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August 14, 2013

Robby Krieger, of The Doors, to play Magic Bag Aug. 14

By Joshua Gordon
C & G Staff Writer

Robby Krieger

FERNDALE — Robby Krieger was just like any other musician trying to make it big in his youth, playing gigs when he could and having a guitar in his hands as much as possible.

Local bars are one of the greatest assets to young musicians, Krieger said, as it gives them a place to launch their careers. Even after joining The Doors, Krieger and his band mates played numerous clubs before making it big in 1966.

Now, almost 50 years later, Krieger hasn’t abandoned the bar-and-club scene for arena gigs. On Aug. 14, Krieger will play at the Magic Bag in Ferndale with his band, Jam Kitchen.

“When we were getting started, we searched out every bar and club in Los Angeles to try and get a gig,” Krieger, 67, said. “It was a little easier back then because there weren’t millions of groups like there is today. Back then, you didn’t get paid much, but at least you got paid a little. It was tough to find a gig and we were very lucky to end up at the Whisky (a Go Go club) and be the house band for that whole summer in 1966.”

The Aug. 14 show will be the third time Krieger has played at the Magic Bag, located at 22920 Woodward Ave. Willy Wilson, the Magic Bag publicist, said the place was packed when Krieger was there in the past.

While he understands the Magic Bag doesn’t compare to sold-out arenas, Wilson said fans appreciate when those who make it big make time to hit the smaller local scenes.

“Robby is a legend, and people relate to the music he wrote for The Doors, and it is one of the those things that, any chance you get to see a musical legend up close, it is great, especially in a small setting,” Wilson said. “You have certain artists that only do major venues, but there are those who play the smaller clubs, like the Magic Bag, where they can connect with the audience and they have everybody right in front of them.

“It is a really unique evening and if you are a fan of rock ‘n’ roll, you will love it.”

The close, intimate room is what has drawn Krieger back to playing in smaller clubs after all these years, he said. It is great to play in front of thousands in an arena, he added, but to see all the faces in the crowd is just something different.

“You walk into the place and there is that smell of beer on the floor and you have crappy dressing rooms — it is kind of fun,” Krieger said. “It is fun to play these smaller places because you get much closer to the audience and it really has a nice sound to it. I like that I can actually see the people, even those in the back.”

When The Doors split up between 1973 and 1975, Krieger continued to play with drummer John Densmore, but they didn’t retread the old Doors songs; rather, they played original music.  Since going on out on his own, Krieger has recorded seven solo albums, the latest, “Singularity,” coming out in 2010.

But, as he traveled around playing shows, Krieger said he saw that The Doors still mattered to fans, even if they weren’t playing together.

“For a long time, none of us played any Doors songs at all because it was over with and we didn’t think anybody cared about that anymore,” he said. “But, little by little, I saw that people still cared about The Doors. I would see tribute bands and those guys were having a lot of fun, and I would go sit with them and talk about The Doors.

“I slowly got back into doing more Doors songs in my set and I got back with Ray (Manzarek) and we played old sets together for a while.”

As Krieger plays around the country, he has come to realize how even his solo work has been influenced by his time with The Doors. When he takes the stage at the Magic Bag, he hopes fans will appreciate his new work, but enjoy what got him to this point.

“Everything I do has got something to do with The Doors, because I was in The Doors and I want to try and give people a feeling of where I came from,” Krieger said. “With this band, we do a couple of The Doors things like, ‘You’re Lost Little Girl,’ and ‘Riders on the Storm.’ But I hope people will realize I have evolved as a guitar player after The Doors and see the influences that resulted in my Doors style.”

The doors open at 8 a.m. Aug. 14 at the Magic Bag. Tickets are $25 and can be purchased at the Magic Bag box office or at the door, if still available.

You can reach C & G Staff Writer Joshua Gordon at jgordon@candgnews.com or at (586)498-1077.