Tortoise & The Hair
Bandleader and drummer – Davenport IA (1965-1968)
The Raggs Revue
Bandleader and singer – Cedar Falls IA (1975-1976)
The Little Red Rooster Band
Bandleader/singer/harp player (1977 and 1980 in Cedar Falls IA – 1978/79 in Minneapolis MN) During this time, Gregg Allman and Roy Buchanon sat in with the band
The Blue Band
Bob Dorr Dorr’s legacy with the Blue Band began in June 1981. Although Dorr is talented on various instruments including the harmonica and percussion, his voice is his best instrument. Not only has Dorr made his own band a success, but he has helped provide valuable exposure for other regional bands through the use of his highly popular radio shows on Iowa Public Radio and as producer of the highly regarded Iowa Blues compilations for Hot Fudge Music. Bob began his tenure in Public Broadcasting at KUNI-FM in October of 1972 and for his 40+ years of entertaining listeners with his solid knowledge of music history and interviews with highly noted rock and blues figures, he was inducted into the Iowa Rock ‘n’ Roll Music Association Hall of Fame in September 2000. In April 2006, Bob was inducted into the Iowa Blues Hall of Fame. In 2007 he was re- inducted into the Iowa Rock ’n’ Roll Music Association Hall of Fame as leader of The Blue Band.
Bob Dorr & The Blue Band started in Cedar Falls IA, in the early summer of 1981, simply as a way to satisfy the remaining contracted obligations of a band that had broken up in the spring of ’81. Blue Band founding members Bob Dorr (vocals and harmonica) and Molly Nova (bass, violin, and vocals) assembled old friends to play the remaining three contracted dates of The Little Red Rooster Band, which Dorr and Nova had been part of from early 1977.
Drummer Bryce Loshman, who had played the last few performances of Little Red Rooster, agreed to play the three dates. E. Scott Esbeck, who could play bass and guitar, answered an ad posted in Stebs Bar. Then Dorr called two other old friends from the mid-’70s. “Wild” Bill Cannon was a one-man horn section and outrageous character (he’d been the sax player in the Watts 103rd St. Band, which had charted hits for Warner Bros. in the ’60s); and Jimmy “The Kid” Price, an aspiring songwriter and newspaper writer, played guitar and sang a few songs. (Price wrote signature Blue Band songs “Madness On Main Street” and “Too Many Cold Nights.”) These six people worked up enough songs to play the three contracted dates, decided to name itself Bobby’s Blue Band, (a tongue-in-cheek, humorous spin on famous blues singer Bobby “Blue” Bland’s name) and played their first show June 10, 1981 at The Cooper Wagon Works nightclub in Dubuque IA.
Bobby’s Blue Band actually experienced great success on those initial three shows. Buoyed by that success, most of the band members decided to stay with it. But Jim Price could not afford the time for a full-time band along with his day job and school. Guitarist Jeff Petersen, fresh from the breakup of another IRRMA HOF band–Headstone–joined the group in September of 1981.
After nine months, saxman Bill Cannon, who was already in his fifties while the others in the group were in their twenties, returned to his day job and was replaced by a number of sax players including Danny Duke and Phillip “Bunky” Marlow, until Iowa City sax player Bob Thompson joined the band shortly after the breakup of Bo Ramsey’s Sliders in 1984. Coming along with Thompson from The Sliders was sound engineer Phil Maass, who also became the band’s road manager for nine years. Maass still mixes sound on special shows and is the band’s technical advisor today.
After two albums, Scott Esbeck returned to college and was replaced by veteran Cedar Rapids guitarman Ron DeWitte (who is already in the IRRMA HOF for other groups) in early 1984. When Bob Thompson stopped touring with the band after major inner ear surgery in late 1986, he was replaced by multi-instrumentalist and songwriter Dan Magarrell (who is also being inducted into the IRRMA HOF this year with The Mother Blues Band). Magarrell was the primary songwriter of the band for his nearly nine-year stay.
Over the Blue Band’s 30 year history, there have been many players that made significant contributions to the band. They are:
- Bandleader, vocals, harmonica, percussion
Bob Dorr 1981-present
- Guitar, lap steel guitar, vocals
Jeff Petersen 1981-present
- Electric violin, bass, vocals
Molly Nova 1981-2001
Bryce Loshman 1981-1997
Turk Krause 1997-2001
Steve Hayes 2003-present
Scott Esbeck 1981-1983
Ron DeWitte 1983-1989
Bryce Janey 1999-2002
Mark Linda 2009-present
Dan Magarrell 1987-1996
“Wild Bill” Cannon 1981-1982
Bob Thompson 1984-86
Heath Alan Pattschull 1997-present
Gary King 1999-2002
Nathan Peoples 2003-2007
Al Naylor 2009-present
Ellery Temple 1990-1996
Sam Salomone 1996-present
- Sound technician/advisor
Phil Maass 1984-present
In the Blue Band’s 30 year history, the group has averaged playing 125 dates a year, traveling mainly 300 miles from its base in Cedar Falls IA, playing the majority of those dates in Iowa but also making appearances in Minneapolis, Omaha, Kansas City, and Chicago. For 15 years the band made trips to Colorado ski resort areas and also traveled to Sun Valley Idaho. The band was also invited to the international Bluestock Celebration in Memphis, where they appeared at B.B. King’s nightclub on Beale St.
The Blue Band has opened shows for B. B. King, Buddy Guy, Koko Taylor, Bobby Rush, Robert Cray, Roomful of Blues, Tower Of Power, Leon Russell, Duke Robillard, Maria Muldaur, Little Charlie & The Nightcats, Asleep At The Wheel and many others. Career highlights include a 25-year run at the Iowa State Fair, five appearances at the Mississippi Valley Blues Festival, and two appearances at the Kansas City Jazz & Blues Festival. The Blue Band has also appeared on the internationally distributed Beale St. Caravan radio show, produced by the Blues Foundation in Memphis.
There have been over 25 Blue Band album releases, including five vinyl records. The band was one of the first Iowa groups to have music released on CD in 1987. In 2006, to celebrate the Blue Band’s 25th Anniversary, Iowa Public TV released a two-DVD set spanning the group’s history and including footage from 12 different years. The 25th Anniversary concert has been broadcast across Iowa on IPTV numerous times.
Bob Dorr & The Blue Band aspires to keep playing as many dates as possible, hoping to reach its 30th Anniversary June 10, 2011.