The first of a three-day Heart and Soul preview weekend at Brew Baker's got a jump start on a Thursday night with Iowa's The Blue Band. With a local fan base looking to see the band get re-established playing regular gigs in the Twin Cities, Brew Baker's offered a welcoming venue. Local fans were joined by those new to the band's music and both were out on the dance floor from the first song and most didn't leave until the last note was played.
The Blue Band, originating out of Cedar Falls, IA is composed of six outstanding musicians, three of whom have been playing together for more than 24 years. Molly Nova (bass guitar, 5-string electric violin, & vocals), Bob Dorr (lead vocals, harmonica, congas, & percussion), and Jeff Petersen (lead & Slide guitar, & vocals), originally formed the band June 10, 1981. The other three members are Turk E. "WildturkeyHawk" Krause (drums & vocals), Heathcliff Pattschull (tenor and alto saxophone & vocals), and Bryce Janey (lead guitar & vocals).
Turk played with both Molly and Bob in a band that some of you might remember called the Red Rooster Band here in the Twin Cities back in the late '70s. He provides a steady beat that holds the band together and helps move the feet of the dancing fans. Jeff Peterson played some mighty mean slide guitar on his customized 1967 Gibson Flying V guitar and contributes many of the band's original songs. Heathcliff Pattschull provides that big band sound with his spirited saxophone playing. Bryce Janey is a second generation bluesman following in the steps of his famous father, BillyLee Janey, who plays lead guitar that spits and crackles like grease on a hot griddle. He also has 4 solo albums out of his own. Molly Nova is like a whirling dervish up there, always in constant motion whether she is thumping out the bass lines or dazzling the crowd with her over-the-top electric violin playing. Molly had rotator cup surgery on her bow arm in January of this year so was only able to play two violin songs each set. She has shown an impressive recovery which is a tribute to her dedication to the music. Front man Bob Dorr provides a constant dialogue with the audience, cracking jokes, supporting the rhythm section with his congas and blowing a pretty impressive harp. He down played his harmonica skills, which I though were pretty darn good.
One ingredient that struck me about the band was the fact that all six shared lead vocals at one time or another. Doing an excellent job of it too. They each have the skill to lead their own band and together are one impressive, fun band. It's no wonder they have such a loyal following.
The hard-working Blue Band seems to be on a never-ending tour playing over 200 dates every year. Their musical variety show covers a wide variety of material and styles. They do play the blues but as Bob stated, "for the blues police [out there], we don't play Muddy…we're more out in the Delbert McClinton mode…" Their own brand of rockin' soul, dance music covers the blues, Texas swing, R&B, soul, American roots, rockabilly and even a little reggae. I think Bob said the reggae was even a surprise to them.
We even heard some Van Morrison and Billy Preston.
It was hard to pick just one highlight from the evening's performance mainly because each of the band members took the spotlight at different times during the show and really shined whether it was a heartfelt vocal lead, a honking sax solo, a greasy slide guitar phrase, a burning Texas-blues guitar lead or some down-home harp blowing. But I would have to say seeing Molly pull out her 5-string electric violin and proceed to blow everyone away with her intensity was most memorable.
The band also displayed their well known sense of humor with songs like "Mr. Big Stuff," where, as Bob pointed out, they were "five white guys sounding like four black females from Memphis." And they did…almost. And also on songs like, "Don't Sting, Bite or Bug Me," an up-tempo, harp driven song with bouncy rhythms and catchy lyrics.
This was a fun filled evening and The Blue Band definitely picked up many new fans who can't wait for their next trip to town.
This review is copyright © 2000 by Ray Stiles, and Blues On Stage, all rights reserved. Copy, duplication or download prohibited without written permission. For permission to use this review please send an E-mail to Ray Stiles.