Five Lost Planet Airmen fly again at The Palms on Friday, June 28

Five members of Commander Cody and His Lost Planet Airmen, including guitarist Bill Kirchen (pictured), will reunite at The Palms Playhouse in Winters on Friday, June 28. Tickets for the 8 p.m. show are $24 general/$12 students. Courtesy photo

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By KATE LADDISH Entertainment correspondent In the late 1960s and early 1970s, Commander Cody and His Lost Planet Airmen gained national recognition for their eclectic blend of country, rock, western swing, blues and boogie-woogie. That omnivorous approach has earned them credit as pioneers of the Americana genre. Five original Airmen – guitarist and singer Bill Kirchen, pedal steel player Bobby Black, guitarist and singer John Tichy, bassist and singer Buffalo Bruce Barlow and violinist and sax player Andy Stein – will hold a rare Airmen reunion at The Palms Playhouse (13 Main St. in Winters) on Friday, June 28 at 8 p.m. Keyboardist and singer Austin de Lone and drummer Paul Revelli will join. Tickets are $24 ($12 with student ID). Kirchen can make his electric guitar growl, groove, or glimmer with delicate bell-like runs. His playing was integral to CC&HLPA’s sound, including the defining licks on their biggest hit, “Hot Rod Lincoln.” As a solo artist, he’s received a Grammy nomination and released a dozen albums, including 2016’s “Transatlanticana” with de Lone. Kirchen said the Airmen reunion show “grew organically.” “I decided years ago that anytime I was in the Bay Area, I would play with Bobby if I could. Then last year to my delight the other local Airman, Buffalo Bruce, suddenly became available. “When Professor Tichy got wind back in New York, he said cut me in if you ever do it again. So at this point as it’s turning into an actual reunion, so I called the last available surviving band member, Andy Stein, also in New York. Against all odds he managed to shoehorn it into his schedule. Voila!” Black has been in Asleep at the Wheel and New Riders of the Purple Sage, and played on George Jones’ earliest recordings. Kirchen said, “I’ve never heard another steel player who contributes so much to every song, not just solos, not just fills, but all the little subtleties. A rhythm part here, a beautiful chord-comping part there, he’s always helping.” He continued, “John was my original role model for rock ‘n’ roll guitar and singing, plus classic country weepers. I was already picking country to some extent, but new to that world. He had and has it all: the drive, chops and attitude. “Buffalo Bruce, same goes. Drive, chops, always with cool inventive lines. He’s a never-ending source of great energy on stage, a big driving force in the original band, plus great harmonies. “Now Andy Stein: he is the most accomplished musician I have ever worked with. He plays and writes classical symphonies and violin concertos, plays fiddle, jazz sax and violin. Plus, he rocks.” Stein used that versatility as the violinist and saxophonist with Guy’s All-Star Shoe Band on Prairie Home Companion. Austin de Lone and Paul Revelli will complete the line-up. “Austin has made several albums and played hundreds of gigs with me, including a stint with Commander Cody,” said Kirchen. “Paul has played maybe a dozen times with me. He’s also a consummate pro who can nail anything you throw at him.” Kirchen said the show will be all Airmen songs, adding, “We have more than enough killer material from the seven classic CC & LPA albums.” Airmen songs of note include “Lost in the Ozone, ” “Too Much Fun,” “Down to Seeds and Stems Again Blues” and “Hot Rod Lincoln,” which Kirchen has since turned into a virtuosic guitar-driven tour of 20th century popular music. Tickets are available at Pacific Ace Hardware in Winters, Armadillo Music in Davis, Davids’ Broken Note in Woodland, online via Eventbrite and The Palms’ website, and at the door if not sold out. For more information, visit palmsplayhouse.com, billkirchen.com, bobbyblacksteel.com, andysteinmusic.com and mane.rpi.edu/people/faculty/john-tichy. ]]>

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