Lynyrd Skynyrd to headline at Fairgrounds

Lynyrd Skynyrd to headline at Fairgrounds

By LIsa Palmeno

By Lisa Palmeno

Staff Reporter

The premier country rock band of the ’70s and ’80s, Lynyrd Skynyrd is back on tour and slated to play at Winnebago County Fairgrounds on Saturday, July 14.

As part of the DreamRides 1st Car & Motorcycle Show, Skynyrd will top off the weekend’s festivities following Crimson Tyde, Nazareth, Molly Hatchet and Jackyl.

The line-up is: vocalist Johnny Van Zant; guitarists Gary Rossington, Rickey Medlocke and Hughie Thomasson; keyboardist Billy Powell; bass guitarist Leon Wilkeson; drummer Michael Cartellone; and background vocalists Dale Krantz-Rossington and Carol Chase.

Although the group are best known for radio hits “What’s Your Name,” “Sweet Home Alabama,” and “Free Bird,” and others, they are still putting out new material to take on the road. They recorded the following releases on CMC International Records during the past four years: Twenty (1997); Lyve From Steeltown (1998); and Edge of Forever (1999).

Bass guitarist Leon Wilkeson talked to The Rock River Times about the shows, touring and projects they are working on. Wilkeson has been a member of the group for 29 years, and he says it “hasn’t even scratched the surface yet” when asked about the future of the band.

He admitted they will be playing mostly old Skynyrd but talked about the new album they are working on. So far, they have recorded about four songs, but Wilkeson, who is experimenting with 5- and 8- string bass guitars, hopes the CD will be ready by spring 2002.

When asked about the difference between touring now and in the early years, Wilkerson commented: “ It’s incredible. It’s like all of the sudden we’ve got this Grateful Dead Cult kind of following. We’re pulling into venues and getting back up into traffic in both directions. It’s incredible. The shows are like sellout. Even if only 200 people showed up, they’d get the same sellout show. I don’t care if one person shows up, I’m there to rock and roll and have a good time. I play every show as if it were my last.”

The veteran bassist mentioned that most of the people who come to their shows have never seen Skynyrd. He credits parents with the interest young people have in listening to their music. For now, he says he’s “lovin’ every minute of it. I’m having the time of my life. It couldn’t be better . Each show keeps getting better. Fans are just rocking the storm, and fans are just storming in to hear us rock.”

The music begins at 2 p.m. and continues until all bands are finished playing. Gate hours for both Friday and Saturday are noon-midnight. Friday’s roster includes Big John Howe & His Born to Boogie Band; Exile; The Kentucky Headhunters; and Hank Williams, Jr. Tickets are $38 for adults, $17 for children 15 and under. Vehicle registration will be at the gate from 7 a.m. to noon both days. The $50 per car sign-up fee includes passes for two for the weekend. For tickets, contact the MetroCentre at (815)968-5600. Patrons receive $5 off with the coupon from The Rock River Times ad.

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