If Blood, Sweat & Tears calls and says, “Hey man, you wanna do a couple of shows with us?” what do you say?
If you’re Bo Bice, you say, “Yeah man!”
Three years ago, Bice got that call and those couple of shows turned into five, then eight, then three years later you’re still the lead singer for BS&T. The gig came about through his performance of BS&T’s hit “Spinning Wheel” when he was a contestant on “American Idol.” Carrie Underwood won that year, but, hey, I don’t think she’s got an offer from one of the top rock/jazz fusion bands ever to be lead singer.
Blood Sweat & Tears, featuring Bo Bice, will play one show at 9 p.m. Friday, March 18, at The Event Center at Hollywood Casino at Charles Town Races, in Charles Town, W.Va. Tickets are $35 and $55 and you have to be 21 or older to attend the shows at the casino.
I talked with Bo Bice by phone recently and you can read some of that interview in the March 17 issue of 72Hours, the FNP’s entertainment guide. The rest of the interview is here:
Bice said his lead singer gig has been a great opportunity for him to grow as a musician, singer, songwriter and a person.
“I’m very blessed to have this opportunity,” he said. While touring with BS&T he’s put his “Bo Bice” career on slow down and is careful not to mix who he is as a solo artist with who he is as a member of a nine-piece band.
BS&T’s hits also include “And When I Die,” “You’ve Made Me So Very Happy,” “God Bless the Child,” “Lucretia Mac Evil” and “Hi-De-Ho,” which most BS&T fans will recognize through the voice of former frontman David Clayton Thomas. So taking on this catalog of material was not like a “Saturday in the park” (wait, that song was not BS&T, but another band, Chicago … more on this confusion later).
“It was a challenge to me to take on a catalog of music like this,” Bice said. “It’s like in acting, you have to make sure you’re right for the role. In this situation, I was right for the role.”
Going from his solo shows to fronting a nine-piece band was another challenge. His “Idol” experience helped, but “it’s not easy to sing over horns. I had to re-acclimate myself to do this. The parameters I set for my show were no longer valid,” Bice said.
And there was the dynamics of working and traveling with eight bandmates and how the band, management and crew worked together. “I took the positive route,” he said, and asked himself what he was doing to make things better or to make things worse.
BS&T tours have taken him to destinations he hadn’t been before, from Australia to Alaska and Mexico. The timing was right, personally, he said.
“Sue, one of the cool things about this, as I look back, four years ago, I made some changes in my life,” Bice said. “I was going through treatment. I joke on stage that (with alcohol) I break out in belligerent.
“After treatment, I found that spot that turned the switch to perform without the assistance of liquid courage,” Bice said. “Blood, Sweat & Tears offered an opportunity to back up for myself and get rid of self a little bit, and ask myself, ‘Am I the pre-‘Idol’ guy, the post-‘Idol’ guy or a mix of both?’ I found my place, not only with BS&T, but with myself.”
Bice, who is an avid supporter of the military — active and veterans — has made tours in Afghanistan. And a soldier he met on a tour inspired him to do something else — cut his long hair.
A new BS&T album is in the talks. “But you know how the music business goes … you get an album together and it gets shelved. That was one reason I wanted to get involved with this was an opportunity to record music with a legacy band like this,” he said, adding he has recorded with music legends including Carlos Santana and Richie Sambora.
Bice said he’s not doing this gig for the money or the ego trip. “You have to get past the ego and the monetary value and look at how it enriches your life. I don’t think I’ll ever do another four-year hell tour,” he said, referring to the intense post-“Idol” tour.
“There’s not anything wrong with it. I enjoyed it, but who I am today is not the same person. I’ve got four kids and I’m not just married, I’m HAPPILY married. I don’t want to breathe, eat, sleep the music business. I want to hang out with my kids and my wife.
“When I’m on the road in a hotel room after a show, the applause I hear in my head are not as deafening as the silence of my children. I’ll never get that time back with them,” said Bice, who has three boys ages 10, 8 and 6, and a daughter who will be 4 in April.
This leg of the show will include one of Bice’s songs and a segment on songs people think BS&T recorded. “There’s always one guy who yells ‘play ’25 or 6 to 4’!'” he said. It was recorded by Chicago, another legacy band with horn players.
Bice is planning to return to his touring schedule in 2017-2018 with a decades of music tour featuring his music from before, during and after “Idol.”
“I want to keep the two as oil and water, not to capitalize one on the other to make sure the fans are getting what they came to see,” he said. “(BS&T) is not an old hat cover band or a no hat cover band. It’s the real deal.
“As always, if I stop digging it, I’ll stop doing it and the same with Bobby Colomby. In saying that, it’s not saying I’m ready to bow out. It’s a real good opportunity in may career.”