The Goldendale Sentinel - Headlines & History since 1879

By Lou Marzeles

GHS choir to take the stage with Foreigner band at Maryhill Winery

"I am excited and appreciative of the opportunity for the kids. When they're 60, they'll be able to say they sang with Foreigner on the Maryhill stage." -Doug Siegel, GHS music director



SOUNDTRACK OF SUMMER: The Maryhill Winery summer concert season kicks off this Saturday with Foreigner, Don Felder, and Styx.

Icons of what some call rock music's golden age, the groups Foreigner and Styx and former Eagles member Don Felder are packing summer music palaces around the country this year in what they're calling the Soundtrack of Summer tour. That tour takes them to Maryhill Winery for a sold-out show this Saturday, Aug. 2. And the show will also feature the Goldendale High School (GHS) choir, accompanying Foreigner on their number one hit from 1985, "I Want to Know What Love Is." The group invites high school choirs in each city on the tour to perform the song with them.

Foreigner saxophone meister Tom Gimbel says this tour-along with his 20-some years of playing in Foreigner-is a lot of fun. Gimbel is a highly regarded and very versatile musician; besides his tenure in Foreigner, he spent years on tour with Aerosmith playing keyboards and sax.

"First, when I was a kid, I was a drummer," Gimbel recalls. "As far as performing, there wasn't that much you could do waving your arms around, so drummers have to make faces. That's what you call a drummer face, what kind of faces you make as a drummer. It was funny. When I first switched to guitar and came out in front of the microphones, I had to stop myself from making such giant faces. I could get really into the comedy aspect if I let myself, so I have to make sure that doesn't happen. It is a lot of fun. There's no question about it. We do not take ourselves too seriously, that's for sure."

The excitement of a crowd that gets really engaged in the music is what Gimbel finds exhilarating. "I think we are live performers in a live setting with a live audience," he says. "I don't think of myself as a studio musician. I think of myself as a live musician. It really doesn't matter the size of the crowd or the size of the arena. Any shape or size, if there's a crowd there that's into it, they're energized, they're having fun with you, and it could be any size. That's what's fun-just playing to people who are into it. Sometimes you'd rather have a smaller crowd that's totally into it than a large crowd that's not into it. There are different levels of energy, and, as long as that's there, I'm happy. That's the kind of place I want to perform."

That fun and excitement is reflected as well by members of the GHS choir. "I think it was late April," says graduated senior Alanna Ellis. "That's when he [GHS music director Doug Siegel] told us. He came in and said, 'I got a call from these people, and I thought it was a hoax at first. But it's the real thing. We've been invited to sing with Foreigner at their concert in August!' And everyone goes, 'Go and respond to that call!' He told us he'd gotten it two minutes earlier, so we were the first high school to respond."

Siegel remembers the moment when, in the middle of choir rehearsal, a call was forwarded to him from the school office. "You'd better take this one," the secretary told him. A representative of the band told him they wanted the choir onstage with them.

The choir will also be selling Foreigner CDs at the Maryhill Winery entrance as part of a deal with the Grammy Foundation, with which Foreigner is associated. "Our kids will arrive early," Siegel says, "and will help to sell CDs for Foreigner and the Grammy Foundation." Each CD sold by the kids (cost: $20) will come with a raffle ticket. At the end of the evening, a Les Paul guitar signed by the band will be given away to the person with the winning ticket.

"And $500 will be donated to the Goldendale School music program by the Grammy Foundation" as part of the deal, Siegel points out.

"I am excited and appreciative of the opportunity for our kids," Siegel says. "When they're 60, they'll be able to say they sang with Foreigner on the Maryhill stage."

Foreigner in its heyday of the '80s was everywhere. Their hits included "Waiting for a Girl Like You," "Juke Box Hero," "Hot Blooded," "Feels Like the First Time," "Cold as Ice," "Urgent," and of course the beloved ballad "I Want to Know What Love Is."


Foreigner sax player Tom Gimbel

Those familiar mostly with the band's softer ballads may not be aware that the group is chiefly known as a full-ahead rock band. In fact, before "I Want to Know What Love Is" was released, there was tension in the band over the song. The song's author, Mick Jones, said he was dubious about it. He was worried "that people might think we'd gone soft or something," he said at the time. "I certainly want to retain the rock image." One of the band members called the song "fluffy." Nonetheless, the song hit number one the week of Feb. 2, 1985.

The show Saturday night at Maryhill Winery, if it follows the pattern of previous tour dates this year, promises to be some four hours of about 30 songs from Foreigner, Styx ("Come Sail Away," "Lady," Mr. Roboto," "Show Me the Way"), and Don Felder. Felder's renown is chiefly from his days as a key member of the Eagles and his riveting guitar leads with Joe Walsh on "Hotel California," which Felder co-wrote. During this show, he and Styx's guitarist will perform a fresh version of the song.

-with reports from Lisa Cunningham


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