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Free outdoor concerts feature John Waite, Jill Jack
27 July, 2011
The Macomb Daily - Mitch Hotts
John Waite was born in England and lives in Santa Monica, Calif., but with his frequent appearances in southeast Michigan, he should almost be an honorary resident of the Great Lakes State. The former lead singer of The Babys and Bad English returns to the area on July 30, as the main event for the 17th annual Meijer St. Clair Riverfest in St. Clair County, along with a bunch of other great acts. “I just mentioned to my bass player that we were going back to Michigan again, and he said: ‘We were just there and now we’re going back?’ And it’s OK with me,” Waite said in a recent telephone interview. “I know we played the Stars & Stripes Festival last year and when I was with The Babys we played a lot at the Royal Oak Music Theatre. It's one of the markets that we broke out in early on. It’s a great state, a truly beautiful state and the people are always so nice to us." Waite, who turned 59 on July 4, is still a road warrior after three decades in show business, first with The Babys back in the late 1970s when he gained recognition for such hits as “Isn’t It Time” and “Every Time I Think of You,” then as a solo act and winning again with “Missing You.” After a stint with Bad English in the late 1980s, he returned to solo work. “Yes, I’ve been on tour for 30 years now,” he said while shopping in Santa Monica. “But I love this lifestyle. I’m never coming off the road, not if I can help it. If people want to hear my music, I’m going to play it.” Waite’s most recent project is “Rough & Tumble,” an 11-song set released last February that quickly climbed the classic rock charts. Five of the songs were written in conjunction with Matchbox Twenty’s Kyle Cook. The rocking tunes have a riveting feel with raw guitar licks, but there are some ballads as well, including the single “If You Ever Get Lonely,” which was crafted in Europe. “I try to write the kind of songs that will stand the test of time. I’m not trying to sound commercial, I just write my style of songs. I am influenced by country and blues but I’m always trying to progress and move forward,” he said. When he surveys the current musical landscape, Waite admits there’s not much that grabs his attention these days. And don’t even ask about Justin Bieber. “I have no idea who you’re talking about,” he said. “There will always be something new coming along. There will always be a kid somewhere with a chip on his shoulder, playing guitar in New York or Detroit who will come along and change our lives with new music. “And it will have nothing to do with a suit behind the desk at a record company, it will be something organic. In the music industry, the A&R guys are supposed to be about artists and repertoire and discover new acts. But to me, A&R stands for 'always wrong.' ” John Waite performs 10:30 p.m. Saturday at the St. Clair Riverfest at Palmer Park in St. Clair. The event runs July 29-31 and features free live music by Eddie Money, Danny D, Mitch Ryder, Sponge and others. For more details, visit www.stclairriverfest.com. Ferndale singer/songwriter Jill Jack is still basking in the afterglow of being the opening act for a couple of Bob Seger shows at The Palace of Auburn Hills this past spring, selected by The Man himself. Jack and her band were among the Michigan artists Seger picked for his dates in May at The Palace. He later invited her into his dressing room and during their conversation asked if all of the band had passports because he wanted them to open for him in an Ontario show at the John Labatt Centre. "I ran back to our dressing room to my band yelling 'Who doesn't have a passport,' " Jack said. "This is what I had been waiting for. And we played for him in Canada six days later." The Seger dates have been icing on the cake for Jack, who has had a busy year and shows no signs of slowing down. She also recently was in Utah where she was among the Top 10 finalists for the 2011 Susanne Millsaps Performing Songwriter Showcase (she didn't win but picked up some new show dates). In September, she'll perform at the MI Fest in Brooklyn, Mich., along with Jack White and the Raconteurs, Sheryl Crow, Mitch Ryder, Alto Reed and others. Then she heads south for concerts in Alabama and Tennessee, including At Nashville's famed Bluebird Cafe. The acclaimed country-flavored songstress -- with 30 trophies, she is the Detroit Music Awards all-time leading winner -- returns to Warren's laid-back Concert in the Square Series from 7 to 8 p.m. July 31. City Square is located in front of Warren City Hall on Van Dyke north of 12 Mile Road.

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