When The Moody Blues come to Interlochen, Petoskey native Alan Hewitt will be at the keyboard.
Now based in Los Angeles, Hewitt said he always aims to get back to Northern Michigan once a year. He and the band perform Saturday, June 26.
He chatted with The Graphic about touring with the band, his solo music and getting back up north.
Graphic: You've done a lot of solo work but recently are touring with The Moody Blues. How did you hook up with them?
Hewitt: I was with the same management company as them about 18 years ago, and so I got to be friends with them then, and they were going to make a change and their agent called me and said would you be interested? … So I went through the audition process. There were about 30 guys around the world auditioning and I got it … It's been great, a real natural thing, too.
G: Were you familiar with their work then?
H: Yes, because I had kind of prepared for this about 18 years ago when I was actually up for the spot back then, too. And for whatever reason I didn't get that one back then. It's kind of a neat full circle deal.
G: You are a Petoskey native but you're out in Los Angeles now. Do you get back to the area much?
H: Yes, every year, in the summer … My parents, Doris and Gordon Hewitt, live there, who – actually it was their 68th anniversary in May – and also my brother Ron, and his family live there too. So I have lots of reasons to come back.
G: Were you involved in a lot of music in the area when you were here?
H: Yes, (I was) about 12 years old when we started … We had a band and we started off, and eventually I started playing with some of the older guys in town, in a band called Rasputin … And that was throughout my high school years … then I moved. I went to college at Berklee College of Music in Boston.
G: Now your main forte is jazz, or you like to mix them all together as well?
H: You know, I've kind of done everything because I do film and TV music as well. And so between doing movies and some of that can be anywhere from classical to rock to jazz, soul. I cover just about every angle there, and I did go off the last few years on a jazz tangent, so that's what I've been making – the last three records were kind of jazz-rock records.
G: So what shifted you toward jazz?
H: I got offered a record deal … (They) wondered if I wanted to do a jazz record and I said sure. So they knew that I had done some stuff, some jazz stuff in the past. It was probably from a movie project that they heard something.
G: So what are some of the current projects you're working on?
H: I have a movie coming up in October … (and) I'm actually going to be out on tour all summer with The Moody Blues and then go to England in September and October – England and parts of Europe … In London we're playing O2 arena, which is 20,000 people and it's sold out, so that's going to be fun …
G: You're coming up to Interlochen end of June. What can people expect from your show there?
H: I think they're going to have a great time and really enjoy it. This Moody Blues … it's a big band, and it's very full and sounds great. It's just everybody seems to enjoy it wherever we go. It's amazing how many fans they have …
G: When you come back to the area, do you normally try to stay for a while? Are there any certain points you have to hit?
H: Unfortunately, when I come back in it's usually for a week. I go to the state park and go to the beach there, and then I like to go up to Mackinac Island … go bike riding on the trail, used to be the railroad tracks. And just walk downtown. You know, Petoskey is one of the most, I think it's one of the most spectacular places … You don't appreciate it when you're up there and have to go through a winter … but when you see, the town's built on the lake and it's so blue, it's really just picturesque. I just love it up there.
The Moody Blues performs 8 p.m. Saturday, June 26, at Kresge Auditorium at Interlochen. Tickets range from $38.50 to $55, and available through tickets.interlochen.org.
For more on the artist, visit www.alanhewitt.com.