Bob Dorr & The Blue Band

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2011 finds Bob Dorr & The Blue Band celebrating their 30th anniversary. Beginning June 10, 1981, the band has averaged playing around 100 dates a year for its 30 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.

Bob Dorr and The Blue Band, New Year's Eve 2010

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. "Uncle" Al Naylor brought his renowned trumpet chops to the Blue horn section in 2008. The "new guy" is bass player Mark Linda, who joined the group in 2009. 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, Heath Alan and Jerry Peoples. Iowa Blues and Jazz Hall of Famers Sam Salomone and Tommy "T-Bone" Giblin often lend their talents on keyboards. 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 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 40 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 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 inducted into the Iowa Blues Hall of Fame in July 2007.

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 of 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 is playing nearly all the Blue Band shows these days.

Eddie McKinley, one-time Lil Ed & The Blues Imperials sideman and current Diplomats of Solid Sound section leader, spearheads a committee of rotating saxophone players for The Blue Band.

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 to 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.

Additional notes: Bob Dorr & The Blue Band started in Cedar Falls IA, in the early summer of 1981 simply as a way to satisfy the remaining contracted obligations of a band that had broken up in the spring of '81. Blue Band founding members Bob Dorr (vocals and harmonica) and Molly Nova (bass, violin, and vocals - was in group member to 2001) assembled old friends to play the remaining three contracted dates of The Little Red Rooster Band, which Dorr and Nova had been part of, starting in early 1977.

Drummer Bryce Loshman, who played the last few performances of Little Red Rooster, agreed to play the three dates. E. Scott Esbeck, who could play bass and guitar, answered an ad posted in Steb’s Bar. Dorr called two other old friends from the mid 70s. "Wild" Bill Cannon was a one man horn section and outrageous character, and Jimmy "The Kid" Price, an aspiring songwriter and newspaper writer, played guitar and sang a few songs. These six people worked up enough songs to play the three contracted dates, decided to name itself Bobby's Blue Band, (a tongue-in-cheek, humorous spin on famous blues singer Bobby Blue Bland's name) and played their first show June 10, 1981 at The Cooper Wagon Works nightclub in Dubuque IA.
Bobby's Blue Band actually experienced great success on those initial three shows. Buoyed by that success, most of the band members decided to stay with it. At that time, Jim Price decided he could not afford the time for a full-time band along with his day job and school. Guitarist Jeff Petersen, fresh from the breakup of another IRRMA HOF band-Headstone, joined the group in September of 1981. After nine months, saxman Bill Cannon, who was already in his 50s, while the rest of the group were in their 20s, returned to his day job and was replaced by a number of sax players including Danny Duke and Phillip "Bunky" Marlowe, until Iowa City sax player Bob Thompson joined the band shortly after the break up of Bo Ramsey's Sliders in 1984.
Coming along with Thompson from The Sliders was sound engineer Phil Maass, who also was the band's road manager for nine years and still mixes sound on special shows. Maass is still the band's technical advisor today. After two albums, Scott Esbeck returned to college and was replaced by veteran Cedar Rapids guitar man Ron DeWitte in early 1984. When Bob Thompson stopped touring with the band after major inner ear surgery in late 1986, he was replaced by multi-instrumentalist and songwriter Dan Magarrell. He was the primary songwriter of the band for his nearly nine-year stay. Over the Blue Band's 25 plus year history, there have been nearly 20 significantly contributing players in the band.

In the Blue Band's 25 plus year history, the group has averaged playing around 125 dates a year, traveling mainly 300 miles from its base in Cedar Falls, playing the majority of those dates in Iowa but also making appearances in Minneapolis, Omaha, Kansas City, and Chicago. Highlight shows include a 22 year run at the Iowa State Fair, four appearances at the Mississippi Valley Blues Society Festival, and two appearances at the Kansas City Jazz & Blues Festival.

There have been over 20 Blue Band album releases including five vinyl records. The band was one of the first Iowa bands to have music released on CD in 1987. In 2006, to celebrate the Blue Band's 25th Anniversary, Iowa Public TV released a 2-DVD set spanning the group's history and including footage from 12 different years. The 25th Anniversary concert has been broadcast across Iowa on IPTV numerous times. Bob Dorr & The Blue Band aspires to keep playing as many dates as possible, hoping to reach it's 30th Anniversary June 10, 2011.

This four groups (on that CD) was leading by Bob Dorr And Molly Nova. The album was recorded live at Five Seasons Hotel in Cedar Rapids, Iowa - on New Years Eve 1996-1997.

 
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