Timothy B. Schmit has a connection to the City of Brotherly Love -- his wife, Jean, was born in Philadelphia and still has family here. When the Eagles bassist mentioned that he visits the city pretty regularly and his niece and nephew were in attendance at the show that night, it earned him a huge round of applause from the Keswick Theatre audience. It was one of many warm reactions from the crowd, who also showed their appreciation with several standing ovations throughout the show.
Schmit took the stage shortly after 8pm with his four-piece band (which later expanded to seven), and opened the show with "One More Mile" from his latest release, Expando. It's an incredibly catchy tune that will have you tapping your toes and singing along before you even realize it -- a great way to start off the night. After the first song, he greeted the crowd and said how glad he was to be there, adding that Glenside reminded him of a "quaint Mayberry"....and that he meant that as a compliment. The sentiment was well-received, and it was clear by all the smiling onstage that the band was in a good mood, and ready to have some fun. With that, Timothy said, "Let's pretend it's Friday Night," and launched into the song of the same name.
The sound quality was perfect; you could hear every instrument, every small nuance, and the volume level was just right. There's a reason why this band sounds so good, each one of them is a highly talented and accomplished musician in their own right. As Timothy introduced them to the audience, he didn't rush -- he instead took his time and thoughtfully and carefully explained a little bit about each of their backgrounds, both personally and professionally -- it was refreshing to see an artist show so much respect and admiration for those he shares the stage with. On his right is Chris Farmer, who primarily plays keyboards for these shows, but also picks up the bass for a song or two, and even plays the tuba. Yes, the tuba. Any band that travels with a tuba deserves extra praise for diversity. Farmer was the bass player and vocalist with the Beach Boys for 12 years, and is skilled at singing tight, complex vocal harmonies. Over his tenure with the Beach Boys, he was asked to sing every part in their vocal stack -- the leads, falsetto, bass, and middle harmony parts -- and he effortlessly lends his vocal abilities to many of Schmit's songs, particularly the high chorus in "Ella Jean" where Farmer's voice just brings it to the next level. On drums and percussion, you'll find Herman Matthews, whom Timothy quickly acknowledges is becoming one of his favorite drummers. "He really gets what I do," says Schmit. "When I first talked to him about playing with me, I said it's not just being a drummer -- you're innately a percussionist when you're a drummer -- but I need somebody who can be a percussionist and do many things at once, and he's really fulfilled that, it's really been great." Matthews began playing drums at the age of seven and has been the backbone of world-class pop, rock, jazz, soul, R&B, and funk bands for nearly thirty years, working with such acts as Kenny Loggins, Richard Marx, and Tower of Power. Plus, he makes the best peanut brittle in the land! (Seriously, check it out at www.lilhermans.com . "An ol' family recipe made with the freshest ingredients and guaranteed to please the most discriminating candy lover. Once you get a taste..."). On stage left is Hank Linderman, whom Schmit describes as his longtime friend and a multi-talented guy who plays a lot of different instruments and has worked with him for many years. He was the engineer on the Expando album, and also did some engineering on the Eagles' Long Road Out of Eden, along with albums by Robert Lamm of Chicago, and Gerry Beckley of America. Linderman's versatility is impressive to watch -- he can go from a soft, gentle acoustic guitar piece to a high-energy, hard-rockin' guitar solo with equal dexterity. He is an integral part of the show. The fourth band member, Bobby Carlos, is an exemplary addition to the line-up and wears multiple hats. He is Timothy's bass tech with the Eagles, and is also a bass player himself. On this tour, he's simultaneously handling tech duties while playing on several of the songs. He's got a full plate, but he's diligent and handles everything with ease, successfully keeping things moving along onstage. Last but not least, three female vocalists; Marlena Jeter, Lynne Fiddmont, and Mortonette Stephens, who have performed with such luminaries as Michael Jackson, Phil Collins, and Stevie Wonder. As Timothy says, "They could sing the phone book, and it would be fantastic." These ladies have incredible voices -- they are truly a joy to listen to. Plus, their infectious smiles and playful dance moves during songs like "I Don't Mind" and "Downtime" are so contagious that you find yourself with a big smile on your own face just watching them. They love being up there.
Then, of course, there's Timothy, who somehow manages to sound even better today than he did years ago. His angelic voice is flawless, so pure and exquisite, it's captivating to listen to him sing. He admitted in an earlier interview that he was a little nervous about doing solo shows, having never done them before the release of Expando in 2009, but you would never guess there was even an ounce of trepidation on his part when you see him now. His relaxed stage presence and confident command of the emcee role, combined with his great sense of humor and humble demeanor makes for a truly enjoyable experience. It's a pleasure to watch an artist who genuinely enjoys what they do, and he certainly does. There is heart and soul in the entire band's performance, and the audience picked up on it immediately and happily joined them for a musical journey which included a heavy dose of songs from Expando, sprinkled with some Eagles and Poco tunes.
Of special note was "Keep On Tryin'", performed nearly a cappella with everyone gathered together at the front of the stage, sharing microphones. The blend of voices was magnificent. During "Compassion," Bobby Carlos stepped in to provide hand claps, and the audience followed suit, clapping along to the beat for the remainder of the song. "Parachute," one of the harder rocking songs off of Expando, was also a huge hit with the Keswick crowd, drawing a standing ovation. Near the end of the set, they performed the beautiful "Secular Praise," which on the album features the Blind Boys of Alabama. The three female vocalists take the place of the "Boys" at these live shows, and deliver an impeccable performance. It's glorious to hear them sing the "Hallelujahs" on this one. The encore consisted of a pair of Eagles songs: "I Don't Want To Hear Any More" and "Love Will Keep Us Alive." The former was performed with a slightly different arrangement by Schmit, which went over very well with the crowd. The three female vocalists really complemented this one nicely. The latter, "Love Will Keep Us Alive," was really stripped down -- just Timothy singing, with Hank playing acoustic guitar -- heavenly. It was a perfect way to end the show.
The band, and the audience, had a lot of fun. To see a performance of this caliber up close and personal, in a smaller venue is certainly a treat. Even if you aren't familiar with Timothy's solo material, you'll still enjoy the show because of the way it's presented; quality music performed by an extremely talented band.
There are 4 more dates scheduled for this tour:
6/4 - Rams Head Onstage, Annapolis, MD
6/6 - Three Rivers Arts Festival, Pittsburgh, PA
6/8 - The Paramount, Huntington, NY
6/9 - The Newton Theatre, Newton, NJ
If you are lucky enough to live in or nearby one of these cities, don't miss this show!
Listen to our earlier interivew here:
For more information on Timothy B. Schmit, visit:
To purchase a copy of Expando: