ARLINGTON – Their name sounds violent but their message is one of peace.
War performed at the Festival of the River Sunday and lead singer Lonnie Jordan proclaimed, “We’ve always been ahead of the times.”
They then proved it by performing the mid-1970s classic, “Why Can’t We Be Friends?” It includes the lyric: “The color of your skin don’t matter to me; as long as we can live in harmony.”
Racism isn’t the only issue War has spoken out against over the years. Jordan has said that it also has promoted brotherhood against hunger, gangs, crimes and turf wars.
It wasn’t the only proud-to-be-an-American moment at the concert. After it was announced that Stanley Behrens, who plays harmonica, served the United States in the Vietnam War, he played an inspirational rendition of the “Star-Spangled Banner” with a huge flag on the large screen behind him, along with Jordan with his hand over his heart.
Jordan, 71, is the only original member of War, which formed in 1969.
The diverse band of musician performed before an equally diverse crowd, which included people of all ages. Even younger members of the audience who may have never heard their songs before were dancing and easily picking up the words to songs like “Cisco Kid,” “The World is a Ghetto,” and “Gypsy Man.”
Song after song band members in War showed off their musical talents.
Leading the way were Behrens and saxophonist Scott Martin, but bassist Rene Camacho and percussionist Marcos Reyes also took turns displaying their expertise with lengthy solos.
Other fan favorites performed included: “Spill the Wine,” “Low Rider,” “Slippin’ into Darkness” and “Summer.”
Performing after War was William Royce “Boz” Scaggs, 75, who played songs from his 2018 album “Out of the Blues,” along with such classics “Lido Shuffle” and “Lowdown.” Opening Sunday was Big Brother and the Holding Company.