyrd, which he joined earlier this year to replace the ailing Ean Evans (who died of cancer in May), on the Skynyrd/Kid Rock bill. Mindful of the promotional opportunities, Slim's Downtown Distillery proprietor Van Alston hooked Kearns up with a T-shirt -- and there it is.
When Lynyrd Skynyrd plays Raleigh this summer, there will be a familiar face in the band. Robert Kearns, veteran of long-ago Triangle bands including Cry of Love and Sidewinder, will be playing bass -- standing in for the ailing Ean Evans. Kearns had the inside track on getting the gig due to personal connections. Skynyrd's Ricky Medlocke is a longtime friend, going back to Medlocke's days fronting Blackfoot.
"In 1986, Sidewinder opened for Blackfoot in Myrtle Beach, and I've still got a photo of him and me from then," Kearns says. "When I showed that to him, he about hit the floor. Then Cry of Love opened for Blackfoot in 1993. He told me he'd been a big fan of Cry of Love, used to ride around listening to that first album all the time. We fell out of touch, but he asked around to find me. I did the audition and then a call-back, and they told me I'm on board until Ean is well enough to come back."
UPDATE: Looks like this might turn out to be more of a long-term gig for Kearns.