This week HPR All Things Considered Host Dave Lawrence welcomes back the band America, and co-founder Gerry Beckley. Browse and listen to the entire Off the Road series here. Subscribe to the latest episodes on Apple, Google and Spotify podcasts.
Gerry Beckley is no stranger to Hawaii, or Hawaii Public Radio, our guest many times over the last ten years, and a guest of Dave’s since 2007. Gerry's latest is Keeping the Light On, a new solo best of. Gerry and the group America have been performing in Hawaii for decades, and have even recorded albums here, like 1977’s Harbor, recorded on Kauai with legendary Beatles producer George Martin at the helm.
Following their 1971 debut album, America first played in Hawaii in 1973, with a sold out show at the Blaisdell Arena. At the time, Gerry was just 20 years old! They went on to play Hawaii many times, including inside the Diamond Head Crater, at Aloha Stadium and last performing here in 2017 at the Blaisdell Concert Hall.
Our Off the Road episode with Gerry is running over two days, both with a lot of insight into the pandemic, and his unusual experience. Gerry is the first artist in the series to join us from Australia, where he’s been since not long after the pandemic began (his wife is Australian). In part one, Gerry shares the story of how America’s tour, celebrating 50 years as a band, was interrupted by the crisis, and takes us back to several critical experiences as the virus began to impact their tour, including having performed on a rock cruise, and also a scary near miss his wife experienced in Sydney, that connects to Tom Hanks’ wife, Rita Wilson. He also shares some of the story about what it’s like to be in Australia during the pandemic. Throughout the series, we’ve heard numerous memorials, tributes and stories of connection to some of the noted musicians we’ve lost to COVID-19, and Gerry adds to that in a big way. He’s the first artist to offer an in-depth story about musician/producer Adam Schlesinger of the band Fountains of Wayne, who, at 52 with no pre-existing conditions, was among the first major artists to be killed by the virus, and had produced the critically acclaimed America album Here and Now.
Tomorrow we’ll conclude, and hear more connections Gerry and America have to other musical giants taken by COVID-19, and some fascinating details about how different life is in Australia during the crisis. We’ll also dig into the new solo best of, Keeping the Light On, get an update on his America partner Dewey Bunnell’s journey through pandemic, hear about their tentative tour plans, and learn about some of the legendary artists America has shared the bill with over the years.
We’ll also post the complete interview.
Off the Road is a series of interviews with musicians remotely sharing how they’ve been touched by the pandemic and other crises, discussing their latest projects, including hours of conversation and many exclusive musical performances, speaking to artists across the musical spectrum, including Jack Johnson, Linda Ronstadt, System of a Down, Randy Brecker, Deep Purple, Jimmy Webb, Joe Satriani, Heart’s Nancy Wilson, William Shatner, The Doors’ John Densmore, George Benson, 10,000 Maniacs, Herb Alpert and Carlos Santana.
Hear the song Keeping the Light On:
See Gerry and Dewey with Dave from their last Honolulu appearance in 2017:
See Gerry and Dewey with Dave in a 2011 interview: