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America: Musical nostalgia in Tucson

America Live
America Live
©Mary F. Andrews

America Live in Tucson, AZ


America stopped in Tucson, AZ at the Fox Theatre on June 10, 2014 to give their fans a look back in time. This may not have been deliberate, but it was nostalgic nonetheless. The band formed in England where they lived as American military “brats” during their high school years.

America bring their live show to the Fox Theatre
© M F Andrews

They initially consisted of three members: Gerry Beckley 1970-present: Lead and backing vocals, keyboards, guitars, bass, harmonica,
Dewey Bunnell 1970-present: Lead and backing vocals, guitars, percussion,
Dan Peek (1970-1977: Lead and backing vocals, guitars, bass, keyboards, and harmonica. Peek left the band in 1977 in pursuit of solo aspirations. For more information on the history of the band, click here.

The early 1970’s saw the country still in the midst of a long Vietnamese war. There had been demonstrations protesting segregation, the war, women’s lib issues and a laundry list of other issues. Radio and vinyl still reigned supreme in disseminating music to the world. The song “Horse With No Name” provided the backdrop for those returning from overseas who were trying find their way back into the American culture. One would assume upon first listen that it was Neil Young singing the lead on the song. Instead, the radio DJ introduced the new group, America.

The show at the Fox theatre not only provided the musical backdrop for those tumultuous years, but the group had a video background during the show that visually placed the audience back in time. The show started with “Tin Man” and the videos started with projections of the early album covers interspersed with photos of the “boys” during the early ‘70s. During “Hollywood” we saw images of vintage Hollywood stars like Marilyn Monroe. “Woodstock” from the album “Back Pages,” released in 2011 consists of songs they “wished they had written.” The videos were well crafted and accomplished the goals of taking the crowd back in time.

Forty years have passed since America’s first big hit. Dewey and Gerry look good and sound superb. The rest of the band consists of long time America drummer Willie Leacox, guitarist/keyboard player Bill Worrell and bass player Rich Campbell. The set consisted of a thorough and satisfying representation of their rich career. For a complete set list of tonight’s show, click here.

It is easy to forget the rich musical heritage given to us during the last half of the twentieth century. The music was astounding and it still lives. Thanks to the creative forces behind groups including America. One would think that the world would have changed drastically in the last forty years. Certainly technology has left our heads spinning. Otherwise, as the saying goes “ the more things change, the more they stay the same.” We still have wars, financial discord, and general discontent. There seems to be more of a tendency to pick up a gun instead of peaceful demonstrations. My question is what will be the musical background for today?

A shout out must be given to the opening act of our local entertainers Sabra Faulk and Heather “Lil Mama” Hardy. Sabra brought her amazing self-penned folk music to the stage with aplomb. Heather brought her violins to the stage and produced big sounds that are seldom heard from such a small instrument. They garnered a well deserved standing ovation. The show was evidence that the local music scene in Tucson is flourishing.