High school students to sing back up, local band opens for Foreigner at the D&R Theatre

When the classic rock band Foreigner takes the stage on Aug. 28, they will be joined by 15 to 20 Hoquiam High School students.

This backup chorus was put together by Patty Sundstrom, who works on the school’s musicals.

“I contacted a lot of the kids I regularly work with. I thought this would be a nice opportunity for them,” Sundstrom said.

In return for the time and effort, the school will receive around $500 from CD sales to go toward music programs.

The band tries to do this everywhere they go, according to member Tom Gimbel.

“We’re doing this in conjunction with VH1’s Save the Music project and the Grammy Foundation,” Gimbel said. “People found out that a lot of funding for school music programs were getting cut. We heard about that and wanted to ask schools to have students join us to help out.”

Hoquiam High School students won’t be the only locals on stage for the sold-out show.

As first-place winners of the KDUX Battle of the Bands, Clint & the Eastwoods won $500 and are opening for Foreigner.

Brian Smith, vocals and bass for the Eastwoods, said they are grateful to the D&R Theatre for offering a great place to play.

“We entered battle of the bands at the last minute. There were a lot of good bands and we ended up winning it,” Smith said. “We were very happily surprised.”

Gimbel said his personal favorite part of this effort is interacting with the students.

“It’s really nice to help out on the one hand and be able to totally blow these kids’ minds with them up on the stage with us. Even the teachers that come with them seem to get a kick out of it,” Gimbel said. “It’s just fantastic.”

Although Gimbel said Foreigner has never visited Aberdeen before, they try to mix both small towns and big cities in their tours.

“We do the full gamut. We just did a big show with Def Leppard at the Quebec festival but now we’re hopping around in smaller areas,” Gibel said. “There’s just something intimate about playing at a small theater, although big venues are great too.”

Gimbel said he’s personally excited to give money to school due to his own musical upbringing. His first paying job was as a choir singer for his church at the age of 12.

“I studied music in high school and college …” Gimbel said. “I was very fortunate to learn as much as I could about music from an early age. Kids deserve that.”

Lead guitarist Mick Jones, founder of the Foreigner formed in 1976, is the only member who played in the original band, according to the band’s official site. Lead singer Lou Gramm was replaced in 2002 with Kelly Hansen on lead vocals after the band took a two year break. The other members fell into place with Jeff Pilson on bass and Micheal Bluestein as the pianist. Gimbel returned to play the sax, guitar, keyboard and flute. Gimbel said they don’t get many complaints about the newer faces.

“A lot of people say if they close their eyes, they wouldn’t be able to tell the difference,” Gimbel said. “Kelly brings his own personal twist to the songs and performances.”

Although the band tries to keep every set fresh for audiences, Gimbel said it should sound familiar too.

“We’ll play all the hits and believe it or not that will fill up the show,” he said. “A lot of people will say ‘I knew every one of those songs you played’ and that’s so awesome. We love that.”