News Column

BOCC, Dseodean, Whiskey invade Civic Arena

May 16, 2014

By Andrew Gaug, St. Joseph News-Press, Mo.

May 16--It's the opportunity of a lifetime for any musician: playing an arena show.

For one band, it will be their second time around that type of venue; for the other two, it's their first trip to the big stage.

Headlining the Local Arts Rock show for the second year in a row, Blue Oyster Culture Club will play St. Joseph Civic Arena along with the straightforward rock of Dsoedean and the folk-bluegrass of Whiskey for the Lady at 3 p.m.May 17.

Proceeds from the show go to benefit the Performing Arts Association, who have arranged shows in the past like "Cirque Zuma Zuma" and "Ricky Nelson Remembered."

Blue Oyster Culture Club

It's a coveted place to play for any band, as it's the same spot where KISS, Rob Zombie and Waylon Jennings have performed.

No one is more proud of that than B.O.C.C.'s Todd Cooper, who plans to display a sign reading "Tony Iommi was here," in reference to Black Sabbath's show at the arena in 1980.

"For selfish reasons, I just love playing that room where all my heroes played. I kind of freak on that," he says.

Cooper says after doing the show last year, he's glad to be back on stage to both rock and raise money for the Performing Arts Association.

"Last year was a big success. I hope this is equal," he says. "We don't get opportunities to play rooms like that, so to me, I'm Mr. Nostalgia anyways. I want as many people there as possible and I want to help the cause."

He adds: "The cool thing is it's the exact same stage. I checked that last year during the walkthrough. She said 'Yeah, it's the same one from 1980.' That means all those crazy, cool feet have walked on there."

Playing the show last year with Dolewite, B.O.C.C. brought in a ton of people with their interpretations of hits from the '80s.

Cooper says the goal after the show was continue to build on the set.

"We try to learn at least one new song for each show," he says. "I'm hoping to have something in there that's new."

That means you should expect a B.O.C.C.-ified version of John Denver's "Country Roads" among the Journey and Loverboy.

For younger audiences who can't get into the band's usually 18- or 21-and-older shows, it might all seem new, which Cooper loves.

"It's a rare occasion that people can bring their kids to see us, and there will be a lot of stuff that younger kids haven't seen, for sure," he says.


For Dsoedean lead singer Zale Bledsoe, playing the Civic Arena takes a more personal turn.

"When I was born in '82, my dad was at a rodeo at the Civic, and the story I heard was he was performing in the rodeo and then they announced it over the P.A., and I guess he tipped his cap to the audience," he says.

Almost always closing with the song "Climb The Fence," a song about his late father, Bledsoe now sees things come full circle as he's able to honor him by playing that song at the arena.

Getting to that point was unexpected, Bledsoe says, as he never expected the group would play such a huge venue. Though that's not to say he didn't want it to happen.

"Anybody in town in a band would be psyched on that," he says. "I know last year when they did with Dolewite and B.O.C.C. it was like 'Dang, it would be sick to play that show.'"

Now, they're playing it, which Bledsoe still can't believe.

"It's an arena show. To me, bands like Black Keys and Queen play arena shows, not Dsoedean. For that one shot, it's going to be fun," he says.

Since the release of its album "Continue to Move" in 2013, the band has gone back to its roots. Long-time bassist Marcus Words was replaced by Cody Hudson, while keyboardist and guitarist Colby Walter stepped away from the band to focus on other projects.

"We started as a three-piece and then Colby moved to Korg and guitar. It kind of brought a little bit more out of it melodically," Bledsoe says. "I've heard from people both ways -- 'Oh Colby sounds good' and I've heard 'You guys sound better as a three-piece.'"

Pared down to core members Bledsoe, Hudson and drummer Bobby Floyd, the group has become tighter and more honed, working on material Bledsoe describes as heavier.

"When you're playing heavier stuff, there's less gaps to fill," he says. "I'm psyched on both (versions) of (Dsoedean)."

Also encouraging to Bledsoe is that he feels "Continue to Move" stands the test of time, from the soaring "Daylight" to the titular closer.

"Even when I listen to it now, I don't get bummed on it. I don't get like 'Man, that sucks.' It's nice for it to stand up for the year test. I don't know if that will play out for the next five or 10."

With some new songs recorded, Bledsoe is looking forward to the future of the band. Playing a huge set at Civic Arena isn't a bad way to get started.

"It feels good both ways. Even as a three-piece, I still have fun, I still feel the songs are getting the point across and they're complete," he says.

Whiskey for the Lady

A mixture of members from St. Joseph and Kansas City, Whiskey for the Lady is in the peculiar position of having played the Civic Arena, but only as part of events such as the Josephine Expo.

"It was cool that we're doing something where people are coming specifically for the music. We're very excited to get out there doing that at a really cool venue," violinist and vocalist Mallory Edson says.

Supporting its new album "Too Many F Holes," Whiskey for the Lady has been planting its musical seeds all over the area, including the Westport Saloon in Kansas City and All Folked Up Bluegrass Festival in Eldon, Mo. More opportunities are ahead as well, as the band plays the Westport Roots Festival in Kansas City on May 24 and the Dawg Daze of Summer Festival in Savannah July 12.

It's been a full-throttle cycle promoting the album, one the band hadn't experienced up to this point.

"It definitely gives us a lot more motive to go out and kind of promote ourselves and what we're doing, for sure. Having that to back us is just kind of helping get our name out," Edson says.

Playing about two hours, Whiskey for the Lady brings a wild party completely different from the other two acts. It's a celebration that involves a lot of stomping, clapping and a song celebrating a lack of pants.

"We just want to get people pumped up for the show," Edson says.

In addition to crowd pleasers like "Gravedigger's Wife" and "Don't Lie to Me, Self," you can expect some clever covers of Kingston Trio, Creedence Clearwater Revival and other surprises Edson can't reveal.

"It depends on the crowd. Because I don't know if we can play Nine Inch Nails or not," she says, laughing. "Definitely, it'll be a mix-up of modern and old, classical folk music."

In addition to a show at Trails West!, this show serves as a way for Whiskey for the Lady to say thanks to the city that gave it a start.

"We always have a good response in St. Joe and always like to play with everyone there. Without those crowds, we wouldn't have gotten anywhere," Edson says.

Andrew Gaug can be reached at Follow him on Twitter: @SJNPGaug.


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