If ever there was a rock band with the credentials to play as highbrow a venue as the amphitheater at Wolf Trap National Park for the Performing Arts, it's Yes.
The premier art rock band of the often musically overwrought "progressive" '70s, Yes has always been made up of some of the most accomplished musicians in the genre, outlasting such contemporaries as Emerson, Lake and Palmer and the original versions of King Crimson and Genesis with songs of classically influenced complexity and beauty that are still crowd-pleasers.
Sadly, Jon Anderson, the distinctive multi-octave voice of the band, had to drop out of the lineup permanently in 2004 due to respiratory problems, and flamboyant Rick Wakeman, prog-rock's king of the cathedral-size keyboard flourishes, has gone off to become a British TV personality.
But through all the comings and goings over the years (drummer Bill Bruford, guitarists Peter Banks, Trevor Rabin and Billy Sherwood, keyboardists Tony Kaye, Patrick Moraz and Geoffrey Downes, and singer Trevor Horn), the one constant in the mix has been bassist/vocalist Chris Squire, who founded the band with Anderson in Birmingham, England, in 1968.
"That's more by default than design," Squire said of his uninterrupted membership in Yes.
He was speaking from a Washington, D.C., hotel room last week, the morning after a Yes performance at — where else — Wolf Trap.
On Tuesday, Yes will play the Lucky Star Casino in Concho, which illustrates the variety of venues the "wondrously storied" band can fit right into.
"At the moment, this current lineup is playing real well, and the current tour that we're on with Peter Frampton opening for us is going extremely well," Squire said. "I mean, we played last night here to about 7 or 8,000 people at the show in Washington, so people are liking the ticket a lot."
But Squire is quick to reassure that the current version of Yes — including longtime members Steve Howe on guitar and Alan White on drums, along with Oliver Wakeman (son of Rick Wakeman) on keyboards and Benoit David on vocals — is not through writing new music, even though the band hasn't released an album of new material since 2001's "Magnification."
"In fact, we're planning to go into the studio Oct. 4 this year to do a new album of material," he said. "But of course that's going to be with Oliver Wakeman and Benoit."
Squire said Anderson's health has improved, and he still does the occasional acoustic show, but he's no longer up to the rigors of a full-time band.
Rick Wakeman, meanwhile, has become quite the star on the "telly."
"He has a whole different career that not too many people in the U.S. know about," Squire said. "He hosts TV shows, and he has a comedy show that runs quite regularly on TV over there called 'Grumpy Old Men.' Rick, I think, divides his time these days between being a comedian and half the time being a musician. He has his own band, and they do shows, and he has this whole TV career, after dinner speeches, et cetera. So he's a busy guy."
Bringing Wakeman's son into the fold was easy enough, but replacing the seemingly inimitable Anderson on vocals seemed a more daunting task — until a friend turned Squire on to a Yes tribute band from Canada called Close to the Edge.
"I looked at it and not only was Benoit sounding exactly like Jon, but the rest of the guys in that band, there was a version of me and a version of Steve Howe, and it was like incredible, actually," Squire said.
While fans will have to wait until 2011 for the next new Yes album, Squire has just released an expanded CD/DVD version of his only solo album, 1975's well-reviewed "Fish Out of Water," and he's completed a collaboration with former Genesis guitarist Steve Hackett, called "Squackett," which should be released within the next three months.
Squire said he's never been able to complete another solo album because all of the material he's written has been diverted to Yes or side projects with other musicians.
"I was really determined to do a follow-up to 'Fish Out of Water' the last two or three years," Squire said. "And I put all this material together, and then I met Steve, and we ended up collaborating. A lot of the music that was going to be on the solo album is now on this collaboration with Steve Hackett."
But it will undoubtedly be the closest thing to new Yes music the fans have heard in 10 years, which is a good thing.
Yes with Peter Frampton
When: 8 p.m. Tuesday. Where: Lucky Star Casino, 7777 N U.S. 81, Concho. Tickets: $35 general admission, $75 for VIP seating.