SIDNEY – Outrider is a band that cares a lot about its audience.
“A lot of bands play what (the band likes) to hear. We’re more prone to play what the crowd likes to hear,” said Tony Phillips, of Lima, a lead vocalist in the group.
Outrider, based in Jackson Center, will perform in Sidney, Sept. 17, at 7 p.m., in Custenborder Park.
The Shelby County Historical Society presents the free concert as one of several days of special events that will accompany a display of the AVTT-TWF Traveling Wall, a replica of the Vietnam War Memorial in Washington, D.C. Concert-goers should take lawn chairs.
“Outrider plays music from the 1960s through the 1990s, as well as music from today,” said Tilda Phlipot, historical society director. “They are a perfect choice to entertain an audience of all ages. That’s the kind of crowd we expect to visit the wall and the field of crosses that will also be exhibited in the park.”
The group had just begun to play together again this year. It had gone through several iterations since its inception 25 years ago and had been retired for some time. It began as a true garage band, with Jason Wright and Joe Green playing guitars in Wright’s garage. Wright is still singing and playing bass and rhythm guitar in the group. Today’s ensemble also includes vocalist January Phillips, of Lima, and percussionist Jim Oakley, guitarist and vocalist Guy Stevens, and keyboardist Danielle Bunke, all of Jackson Center.
Performing has never been a full time job for any of them. Some continue in day jobs and some are retired from day jobs. But without fail, they meet every Thursday night to rehearse. The sessions, however, have moved from the garage to the basement at Wright’s house.
“It’s cooler and a lot quieter for the neighborhood,” Phillips laughed.
Outrider performs covers, songs made famous by other bands, for the most part. But occasionally, they include an original piece in their set list. That will be the case for the Sidney concert.
“We’ll be playing one original song geared toward servicemen and women and the sacrifices they make and the things they go through,” Phillips said.
It’s Wright and January Phillips who write most of the lyrics for Outrider’s originals. Then composing the music becomes a group collaboration.
“Jason comes up with an idea and lays his thoughts of music down. Then we all add to it, tweak it, make it what it becomes,” Phillips said. They are looking forward to the upcoming performance.
“It was an honor to be asked, an honor to be part of something so meaningful,” the vocalist said.
Outrider will show up with a planned set list, but that may evolve as the concert goes on.
“We do our best to gauge the crowd,” he said. If the band plays any particular genre and realizes the audience particularly responds to that genre, the group will change the set list as they go along. Phillips doesn’t see that as a challenge. He enjoys reading the crowd and meeting them when a concert ends.
Before, during and after the music plays, people are welcome to visit the wall and the field of crosses, which will honor all U.S. servicemen and women who have died in service since 1975. Both exhibits will be open 24 hours a day from their openings, the field of crosses on Sept. 12 and the replica wall on Sept. 16. They both will close at 3 p.m.., Sept. 19. A memorial flame will be lit to open the displays. It will burn continually until it is extinguished, Sept. 19.
The weeklong event also will include speeches by area veterans, a concert by the Sidney Civic Band, tours by school groups, a cruise-in, and a bench dedication in Tawawa Park.