Foreigner keyboardist enjoying farewell tour, with stop July 14 at AMP

Foreigner keyboardist enjoying farewell tour, with stop July 14 at AMP

Led by Mick Jones since 1976, Foreigner has practically defined classic rock radio with hits such as “I Want to Know What Love Is,” “Waiting for A Girl Like You,” “Double Vision,” “Hot Blooded,” “Urgent,” “Feels Like the First Time,” “Cold as Ice,” “Dirty White Boy,” “Head Games,” “Juke Box Hero,” etc.

Seriously, how many of those songs played in your head just now?

But the band plans to hang it up in 2024. And as they embark on a victory lap with fellow classic rockers Loverboy, longtime keyboardist Michael Bluenstein is looking to the future.

He joined Foreigner in 2008 and remembers fondly the first time that he got to play “Juke Box Hero” on stage.

“The lights going down and playing that intro on the keyboards. It was really pretty surreal. Just playing that library of hit songs was definitely a real honor,” he says. “It’s pretty exceptional. It’s pretty amazing.”

He says that the band is looking forward to having more of a “normal life” after decades on the road.

“It’s sort of bittersweet. I think all of us are looking forward to spending more time with our family and friends and getting off the road,” Bluenstein says. “I think we’re all looking forward to that, but we really love hanging out and playing in the group together. We’ve all become really close friends. It’s really a family.”

In fact, it was a friendship that led to him joining Foreigner. He says that he ran into the former keyboardist for the band who was filling in temporarily.

“He had a commitment as the musical director for the TV show ‘The Voice,’” Bluenstein explains. From there, he auditioned and joined the band, whose music he had listened to all of his life.

“Just growing up in the late ’70s, they were just great tunes. They were on heavy rotation on classic rock radio,” he says. “I’ve always loved all the tunes.”

In addition to Foreigner, he has worked with Kitty Margolis, Jacqui Naylor, Kenny Washington and Mary Stallings, Boz Scaggs, Enrique Iglesias and Roger Hodgson. He’s toured with Linda Perry and with Shelby Lynne, and he’s performed with Burt Bacharach and Stevie Nicks.

He’s also released three solo albums, so he’s feeling pretty excited for the future.

“I think there will be a lot more playing local in the LA scene, some studio work as well, and some producing and writing and collaborating with the huge pool of talented, creative people in the LA scene,” he says.

While he’s not sure what the future holds music-wise, he’s got an even more important role on the horizon.

“I’m also going to be a first-time dad,” he adds. “My lovely lady and partner Tina is expecting on Nov. 17 this year. That’ll be my first child, and we have a girl coming. So we’re both really thrilled about that.”

And, yes, to the “Aqua Teen Hunger” fans in the back, he’s heard of the Foreigner belt from that animated show.

“It’s not an eye-roll moment, and I’m glad you brought that up,” he says. “It’s sort of an obscure reference because I wouldn’t say that most of our fans really know about the Foreigner belt that gives you double visions. But, you know, I think more of them need to know! It’s a pretty cool thing.”

In an episode of the adult-themed cartoon that ran on Adult Swim from 2000-2015, the characters clamor for a “Foreigner” belt that gives the user powers based on the band’s hit catalog.

“If there was space, we could get it on the merch table,” he jokes. “I think it’s a great idea.”



Foreigner Farewell Tour

WHEN — 7 p.m. July 14

WHERE — Walmart AMP in Rogers

COST — $29.50 & up


Categories: Music