Classic Little River Band, at 40, still has big appeal

Little River Band will be at Proctors on Friday.
Little River's Band's big hits include 'Help Is On Its Way,' 'Reminiscing,' 'Lonesome Loser' and 'Happy Anniversary.'
Little River's Band's big hits include 'Help Is On Its Way,' 'Reminiscing,' 'Lonesome Loser' and 'Happy Anniversary.'

Wayne Nelson has never pegged “It’s a Long Way There” as a soft rocking song.

But people hear “Little River Band,” and they automatically think — yeah, soft rock . . . gotta be a soft rocking song.

“If soft is compared to heavy metal then yeah, we’re on the other end of the spectrum,” said the 66-year-old Nelson, who has been bassist and lead singer for the rock outfit for the past 36 years. “But I think there’s a middle ground. The Rolling Stone magazine and the hard-edge press, we just didn’t measure up to what they considered a tough band. But 41 years later . . .

“You go to a show and you’re not going to come away thinking we’re a soft rock band,” Nelson added. “There are definitely some up-tempo hard-hitting songs, but do we pin somebody’s ears back? No. That’s never been our style.”

Nelson prefers a “melodic” style to the soft rock label. The band will bring both to Proctors on Friday for an 8 p.m. show.

For people who like their music on the softer side, Little River can oblige. The band, which formed in Australia in 1975, has big hit, time-tested tunes in its catalog. There’s “Help Is On Its Way,” “Reminiscing” and “Cool Change.” And “Happy Anniversary,” “Lady” and “Lonesome Loser.” And “The Night Owls,” too.

Little River Band

WHERE: Proctors, 432 State St., Schenectady

WHEN: 8 p.m. Friday

HOW MUCH: $100-$25

MORE INFO: 346-6204,

More than 30 musicians have been on the Little River roster since formation, and more than 30 million records have been sold. All the originals are gone now, and Nelson and band mates Greg Hind (guitar), Chris Marion (keyboards), Rich Herring (guitar) and Ryan Ricks (drums) now legally own the Little River Band name.

Timeless material

Nelson thinks people keep coming to the shows — the band performs between 125 and 150 gigs a year — because of the brand of music.

“The songs are timeless, the material is timeless and Little River Band has never been about a fad or a movement,” he said. “At some time or another, it’s always been basically about songs, about the basics of life, getting together, splitting up, growing up, moving on.”

Style is another selling point.

“Big-layered vocals and guitar harmonies are for the most part, a thing of the past,” Nelson said in a telephone interview from his home in Florida. “So that means the music has a spot in time, in the time capsule. The songs keep relating because life doesn’t really change, only the toys do.”

People connect with the music, and the musicians connect with the people. Nelson said the band always meets fans and signs autographs after shows. That’s how they connected with an Iraqi war veteran who told the guys his tank crew used to begin their duty operations with “Help Is On Its Way” on the way out and “Cool Change” on the way back.

“Who knew tanks had CD players?” Nelson asked. “I got chills when he told me that and I still do.”

Honoring vets

So Little River Band likes veterans. “Lost and the Lonely,” from the new “Cuts Like a Diamond” CD, honors vets. The band also likes “I’m An Island” as a spring and summertime song.

Some songs ring the bell with audiences every night.

“‘Cool Change’ is probably the perennial winner of virtually any show,” Nelson said. “Sometimes we’ll do a bike rally and you think, ‘Reminiscing’ and ‘Cool Change?’ We did a bike rally in Indiana and we had guys in beards and mud just crying, weeping while we were playing ‘Reminiscing.’ But ‘Cool Change’ is the one that just wins people over. And we’ve extended it and added some juice to it for the live show that people aren’t expecting. It has a huge impact.”

Reach Gazette reporter Jeff Wilkin at 395-3124 or at [email protected] or @jeffwilkin1 on Twitter. His blog is at

Categories: Entertainment, News

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