Friday, October 8 2021

It’s fitting that “Freedom,” the Doobie Brothers’ latest album, hits the world on Friday, which coincides with the long-toothed band’s concert at Spokane Arena.

There is symmetry in the output since guitarist-singer Patrick Fitzsimmons’ life began locally.

“I was conceived in Spokane,” Fitzsimmons said while calling from Salt Lake City. “My sisters grew up in Spokane. My parents were teachers at Cheney. I’ve always enjoyed the eastern part of the state, so it’s cool that ‘Liberte’ comes out on the day of our show there.

Many peers of the Doobie Brothers are nostalgic bands digging into their cannon, but the sweet, soulful rockers, who are on their 50th anniversary tour, are forced to write and record new tracks.

“It’s just what we do,” Fitzsimmons said. “We were just going to write an EP’s worth of songs last year, but when the pandemic hit we just dug deeper, and before we knew it, we had a whole album of songs worth. What else were we going to do during the pandemic since we couldn’t tour? “

Well, the Doobie Brothers were finally inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in November with Whitney Houston, Depeche Mode, Nine Inch Nails, T-Rex and the Notorious BIG Due to the pandemic there was no pomp for the recording artists entering the sacred rock hall.

“We will all remember the COVID induction,” Fitzsimmons said. “It’s one of those things. What can you do? We were just honored to be inducted into Rock Hall. Our work was recognized and we received kudos, and it was just great.

“There wasn’t a big concert, but how can you complain when you live a dream inside a dream? We were lucky to have some success.

The humble Fitzsimmons, 72, has had an extraordinary career with the Doobies. The group has sold over 40 million albums and amassed a pair of Grammy Awards and two No. 1 hits, “Black Water” and “What a Fool Believes”.

“It’s hard to believe we’ve been so successful and have been around for half a century,” Fitzsimmons said. “I never thought I’d be here for half a century. But we are still going strong.

The Doobies will deliver a few new songs and focus on hits.

“It’s not easy to establish a setlist,” said Fitzsimmons. “We know what our fans want to hear.”

With singer-keyboardist Michael McDonald back in the fold of 2019, expect an evening of familiar tunes primarily featuring the 16 Best 40 Hits, which span the Doobie Brothers’ careers. Expect favorites like “Black Water”, China Grove “,” Rockin ‘Down the Highway “,” Long Train Runnin “and” Takin’ It to the Streets “.

“We are more than happy to play these songs which have become a staple of our sets,” said Fitzsimmons. “We never get tired of playing these songs. It’s great to be a part of something that has lasted.

Fitzsimmons is the only Doobie Brother to appear on each of the group’s albums.

Singer-guitarist Tom Johnston, who formed the Doobie Brothers with Fitzsimmons in 1970, left the band in 1977 but returned in 1987, and McDonald’s is back after a 23-year hiatus.

“Everything is fine now, and we really enjoy what we have with each other,” Fitzsimmons said.

“Being in a band is where it happens for me. Some people like to be alone. It works for us. Tom, Michael and I have always been the primary authors. This is how it happened. We are so thankful that it worked for us. We have always appreciated what we have. We never wasted this great gift.

“Look at R. Kelly. He was convicted (of multiple sex trafficking charges this week). It’s quite Shakespearean. It’s a shame because the guy is so talented.

“Look at what he’s done in the music business, and now look where he’s at. We’ve always realized how lucky we are to do what we love. It has given us great lives.

Fitzsimmons, who has lived in Hawaii for a quarter of a century, prepares for a homecoming when his group returns to Spokane.

“We moved to California when I was a kid, but we went back to Washington a lot when I was young,” he said. “My grandparents were in Wenatchee. It’s apple country over there.

“I remember seeing the crowning of the Queen of Apples years ago. Who would have guessed that central Washington would be one of the wine capitals of the world? And then there’s Spokane. We played so much there. Every time I go back there, I wander the streets of Spokane and look around.

“I found a quarter of the 1850s in a store. I’ll be back for comics and stamps. I like things that are old, and Spokane has some of those things. It’s a cool place.


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