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By Deborah Evans Price
© 2014 CMA Close Up® News Service / Country Music Association®, Inc.
Released on Nov. 4, Southbound, highlighting the songs of the Doobie Brothers,was a labor of love for Gary Overton.
“The first concert I ever attended was the Doobie Brothers in Phoenix in 1972, when I was 15 years old,” said the Sony Music Nashville Chairman and CEO. “They were opening for Three Dog Night and I was blown away by the music. I’ve been an avid fan ever since.”
So when David Huff pitched the idea for Southbound, Overton quickly agreed. The producer got the idea for the project when he attended a Lady Antebellum show. “They matched up ‘American Honey’ with ‘Black Water,’” he recalled. “And I saw these twentysomething people singing ‘Black Water’ as much as they were singing ‘American Honey.’”
In addition to the Doobies themselves, an array of Country Music giants joined in on the Southbound sessions. Tyler Farr, Hunter Hayes, Casey James, Toby Keith, Love and Theft, Jerrod Niemann, Chris Young and Zac Brown Band were among those who took part – and in the process, fulfilled a few dreams of their own.
“My family and I grew up listening to the Doobie Brothers,” said Sara Evans, who performed “What a Fool Believes” on Southbound. “I’ve been a huge fan of their music my entire life. I’ve covered several of their songs in my live show throughout the years, but singing with Michael McDonald, who is such an icon, was an extreme honor.”
The Doobies are also thrilled with the treatment their classics received on Southbound. “I was really happy with the way ‘Nobody’ came out,” said vocalist/guitarist Tom Johnston, a founding member of the group. “There’s a guy named Charlie Worsham that we worked with on that, and I was blown away by his vocals. And I really liked him. All the songs came out good, but that song got taken probably the farthest away from any original song on there. That’s one of the reasons I like it so much.”
Johnston also appreciated the enthusiasm and work ethic of the guest artists. “Blake Shelton came in with this attitude of ‘Let’s go! I’ll do it until you guys are happy.’ That really impressed me … very professional. Here’s a guy that’s got the world at the tip of his fingers with all the stuff he’s got going on, and he did three or four takes and was ready to do more. He was awesome.”
The Doobie Brothers continue to play live; on Nov. 5, they guested on “The 48th Annual CMA Awards."
“They are still doing 80-something shows a year,” Overton said. “We’ve got some opportunities for TV. We’re talking to the Home Shopping Network; they are very, very interested in doing something with the guys. Lots of things will be different as far as marketing for this because we’re not going to have a single. Pretty much everyone on the record has a very vibrant career, so they have their own singles out. And that’s OK.”
Overton expects a wide audience for Southbound. “Baby boomers listen to classic rock radio. That was the music of our lives,” he said. “This is like a fresh taste of it.”

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