Musician Kenny Loggins adapting to changes in record industry

Kenny Loggins is no fan of The Wiggles.

He has a good relationship with Disney, but he’s on the rocks with Target.

The eternal troubadour turned 61 in January, and while his reputation is secure, his longevity in the record industry does require adaptability to fast-changing business models.

Loggins, who plays today at Green Valley Ranch and Saturday at Aliante Station, talks about some of his recent adventures in the new-media world.

CHILDREN’S RECORDS

As parents can attest, "Children, when they get into an album, they’ll play it over and over and over again. The main idea for this record was something the parents will enjoy listening to as much as the children," Loggins says of his third collection of children’s music, this time for Disney.

He just wrapped up work on "All Join In," a set of up-tempo covers set for a June 2 release. It targets the pre-"Hannah Montana" set, and one song, "Underneath the Same Sky," is cross-promoted on the April DVD release "Tigger & Pooh and a Musical Too."

All five of his children can be heard on the album. The youngest, 11-year-old Hana, sings duets with him on the Feist hit "1234" and the Donovan chestnut "There Is a Mountain." The album also includes his official studio reunion with Jim Messina. (The duo toured in 2005 and released a live album.)

Thanks to the popular Kidz Bop series, "You can use more adult production values on young children’s music," he says. "It’s not ‘Itsy-Bitsy Spider’ (and) it has nothing in common with Raffi."

He admits Raffi is "really good for toddlers. I think we’ve all gone through our love-hate relationship with Raffi."

However, he adds, "I never went through a love relationship with The Wiggles. I’ve never been able to stand them." When his daughter was young and liked them, "I’d have to leave the room."

DIRECT TO RETAIL

A promising model for new albums from what they call "artists of a certain age" has been to cut exclusive deals with big-box retailers, such as the Eagles and AC/DC did with Wal-Mart.

Loggins tried it with Target when "How About Now" was announced in early 2007 as one the first albums in partnership with the retailer and its contracted label, 180 Music.

Everyone had "the best of intentions, but they just didn’t know how to do it," Loggins says. "It’s not like selling refrigerators. It requires a level of timing and coordination. They had to learn."

His album was hampered by everything from winter blizzards slowing distribution out of Minneapolis to lack of store-to-store coordination and "sales people who were not educated in their stock, so they didn’t know they had the record."

After a year, the album was re-released through more conventional channels, and Loggins still pushes it in his live shows. Despite downbeat lyrics inspired by his 2004 divorce, "I noticed when I was on the road with it that people responded to it first listen, without having to have the record in order to get into it with three or four listens. … That never happens with new material."

CASINOS AND CORPORATE GIGS

"Casinos are becoming more and more important for the bottom line. Especially the Indian casinos popping up around the country," Loggins says.

But the fallout from the financial meltdown already has canceled a couple of the lucrative private shows he does for corporate parties and conventions.

There is a silver lining when it comes to sparing his dignity. "I played Las Vegas in the Pussycat Dolls showroom (part of the Pure club at Caesars Palace) to an audience of mostly middle-aged men who were standing around holding cocktails. It was my worst nightmare. It was very weird," he says.

"On that show, I dedicated one of the songs to the remodel of my bathroom."

’80S MOVIE AFTERLIFE

Loggins’ recent albums take their overall sound back to the organic, acoustic instrumentation of his early hits. But the synthesized sound of his ’80s movie soundtracks is having a big comeback. Some of it’s a dubious honor, such as the spoofy Web series "Yacht Rock," satirizing the fictional exploits of Loggins and Michael McDonald. But some of it is genuine.

"It just depends on the era, when it’s cool, when it’s not," Loggins says. "I remember I went through a long period of time when ‘Footloose’ was not cool, because the groove of it was so different than what was fashionable."

But now, he says, a new generation has discovered "Footloose" because it was turned into a stage musical that became a hit with regional theaters, colleges and high schools. (It’s on this summer’s schedule at Tuacahn Amphitheatre in St. George, Utah.)

He’s been playing "Danger Zone" and the like with more modern arrangements. But now Loggins is of a mind to copy the originals, even if it means tracking down samples of vintage instruments such as the Yamaha DX7 synthesizer.

Giorgio Moroder, the hot ’80s composer and producer of the "Top Gun" soundtrack, "had no patience for looking for new sounds," Loggins explains. "He would pull a synthesizer out of the box, go to the stock patches (the built-in settings) and build his track on whatever stock patches those synths had, so his stuff was quintessential ’80s. … He liked the way it sounded, it was quick and easy, and it wasted no time in the studio."

Contact reporter Mike Weatherford at mweatherford@ reviewjournal.com or 702-383-0288.

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