Bob Dorr & The Blue Band will be returning to the Cherokee Jazz & Blues Festival this year. One of the most popular acts to ever play at the Festival, Dorr and the Band will be playing at the VFW Club on Jan. 7 from 9 p.m. to midnight, and Jan. 8 at the Cherokee Bowl from 10 p.m. to 1 a.m.
Year 2010 finds Bob Dorr & The Blue Band celebrating their 29th anniversary. Beginning June 10, 1981, the band has averaged playing around 100 dates a year in its 29 year existence, resulting in a multi - generational, dedicated fan base, and making them one of Iowa's most revered, storied, and requested bands.
Kansas City music writer Paul Taylor says, "If you wanted to furnish your own nightclub, you would want The Blue Band. They are like one of those gleaming bright white appliances that you oohh and ahh over, and when you open the doors, all the best features you ever wanted come spilling out." Mississippi Valley Blues Society Director Karen McFarland says "...the best damn rockin' soul dance band in the heartland." Originally called "Bobby's Blue Band" (an obvious tongue-in-cheek play on blues icon Bobby "Blue" Bland), The Blue Band is a 5-7 piece group whose sound can only be described as "The blues/soul/rockabilly/reggae/creole/rhythm Band!" The band can play nearly three hours of original music or another three hours of popular covers, done in Blue Band fashion. A typical night mixes originals and covers plus a few requests.
These days, The Blue Band has evolved into a veritable Iowa All-Star collection of regular and alumni players, spearheaded by founding members Bob Dorr, with his unmistakable lead vocals (Dorr can also be credited with a 35+ year career on Iowa Public Radio) and Jeff Petersen on his 1968 Gibson Flying V guitar, lap steel guitar, vocals, and song writing. Longtime eastern Iowa drum legend Steve "The Chief" Hayes has been the drummer since 2003 and sax man Heath Alan is starting his 13th year in The Blue Band horn section. "Uncle" Al Naylor brought his renowned trumpet chops to the Blue horn section in 2008.
It's not unusual to catch a number of "Blue Alumni" also playing with the band on any given night, including guitarists Ron DeWitte and Bryce Janey and sax men Nathan Peoples, Bob Thompson, Gary King, Jerry Peoples, Bunky Marlow, and Garret Theilking. Iowa Blues and Jazz Hall of Famers Sam Salomone and Tommy "T-Bone" Giblin often lend their talents on keyboards as well.
The band generally travels within a 300-mile area of their home base in Eastern Iowa which includes Minneapolis, Kansas City, Omaha, and Chicago, performing at live music venues, summer festivals, and private functions. The band also has had regular appearances in Summit County and Denver, Colorado, and has performed at Bluestock International Convention & Festival in Memphis, Tennessee and Sun Valley ski resort in Idaho. Bob Dorr &The Blue Band-STILL rockin' your soul after all these years. Be part of the show some night soon!
Bob Dorr's legacy with the Blue Band began in June 1981. Although Dorr is talented on various instruments including the harmonica and percussion, his voice is his best instrument. Not only has Dorr made his own band a success, but he has helped provide valuable exposure for other regional bands through the use of his highly popular radio shows on Iowa Public Radio and as producer of the highly regarded Iowa Blues compilations for Hot Fudge Music. Bob began his tenure in Public Broadcasting at KUNI-FM in October of 1972 and for his 35+ years of entertaining listeners with his solid knowledge of music history and interviews with highly noted rock and blues figures, he was inducted into the Iowa Rock 'n' Roll Music Association Hall of Fame in September 2000. Hear some of those interviews at www.theblueband.com/bobdorr.html. In April 2006, Bob was inducted into the Iowa Blues Hall of Fame. www.theblueband.com/iablues.html. In 2007 he was re- inducted into the Iowa Rock 'n' Roll Music Association Hall of Fame as leader of The Blue Band.
Jeff Petersen is one of the Eastern Iowa Region's best guitar players and a founding member of The Blue Band. He has performed for over 35 years, playing a customized 1968 Gibson Flying V Guitar. Originally from Clinton, Iowa, Jeff started playing guitar at the age of 14 after hearing the Beatles and was further influenced by B.B. King, the Allman Brothers, and Eric Clapton. After a 10-year stint with the Headstone Band, Jeff helped start The Blue Band along side Blue Band front man Bob Dorr. Jeff has played in a variety of venues and has opened for national acts such as Freddy King and Johnny Winter. According to Jeff, he's trying to find that one perfect note and takes life one day at a time. He explained, "I don't care how big the crowd is, I just love to play." Jeff has been inducted into the Iowa Rock 'n' Roll Music Association Hall of Fame TWICE-in September 2006 for his work with the Headstone Band and in September 2007 with The Blue Band.
