Red Wanting Blue – New Year’s Eve 2014

Red Wanting Blue will reconnect with Youngstown on New Year’s Eve

It’s been a while since Red Wanting Blue last played Youngstown. Two years, in fact.

A lot has happened since then.

The Columbus band expanded its fan base from the Midwest to just about every state. At the same time, it changed its touring strategy to fewer shows and — by necessity — larger rooms.

Unfortunately, that meant Youngstown, which is one of the band’s core markets, kept getting bypassed for lack of a suitable venue.

Until now.

To make up for its long absence, RWB has put together a New Year’s Eve show at B&O Station (info at ticketweb.com) that will reconnect it with its local fans and revel in the city’s charms.

The B&O Station can hold more than 500 people, much more than a bar such as Cedars, which was once a regular stop.

The NYE show will be catered by Friends Roastery and Big Green Thing food truck, serving some local specialties.

Also lending local flavor will be artist Jim Pernotto, who has created a limited-edition print that will be on display. Tickets will be sold, with the winner getting a print and opera box tickets to RWB’s next show at House of Blues in Cleveland. The next nine winners also will get a copy of the print. All proceeds will benefit Pernotto’s NEXT Best Art organization, which aims to create a permanent street-level display window in the Vogue Men’s Shop building, downtown.

RWB frontman Scott Terry said the band was well aware that it hadn’t been to Youngstown in a while; it was hard not to be, with the band’s drummer, Dean Anshutz, and Terry’s girlfriend both natives of the Mahoning Valley.

Its most recent appearance was Jan. 28, 2012, at Cedar’s Lounge, when it was downtown. RWB also played an outdoor show at Bojangle’s, between Columbiana and East Palestine, in June of that year.

The New Year’s Eve show should reset its relationship with fans. It will be emceed by an on-air personality from the Summit radio, and the opening act will be Youngstown band Sam Goodwill.

“We built this show from the ground up, our way, at a cool venue,” said Terry. “We want it to be the thing to do on New Year’s Eve in Youngstown, and we’re getting a warm feeling from knowing that we can help make this art project more visible, make younger citizens aware of it.”

The New Year’s Eve show will be RWB’s 71st of the year. For most bands, 71 shows is a busy year. For RWB, which had toured practically nonstop for 15 years, it’s taking it easy.

The band launched a 34-city tour in June to push its new album, “Little America,” then followed it up with a fall tour.

“We changed booking agencies in the last couple of years,” said Terry. “We cut our teeth on endless touring, and that’s great, but [our manager] said it’s not always effective, burning the candle at both ends. I mean, we will run endlessly when we need to run endlessly. But to drive to the middle of South Dakota for one show just to say you did it is nice, but it didn’t make a lot of sense. We are passionate about touring and playing, but we didn’t always have the greatest business sense. Our tours didn’t have beginnings and ends. We circuited forever and never stopped. After 15 years, it’s nice to be able to spend some time at home, and then tour with a more concentrated effort.”

Of course all that time on the road provided an endless source of song ideas.

Like much of RWB’s extensive catalog, “Little America” was inspired by its travels. The album takes its name from a Wyoming truck stop that the band’s tour bus limped into one snowy night last winter after narrowly missing a jackknifed tractor-trailer. It also reflects Terry’s intimate knowledge of the land, a diminutive nickname for a country with whom he’s become close friends.

But for all its glory, even the road has its limits, and inspiration can come from other places — including home and stability.

“When I was young I just wanted to be in a rock band and tour,” said Terry. “But once you’re in that position, it becomes your life. The last few albums have been consumed with road life. It reflected my life but at the same time, I’m hoping for time apart from it to get a new angle on things. I don’t want to keep writing the same songs over and over.”

The band members returned to their homes earlier this month for several weeks of down time. Aside from the NYE show, their schedule is clear until a stint on a couple of rock cruises that will embark from Florida in mid-January.

The more-efficient approach to touring has revealed a side benefit that the band had never known: Touring with just one other band, instead of whoever else is on the bill that night.

“To be on the road with the same group, you get to know them on a different level and that impacts the way you play,” said Terry. “You can let your guard down, and write songs together. New things start from that.”

RWB toured with Alternate Routes in the summer, and the Revivalists in the fall.

Terry said he has already written enough songs for a new record. The band plans to hit the recording studio in 2015, but it will have to wait until at least late spring. After gigs aboard the Cayamo and Rock Boat cruises, the band will launch a Canadian tour in February, than another national tour in April.

-Guy D’astolfo
Youngstown Vindicator for Valley24.com

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