Journey is among the veteran acts (Santana, The Steve Miller Band, The Doobie Brothers and Tower of Power are the others) appearing at AT&T Park this weekend. (Courtesy  Travis Shinn)

Journey is among the veteran acts (Santana, The Steve Miller Band, The Doobie Brothers and Tower of Power are the others) appearing at AT&T Park this weekend. (Courtesy Travis Shinn)

Guitar great Neal Schon journeys on

Neal Schon doesn’t like living in the past. But the Journey guitarist is hoping that San Francisco Fest 2016 on Sunday at AT & T Park — where his band will appear with Santana, Steve Miller, The Doobie Brothers and Tower of Power — will time-warp fans back three decades to Bill Graham’s sprawling Day on the Green concerts. But he has his own PRS signature guitar model, a 2014 solo album “So U” (featuring drummer Deen Castronovo on vocals) and, to replace former Journey frontman Steve Perry, an eerie soundalike whom he discovered singing in cover bands in the Philippines, Arnel Pineda, who grew up impoverished, living on dirt floors. “It’s a real Cinderella story,” he says. “And he’s no longer the new guy — he’s been with us for 10 years now.”

Any fan of Journey’s definitive “Infinity” album will agree — it’s difficult to fly into SFO at night and not punch up its flagship single “Lights” on the iPod.

I am so proud of that song. And it’s sentimental to me, because it’s about San Francisco. And I remember the day that I finished it with Perry – he was doing more of an R&B type thing with it, but I was a huge fan of Jimi Hendrix, and his rolling chords. So rather than playing “Lights” straightforward, I chose to put a “Wind Cries Mary” vibe into it. And once I did that, we put a stroll to it, and it took on a whole different personality. And it’s still one of our set’s high points. I ask everybody to get out their lighters, and the whole place lights up. And everybody sings it.

But your guitar solo in that is inimitable, your very own tone and voice.

We did “Infinity” with the infamous Roy Thomas Baker, and we did so many different things on that record that I’d never tried, or even thought about doing. I learned a lot from Roy. Like the multi-tracking, violin-styled guitar, as opposed to using synthesizers, and that was a voice for me. Roy basically took a lot of the things he was doing with Queen and brought them to Journey.

Playing devil’s advocate here, why on Earth can’t Journey and Steve Perry reconcile after all these years?

It’s not like I haven’t tried. I love Steve, I love the legacy of the music we wrote together. We wrote some timeless music. But if you look up Steve’s last interviews, he said, “There’s no way I can ever do that — that was then, this is now.” So that’s what he feels. And he has not allowed me to talk directly to him – I always have to give a letter to his attorney to send to him. So the resistance is not on my end.

IF YOU GO
San Francisco Fest 2016
with Journey, Santana, Steve Miller Band, Doobie Brothers, Tower of Power
Where: AT & T Park, 24 Willie Mays Plaza, S.F.
When: 3 p.m. Sept. 4
Tickets: $25 to $250
Contact: www.ticketmaster.com


Arnel PinedaInfinityJimi HendrixJourneyLightsNeal SchonPop MusicSteve Perry

If you find our journalism valuable and relevant, please consider joining our Examiner membership program.
Find out more at www.sfexaminer.com/join/

Just Posted

Nicole Canedo looks at her City-issued Medical Reimbursement Account page on her computer outside her Berkeley apartment on Tuesday, Nov. 24, 2020. Canedo has worked numerous retail jobs in The City and the MRA has helped her with health costs. (Kevin N. Hume/S.F. Examiner)
Millions left sitting in medical reimbursement accounts by city workers

Health officials looking at how to improve access, outreach as untapped funds reach $409M

49ers receiver Deebo Samuel picks up yards in front of the Rams defense after a reception in the 4th quarter at SoFi Stadium in Inglewood Sunday. (Wally Skalij/Los Angeles Times)
Rams can’t stop 49ers’ Deebo Samuel from catching defense off guard

Emmanuel Morgan Los Angeles Times Perhaps the Rams didn’t watch enough film.… Continue reading

Dr. Grant Colfax, director of the San Francisco Department of Public Health. (Kevin N. Hume/S.F. Examiner)
SF moves into purple tier, triggering curfew and business shutdowns

San Francisco moved into the state’s purple COVID-19 tier Saturday, requiring The… Continue reading

Indecline, an art activist collective in San Francisco, transformed a billboard into an editorial with a message blasting immigration policies of Donald Trump’s administration. (Screenshot, Indecline website)
Has immigration fallen off the administration’s radar? Not a chance

Enforced as executive orders, Trump’s hardline policies are proceeding, against will of the people

University of San Francisco head coach Todd Golden coaches his team on defense during a 2019 gameat War Memorial Gymnasium on the campus of the University of San Francisco. (Ryan Gorcey / S.F. Examiner)
Stunner in Bubbleville: USF upsets fourth-ranked Virginia

Less than 48 hours removed from a loss to a feeble UMass… Continue reading

Most Read