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Reminiscing with Little River Band’s Wayne Nelson

Make no mistake, the Little River Band you will see on July 14 at Frostridge in Leroy is not the same Little River Band that dominated the charts in the late 1970’s. Like many bands from that era, the members have faced fall-outs, various lineup changes and legal battles over naming rights. But Wayne Nelson, the band’s current lead singer, guarantees that the lineup changes won’t take away from the legacy of the Little River Band’s performance.

“I like to call it an interactive scrapbook,” Nelson said. “We’ve lifted the hood on some of the songs and added some sections and then give it back to the crowd letting them sing the choruses.”

Nelson’s favorite part of the show is seeing the crowds reaction when they have that “Oh my god” moment and realize that the band has so many hits, 13 of which were in the U.S. Top 40 between 1976-1983. Although the original writers and performers of the Little River Band’s biggest early hits are no longer in LRB, the current members try to honor the music. Nelson shared vocals on “Take it Easy on Me” and sang the band’s biggest hit of the 80’s, ‘The Night Owls’. He now handles all the vocal duties.

“You can literally see them mouthing the words, ‘I didn’t know they did that one?’ It’s fun to watch the people’s perception of the band unfold,” he said.

Even though the bands founding members were from Australia, their music wreaks of american folk-rock, drawing comparisons to the Eagles, America, Poco and Player. Harmonies guitars and vocals are always front and center.

“We treat vocals like a horn section,” the American born Nelson said. “When five guys sing as one instrument there’s a whole different energy to it. It’s a collective sound that is being produced. It’s physical. The sound is unique because there aren’t five other people who are going to make that same sound.”

Nelson admits that performing songs like ‘Cool Change’, ‘Reminiscing’ and ‘Take it Easy on Me’  for over 30 years is hard to do night after night, but added that the songs don’t become tiresome once it mixes with a live audience. That’s when the magic happens.

“The spirituality comes when you’re doing a song for somebody and you feel them draw that in and it touches them,” Nelson said. “When people receive the energy and give it back then you have a cycle going and you feed off of that.”

Little River Band headline this Saturday’s Jam at the Ridge in Leroy. Gates open at 2 p.m. with music all day. Buffalo’s X-Factor favorite Caitlin Koch will be there with LRB hitting the stage around 9 p.m. Watch the “Take it Easy on Me” video which included the classic line-up of Glenn Sherrock, Graeham Goebel and Beeb Birtles with Wayne Nelson’s debut as a Little River Band singer. The Little River Band is one of those under-rated bands that you sometimes forget about, but know every song.

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