Interview: The Doobie Brothers’ Tom Johnston discusses band’s upcoming residency at The Beacon Theatre in NYC

Fresh off a monster summer tour with fellow classic rock legend, Steely Dan, The Doobie Brothers recently announced their first ever live, full-album performances, which will take place over two consecutive nights at New York’s Beacon Theatre. The band will perform Toulouse Street on Thursday, Nov. 15, and The Captain and Me on Friday, Nov. 16. Both will be performed in album sequence and in their entirety.

In addition to performing deep cuts that have never been performed live, both shows will also feature an additional selection of material from the band’s extensive arsenal of hits.

Toulouse Street (released in 1972) launched The Doobie Brothers to stardom and featured the hits “Listen to The Music,” “Rockin’ Down the Highway,” and “Jesus is Just Alright.” The Captain and Me (released in 1973) included hits like “Long Train Runnin’” and “China Grove,” as well as fan favorites “South City Midnight Lady” and “Without You.”

The Doobie Brothers are led by Tom Johnston, Pat Simmons and John McFee

AXS recently spoke with Tom Johnston about The Doobie Brothers upcoming residency, the albums, career highlights and more in this exclusive new interview.

AXS: What inspired this Doobie Brothers two-night residency at The Beacon?

Tom Johnston: I’ve been requesting that we play at The Beacon for a few years now. For me, it’s one of those places that sits in the hall of rock fame of places to play. All kinds of great bands have played there. The Allman Brothers owned it there for a while, and Steely Dan has also done many shows there. The idea to do the albums came from Mitch Rose at CAA. We were in a conference call and I brought up the subject of playing The Beacon. Mitch thought it was a great idea and suggested we do an album night, and since we were going to do two nights in a row, he suggested we do Toulouse Street and The Captain and Me.

AXS: It’s early on, but what’s it been like revisiting those albums and preparing for this event?

TJ: We’ve been working on it the whole time we’ve been out on tour with Steely Dan. We’d start sound check by working out tunes we don’t play in the set, and in a lot of cases, had never played before. It was really eye-opening. It was a long time ago and some of the songs were fairly complex. The other thing that’s interesting about doing an album show is that you do it in album sequence, which is nothing like you would do live. It’s a challenge but we’re looking forward to it.

AXS: Let’s talk a little about Toulouse Street, which was the first album where the band experimented with recording with two drummers. Was that always the plan?

TJ: We had already been performing live with [drummer] Mike Hossack before we ever did that album. We did our first tour with John Hartman, and at some point, after that, we tried it with two drummers. We decided we liked it. Mike was such a good drummer and it added a whole other feeling to playing live. So, when we got into the studio, that transferred over to all the songs we were cutting. It was pretty easy to do. It was also the first album we did with Ted Templeman [producer].

AXS: How did you develop your unique picking style? 

TJ: I come from a blues, R&B and rock background and there was a period of time, from 1969-1972, where I spent a lot of time playing acoustic guitar. I played all day every day. I’d spend hours playing guitar; just listening to various artists and then trying to emulate a finger-picking feel. That’s how I developed that rhythm style you hear in songs like “Listen To The Music” and “Long Train Runnin.”

Read the rest of my
Interview with Tom Johnston by Clicking Here!

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