The Grass Roots will roll into town for a three-night stand
Concerts will feature the hits
The Grass Roots lead guitarist Dusty Hanvey can’t wait for his band to play in the Egyptian Theatre.
“That theater has quite a history to it,” Hanvey said during a Park Record interview from his home in Los Angeles. “I love that it’s still around, because 20 years ago, or something like that, there were all of these big decisions made to either bulldoze these places or resurrect and remodel them. We love playing in those because they are so ornate and have some great characteristics to them.”
The Grass Roots — featuring current members Hanvey, keyboardist Larry Nelson, drummer Joe Dougherty and bassist Mark Dawson — will roll into the Egyptian Theatre on Sept. 1-3.
The concerts will feature the bands hits, including “Let’s Live for Today,” “Midnight Confessions,” “The River Is Wide” and “I’d Wait a Million Years,” Hanvey promised.
“The people come to hear the hits,” he said. “When people see the name ‘The Grass Roots,’ they come to hear all of those great songs.
“They like to be taken back to a certain time in their lives, perhaps a happier time with the way the world is going today.”
Hanvey said the band feels a strong responsibility to perform the songs as they were recorded in the 1960s and 1970s.
“The technology from the ’60s to now has obviously changed, and the sound is probably cleaner and crisper today, but all of the parts and arrangements are the same as the originals,” he said. “We don’t want to mess with the songs. They were gold records and hits, and we try to capture that whole approach.”
To play the songs true to form takes discipline.
“As players, you may have a tendency to want to change something that would musically work, but not what was recorded,” he said. “Even though we play these songs thousands of times, we play them the way people want to hear them. The audience doesn’t want to hear a variation on a theme.”
Hanvey joined The Grass Roots in 1983, by invitation of co-founder Rob Grill.
“Rob was the guy who was the lead singer for the most part, even though some of the vocals were shared between Dennis Provisor and Warren Entner,” Hanvey said. “I met him in L.A. in the 1970s, and we had talked about doing something together.”
Back then The Grass Roots was a band that toured constantly.
“I didn’t want to go on the road because I was making a living doing session work,” Hanvey said. “But we kept in touch.”
In 1983, Hanvey had a change of heart.
“I had a relationship break up, and when Rob called and I felt it was time,” he said.
Hanvey and Grill talked over a round of golf.
“He told me he trusted me because of my work in L.A., and convinced me to go on the road,” Hanvey said. “Then he told me to put a band together.”
Grill had already recorded a Grass Roots album called “Powers of the Night” with a different lineup that didn’t work out.
“He wanted a new band, and I pulled one together for him,” Hanvey said.
The first person Hanvey recruited was keyboardist Larry Nelson.
“Larry and I have been together ever since that day in 1983,” Hanvey said. “We also had another drummer for seven years, before our current drummer Joe Dougherty came in.
He came from the Roger Miller Band and playing jazz gigs with Brian Bromberg and other noted jazz people. It’s hard to believe that Joe has been with us for almost 30 years.”
The lineup toured and performed with Grill until his death in 2011.
“Before Rob stopped touring, we added Mark Dawson to fill in dates when Grill was too sick to play,” Hanvey said. “We knew Rob eventually wouldn’t be able to continue on the road, so we had some discussions and got Mark.”
Grill passed away on July 11, 2011, from complications following a stroke, and his estate gave Hanvey and the band its blessing to continue.
“No one anticipated back then that the band would still be playing these songs in 2017,” Hanvey said. “We still play for sell-out crowds, and people still love the band.”
Throughout the years, Hanvey has seen an influx of new fans.
“There are a lot of people from the younger generation who are not into the pop music of today,” he said. “They’ll come to our shows and know all of the words.
“My guess is that they were force fed the music by their parents, their grandparents or aunts and uncles. What’s cool is these kids are coming to the shows because they want to.”
Hanvey is still amazed to see these young fans singing along.
“These kids are like 14 and 15 years old, and they know all of the lyrics, which is an interesting phenomenon,” he said. “I mean I have socks that are older than they are.”
The Grass Roots will perform at 8 p.m. on Friday and Saturday, Sept. 1 and 2, and at 6 p.m. on Sunday, Sept. 3, at the Egyptian Theatre, 328 Main St. Tickets range from $39 to $65 and are available by visiting http://www.parkcityshows.com.
Summit County gardeners can purchase local-climate friendly plants and seeds to grow this season