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The Yardbirds Launching New US Tour Next Week; Drummer Jim McCarty Also Schedules Solo Gigs

Photo: Trevor HeathMore than 50 years since they first formed in London, The Yardbirds are bringing their blazing blues rock to venues on both sides of the Atlantic.  The band will kick off a brief new U.S. tour on Friday, June 20, in Lake Tahoe, Nevada, and the trek is scheduled to run through a June 29 show in Peoria, Illinois.  The outing also includes stops in Dallas and San Antonio, marking the first time The Yardbirds will be performing in Texas since the 1960s.

Until fairly recently, the group's touring lineup featured only one original member, drummer Jim McCarty, along with three young guns -- guitarist Ben King, singer/harmonica player Andy Mitchell and bassist David Smale.  Last year, however, The Yardbirds welcomed back into the fold its original lead guitarist, Anthony "Top" Topham, who as a teenager played in the band briefly in 1963 before being replaced by Eric Clapton.  Topham came on board to fill in for founding rhythm guitarist Chris Dreja, who's been sidelined indefinitely since suffering a stroke in 2012.

McCarty tells ABC News Radio that he was glad to bring another veteran musician into the group to join him alongside the young rockers, noting that Topham has helped add a classic blues element to the band's sound.  He also points out that the interplay between Topham and King makes for some exciting performances.

"They have quite different styles," says McCarty.  "And it's quite interesting, if they're swapping guitar solos, to see the difference.  You know, one's sort of more authentic and one's perhaps a bit more dynamic."

Jim says that with Topham now in the group, "the bluesier side of the band now is the one to hear," adding that his current favorite tunes to play live include "Five Long Years," "Rack My Mind" and "Drinking Muddy Water."

Meanwhile, McCarty also will be playing a few solo shows in the coming weeks, and will kick things off by opening for The Yardbirds for the first time ever, at the Peoria concert.  McCarty is promoting a new compilation titled Frontman, which was released in April in conjunction with the latest Record Store Day campaign.  The limited-edition two-LP set is currently available on vinyl only and not easy to find, but Jim says he'll be selling copies at the Yardbirds shows and his solo gigs.

Frontman gathers together recordings McCarty did as a member of such groups as Renaissance, Illusion and Shoot, as well as his performances as a solo artist.  It also features new versions of two songs -- "Crying Out for Love" and "Dream Within a Dream" -- that originally appeared on the most recent Yardbirds studio album, 2003's Birdland.

"I didn't sing [those songs] on that album, but we re-recorded them and I sang them," he explains to ABC News Radio.

Here are the dates for The Yardbirds' U.S. tour:

6/20 -- Lake Tahoe, NV, Harrah's Casino
6/21 -- Ferndale, WA, Silver Reef Casino
6/22 -- Seattle, WA, Triple Door
6/25 -- Dallas, TX, Granada Theatre
6/26 -- San Antonio, TX, Aztec Theatre
6/27 -- St. Charles, IL, Arcadia Theatre
6/28 -- Milwaukee, WI, Summerfest
6/29 -- Peoria, IL, Limelight

And here are Jim McCarty's confirmed solo shows:

6/29 -- Peoria, IL, Limelight
7/3 -- Springfield, IL, Donnie's Homespun
7/5 -- Keokuk, IA, The Grand Theater
7/9 -- Fort Wayne, IN, C2G Music Hall

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ABC News Radio