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Sixth Generation

Sixth Generation

It’s hard to say which is more improbable, a rock band kicking off its tour in Dowagiac, or those concerts culminating at Liverpool’s Cavern Club, birthplace of the Beatles, on July 7, Ringo Starr’s 73rd birthday.
Sixth Generation, formed in 1966 as a Niles garage band, performed regularly at Five-Mile Corner north of Dowagiac, which is why its “Skyliner reunion” kick-off will be at Elks Lodge 889 at 7:30 p.m. Saturday.
The baby boomer band’s United Kingdom tour July 4-13 includes seven performances at venues in northwest England.
They will be the only American musicians playing on the Cavern Club bill.
Sixth Generation recorded keyboardist Ron Hamrick’s “Rock On, England” for the occasion and will be debuting that, along with brand-new tunes “We’ve Come to Rock” and the more mid-tempo “A Dance on the Wind,” in Dowagiac, drummer Dave Walenga said Tuesday.
“Skyliner was the place to be in Southwest Michigan,” Walenga said.
The latest cover to receive “our little twist” is “I Got a Line On You” by Spirit.
Sixth Generation’s shifting repertoire has also included The Beatles (“You Can’t Do That,” “I Saw Her Standing There,” “If I Needed Someone”), Chicago, The Temptations, The Rolling Stones, The Rascals, Steppenwolf, The Association, The Turtles, The Kinks, Gerry and the Pacemakers, The Spencer Davis Group, Jimi Hendrix, The Kinks and Wilson Pickett.
“This is the Time,” the group’s 1967 single, continues to lead balloting for Legendary Michigan Songs by a wide margin and appears to be a lock for induction in June.
When Sixth Generation reunited in 2010 after a 40-year break, no one expected tours, CDs with original songs, 2011 hall of fame status or the boomer anthem “That Was the Time.”
Now there’s talk of a fan club, The Generators.
“We’re so blessed by the fans we have,” Walenga said. “We do this as much for them as we do for us. That’s the biggest compliment we get, that we’ve taken them back to a simpler time. There’s no better feeling.”
“We had no intention of going big-time,” bassist Paul “The General” Davies, of Niles, said in March. “We were just making music and having fun until we had to get real jobs. We never thought it would lead to this.”
From the group’s first performance on Feb. 9, 1961, with Pete Best (Starr joined the Fab Four in 1962) until Aug. 3, 1963, the Beatles played the Cavern 292 times.
Taking that stage on the Beatles’ drummer’s birthday makes it “more special for me. If no one shows up, I’m still playing at the Cavern Club,” said Walenga who, like Hamrick, has been there before.
No one showing up is unlikely with a substantial number of UK subscribers on internet radio stations and a significant portion of iTunes sales occurring in the UK. Sixth Generations’ October release, “That Was … This Is,” found a receptive audience.
“You’ve stirring up a lot of interest over here,” said Bill Hart, the band’s UK manager, who runs the www.lankybeat site.
“Lanky,” as in Lancashire, the area between Liverpool and Manchester which spawned Herman’s Hermits, Gerry and the Pacemakers, The Searchers, Freddie and the Dreamers, Cilla Black and The Hollies.

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