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Story by Robin Mayer
Seventeen years ago, while living in Colorado, I heard a song on the radio that piqued my interest. The song was "Good Things" and the band was the BoDeans. Their tight harmonies and heartland lyrics had me singing and harmonizing along with them at the top of my lungs while I cruised through the mountains and plains of The Centennial State with my 4-month old baby girl in her car seat, the sunroof open and the car stereo turned up loud. Thus was my introduction to a band that has continually produced down to earth, fun music and is the consummate "road trip" band. On Thursday night, with my now 17-year old daughter in tow, we took a short road trip to Whitewater to revisit the BoDeans.
They opened the show with "Pretty Ghost," a new single from their current album. While this song is a departure from their usual fare, Kurt Neumann's eerie, flowy guitar rifts blended with Sam Llanas' gravelly vocals and a melancholy melody created a drifting, spooky but enjoyable piece of music. We were treated to other songs from the new album including the rockabilly "Lucille." However, it was crowd favorites such as "She's A Runaway," "Fadeaway," "Naked," "Closer to Free" and the song that originally pulled me in as a fan, "Good Things" that brought a mixed-age crowd to their dancing feet. It didn't matter that Llana's voice sounded a little strained in places and a few of the lead-ins to songs might have been a little rough. The BoDeans produced a rollicking show that allowed us all to sing and dance along with the band. Even my daughter couldn't resist singing along to the songs she knew.
Two voices, two guitars at the edge of the stage along with a silent, captivated audience produced the highlight of the evening. For the first song of the encore, Neumann and Llanas walked on stage with just their acoustic guitars and asked for our patience, as they wanted to "try something special." Without the aid of microphones or amps, the two launched into a truly acoustic version of "Only Love." For those few minutes, we got a glimpse into a partnership that has made the BoDeans a band to love for almost three decades.
Thursday's show reminded me of what I loved about the band and with the release of Still, the BoDeans are still a band to harmonize and sing along with at the top of your lungs on a road trip with the top down and the stereo blaring.
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