Foreigner, a band with a heart for music education, will return to the Missouri State Fair this year with a performance at the Pepsi Grandstand Friday, Aug. 16.
Bassist Jeff Pilson spoke with the Democrat by phone from the West Coast Friday afternoon and said the band is looking forward to playing in Sedalia.
Pilson, who has been with the band since 2004, also acted in the film “Rock Star” in 2001 as bassist Jorgen, of the fictional band Steel Dragon, and was the voice of Johnny Cage in the 2011 video game “Mortal Kombat.”
John Lappen, Foreigner’s media contact, said the band has had 16 top-30 hits, including the No. 1 “I Want to Know What Love Is,” “Hot Blooded” (3), “Urgent” (4), “Double Vision” (2), “Head Games” (14) “and Juke Box Hero” (26).
Pilson noted playing and touring with Foreigner is his “dream job.”
“It’s absolutely wonderful,” he added. “It’s a great band, great songs, great people, great management. I couldn’t ask for better. I’m very fortunate that I have this job.”
A unique concept for the band is inviting local school choirs to sing a number on stage with them when they perform. During their state fair performance, 25 members of the Smith-Cotton High School show choirs will perform “I Want to Know What Love Is.”
“We are working in partnership with The Grammy Foundation,” Pilson said. “Basically, what we are trying to do, is we’re trying to help school music funding.
“As you know, in this day and age of bad education funding, one of the first things they usually cut is the music program,” he continued. “It’s such a crime, because it’s been proven that music helps in so many other areas. So, we’re out to help.”
Pilson said he benefited from music programs while in school.
“I myself am a product of public school music education,” he noted. “My orchestra teacher throughout junior high and high school was somebody who strongly encouraged me to go into music. And, I probably wouldn’t be a professional if not for that. So, it’s very dear to my heart as well.”
For appearing with Foreigner, Smith-Cotton will receive $500 for the school’s music program. Choir members will also be selling Foreigner CDs at the show. Those funds will go toward The Grammy Foundation.
“It’s a win-win for everybody,” Pilson added.
Lappen said 2018 was the most successful year for Foreigner since the band was reformed by Mick Jones in 2004. The band released their newest album, “Feels Like the First Time,” last September. Pilson said it’s already gone gold.
“We are selling it at shows, and I think you can get it at some local outlets as well,” Pilson added. “We’re very excited about it.
“Then at some point, probably either later this year or more likely early next year we’ll be putting out a DVD called ‘Then and Now,’” he continued. “Which is us doing several songs and the original band doing several songs on the same stage. It’s really, really a fun show, then at the end it we all get up together.”
He added they are looking forward to the state fair performance and enjoy playing in the Midwest.
“It’s going to be a great show,” he said. “Lots of great music. And listen, the Midwest has always been so wonderful to us and we are very, very grateful at any chance to get to play there.”
Kicking off the show for Foreigner will be Night Ranger at 7:30 p.m. Friday, Aug. 16 at the Pepsi Grandstand at the Missouri State Fair. The cost for tickets are premium track, $45; regular track, $35; premium grandstand, $30; regular grandstand, $25. Children 2 and under are free, but must sit on an adult’s lap. Tickets may be purchased at the Missouri State Fair Box Office from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. Aug. 5 to 7 and from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. Aug. 8 to 18. Tickets may also be purchased at www.mostatefair.com.