Despite generations of howling, hirsute resistance, music fans do unfortunately age with their album collections.
But the songs inside those vinyl sleeves? The best remain frozen in time, attached to formidable years and memories established decades ago. Fog-sheathed guitar solos serenaded first kisses and moonlit keggers. Wailing voices ignited smiling hysteria or soothed heartache, and every time we hear these tracks from our favorite musicians, we’re transported back to the age and place each first infiltrated our existence.
So should it matter whether these cuts are still delivered by their original creators?
That’s the question legions of local fans need to answer before filling their summer concert calendar. From Lynyrd Skynyrd to KISS to The Doobie Brothers, some of rock’s most beloved acts will play the area without the musicians that surged each into the spotlight. In some cases, a missing rhythm guitar player or percussionist might not ruin the reminiscing. But Styx’s “Come Sail Away” without Dennis DeYoung’s vocal? That may be an issue.
And these are just a few examples. Here are some other reconfigured lineups headed to the area this summer—and what each might mean for a memorable evening.
July 11, Artpark
Classic lineup: Mike Reno (vocals), Paul Dean (guitar), Doug Johnson (keyboards), Scott Smith (bass) and Matt Frenette (drums)
Current lineup: Reno, Dean, Johnson, Frenette and Ken “Spider” Sinnaeve (bass)
What this means: For those who have uncomfortably contorted into red leather pants because of their love of Calgary’s most famous pop rock export, good news: Aside from the unfortunate absence of the late Scott Smith — who died in a boating accident in 2000 — the Mike Reno-fronted act is still intact. Judged against its contemporaries, this decades-long unity is unheard of, but beneficial for Canadian rock fans still “Working for the Weekend.”
July 18, Darien Lake
Classic lineup: Peter Cetera (vocals, bass), Walter Parazaider (saxophone), Terry Kath (guitar), Danny Seraphine (drums), James Pankow (trombone), Lee Loughnane (trumpet) and Robert Lamm (vocals, keyboards)
Current lineup: Parazaider, Pankow, Loughnane, Lamm, Tris Imboden (drums), Jeff Coffey (bass), Ray Herrman (woodwinds), Keith Howland (vocals, guitar), Lou Pardini (keyboards) and Walfredo Reyes Jr. (percussion)
What this means: Though longtime vocalist Peter Cetera’s ongoing feud with his bandmates continues — and prevented a reunion when the collective was inducted into the Rock n’ Roll Hall of Fame in 2016 — the incredibly prolific touring act still boasts the bulk of its original horn section, along with Chicago co-founder and keyboardist Lamm. Will “25 or 6 to 4” sound the same as it did with Cetera in 1970? Close your eyes and find out.
July 21, Darien Lake
Classic lineup: Lou Gramm (vocals), Mick Jones (guitar), Ed Gagliardi (bass), Al Greenwood (keyboards), Dennis Elliott (drums) and Ian McDonald (everything else)
Current lineup: Jones, Tom Gimbel (guitar, saxophone), Jeff Pilson (bass), Kelly Hansen (vocals), Michael Bluestein (keyboards), Bruce Watson (guitar) and Chris Frazier (drums)
What this means: Normally, these lineup discrepancies would mean the only thing Foreigner about the current band is the name. But since the current Mick Jones-led iteration is touring to celebrate the 40th anniversary of 1977’s “Double Vision” album, there are plans for surprise on-stage reunions with all surviving original members — including Rochester’s own Lou Gramm who has been estranged from the band for almost 15 years. Will this happen in Darien Lake? Check it and see.
July 25, Artpark
Classic lineup: Debbie Harry (vocals), Chris Stein (bass, guitar), Clem Burke (drums), Gary Valentine (bass, guitar) and Jimmy Destri (keys)
Current lineup: Harry, Stein, Burke, Leigh Foxx (bass), Matt Katz-Bohen (keys) and Tommy Kessler (guitar)
What this means: If your initial love of New York’s new-wave chameleons was instigated by the personal imprint of its bass lines and key notes, then yes, you may be disappointed with the current version of Blondie. For the rest of fandom, the band’s draw has always been attached to the punk flair of Harry, still a commanding presence on its newest album "Pollinator"— and now fronting the act while in her 70s. She still holds the mic, so we still have a Blondie.
Aug. 9, Erie County Fair
Classic lineup: Mark Volman (guitar, vocals), Howard Kaylan (vocals), Al Nichol (guitar), John Barbata (drummer) and Chip Douglas (bass, keyboards)
Current lineup: Volman, Kaylan and a rotating cavalcade of guest and touring musicians
What this means: Not much for anyone who’s seen Volman and Kaylan — known more widely as Flo and Eddie — since the demise of the original Turtles in 1970. The California natives have performed hits like “Elenore” under their original moniker with various musicians since regaining legal rights to the name from White Whale Records in 1983. This formula will attempt wax nostalgic throughout the group’s current “Happy Together” tour with fellow 1960s luminaries The Association, The Box Tops and Three Dog Night’s Chuck Negron.
The Guess Who
Aug. 13, Erie County Fair
Classic lineup: Burton Cummings (vocals, keys), Randy Bachman (guitar), Jim Kale (bass) and Garry Peterson (drums)
Current lineup: Peterson, Kale, Leonard Shaw (keyboard and flute), Will Evankovich (guitar) and Derek Sharp (vocals, guitar)
What this means: The Guess Who without original guitarist Randy Bachman (who left the band in 1970) is regrettable, but manageable. But no Burton Cummings for the visceral anger of “American Woman,” the shaggy scat of “No Sugar Tonight” or the plaintive cries of “These Eyes”? No disrespect to Kale and Peterson, but a Guess Who without Cummings and his glorious mustache is merely a well-meaning tribute to the cherished Canadian article.
Aug. 18, Seneca Niagara Casino
Classic lineup: Tommy Shaw (vocals, guitar), Dennis DeYoung (vocals, keys), James Young (guitar), Chuck Panozzo (bass) and John Panozzo (drums)
Current lineup: Shaw, Young, Chuck Panozzo, Todd Sucherman (drums), Lawrence Gowan (vocals, keys) and Ricky Phillips (bass)
What this means: As is the trend with fragmented rock acts, fractured relationships prevent the most popular version of the band from reclaiming the stage. In the case of Styx, it’s the Shaw-DeYoung split. Frayed in the aftermath of a futuristic concept album involving rock stars, creepy robots and Japanese thank yous (“Kilroy Was Here”), the pair— and the band — never recovered its original dynamic.
Aug. 22, Artpark
Classic lineup: Ian Anderson (vocals, guitar and flute), Martin Barre (guitar), Jeffrey Hammond (bass), Clive Bunker (drums) and John Evan (keyboards)
Current lineup: Anderson, Florian Opahle (guitar), Scott Hammond (drums, percussion), David Goodier (bass) and John O’Hara (piano, accordion, keyboards, and orchestral arrangements)
What this means: Rock’s most prominent flutist is the only member left from Tull’s landmark 1971 “Aqualung” album, and that’s just fine. There aren’t a lot of opportunities to hear wind instruments mashed against a hail of pre-heavy metal guitars and snare hits (see: “Locomotive Breath”), so Anderson’s involvement is crucial. But for those who have aged past this album and now appreciate orchestral arrangements with their “Cross-Eyed Mary,” Tull’s current iteration — fresh off this year’s “The String Quartets” — should be right up your alley.