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INTERVIEW: Foreigners Journey Co-Founder Paul Kochanski On Celebrating Two Iconic '80s Rock Bands

T.J. Clemente

Foreigners Journey brings to the stage the best hits of both the super groups Foreigner and Journey. (Courtesy Photo)

In an exclusive interview with Foreigners Journey's co-founder Paul Kochanski I can honestly report that the Bay Street audience on this Saturday night (March 23) are in for a great show featuring all of the best hits of both the super groups Foreigner and Journey. The songs will be performed in their original keys and all played live. No loops, no recorded sounds - just great musicians doing their thing.

Kochanski has been playing keyboards since he was five and bought his first organ (Farfisa) with money he was making from being in a band in the Boston area. "We were paid really well back then and we played four nights a week pretty consistently," he shared. When asked about the present band Kochanski said, "Co-founder Keith Carmichael and I had a band (playing Journey songs) nine years ago. Then he moved out to the Chicago area. Three years ago, he [Keith] called me, said he was back in the area then he asked if I needed a lead singer. I was putting a Foreigner type band together. The timing was perfect. Keith can really sing."

Of course, they mixed the two bands' music together and now with Joe Pettengill on bass/vocals, Art Mambuca on drums, Kevin Herrera on guitar/vocals, Paul plays the keyboards/vocals and Keith Carmichael is the lead singer of their band they call Foreigners Journey.

Kochanski said Rick Wakeman, the keyboard player from Yes, was very influential on him very early in his career. He also mentioned Jon Lord (Deep Purple) and Jonathan Cain (the Babys, Journey and Bad English) as his influences. When talking about the success of Foreigners Journey, he mentioned they first played only around Boston but then through Keith's connections around Chicago played in front of 6,000 folks in Napperville, Illinois. He mentioned a very cool gig playing in the old and historic Tibbits Opera House in Coldwater, Michigan.

This will be Foreigners Journey's first-time playing Bay Street. Kochanski wanted to make sure to give a shout out to his wife Shelly who is "everything to me." I asked Paul whom was the one artist he has seen perform up close and personally who really impressed him. Amazingly he said, "Billy Joel! I was invited by a friend to be side stage at Boston Garden and sat there and watched Billy play. He was looking right into my eyes." When asked if he has been to the East End of Long Island he said, "Yes, I fished in Montauk and stayed at a friend who had a house a block from the ocean."

Paul promised the show would have a few surprises, including the finale. He said they love having the folks dance to the songs all America danced to in the 1980's through the 1990's and quite frankly still to this day.

Bay Street is located at 1 Bay Street in Sag Harbor. For more information, call 631-725-9500 or visit www.baystreet.org.

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