Toto isn’t in Kansas but is right at home in Connecticut

By MIKE CHAIKEN

EDITIONS EDITOR

The band Toto likes performing in Connecticut.

After all, the Nutmeg State is in the group’s genes.

As David Paich, the band’s keyboardist and one of several vocalists in band, explained it, when Toto comes to Connecticut they invariably see a slew of members from the Porcaro family.

The Porcaros have been key to the band’s success, which began with Toto’s debut hit “Hold the Line” and continued with other hits such as “Rosanna” and the ubiquitous 1980s track, “Africa.”

Steve Porcaro, the band’s other keyboardist, is from Connecticut and was a founding member of the band, along with his brother, the late Jeff Porcaro. The late Mike Porcaro, who played bass, was another brother who joined the Toto fray.

Paich, a Californian, said he liked coming to Connecticut with Toto because he got to see what influenced his musical friends. “We like to get around, walk the streets, shop, and meet people (when in Connecticut),” said Paich.

And he likes the fact Connecticut has four distinct seasons, unlike his home in California.

As a performer, Paich—who is joined in Toto by guitarist Steve Lukather, vocalist Joseph Williams, as well as Steve Porcaro— enjoys playing the stages of Connecticut and the East Coast in general. Audiences really get into the music when Toto takes the stage, said Paich.

“It’s really energizing,” said Paich.

Toto will be performing June 20 at the historic Warner Theatre in Torrington, which is a renovated art deco movie house.

Paich said he loves playing in older theaters like the Warner because “the acoustics are really conducive to making music.” Plus, he said, “When you’re in a building like that, you can feel the spirit of the performers that came before you.”

“It’s more than a performance” at a place like the Warner, Paich said. “You’re carrying on a tradition of performers.”

Newer venues are great, he said, but there’s something special about old theaters. “They have a lot of soul.”

Toto is one of those bands who have never been afraid to cross musical genres. They have been known to delve into arena rock, R&B, progressive rock, pop, and more.

Paich said all of the members are adept musicians. They’ve been playing together since high school and they all cut their teeth on studio work through the years.

“We’re not confined to playing one thing.”

Toto’s most recent album is “XIV.” The album has received critical and fan kudos.

“That fact in this day and age when Toto makes a record, it’s very special,” said Paich. And when they do hit the studio, he said, “We take it seriously.”

“The studio allows us to be creative,’ said Paich. “It’s a musical laboratory.”

Toto when it comes to Connecticut, will step out of the studio and into its home away from home, the stage.

“We try to give audiences something different than what we did (the last time we were in town),” said Paich of the band’s set list. “We vary it. It makes us fun for us.”

Sometimes they will play songs they haven’t played in a while, said Paich. But also they make sure they give the fans the hits and crowd favorites.

This time around, Paich said the band plans to rock out more. (A portion of this tour finds the band on the road with Pat Benatar, who knows how to rock out.) “It’s really fun and allows us to shake out the cobwebs.”

Toto plays the Warner Theatre, 68 Main St., Torrington on Tuesday, June 20 at 8 p.m. Tickets are $60. For more information, go to www.warnertheatre.org or TotoOfficial.com

Toto comes to the Warner Theatre in Torrington June 20. (HEATHER PORCARO)

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