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Journey rockers recall Northeast Ohio touring experiences
by John Benson -
August 02, 2011

First as a member of The Babys and then for the past three decades with Journey, keyboardist Jonathan Cain has plenty of memories from Northeast Ohio during its golden era.

"Really the old days in Cleveland were just so memorable," said Cain, calling from Salt Lake City. "Being in The Babys dating way back to staying at Swingos and going to see Kid Leo and the Buzzard and The Agora. Back in the '70s, the women in Cleveland were just as wild as the hotels. That was really special. I always found the people to be very friendly. I can remember the fans taking us out for boat rides, and we'd hang out on Lake Erie and drink all night."

Whereas most '70s and '80s groups nowadays are truly walk-down-memory lane acts, Journey, with its latest vocalist Arnel Pineda - a cover-band singer discovered in 2007 in his native Philippines - is doing its best to remain creatively relevant.

The act recently followed up the group's 2008 double-disc affair "Revelation" with "Eclipse," which not only marked a return to the act's harder rock past but also found the 43-year-old rags-to-riches singer contributing to the album.

"He inspired me a lot," Cain said. "Our single 'City of Hope' was inspired by the people we met just hanging out with him in Manila. It was really touching going back there and seeing where he was homeless and how he beat the odds. Who else should be singing 'Don't Stop Believin'' but him? He brought in some cool ideas and it started to mesh as a team. Not many bands have the guts to play new music but we do. You have to stick to your guns. That's the way we've always been."

For most fans, the way Journey has always been brings up the group's '80s heyday with erstwhile lead singer Steve Perry, remembered for his long hair and even longer smooth vocal tracks. However, the singer's rocky relationship with the band ended in the late '90s, with a number of frontmen standing at the mic stand before Pineda was added.

As much as diehards are enjoying Pineda's dead-on vocals, the reality is he sounds just like Perry back in the day. Naturally this leads to the question of whether Cain thinks the popular lineup will ever reunite.

"I have no idea, but he's certainly always welcome in our camp," Cain said. "He's got our numbers. I tried to reach out to him last year at the World Series in San Francisco. I buzzed him a couple of times and I got crickets. I think the door is closed on that one. We're totally open to anything. He's a big part of the alumni of this band. He helped design the early sound of this band, so there's a deep respect built for him in our camp. We wish him well and if ever he wanted to come and sing, man, he could come anytime."

For now, the singing will come in the form of fans singing along nightly to Journey's greatest hits - with a hint of new material - set.

The band's summer touring schedule includes a Tuesday show at Blossom Music Center and Aug. 27 date at First Niagara Pavilion in Pittsburgh.

Thinking of the band's return through Northeast Ohio makes one wonder what it will take to get Cain and company to hang out once again with boat-owning fans on Lake Erie?

Cain quipped, "I guess, right now, a night off."

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