Funk survivors Lakeside roll into Dayton

Credit: CONTRIBUTED PHOTO

Credit: CONTRIBUTED PHOTO

Legendary group performs Dec. 19 at Dayton Masonic Center

It has been a sometimes bumpy yet often fantastic voyage from the Gem City and back for the members of the Original Lakeside.

The legendary funk group, which formed in Dayton in 1971, performs in Schiewetz Auditorium at Dayton Masonic Center on Sunday, Dec. 19. The concert marks the band’s first hometown show since sharing the stage with the Ohio Players and other funk acts at Rose Music Center in Huber Heights in a September 2019 benefit concert that raised more than $100,000 for survivors of the Memorial Day tornadoes.

A little background

The group spent time in Chicago before relocating to Los Angeles, where it was renamed Ohio Lakeside Express. The lineup soon changed to include several new musicians, including longtime drummer Fred Alexander from Texas. After signing with ABC Dunhill in 1976, the name was shortened to Lakeside. The label released the self-titled debut and then the band moved to Solar Records, which released now classic albums like “Shot of Love” (1978), “Fantastic Voyage” (1980) and “Keep On Moving Ahead” (1981).

Lakeside scored its first Top 10 single in 1978 with “It’s All the Way Live,” which peaked at No. 4 on the R&B singles chart. The band’s biggest hit, “Fantastic Voyage,” was No. 1 on the R&B chart for two weeks and crossed over to reach No. 55 on Billboard’s Hot 100. The group failed to have another song make the Hot 100 but continued to have success on the R&B chart with singles like “Raid” (1983) at No. 8 and “Outrageous” (1984) at No. 7.

Lakeside’s chart-topping days might be in the rearview mirror, but the group remains relevant, active and in-demand. “Fantastic Voyage” has seen a boost in online streams thanks to its inclusion in a current television commercial from Allstate Insurance. In late January, the group embarks on the Soul Train Cruise, a sold-out, seven-day trip from Ft. Lauderdale, Fla. to Costa Maya, Cozumel and Belize City. Gladys Knight, Charlie Wilson Patti Austin, the Bark-Kays, Jeffrey Osborne, After 7 are among the other acts on the bill for the floating music festival.

Vocalist William Selby passed away in October but longtime members like Alexander and Dayton native Stephen Shockley are keeping the band’s legacy alive. The two musicians recently discussed the current state of Lakeside in advance of the funk act’s return to Dayton.

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Back on stage

Shockley: “We’re really excited for the Masonic Center. It’s a really nice venue and we’ve got a big night planned. We’re trying to make it a Pirate’s Ball. We want people to come dressed like pirates and wenches. We’ll give away a prize for the best dressed pirate and the best dressed wench. We just need to make sure we can sell this place out so it will be really successful. We’re bringing in all kinds of stuff for the show: lights, sound equipment, props and everything. We wanted to make sure we had a soundman that can handle our sound. We were really concerned about that because we want people to have a great show.”

Alexander: “We’ve been out since May, so it’s been a nice run. I didn’t know if they were going to close everything down again, but, so far, everything is good and safe. We’re just looking to go into January, February and March. I’m starting to book for next year. We’ve got the Soul Train Cruise in January and that’s sold out. We usually do a cruise every couple of years or so and it’s a nice gig. It’s like a paid vacation. You get to enjoy yourself and eat some nice food.”

Music new and old

Shockley: “Everything is going great. We have this big holiday show in Dayton and then we’re also trying to get prepared for the Soul Train Cruise. We’re also celebrating being in the Allstate commercial. It’s getting a lot of airplay during the NFL and college football games. It amazes me that song is almost 40 years old and it’s bigger today than it was then.”

Alexander: “We’re still working on new stuff now. We’ve got a ballad out from the vault that we cut a few years ago. I was like, ‘There’s no use in sitting on this stuff.’ It’s on DistroKid and Spotify. It’s called, ‘You’re Not the Only One.’ We’re going to drop another one from the vault called ‘You Can’t Fade Me.’ We just wanted to get them out to fans.”

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A fallen comrade

Shockley: “Getting out and performing again has been fabulous. All of the shows have been sold out, for the most part. They’ve been in very good arenas, so we’ve been having fun. We’ve been doing really great and then we got set back when Will Shelby passed away. He’s a legendary guy, a great songwriter. That was really hard but we’re trying to keep it moving.”

Alexander: “We’re still in shock. We were floored but we had to go out four or five days after Will passed. We had a show, and we just left an empty mic there. Oh, man, I kept crying all night long. I kept choking up at different points of the show. It made me wish he was there.”

Soldiering on

Shockley: “I never thought I’d be playing on stage at 67. My grandfather was 64 years old when he passed away, which wasn’t too uncommon at the time, but he really looked like an old man. Today, guys are jumping around on stage going on 70 years old and they’re still looking young. It’s amazing but, like I said, I never imagined I’d be running around and acting like a rock ‘n’ roller at this age.”

Alexander: “We’re just blessed to still be playing. God is keeping us healthy while moving around in the midst of COVID. We’re trying to keep on staying healthy so we can perform for live audiences. I love recording but there’s nothing like performing in front of our fans. We just want to keep playing because that’s what we live for.”

Contact this contributing writer at 937-287-6139 or e-mail at donthrasher100@gmail.com.

HOW TO GO

Who: Masonic Live presents the Original Lakeside

Where: Schiewetz Auditorium at Masonic Center, 525 W. Riverview Ave., Dayton

When: 7:30 p.m. Sunday, Dec. 19. Doors open at 6:30 p.m.

Cost: $50-$85

More info: Daytonmasonic.live

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