Music News from ABC

The Doobie Brothers’ Tom Johnston credits the audience with keeping things “fresh” on the road

from left to right: Pat Simmons, Tom Johnston, Michael McDonald, John McFee. Photo by Clay Patrick McBride

The Doobie Brothers resume their 50th anniversary tour this week, and guitarist and co-founder Tom Johnston says the most important thing about the shows is the people who come to see them.

“The thing that keeps everything fresh is the crowd,” he tells ABC Audio. “Each night a crowd can react differently in a different part of the country and you don’t really know what that’s gonna be like.” 

Johnston says most fans are there to hear the classic Doobie hits like “Listen to the Music,” “China Grove,” “Takin’ to the Streets” and more, and he’s OK with that. “You would think you get tired of those,” he says. “The one thing that keeps those fresh is the reaction from the crowd, so it’s like playing them for the first time every night.”

This leg of the tour will hit Singapore, Australia, New Zealand and Japan, and while Johnston expects most audiences to react similarly to those in the U.S., that’s not the case in Japan. 

“They have a whole unique way of responding,” he says. “They’re very polite, they listen to what you’re doing, and they applaud like crazy and then they stop, and they sit down and they’re quiet.” He adds, “It’s something you had to get used to, but that’s the way they are, and it’s, it’s kind of cool.” 

The Doobie Brothers, featuring Johnston, Pat SimmonsJohn McFee and Micheal McDonald, return to the road March 29 in Singapore and bring their 50th anniversary tour back to the States in May. A complete list of tour dates can be found at thedoobiebrothers.com.

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