Take a bunch of players skilled in the progressive rock idiom and team them with a sensational front woman to create a killer band capable of rendering cutting-edge new tunes whilst recreating some of the most renowned material in the vernacular by other artists.
Sound like a winning formula?
John Wetton thinks so.
The Asia singer / bassist—whose resume also includes King Crimson and U.K.—will join District 97 for a string of U.S. dates this fall that find the rock icon helping his young upstarts deliver sets replete with Crimson music and songs from their own Laser’s Edge album, Trouble With Machines.
Wetton underwent bypass surgery a few years back but is now busier than ever. He cut another solo album in 2011 but still fronts super-group Asia with drummer Carl Palmer, keyboardist Geoff Downes, and new guitarist Sam Coulson (replacing Steve Howe). The indefatigable, Zon-thumping bassist also contributed guest vocals to Dutch songwriter Ayreon’s new Theory of Everything—and a track on District 97’s Machines entitled “Perfect Young Man.”
Wetton already toured Europe with the Chicago-based five-piece. With Asia’s forthcoming disc (Valkyrie) in post-production and a tour with Curved Air keyboardist / fiddler Eddie Jobson looming in winter, the time was right for British Wetton to accompany the District 97 cadets on a string of dates through their homeland.
Formed in 2006 by keyboardist Rob Clearfield, drummer Jonathan Schang, and Australian-borne bassist Pat Mulcahy, District 97 brought considerable chops to the shred-rock table. Clearfield had already made a name for himself in Information Superhighway. Schang—a Paiste cymbals percussionist—had played with Simon Collins and Porcupine Tree, while Mulcahy won an audition with a stage production of the Blue Man Group. Guitarist Jim Tashjian brought fresh blood to the mix, but it was the recruitment of singer Leslie Hunt that took District 97 to the next level.
Watch Leslie Hunt and District 97 perform “21st Century Schizoid Man” with John Wetton: http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=HJZu4Mylqis
Hunt began playing piano and guitar as a child—but it was her voice that landed her in the top ten of American Idol (season six). She scored a development deal with Sony Records and worked under the tutelage of Survivor’s Jim Peterik before recording her debut, Your Hair’s on Fire, in 2009. The album featured drummer Vinnie Colaiuta (Frank Zappa), so it wasn’t as if Hunt was a prog newbie when she got the call from the lads in District 97.
The band’s first opus, Hybrid Child, contained several sprawling tracks like “The Man Who Knows Your Name” and “Termites”—plus the extended, multi-suite masterwork “Mindscan.” Trouble With Machines finds the band honing its sharp sound and tightening its rhythms even as the musicians stretch their abilities.
Hunt will duet with “Uncle John” Wetton on “21st Century Schizoid Man” and other Crimson gems when they pull into The Winchester Tavern in Lakewood on Monday, October 7, 2013. Tickets are available online at
http://thewinchester.net/concertschedule.html or $20.00 at the door.