One of the music industry's big arena rock bands will bring their show to Festival of the Lakes this week.
REO Speedwagon takes the stage on Friday. The Steepwater Band will open.
"We love the festivals," said Neal Doughty, founding member and keyboardist of REO. "When you can't see the end of the audience that's a nice feeling. We're anxious to get out there and play again."
REO Speedwagon, which got its start in the college town of Champaign, has been entertaining fans for five decades with its exuberant rock sounds.
Doughty said he and the band missed performing for fans over the last year.
"During the time you couldn't travel the band never saw each other. We had Zoom meetings," he said. Doughty said he's happy to have live music back again and happy to be entertaining the group's loyal fans.
"I basically watched TV for a year," Doughty said, adding that it'll take a little while to get used to the traveling involved in touring again. But that shouldn't take long, he commented.
The band did their first show of the summer on July 1.
"We play all kinds of places (from festivals to casinos and larger venues) and I like them all," Doughty said.
Doughty grew up in Evansville, Indiana. He met his fellow REO band members during college in Champaign, Illinois.
During a past interview, Doughty, who now lives in Minnesota, said the Midwest was a good place to be a young band.
"I left Evansville when I was 12 because my dad got a better job and we moved to Belleville, Illinois," he said. Doughty then went to college in Champaign.
"We were all serious students at first," Doughty said, adding he was studying engineering. They then started honing their musical skills by playing band gigs around the college town.
"We were getting popular on campus," he said. But they could never predict "it would ever become a career."
REO Speedwagon is currently comprised of Doughty, Kevin Cronin, Dave Amato, Bryan Hitt and Bruce Hall.
Doughty said he thanks the REO fans for sticking with the group all these years.
"They're the reason we're still in business. We haven't had a hit in a long time but because of the live shows they see us out there having a good time," he said. And the fans keep coming out to see them.
"We're so hungry to be back and it's going to show in our performance," Doughty said.
Fans attending REO's Festival of the Lakes show will hear all the expected hits including "Roll With The Changes," "Take It On The Run," Keep on Loving You," "Can't Fight This Feeling," "Time For Me To Fly" and others.