For the past three months, Curtis Salgado flirted with big-time fame and glory.
For Peter Rivera, bigtime fame and fortune are a way of life.
Or used to be.
Salgado and his band, the Stilletos, and Rivera, who’s now part of a band called the Classic Rock All Stars, will play Playfair Saturday in a concert that benefits the Special Olympics. A third act, Survivor, is also on the bill.
Rivera was the drummer and lead singer for Rare Earth, one of the hottest crossover funk bands of the early ‘70s. He and Spencer Davis (the Spencer Davis Group), Mike Pinera (Blues Project, Iron Butterfly) and Jerry Corbetta (Sugarloaf) are the Classic Rock All Stars, a new concept in revival groups.
New, because this is one revival group made up of authentic original members - only instead of playing in front of a group of anonymous pick up musicians, they’re a self-contained group that specializes in playing the biggest hits of the members’ respective bands.
Rivera sings the big Rare Earth hits “Get Ready,” “I Know I’m Losing You,” “Born to Wander” and “I Just Want to Celebrate;” Corbetta sings Sugarloaf’s “Green-Eyed Lady” and “Don’t Call Us, We’ll Call You;” Spencer Davis does a convincing job (at least on CD) singing Steve Winwood’s parts on “Gimme Some Lovin”’ and “I’m a Man” from the old Spencer Davis Group, and Pinera sings songs from the two big groups he was associated with - Iron Butterfy’s “In A Gadda Da Vida” and “Ride Captain Ride” from the Blues Project.
Collectively, these guys must have played for millions in their heyday. Today, they’re working for a living.
“Does it pay the bills?” Rivera asked rhetorically from his home in Coeur d’Alene, where he and his family have lived for the last year. “Yeah, it pays the bills. It keeps the kids in college. We’re all working guys.”
Plus, there’s a bonus, he said: “It’s fun.”
Like the other members of the Classic Rock All Stars, Rivera got out of the music business for a while - or at least away from the performing side of it - but when an opportunity to perform again came along, the draw was too great to stay away.
“Jerry and Mike were touring with a thing called ‘30 Years of Rock’ - it was a big show with lots of people on it - but they were getting tired of that, and when a benefit concert came up, they called me to see if we could learn each other’s tunes.”
They hired a bass player and did some dates.
“We were doing well enough that our agents encouraged us to keep the act together. I was skeptical at first - skeptical in a happy way - but things were snowballing and more dates were coming up. A few months later, we added Spencer.”
The group has been together for four years, at first playing small state fairs, and then larger ones. They got big enough that the prestigious New York William Morris Agency picked them up to handle their larger fair dates.
They went into the studio to recut their original hits on a CD they sell at their shows. In addition to being a darn good collection of ‘70s-era hits, the group sounds surprisingly sharp, considering how many years it’s been since the songs were first recorded.
Rivera says reception to the live show has been excellent. “We have yet to have a crowd not go away jazzed.”
And here’s another bonus: You might not know the name of the band’s bass player, but you should recognize the name of his band. He’s Dennis Noda and his band was Cannibal and the Headhunters (“Land of 1,000 Dances”).
For Curtis Salgado, the last few months have been a roller coaster flirt with fame. Hired this spring to sing for Santana, the Portland-based R&B; belter hopped off the ride last weekend in the middle of a threemonth tour.
“I did the first half of the tour and decided that it wasn’t what I wanted to do. At one point, I said ‘This isn’t very much fun’.”
Although the Santana gig gave him a chance to perform in front of huge audiences, Salgado said he was too often relegated to the role of sideman.
“I learned some stuff about myself; I learned that I need to get back and do what I do best. Singing with Santana was great, but it’s not my bag. My bag is singing hardcore rhythm and blues.”
In May, Curtis Salgado and the Stilettos released a new CD, “More Than You Can Chew,” on Priority/ Rhythm Safari Records.
“Now I just want to get back to my fellows and hang with them,” he said.
MEMO: This sidebar appeared with the story: The Rock All Stars with Curtis Salgado and Survivor Location and time: Playfair Race Course, Saturday, 5:30 p.m. Tickets: $12.50