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Gramm, Waite are headline acts
The Lou Gramm Band


Audio: full Lou Gramm interview


Audio: full John Waite interview

Great Ogeechee Seafood Festival organizers are hopeful that this weekend’s double bill of Lou Gramm and John Waite will draw the biggest crowd to date. This is the first time two national acts have headlined the event.

The Bryan County News caught up with both Gramm and Waite via telephone this week to see what they have in store for the big show.

Gramm quickly rose to fame in the late ‘70s as lead singer of the band Foreigner. Today, the Lou Gramm Band is comprised of his two brothers and two childhood friends.

"They (his band) have a real respect for Foreigner’s music and most have played on my solo records," Gramm said. "We’ll play as many hits as we can squeeze in. Top to bottom, we’ve got some fun songs in store."

Gramm said he lost both his parents in 2003. He said one of his dad’s dying wishes was for Gramm and his two brothers to get together and collaborate on their music.

"We are honoring that wish, and we love it," he said.

Not only are the brothers now on tour, but the Lou Gramm Band released a self-titled Christian rock album in July. Gramm said his devotion to his faith was strengthened several years ago when he recovered from a brain tumor after being given a grim prognosis.

Gramm’s former bandmate, Foreigner guitarist Mick Jones, is touring elsewhere while using the Foreigner name.

Waite said he plans to play "all the big hits, plus a couple obscure songs and a couple (Bob) Dylan songs. I’ve got a three-piece band, so we’re more about the playing and less about a big production – but we are loud."

Waite said he is surprised at the staying power of his song "Missing You", which is still a radio favorite. Waite, who has actively performed and recorded music since his heyday in the eighties, said he writes songs from the heart, not for mainstream appeal.

"I don’t really write contemporary songs in the sense that I try to write pop songs. They’re all based in blues and country and soul, and the melodies come from those places. Pop is more of an abstract idea to me."

Waite said he is disappointed at the lack of substance with much of today’s popular music.

"It’s a shame that there’s so many things wrong with politics and so many things wrong in the world, and music used to be a force to change that. Now it’s just really about making as much money as possible."

He said there are exceptions to this rule, including many bluegrass and country artists. Waite recently had a hit song with a remake of "Missing You" with Alison Krauss.

Waite is currently working on a new album and has no plans to slow down. He said he is still having the time of life and music "is the reason I breathe. Nothing hits you like music. If you’re playing with people that mean it, everything just comes alive."

Waite hits the stage at 8 p.m. Saturday and Gramm follows at 9 p.m.

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