Founding Guess Who frontman Burton Cummings is gearing up to play his first U.S. concerts of the new year this week, starting with a show tonight in Palm Desert, California, followed by his first-ever major solo headlining gigs in Las Vegas on Friday and Saturday.
The Canadian singer/keyboardist, who recently turned 66, tells ABC News Radio that he's "very much looking forward to" the Las Vegas performances, which will take place at the Orleans Hotel & Casino and which he describes as "a major step for me career-wise."
Cummings, the voice behind such Guess Who classics as "American Woman," "These Eyes," "No Time" and "Share the Land," explains that fans who come out to the Vegas concerts will be treated to a shorter-than-usual show, but a "high power" one packed with hits.
"When I play full shows with my band, we do about two hours," he points out. "In Vegas, they only want about 60, [but] I actually have more than 60 minutes' worth of hit records, so I'm actually gonna be cutting down our show drastically. But it'll be good."
This week's concerts are just the beginning of what should be an eventful year for Cummings. Although he only has one other confirmed gig, an April 24 gig in Niagara Falls, Canada, Burton says he plans to add plenty more shows to his schedule in both the U.S. and Canada. He adds that some of the concerts he'll play with his usual backing band, while others will feature him completely solo.
Cummings tells ABC News Radio that he was thrilled to find, after doing a series of one-man shows last year in the U.S., "that the States will accept me alone at a piano." He notes that the solo concerts give him the chance to dig deeper into his catalog, as well as perform some interesting cover tunes by early influences like Bobby Darin, Sam Cooke and Gerry and the Pacemakers.
About his ongoing career as a touring artist, Cummings says, "I'm very happy to be…66 and still be somewhat in demand…I'm one of the lucky ones and I do not take it lightly."
In addition to his tour plans, Burton has written a book of poetry that he hopes to put out in February or March. He reports that he already has posted many of his favorite pieces online. Cummings says that the collection won't include lyrics to any of the famous songs he's written, noting that "poetry is different than song lyrics and I have always completely distinguished between the two." He explains, "When I write poetry, I'm not thinking about melody or music, I'm just thinking about words and what they can make the reader see or feel."
Burton also shared a little information about a recently reported DVD series he's put together titled RUFF, that will feature live performances, behind-the-scenes footage, fly-on-the-wall clips and much more. "I have a videographer that has followed me for the last 12 or 13 years with a video camera and we have quite an archive," Cummings tells ABC News Radio. "And we're going to market the first three volumes…in one beautiful deluxe package and, hopefully, it'll be ready by around the end of February."
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