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 Classic rockers Jefferson Starship — pictured from left, Jude Gold, David Freiberg, Cathy Richardson, Chris Smith and Donny Baldwin — will perform Oct. 25 at  the Macomb Center for  the Performing Arts in  Clinton Township.

Classic rockers Jefferson Starship — pictured from left, Jude Gold, David Freiberg, Cathy Richardson, Chris Smith and Donny Baldwin — will perform Oct. 25 at the Macomb Center for the Performing Arts in Clinton Township.

Photo provided

‘Nothing’s Gonna Stop’ Jefferson Starship

By: Maria Allard | C&G Newspapers | Published October 11, 2019


CLINTON TOWNSHIP — Fans of Jefferson Starship will have “Somebody to Love” when the celebrated rock band performs Oct. 25 at the Macomb Center for the Performing Arts.

While longtime members Paul Kantner and Marty Balin have passed away and Grace Slick has retired from performing, the current band still has an appetite for playing music.

Today’s lineup consists of lead guitarist Jude Gold, drummer Donny Baldwin, keyboardist Chris Smith, singer Cathy Richardson and band co-founder David Freiberg on guitar, bass, keyboards and viola.

The group is carrying on the Jefferson Starship legacy, touring the world while connecting with longtime admirers and attracting new fans.

“We’ve gone to Europe, Japan, Brazil, Israel and Canada,” Richardson said. “Our first shows in 2019 were in New Zealand. That was a really awesome way to start the new year. What a beautiful country. The fans just loved the music. It was awesome.”

“I hope everyone will come to check it out with an open mind and have a great musical throwback with us,” Richardson said.

Jefferson Starship has undergone many reincarnations. Its history dates back to the San Francisco days of 1965 when Slick, Balin, Kantner, Jorma Kaukonen, Jack Casady and Spencer Dryden fused together their musical flair to form Jefferson Airplane.

Founding members also included Signe Toly Anderson and Skip Spence, according to jef The band took off with several hits, including “Volunteers,” the psychedelic “White Rabbit” and “Somebody to Love,” songs the present-day Jefferson Starship performs.

The band, which helped draw crowds at the best-known music events of the time — including the Monterey Jazz Festival, Monterey Pop Festival and Woodstock — stayed together until 1972. Two years later, Kantner created Jefferson Starship with co-founder Freiberg. Jefferson Starship eventually became Starship. Due to legal issues and band member changes, Starship became Jefferson Starship once again.

Richardson joined in 2008, when singer Diana Mangano stepped down. The singer, who grew up in the Chicago area, got the gig after others noticed her pipes while she sang with Big Brother and the Holding Company, a position once held by Janis Joplin, who died in 1970. The powerful vocalist also had been working on a solo career.

“Joining Jefferson Starship put me on a much bigger stage worldwide,” said Richardson, already a fan of the band. “It was really great for me.”

She even traveled with the late Kantner. “He was just such an interesting character.”

Concertgoers in 2019 are treated to Jefferson Airplane classics as well as trinkets from the Jefferson Starship and Starship years, including “Miracles,” “With Your Love,” “Count on Me,” “Find Your Way Back,” “Layin’ It on the Line,” “We Built This City” and “Nothing’s Gonna Stop Us Now.” Other favorites, including “Find Your Way Back” and “Jane,” were once staples on Detroit radio.

“It’s amazing how many hits there are,” Richardson said. “There’s something about classic rock. A good song is a good song. It doesn’t matter how old they are.”

Onstage, the group keeps in mind that Jefferson Starship followers have their favorite band members, past and present.

“Some fans are Paul Kantner fans, some are Grace Slick or nothing, or fans of the new music,” Richardson said. “There’s Mickey Thomas fans, Starship fans, Marty Balin fans. There’s so many eras, so many characters and personalities. We go through all the time periods. We try to please everybody.”

She even performed once while Slick was in the audience.

“She’s a national treasure,” Richardson said.

Richardson said “people lose their minds” when they see the 81-year-old Freiberg onstage doing his thing.  

“They’re blown away. They sing along. They dance. They go crazy and whip into a frenzy,” she said. “His voice is incredible.”

While Jefferson Starship stays true to its past, the musicians are making new music. The band is set to release a new album, “Mother of the Sun,” in February 2020. Richardson, Cole and Slick co-wrote one of the songs on the album.

Richardson always knew she wanted to be in music.

“We had a piano in the house and a guitar,” said Richardson, whose mom, Carol, sang. “We had all the show tunes, Barbra Streisand, Captain & Tennille. The first album I bought with my own money was ‘Elton John’s Greatest Hits.’”

When a neighbor introduced her to Heart, that was it.

“When I dropped the needle on that (album), I wanted to be them, basically.”

William Wood, the director of cultural affairs and community engagement at the Macomb Center for the Performing Arts, said the concert “is selling well.” Tickets were still available at press time.

“We know there is an audience for this era of music,” Wood said. “We want to highlight those iconic artists. Macomb County audiences love these groups.”

Wood said the performing arts center has 30 different events each season, plus a good number of outside organizations that bring in their own shows.

“It’s a very diverse mix. We do family shows, classical (concerts), dance, plays and Broadway shows,” Wood said. “We provide entertainment. People need that diversion in their life.”

The theater seats 1,200 people.

“It’s a much more intimate experience for our audience,” Wood said. “I always encourage people to take a moment to experience the arts.”

Jefferson Starship performs at 7:30 p.m. Oct. 25 at the Macomb Center for the Performing Arts, 44575 Garfield Road in Clinton Township. For tickets, visit ma or call (586) 286-2222.