Bodeans come to Rialto with renewed energy
By Randall G. Mielke For Sun-Times Media December 27, 2012 9:20AM
The BoDeans will play at Ribfest in Naperville this summer. | File photo
♦ 8 p.m. Dec. 29
♦ Rialto Square Theatre, 102 N. Chicago St., Joliet
♦ Tickets, $35-$65
♦ (815) 726-6600
Updated: December 27, 2012 10:23AM
Sometimes change can be a good thing. Change came for the Milwaukee-based rock band BoDeans a year and a half ago when original member and co-founder, Sam Llanas, vocalist and guitarist, left the group to pursue a solo career.
“The people who have seen our tour or heard our latest CD, ‘American Made,’ have said it is like we have a second wind,” said BoDeans founding member Kurt Neumann, who is the vocalist, guitarist and primary songwriter for group. “There was some negativity with Sam, so once that was resolved, and you go on, it feels liberating. It is refreshing to rehearse, practice and get the band tight.”
BoDeans will perform on Dec. 29 at the Rialto Square Theatre in Joliet.
Neumann and Llanas first teamed up together as performers and songwriters in high school in the late 1970s, and formed BoDeans in 1983.
“We started in 1983 with Sam, drummer Guy Hoffman and me,” Neumann said. “Sam and I went to high school together and he went off to college, but I talked him into performing. Guy left the band after the first tour (in the mid 1980s). I always felt that BoDeans were me, Sam and Guy.
“The band name is a combination of Bo Diddley and James Dean,” Neumann continued. “They were early rock ‘n’ roll icons. When we first started we were more rockabilly. The connection of names made sense.”
Since Llanas’ departure last year, the songwriting for the band is now left primarily to Neumann.
“I’d say 99 percent of our songs are original,” Neumann said. “Sam and I were the songwriters and now I have just taken over that.”
The band’s most recognizable song is probably “Closer to Free” from the group’s fifth album, “Go Slow Down,” which was released in 1993. The single became extremely popular after it was picked as the theme song for the television series “Party of Five.”
“‘Closer to Free’ was out on our record for three years,” Neumann said. “A music supervisor in Los Angeles was looking for a theme song for the ‘Party of Five’ TV show. They had gone through and tested about five other groups and songs and nothing seemed to work. Then they tested our song and it tested the best. Then once it was on the TV show, a few disc jockeys started playing the song. It was funny because the song was already three years old.”
More recently, BoDeans released their 11th album, called “American Made,” in June 2012.
“We are big fans of all types of music and songwriting in general,” Neumann said. “With the ‘American Made’ record we embrace everything from rock to country to blues.”
In addition, in November the band released “Amped Across America,” a double live album recorded at several venues from the “American Made” tour.
“All summer we recorded shows in various cities and I mixed the songs from these live shows,” Neumann said. “So now there is a double CD that is all these songs from live concerts.”
And it is the performing before a live audience that brings Neumann the most satisfaction in his career.
“There is something magical that happens with performers and an audience in a room.” he said. “It is satisfying for the people and for the performers. Making records is just a vehicle to do more shows. At the shows people sing along with you and they applaud your efforts. It’s great.”