For 20+ years, Red Wanting Blue has embraced its bar band status with live shows & new songs

By DAVID DUPONT

BG Independent News

When Scott Terry of the rock band Red Wanting Blue  imagines  the audience he’s writing sings for, he sees them in venues from coast to coast.

It may be the Bowery Ballroom in New York City or the Tractor Tavern in Seattle.

It may also any of a dozen venues in the American Heartland including Northwest Ohio. Red Wanting Blue was a regular for years on the local music scene playing Howard’s Club H and Cla-Zel in Bowling Green and more recently the Civic Music Hall in Toledo.

That’s where the veteran rockers will perform Friday, Dec. 28, at 7 p.m. Tickets for the show at the club at 135 S. Byrne Road, Toledo are $18 in advance and $20 at the door.

Every band has a different trajectory, Terry said during a recent telephone interview. For Red Wanting Blue that started more than 20 years ago in Oxford, Ohio.

The band — Terry on lead vocal, ukulele, tenor guitar; Mark McCullough, bass and vocals, Greg Rahm, guitar, keyboard, vocals; Eric Hall, guitar, lap steel. vocals; and Dean Anshutz, drums and percussion — cut their teeth in Illinois, Iowa, Nebraska, as well as their home state of Ohio.

“These places are very middle American,” Terry said. “We’re playing for people who work in middle America, and when they go out to cut loose on a Friday night they want to drink and have a good time. They want to listen to music they can relate to and appreciate. We very much wanted to be that band.”

That’s the audience they cater to. Red Wanting Blue isn’t a household name, Terry admits. Some people call them a bar band, a term not usually meant as a compliment, Terry said. “But there is something to be said about singing songs that are aimed at people in a bar. Songs that people will be captivated by. It better be melodic. It better be engaging right there in the moment. … That’s the stream we’ve been on. That’s where the river took us.”

Over the more than two decades the band has been touring, they have fans who’ve stuck with them. That despite the “oceans of music” that has been produced over that time. No flash in the pan, the band’s audiences have been slowly growing.

That fan base has been receptive as the band has continued writing new material, enough to fill 11 studio albums. The most recent is “The Wanting” released earlier this year.

“I work really hard to try to do better than last  record,” Terry said. It’s always a gamble whether their fans will like the new songs. “I would say our fans have been pretty supportive. I think we do a good job of meeting them half way.”

Sometimes what new song catches on is a surprise, Terry said.

Take the grimly humorous “My Name Is Death.” Terry was so nervous about the song that he slipped it on as a ghost track onto the band’s previous album.

“People love that song,” he said. “It becomes a special thing whenever we perform it.”

The lead track off “The Wanting,” “High and Dry” is the song that’s especially resonating with listeners. 

That’s not surprising given it’s a celebration of enduring friendship. The singer expresses confidence that his friends will not leave him high and dry. Certainly the band’s fans haven’t left them high and dry, and with each album new listeners discover them.

Red Wanting Blue isn’t a crew that holds up for a couple years honing an album. Instead they keep touring — though not at the pace of their earlier days. They aim to capture the energy of their live show on each album.

Terry said everyone in the band writes. He used to believe he had to write every day to craft a great song. “As I’ve gotten older, I’ve gotten more comfortable with letting songs happen when they happen. I could just be driving in the middle of the night in my car with no instruments whatsoever and get lost in thought,” he said. 

Using the voice memo on his phone, he’ll map out the song, a lyric, a melodic phrase. “I pretty much just wrote a song.”

He shares that with his bandmates, and they share their work. The band gets together to arrange the songs and shape them into a finished piece.

“That’s the job,” Terry said. “That’s what we’re really here to do. Without that there’s no fuel in the gas tank. You want to be able to write new songs and see what people like and think about your music.”

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