After 50-odd years of performing in seemingly every possible arrangement of the Monkees, Micky Dolenz and Michael Nesmith are touring for the first time ever as a duo.
Dubbed “The Monkees Present the Micky & Michael Show,” it serves as yet another chapter in a Monkees book thought long ago to have run out of pages. The tour hits Lancaster’s American Music Theatre at 7 p.m. Sunday.
“I’m surprised we never did this before, but it’s just been wonderful,” Dolenz says over the phone from his native California. “Everybody brings their own game to the show. I have been very blessed to be surrounded by so many talented people over the years. We usually have video, and Mike said he didn’t want that this time around so people can focus on the music.”
There will be a lot to focus on, as the duo is supplemented by a 10-piece band, which includes both a banjo and steel guitar player, as well as Dolenz’ sister Coco on backing vocals. While Dolenz’ career has remained solidly in Monkees orbit over the decades, Nesmith was the main Monkee to have a flourishing solo career with his band, the First National. Even one of the first tunes the Monkees recorded as a group, “The Girl I Knew Somewhere,” was a “Nez” original.
“Over the years, Peter (Tork), David (Jones) and I would sing Nesmith songs that he recorded with the Monkees and after, but it’s been wonderful to have him there doing lead vocals,” Dolenz says. “We have a great Everly Brothers type vocal blend going on together.”
For a tour like this, blending the familiar and the new is part of the fun. Fans obviously can expect the Big Five — “Pleasant Valley Sunday,” “Last Train to Clarksville,” “Daydream Believer,” “(I’m Not Your) Steppin’ Stone” and “I’m a Believer” — but there also will be at least a song or two from “Good Times,” the unexpected 50th anniversary album the group released together in 2016.
Between Monkees tours, Dolenz stays busy with the occasional acting role. Since the original Monkees television show, Dolenz has performed in everything from cherished ’90s preteen melodrama “Boy Meets World” to the dark 2009 Rob Zombie remake of “Halloween.” In late 2017, Dolenz popped up as a foul-mouthed version of himself on the canceled-too-soon Hulu comedy “Difficult People.”
“I get offered stuff all the time, but it does tend to be, ‘Oh, you’re Micky Dolenz and the lead star is going to come up and ask for your autograph and be starstruck,’ and I tend to turn that sort of stuff down because it’s not that interesting,” Dolenz says with a laugh. “As soon as I saw how dark and hilarious ‘Difficult People’ was, I was in.”
As for the streaming future of the show that put him and three other “Ben Frank’s types” on the map for life, the crystal ball is a little cloudier.
“The Monkees” ran for 58 episodes, from Sept. 12, 1966, to March 25, 1968, and is currently owned by Rhino Records, which also holds the copyright for the group’s music catalog and logo. Nonetheless, Dolenz emphatically believes the beloved series deserves a streaming home for new generations of Monkee lovers.
“We’ve been working on that for a long time. There’s some political business because the rights have been passed around for the last 50 years,” Dolenz explains. “The Monkees themselves have absolutely no ownership whatsoever. There’s nothing currently in the works, but it’s on the books.”
Note: Dolenz was interviewed five days prior to the sudden passing of Monkees’ bassist Peter Tork on Feb. 21. Asked later for a statement, Dolenz’ management referred media requests to Dolenz’ statement on Twitter, in which he said, “There are no words right now … heartbroken over the loss of my Monkee brother, Peter Tork.”