Steve Howe doing double duty with Yes, Asia

Tue May 5, 2009 6:58pm EDT
 
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By Gary Graff

DETROIT (Billboard) - Guitarist Steve Howe will be keeping busy -- doing double duty, in fact -- during the summer joint tour of the bands Yes and Asia.

On the 24-date outing, which kicks off June 26 in Indio, California, Howe will begin with Asia's 50-minute opening set -- which he said will focus on the progressive-rock all-star group's 1982 debut and last year's "Phoenix" -- and then move to Yes for 95 minutes of favorites from the group's catalog.

His wife, Howe said, "thought it was a completely crazy idea" to play in two bands on the same night, but he's confident he can handle it. "I'll actually be onstage about two and a half hours, which was what Yes was doing back in (the fall)," Howe said.

"Physically Asia's a lot more demanding, guitaristically -- a lot of flying around (the fretboard) -- and Yes has got a kind of smoothness, so I think it's going to be easy for me to go from one to the other. It's a great opportunity, really; all I've got to do is show up and play guitar. That's not too bad, is it?"

After the tour, Howe said he expects to record new music with both bands.

Insisting that specific plans are "hypothetical" at the moment, Howe told Billboard.com that Asia is "hot on the trail of another record" after a "pleasant" experience making "Phoenix" -- the first set of new material in 26 years from the original lineup of the quartet. He said Asia tends to be "more prepared and jumps at things more quickly," whereas Yes "has got to pace itself," especially with two new members: vocalist David Benoit and former keyboardist Rick Wakeman's son Oliver in his dad's spot.

Howe did acknowledge that the long-lived prog-rock quintet has "other plans going through the year, but we're not going to announce them yet. One thing at a time ... do a little bit more work and playing and then divert to recordings."

Howe also plans to release a pair of solo recordings, perhaps this year -- "Motif, Vol. 2," another collection of solo guitar pieces, and a live jazz album by the Steve Howe Trio recorded during tours last year of England and Canada.

(Editing by Sheri Linden at Reuters)

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<p>Steve Howe guitarist of the rock group Yes performs at the Montreux Jazz Festival, in this file photo from July 14, 2003. REUTERS/ARC-Jean-Bernard Sieber JS/CR/</p>