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A weekly series focused on Bloomington-Normal's arts community and other major events. Made possible with support from PNC Financial Services.

With something for everyone, the BoDeans are back at the Castle with a blend of old and new

Two rock musicians play guitar and accordion
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BoDeans
BoDeans front man Kurt Neumann (left) talked to WGLT ahead of the band's appearance Saturday at the Castle Theatre.

Wisconsin rockers The BoDeans return to their Midwest roots for a five-city tour—including a stop this Saturday at the Castle Theatre for the second year in a row. Front man Kurt Neumann is based in Texas now and the band members have changed over the years. But for him, being back in the Midwest feels like coming home.

“There’s a different perspective in the Midwest than there is on the far east and west coasts,” he said in an interview with WGLT. “I think that’s what people liked about us. It was just kind of straight forward, no nonsense, no frills. It was just about playing songs with emotion.”

Waukesha, Wisconsin, native Neumann started BoDeans in the early 1980s with fellow Waukesha High School grad Sam Llanas. Starting out in Milwaukee, the band rose to national acclaim in 1986 with their debut album “Love & Sex & Hope & Dreams.” The deal was sealed with their 1991 hit album “Black and White,” from which the single “Closer to Free” was selected as the theme song to the coming-of-age television show “Party of Five.” Llanas left the band in 2011 and BoDeans currently tours as a group of four: Neumann on lead guitar and vocals, Stefano Intelisano (keyboard and accordion), Brian Ferguson on drums and bassist James Hert adding backing vocals to the mix.

The BoDeans were initially branded as a roots rock band, a popular genre in the Twin Cities. But they resisted that label, finding it limiting to the myriad influences that show up in their music.

“When people say, ‘What kind of music do you play?’ I say American Rock and Roll music,” said Neumann. “I think that’s pretty much what it is. What we really love is great songwriting. In the Midwest, a lot of people like hard rock music too; it’s not just country or Americana.”

The concert will trace BoDeans history from the 1980s through present, including songs from their latest album, released in 2022.

“It’s nice for people who have been with us for a long time because they can retrace those footsteps. They all have their own memories to the music,” Neumann said. Fans—the majority of which are Gen X-ers who have followed the BoDeans from the beginning—frequently come up to him after shows and recount decades-old memories.

“That’s what makes you feel good,” Neumann said. “That’s our pay day.”

The BoDeans appear Saturday at the Castle Theatre with special guest Steve Poltz. Tickets are $30, at thecastletheatre.com.

Lauren Warnecke is a reporter at WGLT. You can reach Lauren at lewarne@ilstu.edu.