Over the last few years, the Blue 60 Band have become a familiar site around the community, popular performers at venues all around Jones County.
The band, formed in the fall of 2013 haven’t always been so ever-present at local community events. The group is a mix of Steve Wendl on vocals, Dennie Hinrichs on rhythmic guitar, Jan Beardsley on keyboards and background vocals, Carolyn Walker on bass, Kin Beardsley on lead guitar, Ken Winter on drums and Kate Beardsley on saxophone. Winter replaced original member Mike Shaffer.
Kin and Shaffer have been in bands off and on together since they were high schoolers, and Hinrichs and Jan Beardsley had been in the band with the pair of them prior to 2013, while others are newer to the band. It was Hinrichs who suggested Wendl for the band’s vocalists and Walker joined in after their bass player left. Since the band has increased the number of gigs they do, Shaffer has made way for Winter as the band’s drummer.
It was Jan Beardsley that came up with the band’s name.
“We were kind of all just talking about what music do we really want to play. We wanted to play blues and 60s rock ‘n’ roll,” she said of the name’s origin.
“And most of us were blue because we were all 60,” Kin chipped in.
The band’s catalogue started out with Kin Beardsley’s base of classic rock, with the songs he grew up with, and with the inclusion of Wendl, the bands catalogue started to change, since he wasn’t as familiar.
“Steve has a knack for interpreting what the crowd wants,” Kin said. “So, I gave up some of the nostalgic music that I like to play.”
That innate sense for what the crowd wants took some time for Wendl to develop, but he views it as an important aspect of the band’s performances.
“You’re intimidated at first about being the front guy, but I don’t play an instrument. So, if you’re just standing at the microphone singing, to me that’s just kind of boring,” he said. “I want to get out there and do stuff and engage with (the crowd).”
The energy of the band on stage transfers itself to the crowd and creates a more memorable experience.
With the slight tweak of their sound, the band has become popular for people to get out on the dance floor. What exactly the band plays depends on the crowd and, more recently, they have even begun to further expand their catalogue into some 50s music as well as a couple more modern songs.
2019 has been a banner year for the band, with performances almost every weekend over the course of the summer. The group does a lot of performances locally and enjoys the community aspect of what they do.
“Your families can usually make those, so it’s nice to see your families out in the crowd,” Walker said.
However, the group is also getting a chance to spread their wings a little bit with a trip to Clinton coming up, as well as first-time trips to both Cedar Rapids and Iowa City later this year. They’ve even picked up a couple of roadies, in Cheyenne and Barb Lerch.
The group says they don’t do it for the money, but for the love of the music.
“Who hasn’t dreamt of being in a rock ‘n’ roll band?” Wendl said.
The bandmembers realize how lucky they are to be, as their slogan says, “livin’ the dream” and are all about embracing the experience and the opportunities that have come their way.
“It just makes you feel good to see people having fun” Hinrichs said. “It’s so rewarding.”