The hits may not keep on comin,' but the audiences sure do.
That was the case this weekend for Earth, Wind & Fire and Roger McGuinn, Rock & Roll Hall of Famers who pursue divergent post-heyday paths yet thrilled separate sell-out Twin Cities audiences.
Featuring three original members and nine other players, EWF delivered a polished, crowd-pleasing Vegas revue Friday night at the Mystic Lake Casino Showroom.
Lead singer Philip Bailey, 71, still has a heavenly falsetto. Verdine White remains one of funkiest bassists on the planet. And Ralph Johnson brings some gray-bearded authenticity.
But EWF, which made its name in the '70s and '80s, adds some youth, energy and high stepping with singers David Whitworth and Philip Bailey Jr. Most importantly, though, are the arrangements, showcasing the creativity and diversity of the late EWF founder Maurice White.
The group turned its 1979 hit "Boogie Wonderland" into an irresistible updated disco party and transformed the Beatles' "Got to Get You into My Life" into a winning wedding of jazz, pop and soul, punctuated with a striking vocal workout. The alluring "Kalimba Funk" mixed African roots with modern sounds, and "Reasons" featured a terrific call and response between voice and saxophone.
Shout outs to Gary Bias for his excellent sax solos and Morris O'Connor for his guitar work on "Rock That."
The sparkly EWF breezed through 25 songs in 95 minutes with enough heart and soul to show that's the way of their world 25 years after their last hit.
McGuinn rose to fame in the 1960s with the Byrds but his career has had connections to so many other big names that his solo storyteller format charmed a full house Saturday at the Hopkins Center for the Arts.
Playing his signature electric Rickenbacker guitar as he walked onstage, McGuinn, 79, opened with Bob Dylan's "My Back Pages," a Byrds hit and the theme of the show. He told stories about his career, including his days with the Chad Mitchell Trio and Bobby Darin and his associations with Dylan, Tom Petty, the Beatles and, of course, the Byrds. He made it clear that networking was crucial to his success.
Covering tastes of 27 tunes in two 50-minute sets, McGuinn offered speaking and/or singing impressions of Dylan, Pete Seeger, Peter Fonda and David Crosby, his ex-bandmate in the Byrds.
Surrounded by several tall plants, the seated performer played banjo, acoustic 6-and 12-string guitar and, of course, that jingle-jangly electric Rickenbacker.
Songs associated with Elvis Presley, Gene Vincent, Leadbelly, Joni Mitchell, Joan Baez, the Beatles and Bob Gibson showed up along with the expected Byrds favorites.
McGuinn no longer had the high vocal notes for "Eight Miles High," but his voice was reassuring. And that Rickenbacker still gives a baby boomer goosebumps.