Arts & Entertainment

Chicago bringing its rockin' brass to Tri-Cities

Chicago is not the first band to add horns to rock music but it's one of the most renowned for it and the first to put all those brass instruments right up front with the vocals.

That's what trumpeter Lee Loughnane told the Herald about the band's brassy sound during a recent telephone interview.

Four of the group's original members still rock with Chicago, which formed in late 1960s -- Loughnane, keyboardist Robert Lamm, trombonist James Pankow and sax man Walter Parazaider.

Chicago makes a stop in the Tri-Cities on Sept. 12 at Toyota Center in Kennewick. Showtime is 7:30 p.m. Tickets are $45 to $75.

Despite having 21 Top 10 singles, five consecutive No. 1 albums, 11 No. 1 singles, five gold singles with 25 out of 32 albums going platinum during the last four decades, Chicago only nabbed one Grammy Award in 1977 for best pop performance by a duo or group, though they were nominated several times.

The band's successful longevity has everything to do with the energy and verve the musicians have maintained since their youth, Loughnane said.

"We all keep in shape by working out, which can be a grind when we're traveling all the time," he said. "But we love what we do as much now as we did when we started, and we never get tired of performing and that's why we still have an audience."

In years past, Peter Cetera was known as the voice of Chicago with hits like Does Anyone Really Know What Time It Is?, Color My World, Saturday in the Park and Feeling Stronger Every Day. But the voices of Lamm, Pankow and Parazaider have always been equally part of the unique Chicago sound, Loughnane said.

When Cetera left the group in 1985 to pursue a solo career, he was replaced by guitarist Jason Scheff, whose father played with Elvis Presley's band. Scheff also had the uncanny vocal ability to mimic Cetera's voice.

Lead guitarist Keith Howland, keyboardist Lou Pardini and drummer Tris Imboden round out the eight-member band today.

"Our sound today resonates with the original sound we started with," Loughnane said. "We all work well together, like a family."

This band of musical brothers also supports numerous charities by donating a portion of their ticket sales to various charities, including the American Cancer Society.

During last year's tour, the band sponsored a Sing with Chicago promotion, which allowed fans to bid on a package that included a meet and greet with the band, two premium tickets to the show plus backstage passes and the opportunity to sing onstage with the group.

"The Sing with Chicago promotion was such a great time for our fans, and contributed so much to the breast cancer cause that we wanted to do it on our 2011 tour too," said Peter Schivarelli, Chicago's manager, in an email to the Herald.

"We're doing it this year in honor of our friend Paqui Kelly, who is a breast cancer survivor and the wife of Notre Dame head football coach Brian Kelly."

As an added bonus this year, Schivarelli added, the highest overall bidder at the end of the tour will win a guitar autographed by the band. All proceeds from the Sing with Chicago promotion will be donated to the cancer society.

To bid on the package, go to the auction page on Mission Fish at www.ebay.com/americancancersociety.

Tickets to the Chicago concert at the Toyota Center are available at www.ticketmaster.com or the coliseum box office. Tickets purchased at the box office avoid service charges.

*Dori O'Neal: 582-1514; doneal@tricityherald.com

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