Iowa rock ‘n’ roll hall of famer Bob Dorr started The Blue Band when he was 29 years old. He was scheduled to play three gigs when his former project dissolved and he couldn’t get out of the contract.
“The greatest thing you could say about The Blue Band is it persevered through all of the challenges that you meet in 36 years of being a small-time band,” Dorr said.
At the time, he said, the group was meant to play the three contracted shows and part ways. Now, 36 years and an estimated 5,000 gigs later, Dorr and the band are saying farewell to fans with a yearlong run of shows across the state. The Blue Band, which formed in 1981, boasts original members Dorr, now 65, and Jeff Petersen, as well as as a cast of rotating members featuring Iowa blues hall of fame members.
Saying goodbye is undoubtedly emotional, Dorr said. Never having children, he described the band as his only child; his purpose to wake up in the morning. Dorr cited the cost of touring as a major factor for closing the band down.
“Literally, my only child is terminal,” Dorr said. “And I don’t want to make this a really big thing. It’s not (a big deal) to everybody except Bob Dorr. But it is a territory that I have not explored in 36 years.”
The Blue Band is synonymous with the Iowa State Fair. Dorr said he and the group have been appearing at the fair for a third of a century, including playing all 11 days at times in the 1990s. Having played gigs like the Iowa State Fair for decades, he's seen the group impact generations of Iowans. As the years passed, he's watched original fans of the band bring children and grandchildren to shows to get a taste of the group.
“There’s a lot of really cool festivals that we’ve been doing over the years but I think the fair is probably the biggest deal," Dorr said. "We’re Iowans so the fair is like the big time to us.”
Fans of Dorr can still expect to see him across Iowa stages, in a different capacity. His duo with Petersen, The Blue 2, plans to continue booking gigs after The Blue Band takes a final bow. He also plans to continue hosting weekend programs on Iowa Public Radio and may even be thinking about planning a yearly Blues Band reunion when the time is right.
Announced central Iowa shows for the Blue Band include Valley Junction’s Function in the Junction on June 8, Rendezvous on the River in Des Moines on July 8 and a to-be-announced appearance at the Iowa State Fair. The band’s last shows are planned for Jan. 12 and 13, 2018. See a full list of farewell tour dates at theblueband.com/shows.