Todd Rundgren put out his first record with Nazz 50 years ago, and really hasn’t stopped since.
It’s an old-school work ethic, one that has seen him put out just about as many albums – as a solo act and bands – as there are years on his resume. And that doesn’t count his storied career as a producer.
And yet, he’s an opening act, along with Carl Palmer’s ELP Legacy, on the Sunday, Aug. 20, Yestival bill, headlined by the incarnation of the prog-rock band that features Steve Howe and Alan White, at Jacobs Pavilion at Nautica.
The other incarnation, Yes, featuring Jon Anderson, Trevor Rabin and Rick Wakeman, will be at Akron’s Goodyear Theater on Friday, Sept. 15. As of right now, Rundgren’s not an opener. But given the guy’s tenacity, don’t bet against it.
“Probably the agency – we’ve got the same agency – got the idea of putting the package together,” said Rundgren, calling in between tour stops.
“I don’t usually go out looking to be an opener for somebody,” the 69-year-old said with a chuckle. “But it is an opportunity to get in front of a larger audience, and that’s always an objective.”
As far as Rundgren is concerned, it’s just good business.
“I’ve always said I was a manufacturer, not a marketer,” he said. “I know how to make records, but I don’t have a lot of sophistication in terms of how to get them sold.”
What’s interesting is that Rundgren, whose reputation as a musician is exceeded only by his rep as a producer, is not tagging along in this age of resurgent interest in vinyl. He points to his newest album, “White Knight,” which came out this past May with its anti-Trump hit “Tin Foil Hat,” as a reason.
“That was one issue I had to confront – [Cleopatra Records] wanted simultaneous releases on CD and vinyl as well,” he said. “I hadn’t had to deal with vinyl in a couple of decades – especially having it affect the release date of the record.”
Production of vinyl records is much more complicated than that of CDs. Art work, the lacquer “molds” for the record and the pressings themselves have to be in much earlier, which is why the album he originally wanted to release in April came out in May.
“Now I was suddenly back in the ’70s, when it was a two- to three-month lead time,” Rundgren said.
“I think it’s something of a fad,” he said. “Most people who opt to get into vinyl don’t even have a stereo system to play it on. They buy one of those things from Urban Outfitters with 5-inch speakers.”
That being said, there is a good side of vinyl – or there was.
“At least in the old days, it was an encouragement to listen to the WHOLE record, because you couldn’t take it somewhere,” Rundgren said. “You had your own sweet spot to listen to the record, but nowadays, people tend to absorb even new releases in dribs and drabs, a song at a time.”
Oh, and there’s one more plus for the big vinyl records:
“It’s easier to roll a joint on an album cover than a CD cover,” he said, laughing.
Ah. Old school. Just like you’d expect from a guy who’s been at it for a half-century.
When: 7 p.m. Sunday, Aug. 20.
Where: Jacobs Pavilion at Nautica, 2014 Sycamore St. on the west bank of Cleveland’s Flats.
Openers: Rundgren and Carl Palmer’s ELP Legacy.
Tickets: $25 to $65, plus fees, at the box office, online at ticketmaster.com and by phone at 1-800-745-3000.
Get the latest album ‘White Knight’!
White Knight showcases Rundgren’s incredibly diverse range of styles from soulful art rock to ambient synth pop and includes performances from Rundgren’s equally diverse musical companions such as Trent Reznor, Donald Fagen (of Steely Dan), Joe Walsh (of The Eagles), Daryl Hall, Dam Funk, Joe Satriani, Robyn and more!
2. Chance For Us
4. Beginning (of the end)
5. Tin Foil Hat
6. Look At Me
7. Let’s Do This
9. That Could Have Been Me
10. Deaf Ears
11. Naked & Afraid
12. Buy My T
13. Wouldn’t You Like To Know
14. This Is Not A Drill