“Country isn’t country anymore.”
That’s Randy Lavoie’s lament. Maybe it’s yours, too. But this Saturday Lavoie, the lead singer of Colt 45, along with fellow country acts Luke ‘n Bob Texas and Diesel Drive, will take the stage at the Wicked Moose to prove that, true school or not, there ain’t no party like a country party.
The bands, though all under the ‘country’ umbrella, couldn’t be more different. Luke ‘n Bob Texas have a classic, ‘true school’ style. Colt 45 performs older tunes and variety rock. Diesel Drive plays modern material and lifts from hard rock.
“We all are completely unique to each other. None of us really do the same thing,” said Mike Proctor of Diesel Drive.
The idea with this show is to introduce all the different fan bases.
When Lavoie re-ignited Colt 45 in 2010, he intended for it to play classic, true school country, but his vision wasn’t selling. Lavoie discovered that variety is crucial.Country tunes, but also music by Bob Dylan or The E Street Band. Now his band pays a lot of attention to three and four part harmonies. They’re pushing to get back onto the casino circuit. It’s a place he’s been before, with Danny Dee and Blackwater. He’s been rocking with Colt 45 since 1981.
Ever wonder where the name came from?
He slaps down a police badge.
“I’ve been a police officer for over 35 years. That’s where the name came from. Because I actually carry a .45,” said Lavoie.
Alan Denny of Luke ‘n Bob Texas is 57. Everyone else in his band is in their early thirties. They’ve been playing at the North Star for seven years and have developed a following of people who enjoy dancing. They’ll take some time off starting March 11.
“We play a lot of outlaw stuff. We actually play for the younger people. They’re looking for some kind of grassroots, traditional kind of music,” said Dewny. “I think they’re really kind of fed up with the commercial part of it. They want something real. Something they can related to.”
“I think a lot of people think that new country has kind of veered off from its roots. It’s more rock n roll these days than anything,” said Dewny.
Everyone in Diesel Drive came from a hard rock background. Their infamous blending of “All my Friends Say” and “Enter Sandman” is a nightly affirmation of their shared background.
“A lot of people are really specific to the type of country music they want to listen to,” said Mike Proctor. “The people that go to see Luke ‘n Bob, they are only going to see Luke ‘n Bob. They would never come to see a band like us.”
This show is meant to change that, by bringing the bands’ audiences together.
“We’re trying to mix and match here. We have a following but we want more of a following. Diesel Drive has a following. Luke N Bob Texas has a following. There’s a big variety in the age group there,” said Lavoie “We’re trying to build a rapport, is what we’re trying to do.”
One thing tough on country acts – a lack of venues. Getting gigs is tough, competitive.
“I think there is a big market for it, actually, but the venues are getting so limited, places to play,” said Denny.
“We’ve lost a lot of venues and we’re going to lose more,” said Lavoie.
The impending closure of the Wicked Moose is a gut-punch to the scene.
“That venue is the only venue like that around. I’ve stepped on a lot of stages in my career being a musician, and that’s about as top shelf as they come,” said Lavoie.
“With Whiskey Bones and Boomers closed and The Wicked Moose closing it’s a blow to the music scene all around, not just Country. But I believe the scene is salvageable, between North Star Bar and Shar’s Country Palace, we have a chance to build something solid,” said JT Thompson of JT and the Gunslingers.
The bands are trying to come up with a venue that will mobilize the audiences they want. With the advent of Destination Medical Center, Lavoie reasons that many blue-collar visitors will come to the city. They’ll want some country.
“It’s one thing to have all of the top shelf arts and things like that. But you’ve got to remember, the people that are coming to this community are farmers. They’re blue collar workers, they’re not white shirts,” said Lavoie.
Lavoie is almost 60. He grew up on country music of the 50s and 60s and says he couldn’t imagine a better time to come through life. Drive in theatres, hip-hops, the car hops, Merle Haggard, Charlie Pryde, Earl Scrugg. Much of that culture has gone away, though.
“The people of my era, the baby boomers, are dyin’. They aren’t going out. The DWI laws, all of the things surrounding our culture as we’re progressing, are changing,” said Lavoie.
He even accepts some culpability.
“If I’m not playing, usually, I’m not going out. There’s nowhere really to go to,” said Lavoie.
Lavoie started playing guitar at the age of 8. He raised a pair of runt pigs and sold them for $45. With the money, he went to Peterson’s Music in Marshall, Minnesota, and bought a $42 guitar and a songbook.
That was back in the days of plentiful ballrooms. His uncle, a musician, would throw young Lavoie into some boots, a cowboy hat, and get him going on stage.
He remembers the Showboat Ballroom in Lake Benton, where the Everly Brothers, Chubby Checkers, Buddy Holly, and Richie Vallens played. When he got older, he played those stages, too.
“Every place that was a bar when I grew up had music. Everybody smoked, everybody drank, everybody went out, they got busted on their butt” said Lovie.
“It seems to some degree the 21-30 year old crowd would rather have a jukebox playing at low volume in the background than see a live band,” said Thompson.
So, with the region’s country scene counting on your attendance, will you go? If it’s a nudge in the right direction, Proctor can promise that “You won’t hear the same song twice throughout the night.”
What Winter Blahs party with Colt 45, Luke n’ Bob Texas, and Diesel Drive
When Saturday, Feb. 18, doors open at 7:00 p.m. Show from 7:30 p.m. to 12:30 a.m.
Where $5 in advance, $10 day of.
Buy tickets tempotickets.com/event/6sM17D, or at the Wicked Moose