Akron Civic Theatre boasts a weekend of veteran musical acts

Veteran artists, we're talking folks who have been successful for more than a decade (which is forever nowadays), often have to make the tough choice.

Do they stick with the sounds and formula that got them invited to the party, such as AC/DC? Or do they follow their restless creative muse and hope their bedrock fans are willing to follow along, as Radiohead did when “Kid A” switched epic, expansive, guitar rock for ice-cold digital beats? Or should they go for a full, or partial, and carefully cultivated, reinvention as Miley Cyrus, Lady Gaga and, of course, David Bowie have all done?

For much of his 30-year career, Christian rapper, singer, producer TobyMac has been adept at keeping his music explicitly Christian and contemporary without simply sounding like he’s desperately grasping at the latest musical trend.

Now at 54, the man born Kevin Michael McKeehan, who will be returning to the Akron Civic Theatre with his “TobyMac & Diverse City Band: The Theater Tour” on Thursday, behind his seventh solo album, “The Elements.”

His six previous solo albums have all gone gold, sold more than 11 million copies and garnered seven Grammy Awards and 19 Dove Awards (when including the catalog of eclectic hip-hop/pop band DC Talk that jump-started his career).

Mac’s latest uses contemporary sounds and beats, including the four-on-the-floor, dance-rock grooves of “Edge of My Seat," the Imagine Dragons-style chant rock of “Hello Future” and the march-step bass and kick-heavy, funk-influenced pop of “i just need U,” to convey his love for God, and vice versa, and talk about surviving tough times and the trials and tribulations of existence.

Oh, yes, it’s calculated and Christian pop radio-ready. And occasionally it gets a bit preachy, evidenced in “Starts With Me,” the race relations themed duet with rapper Aaron Cole, one of Mac’s signings on his Gotee Records label. But for fans (and parents of fans) who enjoy current pop sounds minus some of the common current pop lyrical subject matter, you could do much worse than Mac’s well constructed but apparently heartfelt tunes.

Opening for Mac will be Ryan Stevenson, and the short 12-city tour is sponsored by Food for the Hungry, a global Christian organization dedicated to ending poverty and giving impoverished communities the tools to lift themselves up.

Tedeschi and Parsons

But TobyMac is just one of the veteran musical artists whose tour bus will be stopping in downtown Akron this week.

On Saturday, the Civic Theatre welcomes back the Tedeschi Trucks Band, the dozen-piece rock, soul and blues band led by guitar-playing, wife-and-husband team Susan Tedeschi and Derek Trucks, who are still on the road promoting their 2016 album “Let Me Get By.” Fans of the Allman Brothers or Tedeschi and Trucks’ past solo albums, or any heavy, electric-blues-influenced rock, should be able to dig the TTB’s horn-laced relaxed grooves and tunes.

At 7:30 p.m. Sunday, the Alan Parsons Project will perform, bringing Parsons' seven top 10 hits, a few of which you likely don’t realize are by the veteran producer and artist.

Parsons is known for being the guy who produced or engineered classic records including Pink Floyd’s “Dark Side of the Moon,” the Beatles' “Abbey Road” and records by the Hollies and Ambrosia.

The APP had several hits in the 1970s that are still on classic rock radio, including the funky “I Wouldn’t Want To Be Like You,” “Games People Play” and the easygoing, top-five yacht-rock hit “Eye In the Sky,” and its short instrumental intro “Sirius,” which is best known as the long-used intro music for many professional and college sports teams.

The APP was never meant to be a touring, live band. But Parsons hit the road about 15 years ago in part because of the changing music business, with record sales and royalties having shrunk exponentially and production jobs few and far between since the industry's glory days. (Tickets are $29-$69.)


Malcolm X Abram can be reached at mabram@thebeaconjournal.com or 330-996-3758. Like him on Facebook at http://on.fb.me/1lNgxml, and follow him on Twitter @malcolmabramABJ.