Classic rock band Three Dog Night will headline Sherman’s Lights on the Lake concert at Pecan Grove Park Monday at 7 p.m. The event starts at 4 p.m. with bounce houses and activities for kids and food vendors and will conclude with a fireworks show at 9:30 p.m.
Three Dog Night has had 21 Top 40 hits during its career — including “Joy to the World,” “Mama Told Me (Not to Come),” “One,” “An Old Fashioned Love Song” — and lead singer Danny Hutton, who recently did a phone interview with the Herald Democrat, said the band only plays its hits in concert.
Q: You’re playing the city’s Lights on the Lake celebration in honor of Independence Day. Do you like playing that kind of outdoor show?
A: First of all, I love Texas. Our fan club is out of Dallas, so Texas has been great. People say, “Don’t you ever get bored?” We were just up in Canada at a big casino, and we’re doing a show with a symphony orchestra and I love those old movie theaters, the intimate 1,500 seat places. I love mixing it up. It’s going to be great. I know I was there (in Texas) and saw probably the worst hail storm I’ve ever seen in the afternoon at one of those things. All the cars were all dented, I could not believe the weather. I’m in L.A., so we don’t get hail like that here.
Q: How many shows do you think you guys play in a year?
A: I’m trying to move it up and do even more, but we’re doing probably 60-70, which is a good amount. We’ll usually go out on a weekend and maybe do a Friday, Saturday and sometimes a Sunday show. And you figure you’ve got the day before traveling to it and your day coming home. We don’t do any big bus tours that much. As they always say, the actual performing is easy; it’s the traveling that can get to you.
Q: How do you stay in shape for that kind of schedule?
A: Pretty easy, I’m pretty careful about what I eat — kind of paleo diet. All the food that I love and that tastes great I kind of don’t eat — bread and pasta and all that stuff. And it’s amazing it just keeps my weight at the right level. I’m five (feet), 11 and a half (inches), about 170, so that’s kind of my fighting weight.
Q: You guys have been around for quite a while, how have you seen the music business change over the years?
A: Almost 50 years! I think what’s changed is the delivery system. To me, I like all different styles of music and the thing that hasn’t changed is real talent. Really, really good talent is going to emerge if you do it long enough. I think if you’re good, you’re good. Most rap does not speak to me, but still I like Eminem. There’s certain things that are like, “Hey, that’s cool” because it’s good. The hardest thing in the world to write is a hook. That’s lightning in a bottle to do that.
Q: You guys have a good number of hits and many of those hooks that grab people, do you have a favorite to perform?
A: No. But it’s a little known record, but we hold the record in Billboard magazine by any group of the most consecutive top 40 hits in a row — 21 top 40 hits in a row, without missing one. In one way, it meant we weren’t that adventurous, but we’ve been on every musical chart, except probably jazz. We’ve been on the easy listening charts, the pop charts, the rock ‘n’ roll charts, the country charts, the R&B charts. We went over to London, England, and recorded at Abbey Road Studios with the London Classical Orchestra, so we’ve been on the classical charts as well. We’re all over the place. I love doing all styles of music — it keeps it adventurous. If you look at a young kid, they’ll have all sorts of songs instead of just buying an album and that’s what our albums were in the 1970s. In the old days, it’s funny, you’d have a girlfriend come over and you’d physically have a disc and if you wanted to put your arm around the girl, you wanted an album where one side would all be slow ballads. And we had the kind of albums you’d have to get up after every song and move it.
Q: You mentioned the different styles Three Dog Night has had, do you think you guys have had an influence on other acts over the years?
A: Yeah, I think so. We’ve got enough people that come up and I’ll see an older man and woman come up to me and say, “When I was a kid, you were the first show I ever came to” and I’ll think “How old are you?” I think we all have those influences. To this day, I remember hearing Little Richard for the first time and the Beatles and that definitely had influences on me, so I’m sure that goes the other way around too.
Q: You mentioned liking all different styles of music, are there any newer artists you’re listening to today?
A: I like Haim, my son is the drummer in Haim. I like the 1975. I get the English music trade magazines and there’s so many of those English groups and I’ll see these amazing reviews and then I’ll look them up on YouTube and lots of times I’ll think they’re terrible. They did this big article on the 1975 and I thought, here we go again. But they did some awards show and I thought, that’s pretty cool. I like three to four minute songs that have no fat in them. It starts out sounding great and just punches you in the jaw. There shouldn’t be any wasted moments. I can’t do eight minutes guitar solos. We don’t do that and I want people to come to our show. We’re not political. I want them to come and for a couple of hours get lost and forget about all their troubles. Just when our show ends, I want them to turn to each other and say, “The show’s over? It seemed so short.” And they have a big smile on their face saying, “Wow, I forgot how many hits they had and wow, they’re still good singers.” There’s no rookies in our group. After 50 years, everybody knows their stuff.
Q: Is there anything else you’d like to add?
A: Come to the show and I don’t care what style of music you’re into, by the end of the night, we will have played some stuff that I think you’re going to like. And we have not changed the keys or lowered them.