June 25th, 2024

Guess Who says it’s all about the songs

By Medicine Hat News on July 26, 2018.

Supplied Image
The Guess Who will be on stage at the Medicine Hat Exhibition & Stampede grandstand Saturday night, along with Joan Jett and the Blackhearts. From left in this photo are the musicians forming todays version of The Guess Who (left to right): Garry Peterson,ÊRudy Sarzo,ÊDerek Sharp, Will Evankovich and Leonard Shaw.

Stan Ashbee

Special to the News

Two of rock ‘n’ roll’s finest perform live Saturday night at the Medicine Hat Exhibition and Stampede. Legendary Joan Jett and the Blackhearts with special guests The Guess Who hit the Night Show stage at 8 p.m.

One of Canada’s premiere bands is and will always be The Guess Who. The iconic band’s hits include “These Eyes,” “Clap For the Wolfman,” “No Sugar Tonight,” “Laughing” and “American Woman.”

“You’re going to see an excellent version of the songs and hear exactly how they should sound or be played,” said founding member and original drummer and songwriter Garry Peterson. Through The Guess Who, Peterson has also been inducted in The Canadian Music Hall of Fame and received the Governor General’s Performing Arts Award for Lifetime Artistic Achievement for contribution to popular music in Canada.

“We’re coming at a new generation of fans who are seeing how the band can execute with enthusiasm. And we’re also making sure the respect level remains at an all- time high for how the music was initially recorded and remains at an all-time high for the fans who have been with the band from the beginning,” he added.

In its current lineup, The Guess Who consists of keyboard player and flutist Leonard Shaw, lead guitarist Will Evankovich, lead vocalist and guitarist Derek Sharp and bass legend Rudy Sarzo.

Sarzo was a member of Ozzy Osbourne’s band, was a member of Quiet Riot, was voted “No. 1 Bassist” in Circus Magazine for 1983, was a member of Whitesnake, Dio, Blue Oyster Cult and Geoff Tate’s Queensryche. With more than 35 years on tour, Sarzo’s priority these days is The Guess Who, with a new album set for release in September entitled, “The Future Is What It Used To Be.”

“Basically, we’re doing two or three shows every weekend,” said Sarzo, who has officially been with the band for about two years. “Jim Kale, the original bass player, he passed the torch on to me on stage in Las Vegas because I had been on and off playing with The Guess Who prior to that for about maybe a year.”

According to Sarzo, the band still amazes him. “I’ve been a fan of the band growing up. For me to be on stage celebrating the soundtrack of my life, such great music and actually to be performing on stage with the original drummer — that’s really a very unique treat for me. Outside of playing with … let’s say, Frankie Banali in Quiet Riot and maybe Tommy Aldridge when we did the ‘Slip of the Tongue’ record, I usually don’t get to play with the drummer that performed on the records like I do with Garry Peterson. For me, to be a part of the rhythm section and to be playing with the person who actually created the rhythm section, that’s really such a blessing for me,” he said.

Sarzo noted the band goes out on the stage and celebrates the legacy of The Guess Who. “We go out there with a youthful edge because we still have something to prove,” he said, adding the longevity of the band is definitely its songs.

“It’s all about the songs and we understand that and it’s also about the performance. One thing is playing a song, another thing is living the songs.” The band, Sarzo added, connects with the new generation of fans, as well as up-and-coming musicians.

“I connected with the music, as a fan. Now, I am connected with the music, as a band member.”

With today’s live rock and roll music scene, Sarzo said he can only gauge it by the fans that attend the shows and by looking at the faces from the stage. “It’s very much alive and well. I can guarantee you,” he joked, adding he enjoys checking out the bands that perform with The Guess Who during a show.

Sarzo said he’s looking forward to see Joan Jett. “I’ve done shows with her before and she is amazing. Again, another beautiful catalogue of songs.” Jett’s hits include “I Love Rock and Roll and “I Hate Myself for Loving You.”

Sarzo’s been touring the country since the early 1980s and he loves Canada. And nowadays he’s also playing with mostly Canadians too. “I love the fans, I love the country, it’s beautiful. Very wonderful people.”

“I’m in a Canadian band,” he joked.

Tickets start at $69 and are available online at mhstampede.com, by calling 403-527-1234 or 1-888-MHRODEO and in person at the Stampede office, the Medicine Hat Mall customer service desk or the Grandstand box office at show time.

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