Pat Simmons of the Doobie Brothers on the Band’s Legacy and ‘Live at the Beacon Theatre’

Rock Cellar Magazine

Relatively few bands have earned the enduring appeal and indomitable musical spirit of the Doobie Brothers.

The Doobie Brothers: Live at the Beacon Theatre was released in late June, commemorating a special performance of the albums Toulouse Street and The Captain and Me, turned in at the famed New York City venue in November 2018.

Essentially, the Doobie Brothers’ career epitomizes longevity and consistency, as they’ve stayed authentic and true to their mission throughout their career. In fact, one could say that the band advanced “roots” music in significant ways before that term was became more popularized.

The band is currently in the studio working on a new EP for a scheduled 2020 release. For more, enjoy a chat with founding member Pat Simmons below.

Rock Cellar: You recorded a 50th anniversary concert at the Beacon Theatre in NY for the new live CD/DVD set.  What’s would you say makes that venue so special?

Pat Simmons: We had been thinking of doing a live album for some time. When we were planning on doing the live album, we were looking for the right venue. and the Beacon Theatre was uppermost in our minds.  We wanted to record the album for posterity and offer a complete perspective on our music. We were committed to playing parts better for the album and tightening up all the music. Essentially, we wanted the album to be completely representative of our music. We sought funding for the album, and Rhino/Warner Brothers provided backing for the album.

Rock Cellar:  I understand you’re working on a new EP. When will that be released, and what kind of material will be on that record?

Pat Simmons: We’ve recorded some tracks for that EP, but we have to hold back the release of the EP because of contractual constraints relating to the release of the live concert CD/DVD set  in June. I anticipate the EP will be released around the fall of 2020.

There’s a little bit of everything in the new tracks. The new EP reflects the band as it’s constituted now and harkens back to our original sound, including our harmonies.

Rock Cellar: Your music has spanned many different styles —  do you feel you’ve escaped being typecast by your earlier hits?

Pat Simmons:  We’ve been all over the map musically. We’ve recorded music with hints of R&B, pop/rock, and maybe a little Americana or roots music using instruments like dobro.  I don’t think we’ve been really affected by typecasting.

Rock Cellar:  How has your audience changed over the years?

Pat Simmons:  Well, our audience has gotten a little older and a little younger, too. Our audience is much broader. We still have the same core audience we’ve always had. Then we seem to attract younger people that are searching for other music through social media and find us. By the way, I find new music the same way myself. People find us through serendipity. Certain people learn about us through their dad, for example, and certain people want to see us before we pass away!

I think our vocals are a key element that set us apart from other bands and a highlight of the band that people recognize and appreciate.

Rock Cellar:  What’s your view about farewell tours? Do you have any plan to bill your final tour a “farewell tour”?

Pat Simmons:

I’ve been there and done that. I think there’s something to be said for farewell tours and your last hurrah. There’s an intensity of feeling connected with farewell tours.

For example, I saw Paul Simon on tour recently, and he showed a side of him you normally don’t see. He did material that you don’t often hear in concert. It was really special. I’d love to see Joan Baez on her farewell tour.

Rock Cellar: Your son, Patrick Simmons, Jr., is a successful musician. What advice did you give him when he decided to embark on a music career? 

Pat Simmons:  My advice to him was the same as it is for all musicians. If you want to play music professionally, you have to do it because you love it. Essentially, the payback is playing the music.

The more you put in, the more you get back. If you can make a few bills along the way, all power to you.

Patrick has attained a certain level of success, and is drawing a good audience.  He’s doing pretty well, and is doing music because he loves it.

Any form of art you do is a pleasure and will be with you throughout your life.  You’ll always be able to draw on it for pleasure, introspection, and meditation.

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