Friday May 18, 2012

PITTSFIELD -- Garrett Lechowski, lead guitarist for The Who tribute band Who Are You, says he started the band as a way to relieve stress.

That might be true, but Who Are You -- the band that will perform last on Saturday night at the fourth annual Guitar Jam -- has become one of the more well-known tribute bands in the Northeast, playing casinos, theaters and other mid-sized venues.

The Pittsfield-based quartet, which formed two years ago, is made up of Lechowski on guitar, Craig Simmons on vocals, John Kiernan on drums and Jim Reynolds on bass.

Locally, the band has been a popular fixture at Live on the Lake, the city's summer concert series on Onota Lake.

In a recent interview with The Eagle, Lechowski talked about his band and his love for The Who.

Q: How did this band get started?

A: I have a really stressful job [as a psychotherapist], and I needed to find an outlet. And I don't like golf.

Q: Our assumption is that you have an interest in The Who. How long ago did that start?

A: My mother tells the story that when she was carrying me, in 1969, she listened to [The Who's famed rock opera] Tommy every day. So when I came out, I was already immersed in it.

I've been a Who fan since I can remember. As a kid, I was determined to be the greatest Who fan ever. I have all their albums and an insane number of bootlegs.


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Q: Do you remember the first time you saw them live?

A: Rich Stadium in Buffalo, 1981. I've seen them live 15 times in all.

Q: That's not bad.

A: Well, it's not like those Springsteen fanatics who see him 200, 300 times or whatever, but I think it's pretty good for a band that doesn't tour a lot anymore. Plus they're based across the ocean.

Q: Do the other three band members like The Who as much as you do?

A: John Kiernan is definitely as big a fan as I am. Craig was probably not as big a fan as John and I, but he really enjoys singing their songs. For him, learning to sing some of them was almost like going to school. But he does an incredible job. He has a set of pipes that won't quit. And Jim Reynolds is a great bass player, which you have to be to be able to play [the late John] Entwistle's parts.

Q: You have a fairly big regional following. Are there any local venues you enjoy playing?

A: We've done Live on the Lake in Pittsfield the past couple of years, and that's been fun. But when I started the band, I envisioned us playing all around the Northeast. We play in a lot of theaters and casinos within about a six-hour driving radius.

Q: The Who began in the early 1960s, and while the surviving members [guitarist Pete Townsend and vocalist Roger Daltry] sometimes tour, they aren't as high profile as they once were. Are your shows multigenerational?

A: Surprisingly, yes. We have people in their 20s and 30s at our shows. The last time we were in Rochester, there were some kids in the front of the stage who knew every word to "Magic Bus."

Q: What's the allure of a tribute band?

A: I think in our case, The Who doesn't tour much. Daltry and Townsend are both approaching 70. But The Who has a universal appeal, even now, And people still want to hear that music, especially if it's done well.

To reach Derek Gentile:
dgentile@berkshireeagle.com,
or (413) 496-6251.
On Twitter: @DerekGentile