By Chyrisse Tabone, Ph.D., Rock At Night Tampa Correspondent
Venue: Ruth Eckerd Hall, Clearwater, Florida–February 17, 2017
Well, what can I say? When I heard that Three Dog Night and America were touring together and coming to Clearwater, Florida, I had flashbacks to the 70s. I can remember my parents buying Three Dog Night’s Golden Biscuits and playing it over and over on the hi fi stereo. Every song on the album was a hit, even though some were actually covers like “One” (Nilsson), “Eli’s Coming” (Laura Nyro), and “Mama Told Me (Not to Come)” (Randy Newman). The huge hit “Joy To the World” (composed by Hoyt Axon) became an anthem during the summer of 1971 and I even lipsynched on stage with a “band” in elementary school to the song wearing my Coca Cola print palazzo pants. Great, great memories!
Now, with America, I first think of “Horse With No Name” and then “Sister Golden Hair”, the nickname my mother gave my little blond sister. The lush harmonies—oh, their whole sound—captured the characteristic atmosphere of the 70s folk rock scene. America seemed to be the sister-band of The Eagles in their feel and crowd following.
Fast forward to Ruth Eckerd Hall, Clearwater, on February 17, 2017, and the Baby Boomers were in for a treat for the ears! First, America played on stage, featuring the recognizable harmonies of Gerry Beckley and Dewey Bunnell. They were backed by very talented musicians too. Sadly, former original member Dan Peek passed in 2011. They gave the crowd a great concert from the get-go by playing “Tin Man” and “You Can Do Magic” and later launched into many of their other hits like “Ventura Highway” and one that really moved me “I Need You.” They also performed covers of Mama & the Papa’s “Hazy Shade of Winter” and the Beatles’ “Eleanor Rigby” giving the classics their own twist of style. Hit after hit, America played well over an hour, satisfying all of their fans.
After a 30-minute intermission, Three Dog Night approached the stage and launched into a lot of crowd favorites like “Shambala”, “Black and White” and one of my all-time favorites “Easy to Be Hard.” I had visions of dancing and twirling in the basement as a little girl. Such great music! Other welcome songs included “Liar”, “Never Been to Spain”, and “Celebrate”. Original members of Three Dog Night included Danny Hutton (vocals) and Michael Allsup (guitar) since prominent members Corey Wells passed in 2015 and Chuck Negron now has a solo career. Overall, the evening was fun, retro, and rocking!
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Let the record show “Joy to the World” was written by Hoyt Axton, one of the great folk songwriters. His mother, Mae Boren Axton, wrote “Heartbreak Hotel.”
Sounds like a fun, nostalgia-filled concert!