The Evergreen State Fair has finalized the entertainment lineup for this summer’s event, and 1980s superstars REO Speedwagon will top the bill.
The band actually has been around since 1967, when they formed in Illinois as a college band. The band was signed in 1971, and throughout that decade toured extensively in the Midwest until breaking into the mainstream with the 1980s hit Hi Infidelity, which included the iconic hits “Keep on Loving You,” and “Take it on the Run.” That album spent 15 weeks at number one.
Over the course of their career, the band has sold more than 40 million records worldwide, and in 45 years, not one year has passed in which the band did not perform.
Fans will be glad to know that REO Speedwagon singer Kevin Cronin remains at the helm, with founder Neil Doughty on keyboard and longtime member Bruce Hall on bass. Drummer Bryan Hitt and guitarist Dave Amato have been in the band since 1989, meaning the current lineup of the band has been touring REO Speedwagon’s hits for 24 years.
The band will appear at the fair Thursday, August 29.
The Oak Ridge Boys
Another musical giant, the 1970s country powerhouse band The Oak Ridge Boys, will play Monday, Aug. 26.
The Oak Ridge Boys are celebrating their 40th anniversary this year, but the group has roots much longer than that. The original core group formed in 1943 in Knoxville, Tennessee as Wally Fowler and the Georgia Cloghoppers. They were such favorites at functions at the World War II nuclear research plant at Oak Ridge, Tennessee, they eventually renamed the group The Oak Ridge Quartet and started recording in 1947.
Members changed over the years, and the name was shifted yet again, this time to the Oak Ridge Boys, and in 1970, they had their first Grammy-winning song, “Talk About the Good Times.”
The member of the current lineup who has been with the band the longest is William Lee Golden, who was a fan until a successful audition landed him the baritone spot in 1964. Two years later, current member Duane Allen signed on. Richard Sterban came on board in 1972, and Joe Bonsall, who to this day is the newest member of the band, joined in 1973.
So unlike many longtime touring groups, when this band celebrates its 40th anniversary, they are celebrating the anniversary not of the founding of the band, but of the formation of the group as it exists today.
The band has been busy in the studio in recent years, releasing two albums in 2012, one heavily focused on Southern gospel and the other a Christmas album, their sixth.
This year the band is marking their 40th anniversary tour with a commemorative CD and a network television special.
“When I go on stage, I get the same feeling I had the first time I sang with The Oak Ridge Boys,” said lead singer Duane Allen in a press release. “This is the only job I’ve ever wanted to have.”
Fans of contemporary country will get a chance to hear Brantley Gilbert Tuesday, Aug. 27.
Gilbert, 28, had his first hit in 2011 with “Country Must be Country Wide,” followed in 2012 by “You Don’t Know Her Like I Do,” both of which went to number one on the country charts.
Gilbert was nominated for New Artist of the Year at the 2012 CMA Awards and toured most of last year with Toby Keith and Uncle Kracker. In 2012, he was also named Top New Male Artist at the American Country Music Awards, and was nominated as Top New Artist.
3 Doors Down
Alt-rock stars 3 Doors Down will play Wednesday, Aug. 28.
The band first sprang to national prominence with the hit “Kryptonite” in 2000. The album, The Better Life, went platinum six times over, and was followed in 2002 with the even-more-successful Away from the Sun. The third album, Seventeen Days, debuted at number one on the Billboard chart, as did the eponymous album that followed it.
The band is one of the busiest in music, playing as many as 300 shows a year, and has already topped 20 million album sales worldwide.
The group was recently hit with a calamity; bassist Todd Harrell was charged with vehicular homicide April 20, following a crash in Nashville, Tenn., in which a man, 47, was killed. The crash seems to have been related to substance use and speeding. Harrell has since gone to rehab. The band took a short break out of respect for the victim, then resumed touring a month later.
The summer tour schedule will not be affected.
For the last 10 years, the band has supported a nonprofit organization they founded called The Better Life Foundation, which supports charities around the world and which provided assistance following Hurricane Katrina.
The musical lineup concludes with MercyMe, a Christian rock band from Texas.
The band has been around since 1994, and went double platinum with debut album Almost There, which included the sing “I Can Only Imagine,” a hit on both Christian and mainstream charts.
Four of their six albums have gone gold, and have cracked the top five on the Billboard Christian chart 13 times. Seven of their songs have gone to number one on that chart.
MercyMe has also been nominated for numerous Dove and Grammy awards.
MercyMe will play Thursday, Aug. 29.
Rodeo, racing and fireworks
Fireworks, rodeo and racing will fill out the entertainment schedule at the fair.
Monster trucks return to the fair on opening night, Monday, Aug. 22 and the following night. Look for the loud and smoky drift races on Sunday, Aug. 25.
The Pro West rodeo, a major rodeo in the Pacific Northwest rodeo circuit, will take place the last weekend of the fair, as will the traditional Sunday demo derby.
There will be fireworks the nights of opening day and closing day.
Admission to concerts and races includes fair admission.
To learn more, see http://www.evergreenfair.org/concerts.asp.