Red, Rock and Blue VI hits the varsity stage
“After the first two shows, it was like a brotherhood. Everyone was coming on stage with everyone else. That’s what I’m hoping happens this year as well.” Art Alexakis, Everclear frontman
Art Alexakis, frontman for Everclear, the originally Portland, Ore.-based band whose ’90s hits included “Santa Monica,” “I Will Buy You a New Life” and “Father of Mine,” launched the annual Summerland Tour in 2012.
The Summerland Tour 2014 features Everclear and Soul Asylum on all of its 35 dates and their fellow ’90s bands Eve 6 and Spacehog on most dates.
“Four bands, three hours, low ticket price, everybody wins,” Alexakis said from Los Angeles. “No one is getting rich but no one’s getting hurt either. It’s good stuff.”
The Summerland Tour arrives in Baton Rouge for a Sunday show at the Varsity Theatre. The annual Red, Rock and Blue concert is a benefit for Louisiana military charities.
Alexakis has simple criteria for Summerland Tour participants: Bands that released big hits in the ’90s; guitar-based bands; and continuously working bands, as opposed to groups that exit mothballs for a tour.
Alexakis spearheaded the first Summerland Tour three years ago following much discussion about such a tour.
“I’d been talking about it, a lot of guys talked about,” he said. “But everyone was waiting for the time to be right. It seemed like the time was right. So I called some friends and we did it.”
The inaugural Summerland Tour starred Everclear, Sugar Ray, Gin Blossoms, Lit and Marcy Playground.
“That was a good first year, but it was a little scattered,” Alexakis said. “These years the music is more focused, more guitar-centric.”
Alexakis isn’t necessarily friends with all of the participating Summerland Tour bands, but he has at least met them at one time or another.
“I’ve toured before with everybody on this year’s tour but Soul Asylum,” he said. “But we did some shows together a few years ago and I met Dave (Pirner). I look forward to hanging out with him this summer. He’s one of my favorite songwriters from the whole rock era.”
During last year’s Summerland Tour, Alexakis said, Everclear and the other ’90s groups on the 2013 bill — Live, Filter and Sponge — bonded on the road.
“After the first two shows, it was like a brotherhood,” he said. “Everyone was coming on stage with everyone else. That’s what I’m hoping happens this year as well.”
Alexakis’ wife and daughter will accompany him during part of Summerland Tour 2014. He’s also put a few breaks in the tour. Now that the musicians are older men with families, the off-time from the road is a welcome respite.
“It keeps everybody sane,” Alexakis said. “Everyone can go home and unwind and then we can come back to it like it’s a new tour.”
One-time major-label acts Everclear, Soul Asylum and other Summerland groups were all part of a pre-Internet, end of an era in the music business. Plunging music sales accompanied the rise of downloading and file sharing.
“Money was shooting out of the ground,” Alexakis recalled. “It was awesome. We were a part of that last hurrah. It was exciting.”