…and NOT a tribute band as has been suggested by some fans. The reason for the suggestion is that technically only one original band member (Mick Jones) is on this tour. In all reality, the argument by the former has its merits. For instance, if the Rolling Stones were to be touring minus Mick Jagger, Ron Woods, and Keith Richards, leaving only Charlie Watts from the original lineup, I’m sure ticket sales would be slow and stadiums would not fill.

However, on the other side of the coin, one has to look at how long bands like Foreigner have been touring with the same lineup singing hit after hit after hit, with the worlds best musicians.

This Foreigner lineup is made up of the best of the music industries top guns ; you have ex Dokken bass legend Jeff Pilson, one of the nicest guys I’ve interviewed ever, Tom Gimbel on rhythm guitar, saxophone, keyboards, and any other instrument God has made, Kelly Hansen on vocals, Chris Frazier (Steve Vai,Eddie Money, Edgar Winter), on drums, Bruce Watson (Christina Aguilera, Rod Stewart, Elton John) on the axe, and rounding out the star-studded lineup we have Mike Bluestein (Jimmy Kimmel House Band, Stevie Nicks, Enrique Iglesias) on piano etc.

Most of these guys other than Mick Jones, have been with the band for an average of 20 years, so you know they are going to be tight when they play their 90 minute set that includes  I Want To Know What Love Is, Juke Box Hero, Urgent, Waiting For A Girl Like You etc.

According to Jeff Pilson who I spoke with recently, “Foreigner has had 16 songs in the top 30 over the years” Wow, that is an incredible feat and I’m sure they are in a small category.

I had to relay a question a local bass player friend of mine wanted me to ask Jeff. We will call him Marc Williamson, just for the sake of anonymity….haha. Anyway I asked Jeff how did the tour feel in 2016 when the original lineup of Dokken got together for a tour of Japan ?  ” you know we had a lot of fun, we got along really good and better than I anticipated ; and if this is the last time we ever play together as Dokken, I have to say, we went out on a positive note” was Jeff’s response.

On the same note, Jeff tells me that he currently records on the road while touring with Foreigner and currently is working with George Lynch, Robert Mason (Warrant) and Mick Brown in a project called The End Machine. Check them out here https://www.facebook.com.

Aside from his exploits in the music industry, Jeff is a married family man with a teenage daughter and reads spy novels while on the road. ” A high energy” set is what you can expect this Tuesday, March 5 when Foreigner rolls into town with opening act The Pink Floyd Experience.

Moving forward, I also was lucky enough to be able to interview via phone, Tom Gimbel about the upcoming show and I wasn’t disappointed as he really is a people person and loves to talk. I was given the heads up from PR guy John Lappen and he was true to his word. ” Tom is a great guy and will talk your ear off; he loves to talk” were John’s words pre-interview.

When I spoke with Tom about the show, he said that the band is so tight, you would think you were listening to the record and he also couldn’t say enough about frontman Kelly Hansen. Regarding how good of a frontman he is, Tom had this to say “Kelly Hansen is better than you can imagine as a singer, as an entertainer, and he encourages the fans to relax and he talks to them like, they’re his friends; I think that’s unique, I don’t see that anywhere else and on top of that he will run around the crowd, he’ll high five people and hug people. He is sort of out of control in a good way (laughter). To add to that, this is all backed up because he sings all the songs to perfection”

I heard that Tom is an avid golfer and I asked him if he has had a chance to hit the links while on his Canadian Tour when he has a day off between gigs and there was as you expected it……………………………..a long long pause before I started to laugh and so did Tom. He did, however, say that he used golf simulators when he gets a chance while on the road when the weather doesn’t permit an actual outing. He may do 9 holes on tour when the weather permits. Who knows, you may see him on the links in August when Foreigner plays their show in St. Ignace.

Anyway, these two interviews lasted about 25 minutes each on average and I could write a book about my conversations with Jeff and Tom and who knows maybe I will someday. I do have to say this; a couple of firsts happened during these interviews. First of all………………….Tom was a really great guy, but it was the first time I actually had to end the interview as I had another one to do right after. Tom actually listened to me ramble on about something for about 45 seconds and did not seem impatient. He is just one of those guys. Anyway, the second thing is I can’t believe I screwed up the timing for the Jeff Pilson interview. Because of the fact that they have California numbers etc and I think about time zones etc, the fact that Foreigner today is in Manitoba which is only an hour behind through me off. So anyway, at 2:10 pm today I get a call from…..yup Jeff Pilson (laughter). Anyway, after apologizing profusely, he doesn’t even bat an eyelash and was so respectful and the conversation when on until…………………….yup….strike two I thought……..the phone call drops….Honestly, I thought..ok this is it, he isn’t going to answer when I call back….these are very busy guys and have no time for bullshit. I was pleasantly surprised when I called him back and we laughed it off.

Anyway, I am going to the show this Tuesday and I really think you should as well. If you are on the fence, as Jeff told me “go to the show and you will be pleasantly surprised”

Next week’s Rock Talk will feature the interview I had with Carlos Cavazos (Quiet Riot/Ratt/Rough Riot) and in the following weeks, I have interviews scheduled with Symphony X’s Mike Lepond, and one of the best rock guitarists ever………Adrian Vandenberg, also known as the Flying Dutchman.

Keep Rocking and Reading (reading is good for you) !

Ernest Skinner

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Ernest Skinner
Ernest Skinner was born and raised in Sault Ste. Marie and attended Humber College after high school. He has a passion for other cultures and has travelled throughout Mexico and many South American countries. He has written many articles over the years that deal with events happening here in Sault Ste. Marie and around the globe. Ernest has interviewed many rock and roll musicians including, Garry Peterson (The Guess Who), David Ellefson (Megadeth), Sass Jordan, Lee Aaron, John Corabi (Motley Crue/Dead Daisies), Geoff Tate (Queensryche) Richie Faulkner (Judas Priest) etc. Reading about ancient civilizations, world politics, and mysteries of the unknown are also defining factors that are his general makeup. Outside of being serious, he has a bright sense of humour that was moulded from shows like Seinfeld & The Simpsons. Ernest is a SaultOnline.com freelance reporter/columnist.

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