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Still at it after 50 years, REO Speedwagon is back on the road and playing the songs people know by heart. The classic rock band comes to the Clay Center Wednesday.

There will be no Christmas music at REO Speedwagon’s show Wednesday night at the Clay Center in Charleston.

Well, probably not. The band did release “Not So Silent Night … Christmas with REO Speedwagon” in 2009, but band founder and keyboardist Neal Doughty said the band rarely plays anything off that record.

“When we get to December, we’re usually winding down,” the 75-year-old rocker said. “It would require a week of rehearsal to play one song for a show at the end of the tour.”

Doughty said fans could listen to Christmas music at home if they wanted.

“Under the Christmas tree,” he suggested.

For Wednesday’s show — and most of the band’s other shows — Doughty said they just stick to what the fans like.

“If you’re going to make a playlist of 90 minutes of REO Speedwagon, it’s probably what we’re going to play,” he said.

That’s probably a lot of radio hits, but also maybe a few other songs, as well. Their playlist isn’t built around chart numbers or gold records earned, but what the crowd really loves.

Doughty said, “A lot of it is how many of them are singing along?”

You give the people what they want. And the people coming to an REO Speedwagon show want to hear the music they love.

The band has been around for over 50 years. They have a lot songs they could pick and choose from, but Doughty said they take it easy and keep it simple.

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REO Speedwagon doesn’t really record new material anymore, not that they couldn’t.

The keyboardist said, “If Kevin [Cronin, REO Speedwagon’s lead singer] or someone else had a great idea for a song, sure, we’d record that and maybe put it out on iTunes or something.”

But probably no more records. The band gets along better without making new records, Doughty said.

“We really are friends,” he said. “Part of that is we’re not making any new records. That’s when bands fight, when they’re making a new record, and everybody wants all 10 songs to be theirs.”

Doughty understood that was a necessary part of making music with a band. There are always clashes, but he said there comes a point when fighting over how many songs make it onto a particular recording doesn’t matter so much.

“Any band that has made enough records, just stop before you hate each other,” he said.

What’s enough, naturally, is open to discussion, but Doughty said, “We get along better live than in the studio.”

REO Speedwagon is in a good place, he thought. The band performs around 80 shows a year. Next year, Doughty said they were headed out with some old friends, and he was looking forward to that.

The band wasn’t precisely the band he started out with 50-some years ago, but the newest members of the group have been with REO Speedwagon for over 30 years.

“This lineup is the longest we’ve ever had.” He laughed and said, “We’re getting pretty tight by now.”

Bill Lynch covers entertainment. He can be reached at 304-348-5195 or lynch@hdmediallc.com. Follow @lostHwys on Twitter and @billiscap on Instagram.

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