Sometimes, it is difficult to distinguish between a band and its tribute band. During its heyday of the last 1960s through the mid-1970s, The Guess Who consisted of singer Burton Cummings, bassist Jim Kale, drummer Gary Peterson, and several guitarists, including Randy Bachman, who later went on to form Bachman-Turner Overdrive. Today, only Peterson carries on the band's name. Peterson still tours with a band named The Guess Who, along with three other musicians - singer/guitarist Derek Sharp, lead guitarist Michael Staertow, and Leonard Shaw, who plays keyboards, flute, saxophone, and percussion.
Saturday night at the Genesee Theater in Waukegan, this version of the group performed in front of an aging, but enthusiastic crowd.
Peterson has assembled some quality musicians, including Sharp, who sounds enough like Cummings to satisfy the audience. They focused mostly on the band’s classic era when they were releasing hit after hit. The audience ate it up, singing and clapping along. Peterson provided the nostalgia, telling a few old stories of the band, but Sharp took center stage, engaging the audience with an infectious grin and an enthusiasm for the music he inherited.
The crowd came to hear their old hits and the band did not disappoint. They drew heavily from their salad days. The tight harmonies and catchy melodies were still evident in the music; and that was enough to transport the crowd to their younger days.
One could argue that this is not The Guess Who we grew up with; but it did not matter much to us. We still had fun.