BEST BETS: Bo Bice leads Blood Sweat & Tears to Harrington

The jazz-rock group Blood Sweat & Tears, led by Bo Bice, second from left, brings its classic sound to Harrington Raceway and Casino’s Exhibit Hall April 7 at 8 p.m. (Submitted photo)

For Bo Bice, it’s all about staying true to the music. And when that music has stood the test of time for 50 years, it’s a really big deal.

Mr. Bice, who became known to millions in 2005 on the TV talent show “American Idol,” where he finished runner-up to winner Carrie Underwood, is these days the lead singer for the iconic jazz-rock group Blood Sweat & Tears.

The band, known for songs such as “Spinning Wheel,” “You’ve Made Me So Very Happy” and “And When I Die,” comes to Harrington Raceway and Casino’s Exhibit Hall April 7 at 8 p.m.

“I don’t want to mess with people’s memories. That’s not me. If you ever think you’re more than the music, it’s time to step aside,” Mr. Bice said by phone Monday afternoon from his home on Lake Jackson in Covington, Georgia.

“We’re all fans of the music too. So we don’t change the keys. We don’t change things up much. I love it when people sing along every night and we can sound like they remember.

“I’ll get people coming up to me after a show and saying ‘If I closed my eyes, I could hear (former BST lead singer) David Clayton Thomas.’ That doesn’t bother me a bit.”

Mr. Bice has been the front man for BST since 2013 when he got the call from co-founder Bobby Colomby, who no longer performs with the group but is still its musical director.

“I had sung ‘Spinning Wheel’ on ‘American Idol’ and something clicked with the audience I guess and that helped me finish runner-up to the talented Carrie Underwood,” he said.

“They had apparently been trying to contact me for a while but the message never made it through the ranks of management. But finally the stars lined up and they got in touch and the parts went into motion,” he said.

“It was originally supposed to be three shows and then it turned into five shows. And then it turned into several months where it was me and their previous lead singer (David Aldo) trading off parts.

“Then eventually he wanted to do his own thing and they asked me if I wanted to join full-time.”

Mr. Bice was enjoying a successful career at the time and had a decision to make.

“Would I lose my identity as Bo Bice? What are my fans going to think about this? I had been doing this for 18 months and I was figuring out where I was a benefit to the band. I was still figuring out where to lay back on parts and I didn’t want to step on anybody else’s parts. Most importantly I didn’t want it to become the Bo show.

“But then around the same time, a new drummer (Dylan Elise) joined the band. And then Ric Fierabracci came on board and we all just really solidified and started to fire on all cylinders.

“I still do my solo shows and I still love doing them. But it’s great to know I can put this hat on or take this jacket off and do many different things.”

Mr. Bice, 42, is quick to point out that although he is the band’s front man and the voice of the group, he’s not the de facto leader.

“It’s nine of us on stage who pull off this team effort,” he said.

To that end, Mr. Bice said BST audiences won’t hear him sing any of the songs that he alone is known for.

“I do sing ‘Vehicle’ which I did on ‘Idol’ and it’s in a part of the show where we do songs that people think Blood Sweat & Tears wrote. That’s really an Ides of March song. We also do ‘Midnight Rider,’ which is an Allman Brothers song. I sang some Allman Brothers on ‘Idol’ as well,” he said.

BST does 75 to 100 shows a year and is kicking off its third world tour. Mr. Bice said he is amazed at the musicianship of the band every night he plays with them.

“I’ve seen the show for almost five years now and every night it’s a different show. You’ve got to play the hits but I’m not sitting back and sipping water when I’m not singing. I’m watching the drum solo or a guitar lick and it’s still great,” he said.

Although older fans of the group have become fans of Mr. Bice, he says he also sees younger audience members who may have watched him on TV more than a decade ago.

“I’ll see fans who may have been 8 when I was on ‘Idol’ and they are now driving cars. That generation may recognize me from ‘Idol’ but you have to realize that they are coming out three and four deep with their parents and siblings. So you’re getting a double bang for your buck,” he said.

“I think it’s a somewhat reciprocal thing but I’m not so much living in my own head that my personal entity is bigger than the Blood Sweat & Tears entity that came before me. I pay great homage to those who came before me and consider it a challenge to continue to entertain night after night.”

Although he notes that there are no original members left in the band, he is quick to point out that the original lineup ceased to exist after the first album.

“David Clayton Thomas didn’t join the group until their third record,” he said.

Although he says performing live with BST has been one of the proudest moments of his career, his impact on those who saw him on “American Idol” is still felt and he’s proud of that as well.

“I didn’t really get caught up in all of that but I didn’t run from ‘Idol’ or dodge the alumni stuff either,” said Mr. Bice, who appeared in what was then the series finale in 2016. It was recently brought back by ABC.

