WILKES-BARRE — With his equally distinctive guitar style and voice and unforgettable songs to his name, Joe Walsh has cultivated a legendary career as a member of the James Gang, Barnstorm, the Eagles and as a solo musician.
Arguably one of the greatest guitarists to hold a six-string, the Rock and Roll Hall of Famer performs at 8 p.m. Aug. 4 at the F.M. Kirby Center. Fresh off a tour with Bad Company, Walsh brings an all-star band of past collaborators, and opener JD & The Straight Shot starts things off.
Walsh said during the Bad Company tour, his band, comprised of past collaborators Joe Vitale, Chad Cromwell, Waddy Wachtel, Larry Young, Jimmy Wallace and Clayton Janes, became a monster on stage.
“Rather than really proficient people who can learn my songs, these guys were part of the writing of them in a lot of cases, so I have given them freedom to play different every night and interpret the songs any way they want,” Walsh said.
Excited to see the band develop further, Walsh decided to book dates throughout the summer.
Sets, Walsh said, pull from all periods of his catalogue as far back as the James Gang and as recent as 2012’s “Analogue Man.”
“I leave it up to the band to put the set together,” Walsh said. “And I’ve been paying attention to the internet, reactions from people. Everybody who expects to hear something will hear it.”
Walsh said he’s invigorated by a younger generation coming to see him for the first time.
“They weren’t even born when the records came out, and I feel that energy,” Walsh said. “It makes me feel younger, and I really want to play for them.”
Walsh’s most recent work includes a piece of music he wrote for the documentary “Citizen Soldier” and new songs he’s working on with Dan Auerbach of the Black Keys.
“Citizen Soldier” follows an Oklahoma National Guard unit called to active duty in Afghanistan. A modern day “Band of Brothers,” the unit filmed their experience on GoPros, and one of Walsh’s friends was trusted to tell their story using that footage.
“It’s not like a Hollywood war movie,” Walsh said. “This is the real thing.”
“Everyday kids are getting killed or having limbs blown off and coming home absolutely shattered,” Walsh said. “I hope (the documentary) is a wake up call, because this is a forgotten war here.”
Walsh contributed the song “No Man’s Land” to the film, which he describes as a musical journey to accompany the story. He’s started the non-profit VETAID.org, and he plans to donate sales of “No Man’s Land” directly to veterans.
Making an album with Auerbach, Walsh said, has been enjoyable. The two came together over their love for vintage equipment.
“We don’t believe in having a digital plug-in to make it sound like a certain amp when we can go get the amp,” Walsh said.
Walsh said he grew up on 1953 to 1960 rock and roll, when songs were recorded in one take.
“If there’s mojo in your performance, that’s more important than it being perfect,” Walsh said. “Hopefully I can get in the studio with this band, the whole band in the same room at the same time. That is the magic of the human performance.”
Walsh said he’s played Northeastern Pennsylvania for years and remembers Scranton gigs with the James Gang in the ’70s.
“It’s always been a great place, great energy, and I’m looking forward to playing there with this band.”
Reach Matt Mattei at 570-991-6651 or Twitter @TLArts
IF YOU GO:
What: An Evening with Joe Walsh
When: 8 p.m. Aug. 4
Where: F.M. Kirby Center, 71 Public Square, Wilkes-Barre
Additional information: Tickets for Joe Walsh range from $66 to $247 and are available at the Kirby Center box office, by phone at 570-826-1100 or online at kirbycenter.org.