Steve Hayes, "The Chief" has been eastern Iowa's first-call drummer for over 25 years. Born in Cedar Rapids, Hayes started playing professionally at age 16 with Leo and the Hilltoppers. He has been a long time side man with Patrick Hazell's Mother Blues Band, and can be heard on records by Greg Brown, Bo Ramsey, Kevin Gordon, Dave Moore and a host of other "Who's Who" Midwest musicians. Although Steve has done many substitute gigs with The Blue Band over the last 20 years, 2003 was his first full time presence with the group. Steve was inducted into the IRRMA Hall of Fame TWICE in 2007 for his work in The Blue Band and The Mother Blues Band and he was also inducted into the Iowa Blues Hall of Fame in July 2007.
Heath Alan, tenor and alto sax and vocals, comes from a strong family music heritage, which encouraged him to start playing the harmonica at eight years of age. "I just started playing whatever I heard. If I could sing it, I could play it. All I knew was that it was fun and I could do it naturally," says Heath. Although Heath couldn't read written music, he could play by ear well enough to fool his teachers until high school. At that time he realized if he was to be an educated musician he needed to learn to read music. After professional lessons, Heath captured a few local and national classical performance competitions including awards from the National Association of Jazz Educators and the Iowa Bandmasters Association. It was during his college study of classical music that Heath realized his heart was not one hundred percent into his studies. With influences from John Lennon, Roy Orbison, and Bob Dylan, Heath joined a rock and roll band in 1992 and then became a member of The Blue Band in 1997. Despite Heath's hectic schedule of full time teaching and parenting two young children, he still finds time to play most of The Blue Band shows.
Mark Linda had the privilege of growing up with rock and roll. After picking up music basics from piano lessons given by his grandmother, he learned bass and at age 15 formed a trio in high school with his cousin and the wrestling coach (who once played drums on sessions with the Everly Brothers). While in junior college in Mason City, his band the "Penetrations" worked as break band at the Surf Ballroom, where he worked with Conway Twitty, Jan and Dean, Del Shannon and other popular traveling acts. The draft and tours in Vietnam intervened, after which he found himself in Cedar Falls playing hard rock with the regionally popular band "Bamboo". While raising a family and managing many programs at the Black Hawk County Health Department (now retired) he learned guitar and played with local bands. His true love has always been bass although he retired his old Fender Precision in favor of a new (and lighter) Ampeg. "It's been great to rock out again with some great players and good guys."
Al Naylor is a born and raised Iowa music educator and trumpet player. Al was a member of the Oelwein based horn band, "The Pages" in the early 70's. He was inducted into the Iowa Rock and Roll Hall of Fame with them in 1999. Al was a founding member of the legendary 70's Iowa rock band Sisters. He also played with a kickin' funk band in Michigan named "Chopper." Al spent some time living in New York City and played in a group with legendary fusion jazz guitarist, Bill Frissel. Upon his return to Iowa, Al started his own big band, the I-380 Express, and was a founding, twenty year member of the state's premiere salsa band, Orquesta de Jazz y Salsa Alto Maiz. He also had the opportunity to play with the rock legends The Temptations, Englebert Humperdink, and the Queen of Soul, Aretha Franklin. "Uncle" Al played on a few Blue Band records in the '80s and will be playing nearly all the Blue Band shows in 2010.
Sam Salomone, on Hammond B3 organ, has contributed to the Blue Band sound since 1996. Prior to his works with Iowa-known acts like The Blue Band and BillyLee Janey, Salomone started his impressive blues and jazz career in the early 60s. With the influences of Little Richard and Ray Charles--Jerry Lee Lewis being the one to ignite his passion--Sam started his career touring with names like Del Shannon and The Duprees. Sam bought his first Hammond B3 organ in 1965 and after studying theory and harmony at Grand View College, he made his move to jazz. Since those days Salomone has toured from Coast to Coast and within the Midwest including Chicago and Kansas City, but has in recent years decided to stay closer to home. His work in Iowa has not gone without notice. Sam was inducted into the Iowa Jazz Hall of Fame in 2001 and the Iowa Blues Hall of Fame in January of 2002, as well as the Iowa Rock'n'Roll Hall of Fame with The Blue Band in 2007.
For more information on the Cherokee Jazz and Blues Festival go to the website at www.cherokeejazzbluesfestival.com.