Neal Doughty rolls with the changes of four decades of REO Speedwagon

REO Speedwagon returns to Biloxi with an 8 p.m. show Friday at the IP Casino Resort.
REO Speedwagon returns to Biloxi with an 8 p.m. show Friday at the IP Casino Resort.

It’s almost spring in South Mississippi. The days are already getting longer and the temperatures soon be warm.

The Bilxoi Shuckers are getting ready to play baseball and plans are being made for Art in The Pass. These are institutions of spring on the Mississippi Coast, as is the annual arrival of REO Speedwagon.

The band will return for a show at 8 p.m. Friday at the IP Casino Resort in Biloxi.

REO is finishing up several headlining dates before joining Styx and Don Felder for a run through the sheds in the summer. The United We Rock Tour starts June 21 at Sunlight Supply Amphitheater in Ridgefield, Washington.

Since 1971, Neal Doughty has been playing keyboards with REO Speedwagon. In an interview with the Sun Herald, he talks about spending more than 45 years on the road, and the upcoming United We Rock Tour.

Q: Kevin (Cronin) once said REO Speedwagon is the “house band of Biloxi.” Do you still enjoy performing here?

A: Oh yes. We’ve seen the Biloxi area go through some terrible stuff and come back, and we always have good fan support down there. We’ve always had a great following down there and of course, it’s always nice to be on the Gulf of Mexico. We’ve had some really nice concerts there over the years.

Q: You’re going out with Styx and Don Felder in June. I’m assuming you guys have a long history with Styx.

A: REO and Styx go back to the year 2000. We’ve literally played hundreds of shows together, but we haven’t toured with them in a few years. We thought it was about time to do it again. The two bands is like having 10 guys in the same band that we divide into two bands. They are like our best buddies. They’re fun guys and great musicians. We’re all really looking forward to it.

Q: A few years ago, REO spent the summer out with Chicago. Are you going to do a similar show with Styx where you play a set together?

A: We haven’t really talked about anything that major. The thing we did with Chicago was where we played six songs with both bands and that took a lot of advance preparation. We know Styx’s songs so that from night to night, you will probably find a couple of musicians mingling in.

I have to say, that thing we did with Chicago was one of the most fun times I’ve had in my life. Just hearing that horn section on some of our biggest hits — there were a lot of nights where I was just laughing out loud because it sounded so good.

We are also friends with Don Felder, too, so this tour is going to be three bands that are good friends going out and having a great time together.

If you go

REO Speedwagon

IP Casino Resort at 850 Bayview Ave. in Biloxi

8 p.m. on Friday, March 17, 2017

Tickets start at $120 and are available at Ticketmaster.com.