In his more than five decades in the entertainment business, there’s little that William Shatner hasn’t tackled. From fanboy favorite to Golden Globe and Emmy winner, the original Capt. James T. Kirk is going where he has never gone before ― singing in front of a live audience.
Shatner will perform his new album, “Ponder the Mystery,” which will be released on Oct. 8, in its entirety at Saint Rocke in Hermosa Beach on Wednesday, Oct. 23. He will be performing with the band Circa, which features Billy Sherwood (who co-wrote with Shatner and produced “Ponder the Mystery”) and Tony Kaye, former members of the classic progressive rock band Yes.
Shatner’s stop at Saint Rocke is the first in a mini-tour that also includes The Canyon Club in Riverside on Oct. 24 and The Coach House in San Juan Capistrano on Oct. 25.
“I’m feeling the audience out to see whether it’s as good as I think it is and whether we should go on with it or not,” Shatner said during a recent phone interview. “In effect, Hermosa Beach is a testing ground. This is a new experience for everyone.”
Shatner has built an iconic career with his television and film credits as actor, producer and director (“Twilight Zone,” “Star Trek,” “T.J. Hooker,” “Boston Legal,” “The Practice”); as an author of science fiction and non-fiction; and as a spokesman for Priceline.com. But few know that he has also released several albums as well, starting with “The Transformed Man,” a spoken-word album released in 1968. Shatner didn’t release another album until the Ben Folds produced and co-written “Has Been” in 2004. That was followed in 2011 by “Seeking Major Tom.”
When asked why it took 36 years to release his second album, Shatner replied, “Nobody asked, but eventually somebody did and I jumped at the opportunity.”
“Ponder the Mystery” is more personal for Shatner than his previous albums since he wrote or collaborated on all of the songs. But the album also tells the story of a man, from despair to joy.
“(It’s) an hour before sunset, the guy is sitting on the beach, make it Hermosa Beach,” Shatner said. “He’s in despair about his life and where he is. Follow that through twilight, sunset, into the sounds of the night and as he begins to realize how beautiful life can be, he regains his joy of life. When you listen to the album, you won’t see that, you’ll here a series of songs. But the songs do have a sequence that starts with despair .... to I’m glad I got my joy back.”
Shatner was able to recruit an eclectic, world-class group of guest stars for “Ponder the Mystery” including Rick Wakeman, Al DiMeola, Steve Vai, Robbie Krieger, Vince Gill, Dave Koz and Edgar Winter.
“I’m so overwhelmed by the fact they agreed to be on it ... a lot of these great musicians heard about the project and volunteered,” Shatner said.
The 82-year-old Shatner was born and raised in Montreal, but even with an “intense passion” for music, he gravitated toward the stage and acting. With no musical experience and before the last season of “Star Trek” in 1969, Shatner released “The Transformed Man,” which included songs that were a spoken word mixture of classic theater and pop music.
“I found the music in the language and thought of the musicality, the rhythm in the English language ... that spoke to me,” Shatner said. “I thought of this concept … the melody supporting me and saying the words as though it was an acting piece. It seemed to have worked so I kept it alive.”
Shatner called “Ponder the Mystery” the “most innovative thing that I have ever done,” but he admitted he’s conflicted about performing live.
“I’m coming with enthusiasm, love and apprehension,” he said.
For more information, visit saintrocke.com.