Jefferson Starship

Jefferson Starship band lineup includes Cathy Richardson, David Freiberg, drummer Donny Baldwin, bass, keyboard, and synth player Chris Smith, and lead and rhythm guitarist Jude Gold.

Jefferson Starship, the rock band from San Francisco known for its ‘70s hits “Count on Me,” “Jane,” and “Runaway,” will be performing at RiverPark Center at 7 p.m. Thursday.

“We look so forward to coming to Owensboro and rocking your face holes,” said Cathy Richardson, lead singer for the band for the last 13 years.

Jefferson Starship originated from Paul Kantner’s, their late rhythm guitarist, release of “Bows Against the Empire” in 1970 under the name “Paul Kantner and Jefferson Starship,” while Kantner was in the popular ‘60s band Jefferson Airplane.

Jefferson Airplane eventually split up into two groups, Hot Tuna and Jefferson Starship, in which the latter formed officially in 1974 by Kantner and lead vocalist Grace Slick. Others in the original lineup included drummer John Barbata, lead guitarist Craig Chaquico, violinist Papa John Creach, backing vocalist, bass player, and keyboard player David Freiberg, and bass player Peter Kaukonen.

After touring and releasing their first certified Gold album “Dragon Fly” in 1974, the band continued to tour despite lineup changes, and released four top 10 albums, including their 1975 release “Red Octopus,” which reached number one on the Billboard 200 albums chart, with the lead single “Miracles” peaking at number three on the U.S. Billboard Hot 100.

After more changes in personnel, Kantner left the group in 1985 and dissolved the group, where remaining members formed the more pop-oriented band Starship, who had continued success with hits such as “We Built This City” and the Oscar-nominated song “Nothing’s Gonna Stop Us Now” from the 1987 romantic comedy flick “Mannequin.”

Kantner eventually revived the band and resumed touring and studio projects in 1992.

The current lineup consists of Richardson, Freiberg, drummer Donny Baldwin, bass, keyboard, and synth player Chris Smith, and lead and rhythm guitarist Jude Gold.

Richardson, who was already established in the music industry with a Grammy nomination under her belt for Cathy Richardson Band’s 2003 album “The Road to Bliss,” thought joining the band was a step in the right direction.

“It was unbelievable. It’s like beyond a dream come true,” Richardson said. “I’ve been fronting my own band for 20 years at that point and being an artist in my own right, and writing my own music, and just putting out my own records (for) decades. But, I never had that sort of breakthrough success. It was always just a series of little things over the years that built up this career. By the time I got in the band, I was almost 40 years old and I had decades of experience as a front woman. I just think it was a great move … in my life.”

Richardson was living in San Francisco after wrapping up her stint playing Janis Joplin in the Off-Broadway show “Love, Janis,” when she met Kantner and members of the band while Richardson was playing with Joplin’s original band, Big Brother and the Holding Company, on the “Summer of Love” 40th anniversary tour in 2007 with Jefferson Starship, Quicksilver Messenger Service, It’s a Beautiful Day, and Tom Constanten, keyboardist of Grateful Dead.

“I met (the band), they were seeing me sing every night, and we became friends,” Richardson said. “I’ve always been a huge, huge fan.”

Diana Mangano, Jefferson Starship’s singer at the time, decided to leave the band shortly after, which left a position open.

“It really was perfect timing for me to step in,” Richardson said. “It really made a lot of sense to me. Maybe not so much for people who knew me for singing Janis’ songs, but I was always a much bigger Jefferson fan, especially Jefferson Starship growing up and I just love their music. I feel like I really understood it and the role for me.”

Richardson’s first show as a member of the band went off without a hitch, despite noting some issues in the initial soundcheck.

“I remember I was really nervous. I remember I had been given a list of 150 songs to learn but didn’t know what the set list was going to be,” Richardson said.

Richardson said the current line up has attained their own legion of fans.

“Our band has fans — people who love our Jefferson Starship,” Richardson said. “They love the old music, and of course we play it (because) that’s our job, but they like hearing us do the music. It’s been incredibly rewarding, exciting — everything.”

The band released their 11th studio album, “Mother of the Sun” last August — their first studio release in 12 years. Richardson said that the group had just finished recording five new songs for a future project and recently mixed a double live album, which is to include video footage.

“We’re trying to keep it fresh, keep it new, but always with … a deep vow to the past of where we came from,” Richardson said.

For Thursday night, Richardson hopes that the audience will have fun and expect the unexpected.

“Prepare to hear all the songs that you know and love from Jefferson Airplane, Jefferson Starship, and Starship,” Richardson said. “Expect to have a good time, sing-a-long, and you never know, something weird might happen — which always happens. So, be there for that.”

For more information about Jefferson Starship, such as updates and tour dates, visit jeffersonstarship.com.

Tickets are on sale now at riverparkcenter.org.

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