Journey returns to Hawaii in concert today and tomorrow. Pictured from left are Ross Valory, Deen Castronovo, Steve Augeri, Jonathan Cain and Neal Schon.

The Journey

Neal Schon, a Journey-man
from Day 1, is thrilled to be here

By John Berger

It's been years since Neal Schon last played a show in Hawaii. The long drought ends tonight at the Blaisdell Arena, when he and his band mates from Journey open a three-concert tour of Oahu and Maui.

"We've been wanting to come to Hawaii and play for four years since we got this new lineup up and running," Schon said in a last-minute long-distance call Tuesday afternoon. "It's been a hectic three days, but after that, it's all fun. After we finish the gig, I'm staying for two extra weeks."

Schon first came to Hawaii as a member of Santana. He became the nucleus of the-band that would become Journey in 1973. In fact, the band's second official performance was at a Diamond Head Crater Festival the following year.

By the time Journey reached superstar status at the end of the '70s, there had been numerous personnel changes -- the two most noteworthy being the recruitment of vocalist Steve Perry in 1977, and the departure of founding member Gregg Rolie, who was replaced by Jonathan Cain in 1980.

Journey exploded thereafter with a series of hit singles that included "Lovin,' Touchin,' Squeezin'," "Who's Crying Now," "Don't Stop Believin'," "Open Arms," "I'll Be Alright Without You," "Faithfully" and "Separate Ways (Worlds Apart)," with eight albums that were certified multi-platinum for sales in excess of two million copies each.

Schon says that the current set list is pretty much a greatest hits show.

"It's really what our audience wants to hear anyway (although) we embellish it a bit with segues and solos and bring it to life," he said, explaining that the band members decided this year to omit material from their lesser-known albums and various solo projects.

Journey is currently made up of founding members Schon and bassist Ross Valory, Cain, drummer Deen Castronovo, and vocalist Steve Augeri, who, while reportedly similar in Perry's popular vocal style, is a much stronger and versatile singer.

But don't mistake Journey for one of those oldies acts.

Visitors to the band's Web site at already know about the new four-song EP, "Red 13," and about the on-going campaign to get the group into the Rock And Roll Hall of Fame.

Schon says the EP should be in music stores by the end of the month, and will also be available at the merchandise tables at the concert.

"It's very energetic, really pretty rocking new stuff," he said. "Not quite as poppy, it's more along the lines of when we were being a bit more experimental with the rock stuff on the 'Frontiers' record. It's kind of cool now that we're not signed with Sony anymore (because) we're in control of our own destiny and I really love the feeling of that right now."

Schon is also working on other projects.

"I'm going to finish writing a project with Sammy Hagar, Deen Castronovo and Michael Anthony (of Van Halen) called Planet Us. We've got a couple of smokin' tracks in the can, but I came up with a new conceptual idea and Sam really likes it.

"I've also been wanting to do a conceptual record with Journey. I've got another solo album in the can that's being mixed now that's also all over the place musically -- some Santana vibes in there, some Jan Hammer, some techno, some great grooves and a lot of melody but also some jamming in there. It's pretty cool."


Where: Blaisdell Arena
When: 7:30 p.m. today and tomorrow
Tickets: $45 and $55
Call: 591-2211
Note: There will be no opening act, and Marine Corps volunteers will be on hand both nights to accept toy donations for Toys for Tots.

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