students who were at Rusty’s back patio Friday night, a band consisting of K-State professors took over the stage for the release of their second album, “Down at the ‘Ville.”
Red State Blues Band is made up of eight men, all of who are K-State professors. The band consists of John Blair, guitar and professor of biology; Walter
Dodds, harmonica and distinguished professor of aquatic ecology; Mike Herman, bass and professor of biology; Seth Galitzer, vocals and saxophone, and a systems coordinator in computing and information science; Bernd Friebe, guitar and professor of plant pathology; John Fellers, sound engineer and vocals, and a professor of plant pathology; Steve Dyer, keyboard and a professor of electrical engineering; and Dean Vallenga on drums.
Red State Blues Band rocked the stage for three sets at their release party for their sophomore album, “Down at the ‘Ville.” They wasted no time getting the audience in the mood with their rock and blues sound. Starting with tracks from their first album, “12 Tracks,” the band found their harmonious groove quickly. From classics to originals, Red State Blues Band didn’t disappoint audience members.
The band put on a high-energy performance that you can only get when heart, talent and band chemistry are in perfect harmony. They have professional training and talent, but remember not to take themselves too seriously, which makes for a great show for the audience.
Sometimes with a larger band, members can seem to disappear on stage, but the Red State Blues Band lets all of their members shine with guitar, harmonica, drums and saxophone solos. Yes, for those who have never witnessed it, there’s such a thing as shredding on a harmonica. And when it’s done the way Dodds does it, it’s pure rock.
Galitzer has a voice made for singing the blues, which is only made better when combined with guitar riffs from Blair and Friebe. Another essential element to any blues band is saxophone. Galitzer makes the transition between the two seamlessly.
Not to forget Herman, who shreds the bass on every song with the classically piano trained keyboardist, Dyer, who gave melody and mood to the show through depth in composition. A blues show isn’t true to form without great drumming, which Vellenga delivers.
“I go to as many shows as I can get to,” Dan Walter, Manhattan resident, said. “They play with a lot of heart. They’re just a fun band to listen to, they really are. They have a lot of fun
doing it and it comes through [in their performances].”
The Red State Blues Band has eight members, two albums and a whole lot of soul. The band formed in 2006 through jam sessions, but didn’t anticipate where the road would lead them. Now, two albums and a few new faces later, Red State Blues Band has found their ever-evolving, down home, blues groove.
Don’t let the distinguished titles fool you. These band mates are just as much talented artists as they are respected professionals. Each having a love, passion and own musical journey that led to them to where they are now.
It all starts with a name. No matter how you say it, the Red State Blues Band lives up to their name.
“That was one of the early member’s ideas after George Bush won the election,” Dodds said. “She was pretty bummed out about [the election], so she suggested we call [the band] that and it stuck. It goes both ways. Politically we’re a red state, but we’re a blues band, or are we a blues band because we’re from a red state? It works either way. It’s almost patriotic. It just depends on how you say it.”
With a unique name and sound it’s their varied influences that make their sound their own. With influences from ZZ Top to black gospel, the band has an endless source of inspiration.
“We all have our heroes and favorite songs, so it’s a thing where you try it and if it clicks, it clicks, and if it doesn’t, it doesn’t,” Dodds said. “Vern is a huge fan of Peter Green who started Fleetwood Mac, and Gary Moore, who many British influences [look to] from when the blues got recycled by the British in the ’60s. We’re fans of a lot of that stuff.”
The mixture of influences, personalities and talent make Red State Blues Band who they are, which is a fun group who loves to rock and bring their city new and vintage blues.
Just ask Gary Conrad, distinguished professor of biology, who never misses a show.
“The music is great to dance to. It’s just fun like all rock ‘n’ roll and blues. It’s fantastic to dance to, and this is just a really fun group of serious hell raisers,” Conrad said.
Red State Blues Band puts on a show not to be missed. Catch them at the their next show, Jammin’ in J.C. – Blues and Barbecue Festival at Heritage Park in Junction City on Sept. 28 at 3:25 p.m.