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Monday, September 3, 2007

Iowa Rock And Roll Hall Of Fame

Yesterday I had a tough decision either go to Des Moines for the blues fest, or head 50 mile north to the Iowa Great Lakes, and Arnold's Park to see the Iowa Rock And Roll Hall Of Fame. Normally this would be a no brainer. Blues over Rock and Roll any day, but on this day two of my all-time favorite Iowa bands were being inducted in the hall of fame, so I couldn't miss it. The Blue Band, and the legendary if not mythic band from Fort Dodge, The Hawks. It was an interesting evening to say the least, and at times I wasn't sure how many more cover tune bands I could sit through, but in the end it was worth three hours of pain to hear the Hawks live for the first time in over 20 YEARS!!!!!!

Yeti Blues Band

The Blue Band was not the only blue band to be inducted into the Rock And Roll Hall Of Fame last night. The Yeti Blues Band, which started in the 60s and recently reunited to compete in the Iowa Blues Challenge, was the first band inducted into the hall. They are a bunch of good guys who play a lot of blue-eyed soul, and a really nice version of Born In Chicago. This was my first time catching them, and I think a few more gigs, and they should have the rust out, and be back up to fighting weight.

The Blue Band

My old time friends from central, and eastern Iowa, did not disappoint. Bob had to think on his feet when the board of directors yacked up a storm before their set limiting the Blue Band to four songs, but they were four of the best songs of the night. Bob, Jeff, and Molly took turns singing, and Bob had a ton of players shuffling in and out so that everyone got to be a part of the show. The band was tight as ever, and it was very, very, cool to see Bob and Molly together again. Molly for the last few years has been playing with her own band with her husband Turk. So seeing the Blue Band like the old days was a treat.

Patrick Hazel

I am skipping over a lot of Rock bands that were inducted since they were cover bands. I know the crowd loved them, and they probably belong to the Hall, I don't know what makes a Hall Of Fame band, or not, and since this is a blues blog, I am sort of skipping over some talented groups. Patrick Hazel and the Mother Earth Band performed, and I must admit that I was disappointed that Patrick didn't play piano. He is one of the best piano players in the state, but I also know that he hates digital pianos, and will very, very, very, rarely play on at a show. I guess the hall of fame wasn't interested in springing for one, or Patrick didn't ask, so he played harp and sang. He still is a top notch bluesman regardless of which instrument he plays. Patrick also got snagged up in time constraints, so after three songs they were pushing him off the stage, which is unfortunate because I know Patrick didn't want to leave. I think in a lot of ways it reminded me of the time the grammys pushed Sinatra off stage because he was going to long in a speech. I say if you have made it this far give the guys five more minutes. As it worked out, by the time the Hawks played they were running AHEAD OF TIME!!!

The Hawks

Okay, this is one rock band that deserves mention. They were probably the highlight of the night, even if the mostly older crowd didn't get what was going on:-) The Hawks were a legendary band from the early 80s who got a record deal from Columbia Records, with an unsolicited tape. From what I learned they were the only band signed by Columbia this way. All most all unsolicited tapes end up in a garbage can in some large corporate record company, but not the Hawks. The band never played much live the legend states that they played only 17 times live including an appearance on American Bandstand. I can remember their big hit Right Away, back in 1981, I was shooting hoops in the backyard listening to KGGO, and hopefully future hall of fame DJ Jack Emerson said he was playing a song from an Iowa Band from Columbia Records. I stopped what I was doing, because back then Iowa bands weren't on commercial radio. It was a great song form beginning to end, and it made me realize that someone from Iowa could make it in the music business.
Flash forward to last night. I had never seen the Hawks live since they played so few live shows, so I was not going to miss this opportunity. I sat though three hours of cover tune bands to get to Hawks, but it was well worth the wait. From the beginning strums of Right Away, to the last note of the last song I had the biggest smile on my face. I sang along on the songs I knew, and danced with the music. It was like being a kid again. Dave Steen is a monster on guitar, he can shred against anyone. (He is also a damn good songwriter who has written a ton of great blues songs for national blues artists. check out his myspace page HERE)Frank Wiewl is a great frontman, and knew how to work the crowd and had a great voice. (also a great hat! A nice white Fedora!) Dave Hearn was like glue holding the band together with filling keyboard licks. You can't under estimate what you can't hear. Having heard, and worn out the groves of my old Hawk albums I can tell you that I thought it would be impossible for them to cover those old songs especially Right Away, Which has two guitars and a George Harrison inspired slide guitar solo, but they pulled it off, it was amazing! (Brad Heck later told me how it was done, which just makes it even more amazing, but I not giving up the secret:-) Kirk Kaufman did a great job holding down the bass. Kirk has produced almost all of the songs that I have written over the years, so it was cool to see him perform for once:-) Without a doubt that was the best short set I have seen since I saw the Rainmakers in Kansas City back in 1990. It was great to see a group of guys who hadn't played much together in 20 plus years, but had kept playing and creating music, come together, and rock the house one more time! I just hope they don't wait 20 more years to do it again!!!!

So it was a great night of blues,and rock and roll. Well worth the 24 dollar entry fee, well worth the night of cover bands, and well worth the 20 year wait to see the Hawks in concert.

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