INVERNESS — Citrus County music fans consider it the party of the year. Which is why Doug Lobel believes the tiny Citrus County Speedway will likely be packed once again for tonight's "Rock N' the Speedway" concert, featuring legendary jazz-rock group Blood, Sweat & Tears and former Three Dog Night front man Chuck Negron.
"It's going to be a fun show," said Lobel, spokesman for the Rotary Club of Inverness, which is promoting the concert along with the Inverness Olde Towne Association and Citrus Cardiology Consultants. "The way we see it, the more the merrier."
The concert brings together two iconic pop music acts from the 1960s and 1970s.
Formed in 1967, Blood, Sweat & Tears spent its early days as a pub band on New York's Lower East Side. Founders Al Kooper (keyboards), Steve Katz (guitar), Jim Fielder (bass) and Bobby Colomby (drums), all well-known players in the city's underground rock scene, decided the band might attract more attention with the addition of a modest horn section.
With Fred Lipsius, Randy Brecker, Jerry Weiss and Dick Halligan, the group landed a recording contract with Columbia Records. The band's debut album, Child Is Father to the Man, earned high praise from critics for its saucy blend of rock, blues and jazz.
Kooper, Brecker and Weiss left to pursue other musical projects in 1969. However, the hiring of Canadian singer David Clayton-Thomas proved to be fortuitous for Blood, Sweat & Tears. Over the next several years, Clayton-Thomas' raw, bluesy voice fronted the band's biggest commercial hits, including You've Made Me So Very Happy, Spinning Wheel, And When I Die and Lucretia McEvil.
The next two decades saw Blood, Sweat & Tears become a prime proving ground for some of today's most prestigious pop and jazz musicians. Players have included jazz sax legend Joe Henderson, trumpeter Lew Soloff, trombonist Tom "Bones" Malone and saxophonist Lou Marini Jr. The band's ability to endure such personnel changes — the alumni includes more than 130 musicians — has only added to its legacy.
To help commemorate the ensemble's 40th anniversary, Katz returned to Blood, Sweat & Tears temporarily in 2008. He has since joined the group full time.
The same kind of enduring popularity is the reason fans still flock to see Chuck Negron a quarter of a century after his final performance with Three Dog Night.
Since then, the tenor behind hits like One, Joy to the World, Old Fashioned Love Song, Pieces of April and One Man Band has been working mainly as a solo artist. But when the occasion calls for it, Negron is happy to trot out the Three Dog Night favorites for fans.
For the past several years, Negron has been doing package shows with Blood, Sweat & Tears, and they are among his favorite performances.
"It's a fun show. It's their show, and I come out and do my songs with their band, which is great to have all these horn arrangements," Negron told the Citrus County Chronicle last week. "We do one song after another, and it surprises people that we had so many hits — we had 21. It's really memorable; it's fun to take people back to the music they listened to."
The concert, which will also include a performance by up and coming singer Cristi Vale and Sequel of Tampa, is a fundraiser for several Citrus County charities. Part of the proceeds will benefit the Citrus County School Readiness Program and the Friends of Chassahowitzka to help protect Three Sisters Spring.
Logan Neill can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or (352) 848-1435.