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Transit Authority returns; Get on Board!

The music of one of the most prolific and ground-breaking bands of American music history, Chicago, will be performed in a high-energy tribute by Transit Authority at 7:30 p.m. Jan. 23 at Tornstrom Auditorium in Brainerd.

Transit Authority will perform the music of Chicago on Friday, Jan. 23, in Brainerd.Submitted Photo
Transit Authority will perform the music of Chicago on Friday, Jan. 23, in Brainerd.Submitted Photo

The music of one of the most prolific and ground-breaking bands of American music history, Chicago, will be performed in a high-energy tribute by Transit Authority at 7:30 p.m. Jan. 23 at Tornstrom Auditorium in Brainerd.

The show will be presented by the Central Lakes College (CLC) Cultural Arts Series.

"We had this band here last year and they were phenomenal," said series producer Patrick Spradlin. "The audience response was so positive that we decided to bring them back for an encore performance."

Few bands have had the kind of impact on American pop music than Chicago. Their debut album, "Chicago Transit Authority," held the distinction of being one of the only double-disc first releases for a rock band. Second only to the Beach Boys in Billboard singles and albums chart success among American bands, Chicago is one of the longest-running and most successful rock groups, and one of the world's best-selling groups of all time, having sold more than 100 million records.

Transit Authority has been a mainstay of the Twin Cities music scene for several years, and is billed as "The Premier Tribute Band to the Music of Chicago." The group performs nationwide, in all kinds of venues.

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"After their concerts, the band asks audience members to post comments on their Facebook page," said Spradlin. "I checked it out after their show here last year."

One Facebook comment was "Wow guys, you made our day and month ... What an amazing performance in Brainerd last night. You filled that place with the best music on earth, Chicago. It left everyone with smiles from ear to ear. The horn section can be very proud of their work ... Jimmy Lee and Walt would be honored in how well you duplicate their special sound. Vocals were spot on, guitar licks were amazing and ... drummer Tim ... how does he keep his glasses on, what energy ...Tris Imboden of Chicago would be proud of how hard Tim plays."

The 8-piece band is fronted by drummer Tim Ellis, a St. Paul musician who had the dream for this band. He opened his own drum shop and makes his own line of drums. On guitar is Minnesota Music Hall of Fame's Bill Davis, an accomplished first call lead guitarist and vocalist. Alan Lecher provides backup vocals and plays trombone and has also collaborated with Martin Zellar, Steve Millar, Laura Schlieske, Boogie Wonderland, Riverside Swing Band, and the Minnesota Jazz Orchestra, among others. Scott Johnson plays woodwinds. He has toured with various jazz, rhythm, and blues and Broadway show groups. His recording credits include rhythm, and blues legends Charles Brown, Big Jay McNeally and Lowel Fulsom, and shared the stage with luminaries such as James Brown and Etta James.

Rounding out the band are Tom Tange, Butch Zierath, Barry Patrick and Matt Kalin.

The song list played by Transit Authority includes nearly all of the well-known Chicago hits: "25 or 6 to 4," "Baby," "What a Big Surprise," "Beginnings" and "Colour My World."

Tickets for Transit Authority are available from the CLC Theatre Box Office at 855-8199, or can be purchased online a tclcmn.edu/arts.​ Reserved seating prices are $25 for adults, $13 for students.

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