Blue-eyed soul – the music genre of rhythm and blues with a dose of funk – has been popularized by white groups since the 1960s. From The Righteous Brothers, The Spencer Davis Group, and The Rascals to Van Morrison, Hall & Oates, and Boz Scaggs, white artists rendering soulful sounds have enjoyed tremendous success around the world.
The Average White Band, who hail from Dundee, Scotland, continue as one of the mainstays of blue-eyed soul, enjoying great popularity from the 1970s through today.
AWB, regarded as one of the best soul and funk bands of all time, bring their musical energy to the Sweetwater Performance Pavilion at 7 p.m., Thursday, August 23. Tickets range from $15 to $45. It’s the second in the the Sweetwater Outdoor Pavilion’s 2018 Concert Series. Located just off U.S. 30 West on Fort Wayne’s Sweetwater Sounds campus, the Outdoor Pavilion venue offers free parking, 3,500 seats, and state-of-the-art sound, plus food and adult beverages.
Led by founding members Alan Gorrie (lead vocal, bass, guitar and keyboards) and Onnie McIntyre (guitars and vocals), AWB will offer a music set list that evolves and morphs, buttressed by their monster mega-hits “Pick Up the Pieces” (No. 1 in the U.S. in 1974) and “Cut the Cake” (No. 10 in the U.S., also in 1974). Concert-goers will enjoy the revisitations and re-workings of the band’s hits and familiar tunes.
Rounding out the band on the current tour are Fred “Freddy V” Vigdor (tenor sax, vocals, keyboards), Cliff Lyons (alto sax, vocals, keyboards), Rob Aries (keyboards, bass), Rocky Bryant (drums), and Brent Carter (lead vocal).
AWB’s self-titled 1974 album AWB topped the 1974 album chart in the U.S., while 1975’s Cut the Cake rose to No. 4. The band’s 1976 album Soul Searching peaked at No. 9.
“Pick Up the Pieces” knocked Linda Ronstadt’s “You’re No Good” from Billboard’s No. 1 spot in 1974 and ended up selling well over one million copies. Interestingly, the song also prompted the backup band for James Brown (“The Godfather of Soul”) to record and release a song in reply. “Pick Up the Pieces, One by One,” was released under the name AABB (Above Average Black Band), thereby offering a tongue-in-cheek tribute to the Scottish band’s name and stupendous groove.
The big, funky sound of the Average White Band, centering heavily on horns and guitars, was a perfect fit as the dance/disco age was born and boomed in the 1970s.
AWB has produced 12 studio albums, seven live albums, and eight compilation projects, the most recent being the digital release on February 9 of Inside Out, a collection that includes four new studio recordings, AWB’s first in 15 years, plus an eight-song, live set with an expanded horn section — recreating the original horn arrangements from the albums AWB, Cut the Cake, Soul Searching, Feel No Fret, Montreal ’77, and Shine.