Rock band Foreigner will perform at the Ohio State Fair on Friday
If you’ve listened to classic rock radio stations at some point in the past 40 years, you’ve probably heard of Foreigner: “I Want to Know What Love Is”, “Double Vision”, “Hot Blooded”, “Cold As Ice” and many others. more songs probably come to mind.
The group, which is back to performing about 100 shows a year after a hiatus during COVID, will perform at the Ohio State Fair on Friday for a “Greatest Hits” show.
The band currently includes lead guitarist Mick Jones, who has been with the band since its formation in 1976, and six other members, who joined the band at various times from 2004 to last year.
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Among them is the keyboard player and the backing vocalist Michael Bluesteinwho spoke by phone from his home in Los Angeles before the start of the current tour.
Bluestein has been part of the group since 2008.
“I was recommended for the gig by a colleague who was playing keyboards for Foreigner at the time but was going to have to leave, so he wanted to help out and get a replacement,” he said. “By chance, I met him at a music conference and he remembered me because we had worked together before. So he recommended me for the audition.
Bluestein remained intrigued by the music during several performances.
“I have my hands full on a lot of songs. They’re all pretty keyboard rich,” he said.
Tours keep the band and music fresh
And Foreigner’s songs stand the test of time.
“These are well crafted songs, with amazing vocals. Combine that with rock guitar, great keyboards, great backing vocals in the tradition of the Beatles and bands like that, and the ingredients come together,” he said.
While songs are occasionally changed with new arrangements, what really keeps the music fresh for Bluestein is the touring experience.
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“The big part of that is the audience, the reactions we get, playing in different venues. Every gig is different, there’s a different chemistry every night, depending on what part of the world you’re in, what the audience is like,” he said.
“I like to excite them, to see their faces, to make them sing. It keeps it fresh. Sometimes you’ll have a much younger audience, and sometimes you’ll have an older, more calm and relaxed audience. There are always challenges , new energies coming towards you.
Team up with the All-Ohio State Fair Youth Choir
Foreigner is known for collaborating with touring local youth choirs, and Columbus’ appearance is no exception.
The band will donate $500 to the All-Ohio State Fair Youth Choir, a subset of which will open for the show with a short set.
“The group that will be performing is a small audition group from the larger All-Ohio State Youth Choir,” said Jon Peterson, the choir’s director. “The group that will perform is the Scarlet Singers.”
The group, made up of 16 to 25 high school students, is committed to rehearsing longer and learning additional music.
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The All-Ohio State Fair Youth Choir’s largest youth choir consists of approximately 75 high school students from 68 schools and 48 counties across Ohio. They arrive at the fair five days before it opens to rehearse and live on the fairgrounds throughout the fair, performing at the opening ceremony and then at six to eight concerts a day.
At the Foreigner concert, the Scarlet Singers “will sing a combination of high art and popular music, all a cappella. It was actually a request from Foreigner. They didn’t want instruments. They will hopefully inspire the audience and prepare them for an incredible Foreigner show,” said Peterson.
“I really applaud Foreigner for being intentional about engaging young people in the communities where they perform, and therefore supporting music education, in this case in Ohio. Few rock bands do that. The fact that ‘they showcase local youth and musicians and highlight the importance of music education, it’s a real privilege to be a part of them.
In one look
Foreigner will perform at 7:30 p.m. Friday at the Celeste Center, Interstate 71 and East 17th Avenue. Tickets (which include admission to the fair) start at $40. (www.ohiostatefair.com)