“It’s hardly ever addressed these days. A lot of people knew me before I was that long-haired singer on TV. Although these days it’s short but my wife wants me to grow it back out. Most knew me as a dad and a husband or an artist and a photographer. I was a 15-year overnight success but I would be amiss to think that a whole lot of people didn’t get to know me through ‘Idol’.

“When you think of how many people auditioned through that show’s 15-year-run and now it’s back again. And I’m one of the few that made it to second place. I’m really, really humbled by that.”

Tickets for the April 7 show are $44. They can be purchased online at www.harringtonraceway.com, by calling 888-887-5687, Ext. 5246 or stopping by the Casino Gift Shop. All ages are welcome.

‘Redemption’ at Calvary

The Creative Arts Ministry of Calvary Church in Dover, continues this year’s Easter production with the premiere of “Redemption,” a dramatic musical set in biblical times, to be presented at 7 p.m. today and 3 and 7 p.m. Saturday in Calvary’s sanctuary/theater, 1141 East Lebanon Road, Del. 10 and South State Street.

Team-directed by Ally Deihl, Yasmin and Josh Walton and Terence Savagel, “Redemption” is an original show created by Calvary’s Creative Arts team. Based on the biblical account of Christ’s life, death and resurrection, the dramatic musical tells the Easter story through the eyes of three ordinary people whose lives were changed by meeting Christ.

Admission is free with no reserved seating. Doors open one hour before performances.

For more information, call 302-697-7776, or visit www.calvarydover.org.

Giving back

Speaking of local theater, it’s not unusual for artists and performers to donate creative work. Many first-time authors have been known to offer free e-books in order to create a fan base and gather positive book reviews. It’s also common for musical performers to offer free downloads for fans to gain exposure and build a following.

Everett De Morier is a Dover author whose first novel won the top fiction prize at the London Book Festival in 2015. His book “Thirty-Three Cecils” is now required reading in at least one New York high school and his screenplay is in film development. But he has a new theatrical play coming out, and as he has done with the seven other plays before it, he will find a nonprofit theater to give it away to.

“I was asked to write a play almost 10 years ago because a local theater group couldn’t find anything that hadn’t been done a thousand times or wasn’t beyond their budget,” Mr. De Morier said. “So I wrote one, helped direct it, and we had a great time filling the place.”

He wrote six more original plays for Cornerstone Drama of Dover. In between, he completed his novel, wrote a screenplay, and created an online magazine. But he always returned to writing for the stage, which he says continues to see dwindling audiences.

“The challenge with live theater today is, that on one end of the spectrum you have the glitzy multi-million-dollar Broadway performances that we are more than willing to shell a hundred dollars out for a ticket. And on the other side, we have the small community theater, where we are reluctant to pay the 20-dollar ticket price. The reason for this is often an entertainment value decision. We can go see another version of ‘Death of a Salesman’ at community theater, or for half that cost we can go see the first-run film of ‘Black Panther’.”

He went on to explain that small theaters often produce the plays that they can, rather than the ones they want to. And the plays they can are often the ones that have lower minimum costs per performances, which are well written but have been done and redone for decades.

Mr. De Morier plans on continuing to create new and original scripts and make them available for nonprofit theaters for free, if for no other reason than to give these organizations another option to perform.

“So a small theater can go with ‘The Glass Menagerie’ or they can try something brand new. They now have a choice.”

He is currently completing his latest play, “Binghamton Lydia,” which he will donate to community theaters this summer.

Quarters for Kids

The Biggs Museum of American Art and Del-One Federal Credit Union recently announced a new partnership entitled “Quarters for Kids” to help celebrate the Biggs Museum’s 25th anniversary year. To kick off the program, Del-One has invested $10,000 in the Biggs Museum to fund special programs and field trips at the museum for underserved children and families.

Funding will enable the museum to host more field trips and families than ever before. Specifically, it helps to fund free admission for all children as well as museum programs like Biggs Kids, in which children participate in a free, hands-on craft the first Saturday of every month in the Child HELP Foundation Studio.

“Quarters for Kids” kiosks are in the lobby of the Biggs Museum as well as the downtown Dover and West Dover locations of Del-One Federal Credit Union. At these interactive kiosks, children of all ages will be able to insert quarters to help support Biggs Museum programs — with the overarching goal of giving children a better understanding of financial literacy and the importance of philanthropy.

Now Showing

New this weekend in theaters is the Steven Spielberg blockbuster “Ready Player One,” the thriller “Tyler Perry’s Acrimony” and the religious sequel “God’s Not Dead: A Light in Darkness.”

On DVD and download starting Tuesday is the horror film “Insidious: The Last Key” and the comedy “Father Figures.”

Reach features editor Craig Horleman at chorl@newszap.com

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