Doobie Brothers are takin' it to country's streets

Fri Mar 4, 2011 6:36pm EST
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By Vernell Hackett

NASHVILLE, Tennessee (Reuters) - When they recorded their new album "World Gone Crazy," the Doobie Brothers remained true to their rock 'n' roll roots. Then, the title tune began getting airplay on country radio.

Now, more than three decades after mega-hits such as "Black Water," "China Grove" and "Takin' It To the Streets," the Doobie Brothers are sensations in Nashville, right up there with younger upstarts such as the Zac Brown Band.

Even they are a bit confused by their crossover success.

"We were hoping someone could explain that to us," singer-guitarist Tom Johnston said only half-jokingly in an interview with Reuters.

In fact, after the band has toured the world and sold out stadiums and major venues for years, Johnston said he grew nervous when the Doobies recently played Nashville's Grand Ole Opry, often called the Mother Church of Country Music.

He surveyed the venue and the audience, thought about all of the history that had taken place on its stage and considered that now, the Doobies would be part of that.

But after Little Jimmy Dickens introduced them and the band struck their first chords, his nerves calmed. The audience began singing along, and the fit -- Doobies and country -- seemed natural.

As he and the band relaxed in their Nashville hotel, they explained why. The song resides firmly in the tradition of musical storytelling for which country is known.   Continued...