The Four Tops’ Duke Fakir is up for any musical adventure, and this March, that includes the Chandler Chamber Ostrich Festival.
“We usually play Phoenix, but anywhere else in Arizona is a good, new adventure,” Fakir says with a laugh.
“We should enjoy the festival. Anything that’s different than the normal scenery or even makes it a little more exciting for us.”
The Four Tops are among the musical acts at this year’s Chandler Chamber Ostrich Festival, which features national and regional musicians, attractions, more than 50 carnival rides and food vendors. Ostriches will roam freely in a designated area at the festival.
For the first time in 32 years, the festival will take place on two weekends: Friday, March 11, to Sunday, March 13, and Friday, March 17, to Sunday, March 20.
“We are thrilled to bring two weekends of Ostrich Festival family fun to our community so guests will have the opportunity for double the fun,” says Terri Kimble, the Chandler Chamber of Commerce’s chief executive officer and president.
“We have been working diligently with the city of Chandler and SLE to plan the safest event possible for what is expected to be the best Ostrich Festival ever with our most diverse musical talent lineup to date.”
The Four Tops are co-headlining with fellow Motown legends the Temptations on March 20.
Additional headliners include Grammy award-winning The Band Perry co-headlining with pop star Uncle Kracker (March 11), Grammy-nominated country act Walker Hayes (March 12), rapper Flo Rida (March 13), the ’80s cover band Spazmatics (March 17), the legendary Beach Boys (March 18) and Grammy-winning R&B star Nelly (March 19).
The 86-year-old Fakir — the lone surviving original Four Tops singer — says he’s slowing down from touring, but he is leaving a legacy with songs like “I Can’t Help Myself (Sugar Pie Honey Bunch)” and “Reach Out I’ll Be There.”
“I’m at an age where I’m not going to perform for too much longer,” he says. “I’m way up there and, at my age, very few people are performing. It’s time for me to ease out of the business and ease out with the wonderful story for the Four Tops.
“Hopefully the younger Tops will keep this going.”
To keep the Four Tops alive, Fakir is working on a memoir for London’s Omnibus Press as well as a Broadway musical, both of which are called “I’ll Be There.”
“There’s a story about the Tops and a lot of people don’t know the true story,” he says. “It’s very interesting, and it will be in the book that’s coming out in May, too.
“I want them to know how and why we stayed together all these years; how it was and what it took for us to do that. The life we lived early in our career was very different and very exciting. When we were young, we all said a book was something we would do together. Unfortunately, we never did that. I have the honor of telling the story.”
Fakir anticipates the book and the musical will be hits. “I’ll Be There,” the musical, will be ready by the end of the year, although it has not been cast yet.
“I can’t wait for people to read, hear and go through the life of the Four Tops,” he says. “The wonderful part is my career is still going. It’s amazing to me. We have so much fun on stage. The audience makes it fun, too — especially nowadays because they’ve been pent up for so long.”
Country rocker Uncle Kracker — known to his family as Matthew Shafer — wishes he could be in town for Motown night, as he’s from suburban Detroit.
The former Kid Rock DJ anticipated his set will be primarily hits like “Follow Me,” “In a Little While,” “Smile” and his cover of “Drift Away.”
“When I do these things, I try not to get all new stuff on everybody,” he says with a laugh. “I want to show up and have fun. I want to please them with stuff they’ve heard.
“I want the crowd to participate. After all, everybody needs to help out. If we’re going to be there, we all have to do some lifting.”
Later this year, Shafer will start releasing music again, tunes he recorded during the pandemic-induced break from touring.
“I go crazy if I’m not in the studio,” says Shafer, who has kids ranging in age from 1 “and some change” to 22. “I get the itch if I’ve been out of it too long. I’ll probably do a tour around an actual album release, instead of one-off dates like this. I just can’t wait for this festival. It will be great to play for families again.”
Chandler Chamber Ostrich Festival
WHEN: 2 p.m. to midnight Friday, March 11; 10 a.m. to midnight Saturday, March 12; 10 a.m. to 11 p.m. Sunday, March 13; 4 to 11 p.m. Thursday, March 17; 2 p.m. to midnight Friday, March 18; 10 a.m. to midnight Saturday, March 19; and 10 a.m. to 11 p.m. Sunday, March 20
WHERE: Tumbleweed Park, 2250 S. McQueen Road, Chandler
COST: Tickets start at $20 for ages 13 and older; start at $15 for children 4 to 12; free for children younger than 4. Chandler residents qualify for free tickets on March 17. See the website for more information.