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Thursday, Nov. 3, 2011 03:34 am

A Venice visit

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Venice pays a visit to the Legacy Theatre, 101 E. Lawrence, 8pm, Fri., Nov. 4.

Lucky for us, the band Venice likes to visit a good friend in town. The result of this fruitful relationship with local business owner and big-time music fan Steve Wells is a regular benefit show from this progressive and entertaining group.

Last year Venice dropped in on June 24 with big news on a big break. For most of 2011 the guys experienced a once-in-a-lifetime adventure, singing backup for Roger Waters of Pink Floyd on his global tour of The Wall. According to Kipp Lennon, founding Venice member along with first cousin Michael, the event is as life-changing as one might expect when touring with one of the most iconic figures in rock history on one of the most anticipated shows in decades.

“I feel like I’m living the dream. We’ve played to thousands of people in the U.S. and Europe. We’re going through South America this winter, then come back here for a summer tour,” says Kipp. “We’re hanging out with Roger Waters hearing his personal stories about guys like Jimi Hendrix. GE Smith’s in the band. David Gilmour sang with us in London. For all the years of singing in the bars till 3 in the morning to put food on the table, we really appreciate this now.”

Unfortunately for Michael, his vocal range didn’t fit into Waters’ backup singing plans and he’s missing the tour. Along with Kipp, the other two Venice members, Kipp’s younger brother, Pat, and Michael’s younger brother, Mark, perform nightly as the singers on The Wall tour.

“It was heartbreaking when we found out Michael couldn’t go along,” says Kipp. “We’ve always been family first and band second. He understood and took it well, but it was so disappointing to us all. We’ve been through so much together, then for him to miss this is sad.”

When first formed in 1977 by Kipp and Michael, Venice began like nearly any other band. As younger siblings of the Lennon Sisters of Lawrence Welk fame and raised in the musical Lennon family, they had a few more connections in the music business than most. Still, Venice faced all the same circumstances of being in a band trying to “make it.” Now, some 30 years later, after all the bar gigs and family festivals, lugging band equipment, interviews, promotions, bookings, recordings, rehearsals and performing whatever else is necessary to build a career, Venice is in a special place.

“Not to drop names, but I was talking to Jackson Browne, and he reminded us how lucky we are to experience both worlds,” says Kipp. “We can coach our kids in sports and hang with guys in the rock world. For the big stars, your personal life gets put on hold.”

These guys can drop names all day long, by the way, with a history of working with superstars such as Bruce Springsteen, Don Henley, Elton John, Heart, Phil Collins, Sting, Melissa Etheridge, Cher, Stevie Nicks, the Beach Boys, Dolly Parton, Linda Ronstadt, Bon Jovi, Warren Zevon and many others. And the truth is they do live in both worlds. In between touring with one of the biggest entertainment shows presently on earth, Venice flies to Springfield for one performance, for a good friend and for a worthy cause. That’s living the dream to the extreme, from gratefully acknowledging a career-making opportunity to continuing to pay respects and help out those who always believed in the group.

“What is ‘making it’ really? We sing our own songs and get to play with some of the greats, plus spend time with our families,” says Kipp. “I think we’ve already made it.”

Contact Tom Irwin at tirwin@illinoistimes.com.

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