The 10th Annual Dave Rowley & Friends show at the Pearson Lakes Art Center mixed new with old for an outstanding evening of fun and wonderful music.
For the first time the show was moved upstairs from Pomerantz Hall to the larger Lauridsen Theatre to allow for over 100 more seats. The show was sold out by the end of May. The larger and much more acoustically-friendly Lauridsen did not diminish the fun, intimate atmosphere the band thrives on. The stage looked enough like an outdoor bar on a tropical island that even Jimmy Buffet would have been proud.
The occasion also marked Dave Rowley's 60th birthday so the evening began with singing and cake was served at intermission. The band had fun with his "advancing" years. This very popular band consists of Perry Pearson, Carlis Faurot, Gary Lambert, Ryan Sather, Brent Wallin and, of course, Rowley.
These are all excellent musicians who get together once a year to wow us all with their talent and humor. Most are area residents with the exception of Faurot who came over from the Cedar Rapids area. They work extremely well together. The guys always seem to know the best way to highlight the special talents of their compadres.
The show got off to a fast beat start with the crowd favorite "Sittin' on the Dock of the Bay" and we were in for a super evening of music. The band, attired in their beachwear, set the mood and we all gladly went right along with it. Carlis whistled extremely well during one song causing the audience to erupt in applause. The banter back and forth between musicians and sometimes with the audience added much enjoyment to the evening.
The band chose to serenade us with a "love song" that went "if my nose is running money, I'd blow it all on you!." It doesn't get much more romantic than that, right? The crowd laughed at the hysterically funny lyrics. The guys on stage sang other comical tunes about vasectomies and "Senior Moments"; subjects we all seemed to relate to, judging by the amount of laughter I was hearing. I observed the younger people in the audience chuckling in sympathy while the rest of us just accepted the goings on as fact. I am particularly fond of the "Walleye" that is sung to the "Rawhide" tune.
Rowley paid tribute to the Sons of the Pioneers with "Texas USA." The fiddle playing by Faurot added much enjoyment to that number.
The audience participated in sing-a-longs on several occasions. "Yellow Submarine" was an enthusiastic hit. "Rock Me Mamma" became a contest between Sather's half of the audience against Rowley's. I am stating here that Sather's side won. Of course, I was sitting in that section but really do believe, in my unprejudiced mind, we were the loudest.
Carlis opened the second session with the "Orange Blossom Special" on his fiddle and garnered a robust standing ovation. "Daddy Never Sleeps At Night" kept the fast beat going. The musicians have great singing voices and harmonized well all night long.
Sather is all over the place when he is pounding his keyboards. It is a delight to watch him having such a good time and showcasing his talents to the max. I love to watch and hear him. Lambert, a fabulous drummer, treated us to a wonderful version of "Crazy Little Thing Called Love."
When "Rolling Stone" began, we all sang along again. Rowley got out his ukulele for "See You In My Dreams" with Sather's piano and Faurot's fiddle adding the perfect touch to the song.
Seat dancing became an art that night. None of us could sit still when they did a groovy version of "Heartbreak Hotel." "Jamaica Jam" began as a tropical number and ended with an extremely fast and lively Irish jig. It brought another standing ovation for Faurot.
We the audience were not ready for the evening to end. Rowley & Friends treated us to an encore song ... four times! I believe the sold-out crowd outdid themselves on the vocals for "Sweet Caroline." Everyone in the theatre was on their feet shouting, singing and rocking. It was awesome! We didn't want the evening to end after three full hours of music.
The good news is Dave Rowley & Friends have agreed to come back next August for another outstanding show. The date is Aug. 21, 2015 and the tickets will go on sale sometime in January. Thanks guys for a relaxing, fun and highly entertaining evening of music!