Journey keyboardist Jonathan Cain juggles musical responsibilities

SHARE Journey keyboardist Jonathan Cain juggles musical responsibilities

By Tricia Despres

For Sun-Times Media

To say Jonathan Cain finds himself at a musical crossroads at the moment is quite an understatement. The longtime keyboardist, vocalist and creative catalyst behind some of Journey’s most iconic hits, Cain is keeping busy touring on the rock music of Journey, writing songs for country artists in Nashville and helping his daughter Madison create a career in pop music.

Hence, there lies the neverending, musical juggling act of Jonathan Cain.

“I’ve got this amazing recording studio in Nashville that I just love, and I just have a lot of things going at the moment,” he laughs. “I love doing our live shows the most though. We never have enough time to sing all of the hits, so I do this piano solo where I play seven or eight melodies in our catalog, and to this day, it still brings the house down.”

Indeed, decades after the birth of Journey, Cain is still playing the timeless songs such as “Don’t Stop Believin,” “Who’s Crying Now” and “Open Arms” alongside his current Journey band mates including Neal Schon (guitars, backing vocals), Ross Valory (bass, backing vocals), Deen Castronovo (drums, percussion, backing vocals) and the man who was able to walk into Steve Perry’s shoes and fly – lead vocalist Arnel Pineda.

“We have been thinking about going back to our 2001 album ‘Arrival’ and taking the best and adding a few new songs…I also have a symphony album in the back of my mind that I would like to try…but I really don’t know,” Cain says of his future plans with the band whose “Greatest Hits” album has had 15-million-plus in sales. “Records are just not worth doing anymore. They don’t sell, they cost too much money and most don’t seem to ever see the light of day, no matter how good they are.”

This month, Cain and his Journey brothers are back in Chicago, playing The Venue at Horseshoe Casino on Sept. 4 before returning to First Midwest Bank Amplitheatre for a show that was quite literally flooded out back on July 12.

“I used to work at a deli and the basement would flood all the time,” he recalls. “It was my job to save the soap and the pasta. The lake just always seems to draw in those big storms.”

Born and raised in Chicago, Cain can seemingly talk forever of the memories of days gone by. From the dances his parents would have under the stars at the Edgewater Hotel (‘that will tell ‘ya how old I am’) to his childhood home ‘on the corner of Winthrop Avenue and Bryn Mawr to the Our Lady of the Angels fire that he witnessed firsthand as a student. (“It took me a little time to work that one out, ya know?”).

Eventually torn between ‘becoming a priest or a musician’, Cain found music to be his salvation. “We couldn’t afford a piano, so my dad bought me an accordion,” he remembers. “Seriously, life couldn’t have been sweeter.”

That is, until he got the call to join Journey.

“I remember walking into that camp and literally being accepted and appreciated from the very first day,” he says. “Those guys had a confidence like I had never seen before, maybe even bordering on arrogance, but I loved it. Plus Steve Perry and I had so much in common. We adored the same records growing up and loved the same bands. I remember writing ‘Open Arms’ with him. I just couldn’t wait till the world heard it.”

Just last month, the world heard Perry sing again.

“It’s great…I mean, it’s really good for him,” Cain gushes. “It’s about time he got the chance to do his thing and stop getting harassed and bugged about it. He went out and had fun and that’s what life is all about. I wish him well.”


8 p.m., September 4

The Venue at Horseshoe Casino, 777 Casino Center Drive, Hammond

Tickets: $89-$129

(866) 711-7463,


6:45 p.m., September 10

First Midwest Bank Amphitheatre, 19100 S. Ridgeland, Tinley Park

Tickets: $30 – $195

(708) 614-1616,

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