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It's impossible not to mention the war between Russia and Ukraine when chatting with WAR keyboardist Lonnie Jordan.
"It's crazy," Jordan said while calling from his Los Angeles home. "I think everyone is on serious drugs to even think about going to war. I can't explain it. Has our DNA been altered due to the shots (the COVID vaccine) or are people inhaling chem trails from the sky. It's disturbing hearing about the new world order. Something is going on with the secret society."
Even though Jordan's band's moniker is WAR, the eclectic funk act has not been terribly political during its lengthy run, which began in 1969. WAR primarily has crafted feel-good, laid back, sunny tunes which reflect its California roots.
War initially was called Nightshift but the name was changed when iconic vocalist Eric Burdon discovered the band. The Animals’ former frontman re-christened the band WAR and wrote and recorded with the versatile group, which melds soul, Latin, jazz and rock.
"We learned so much from Eric," Jordan said. "When he started performing with us, we started to play the blues and I hated the blues, but I eventually ‘’got' the blues. Eric came from Newcastle, (England) and we came from Compton and Watts. We had a lot of things in common in terms of how we grew up and we connected musically."
WAR, coming Saturday to the Riverside Casino Event Center, hit pop pay dirt with the funky "Spill the Wine," which features a passionate vocal from Burdon, who was with the band from 1969 to 1971 and from 1976 to 1977.
"We were fine with and without Eric," Jordan said. "We never stopped or I never stopped."
Jordan is the lone original member of the act.
"What else would or should I do," he said. "I love playing our songs. I've kept on moving forward. People want to hear our material. WAR must live on."
"Why Can't We Be Friends," "The Cisco Kid" and "Low Rider" are among the band's many hits. The latter, about modified cars, was a Latino anthem during the ‘70s and now is part of many high school band's repertoire.
"I love hearing the school bands play the song I wrote with my band,“ Jordan said. ”It's a fun song. Back in the day, we wrote about what we experienced. The only low riders 50 years ago were in California and Arizona. It was part of the culture out here. Now they're all over the place. Low riders are in New York and Tokyo."
WAR — which also includes guitarist Stuart Ziff, drummer Sal Rodriguez, saxophonist Scott Martin, bassist Trevor Huxley, percussionists David Rodriguez and Marcos Reyes and harmonica player Stanley Behrens — always has been adept at crafting the lighter side.
"I think it's important to take people away from their reality for the moment," Jordan said. "We focus on having fun and connecting with one another and our fans. To me music is medicine, just like meditation is medicine.
“There are a lot of good ‘M’ words but money isn't one of them. We need it to live, but there's so much greed out there and that's still such a problem in the world. It's important to stay positive. There is so much negative out there. You can't let external forces depress you. We cover that in song with ‘Don't Let No One Get You Down.’ That song says it all."
WAR's lineup has always been as diverse as its music.
"That's just how it's always been with us," Jordan said. "I never thought about it. We've always obviously been inclusive. Why not be that way? A huge problem in our country is that we're so divided. But we're not divided in our band or with our fans. Everyone is welcome. That's the way it should be."
Burdon reunited with WAR for a concert in 2008.
"Has it been that long already," Jordan said with a laugh. "Eric is always welcome back to join us, but I keep it together no matter who is in the lineup. We've had the same group of guys in the lineup for years. We're all close and now we're just excited to get out and play after dealing with COVID for so long.
“Going on the road gives us something to look forward to and it gives the fans something to look forward to as well."