By Bob Andelman
June 27, 1986
The two young men hanging around outside the University of South Florida’s University Center are trying to pick up girls.
They aren’t having much luck.
“Don’t you know who he is?” hollers Sammy BoDean to a pretty, disinterested woman in a red leather mini skirt.
“You’ll love me, you’ll see!” predicts Beau BoDean.
“He was in Time magazine!” adds Sammy. That’s supposed to be the clincher, but still no sale.
“We like to do this for the girls that ignore you, that don’t know who you are,” Sammy explains. “They show their true colors.”
A few days after a full-page, June 9 Time article appeared, The BoDeans received the same treatment in Rolling Stone, causing heads to turn.
SAMMY BoDEAN excerpt: “If I can sense a girl wants to meet me just because I’m in the band, it doesn’t mean a lot to me, Unless she’s pretty.”
Bob BoDean joins Sammy and Beau. He walks up to the orange Tampa Tribune newspaper box beside Sammy and announces, “I think I have a key that’ll fit this.”
After a moment of fingering through an impressive array of household, commercial and skeleton keys, Bob finds a match but is dissuaded from trying it when Sammy introduces him to a Tribune reporter.
Meet the BoDeans, guitarist/singers Sammy and Beau, bassist Bob and drummer Guy, four hormonally driven guys from Waukesha, Wis., out to conquer America, city by city, girl by girl and, for petty cash, newspaper box by newspaper box.
“I heard a tape of theirs through a fluke about twe years ago,” recalls Time magazine writer Jay Cocks in a telephone interview. “I liked it very much.”
Two years ago, a Time staffer and Waukesha transplant told Cocks about a raw, four-piece rock band from his hometown who, although unrelated, take their band and common surname from Jethro Bodine of TV’s “The Beverly Hillbillies.”
When the BoDeans’ debut album, “Love & Hope & Sex & Dreams,” was about to be released, Cocks received an advance copy.
“I usually write about very established guys,” says Cocks. “I thought this might freshen things up.”
Here was a band no one had heard of. Their record wasn’t on the charts or the radio and not yet available in most stores.
When Rolling Stone followed Time with a story on the quartet, it smelled like a marketing ploy – but it wasn’t.
As it turns out, Cocks and Anthony DeCurtis of Rolling Stone both saw The BoDeans open for Robert Gordon at The World, a dance club in New York’s Lower East Side. And as the band’s June 19 appearance in Tampa would prove, The BoDeans are more than publicity run amok.
“I think it’s very basic, straight-ahead rock ‘n’ roll,” describes Cocks. “They write simple lyrics, they have great resonance – strong and lingering ‘ echoes. Fogerty, Berry and Holly could do that – it’s in that kind of tradition.’’
DeCurtis says The BoDeans’ association with producer T-Bone Burnett was an influential factor in Rolling Stone’s decision to profile the group.
“It’s the kind of thing that separates it record from the mass debuts that come around,” he says” “I don’t think it’s the greatest record I’ve ever heard, but I think some of are pretty terrific: ‘Fadeaway’ and She’s a Runaway.’
“I really like Sammy’s voice’ And live,” DeCurtis adds, “they’re a real powerful band. They hit with a tot of impact.”
Two weeks after the first wave of national press announced the brand’s arrival, Sammy BoDean – the man with Bob Dylan’s voice — isn’t sure what to make of all the attention.
“We just lucked out,” he says” I didn’t really believe it was going to be in there (Time) till I saw it.
‘We were in Massachusetts when it came out. A (Wisconsin) radio station tracked us down and said Milwaukee is on fire because of this article. The city is really behind us. I feel all this love coming from there. It’s really great.”
Sammy says his family is quite proud of his accomplishments.
“It’s a family of hard knocks. We don’t have a whole lot to brag about.’’
Time and Rolling Stone already have had a financial impact on The BoDeans.
“I’m a true believer that the press sells records,” says Grace Ensenat, publicist for Slash Records. “Here’s a baby band, and the national press jumped all over it. It gives the band credibility to radio and booking agencies. It’s been very positive.
“What I am working on is the ‘Tonight Show,’ “ she reveals. “That’s far-fetched, but I’ll take a shot. They had Dwight Yoakum on. They must be ready for The BoDeans.”
Tampa – where the girls either didn’t recognize them, weren’t interested or both – is also ready. A last-minute campus date with little promotion is packed with almost 300 people. The price is right – $2 for the general public, free to students.
At the Empty Keg, The BoDeans start late because of sound and light problems. But it is worth the wait. In the darkness, as technicians struggle with their equipment, Beau and Sammy sing an acoustic version of Bruce Springsteen’s “Atlantic City” to tame a growing restlessness in the curious crowd.
The real set begins with “Fadeaway.” Beau introduces the second song, the unreleased “What Dreams Are Made Of,” by saying, “We’re the BoDeans, and this is what we do.”
During a 90-minute set, The BoDeans play 23 songs, including an encore. They perform all the tunes from their first album plus nine new, unreleased sings “Fool,” “What Dreams Are Made Of,” “Waitin’ on Love,” “Oh Stella,” “69 Blues,” “Na Na Na,” “Go Johnny Go,” “Sylvia” and “Sally.”
Sammy says he hopes to record the new material by fall, then continue touring.
“What we want to do is build slow,” he says. “I’m not concerned with having a mega-monster. It’d be nice one day, but we’ve always done things slow. We feel we’re doing things right – we’re always progressing forward.”
“Don’t say we’re arrogant and hard to work with,” Beau adds.
“But we are,” says Sammy, and Beau nods in agreement. “We just have a strong sense pf what’s right and who we are. If that’s arrogance, then we are.”
Before leaving Tampa, Sammy BoDean has one more thing to say about girls.
“If I can sense a girl wants to meet me just because I’m in the band, it doesn’t mean a lot to me,” the singer advises. “Unless she’s pretty.”