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    Categories: Entertainment

The spotlight still shines on Kenny Shields and Streetheart

Streetheart a.k.a.

When rock was at its peak in the late ’70s and early ’80s, Streetheart was the quintessential Prairie powerhouse band. As a live concert, it was dubbed Canada’s No. 1 touring band for many years.

Musical tastes changed. As a band with strategic marketing savvy, Streetheart has no illusion about its retired fan base or any plans to record new albums other than the six already under its belt.

“We’re a franchise. We’re a greatest hits package. That’s what our fans want to hear. We have the luxury of knowing our fans love us and it’s up to us not to mess with that. Our business is to make people feel good, and I am so grateful our fans are so loyal,” said Streetheart bassist Jeff Neill.

Always popular with the capital region crowd, Rock’n August organizers have invited Kenny Shields and Streetheart to perform a diabetes benefit concert on Saturday, April 16 at the St. Albert Curling Rink.

“We usually have a rock concert in the summer,” said Rock’n August publicist Michele Gamble. “One of the things we found is that we have trouble getting people out in the summer. Last year we had two bands that should have sold out and didn’t. That night there were 17 other events going on at the same time. We thought if we move the concert away from the summer to the spring we might have a bigger turnout.”

As a tie-in to Rock’n August’s highly successful vintage car show, the Canadian Hall of Famers are a perfect nostalgia fit. They have a deep catalogue of best-known classics.

They range from Under My Thumb and Look In Your Eyes to What Kind of Love is This and Here Comes the Night – all songs that remain standards on radio playlists across Canada.

After Streetheart broke up in 1984, Neill returned to Vancouver as a session guitarist and two years later was invited to tour with Australian icon Jimmy Barnes.

What started as a three-month contract of shows opening for ZZ Top morphed into an 11-year career where Neill moved to Australia to tour worldwide with Barnes.

“Australia has an amazing music culture. They’re isolated and don’t have to pander to American interests. They’ve developed their own sound and being Canadian opened so many doors,” said Neill.

When Kenny Shields reformed Streetheart in 2003, Neill had returned to Canada and was invited back into the fold.

Neill is grateful to have launched a successful career during the golden era of rock.

“It was the golden era where pop artists came from. Not only were artists great, but the culture was wide open. Today there is no mystique. You can see what Mick Jagger had for breakfast. Back in the ’70s, you couldn’t imagine the way things are now.”

As a point of pride, Neill will play the concert with his unique guitar nicknamed “Frank.” Purchased in 1974, Neil has played every show, every record on his white Fender Stratocaster.

Over the decades many parts were replaced including a broken neck when Neill fell off a stage. His bandmates dubbed it “Frankenstein” and was later shortened to “Frank.”

“It’s one of those little pieces of history. It has its own personality. I don’t see it as a good luck charm. It’s who I am.”

Preview

Kenny Shields & Streetheart
Benefit Concert
With special guests Dash Riprock
Saturday, April 16. Doors at 6:30 p.m.
St. Albert Curling Club
Tache St.
Tickets: Start at $40 Visit ticketmaster.ca

Anna Borowiecki: Anna Borowiecki joined the St. Albert Gazette in 2000. She reports on local people and events in the arts, entertainment and food industry. She also writes general news and features.