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REO Speedwagon: Arkansas, keep ridin' the storm out

REO Speedwagon Rocks Robinson Center Music Hall In Little Rock, Arkansas.
REO Speedwagon Rocks Robinson Center Music Hall In Little Rock, Arkansas.
Greg Geary

REO Speedwagon in Little Rock, May 8, 2014


REO Speedwagon. the bar band that formed in 1967 in Champaign, Illinois has a new title these days, according to front man Kevin Cronin. "We are the self anointed kings of classic rock," he told the faithful fans Thursday night at Robinson Center Music Hall in Little Rock, Arkansas. He said they came up with the title after drinking margaritas on the beach.

REO Speedwagon performing at Robinson Music Hall, May 8, 2014.
Dave Srite

Arkansas Governor Mike Beebe and his wife Ginger sat in front row center. The Beebes are fans of REO Speedwagon and the band members are fans of our first family. Cronin said they were treated to a great hamburger lunch at the Governor's Mansion Thursday. Cronin said while Illinois has had some interesting governors in the past, Arkansas has had some great ones, including Bill Clinton, Mike Huckabee and Mike Beebe.

REO's 15 song set began with "Don't Let Him Go." Cronin said "Golden Country" was the band's first real political song and spoke about what a great country we have.

Cronin called Governor Beebe one of the most intelligent and charming governors out there. The band's message to the people of Arkansas was to stick together and keep ridin' the storm out, in the wake of the tornadoes that hit the state recently. He said the people of Arkansas get tough and pull together during hard times.

In recalling the band's history, Cronin said they traveled to Arkansas during their early years, playing Little Rock, Fort Smith and Texarkana. Instead of a bus, they used a 1972 Chevy Impala Station Wagon to go from town to town.

Cronin credited crazy women with helping him come up with good songs, such as 1984's "Can't Fight This Feeling." The ladies gave him a big round of applause after he prefaced the song with the comments.

REO Speedwagon shined with an acoustic version of "Keep The Fire Burnin.'" Cronin said he put it together in his hotel room one night.

Cronin called the last songs of the show, the "classic rock artillery," with secret weapons like "Back On The Road," "Roll With The Changes," and "Ridin' The Storm Out," which he dedicated to Arkansas and its tough spirit for sticking together and helping one another recover from the tornadoes.

The merchandise man stayed busy hawking REO concert shirts and hats. A favorite was the shirt with the original Speedwagon on it.

REO Set List for Little Rock

Don't Let Him Go

Music Man

Take It On The Run

Keep Pushin'

Golden Country

Can't Fight

That Ain't Love

Tough Guys

Like You Do

Acoustic, Keep The Fire Burnin'


Back On The Road

Roll With The Changes

Keep On Lovin' You

Ridin' The Storm Out

Dave Srite, a Little Rock radio veteran and a resident of Vilonia, one of the areas struck by the tornadoes, said "Ridin' The Storm Out," was true encouragement for all Arkansans. "REO wrapped with an acknowledgement of what we have been enduring," he said. "The song is more than a classic rock anthem. For those in attendance, including Governor Mike and wife Ginger, the message was that we are always going to ride the storm out."

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