Photo Essay: Backstage with the BoDeans
An exclusive behind-the-scenes look with the BoDeans, on a special day in their long musical journey that began in 1986 and brought the famous band with Milwaukee roots back home.
Summerfest 2016 was a milestone for the BoDeans, who performed their chart topping songs to a packed crowd at the BMO Harris Pavilion on July 3. This year, the legendary rock band from Milwaukee celebrated the 30th anniversary of the release of their first album, Love & Hope & Sex & Dreams, with hometown friends.
For this report, the Milwaukee Independent was invited to spend the day with the musicians and document their concert at Summerfest from backstage as a Photo Essay.
With such close access to everyone involved, casual conversations took place but no interviews were conducted. The editorial idea and journalistic focus was to take an intimate look at the band in images, not words.
This Photo Essay is a follow-up to the June 16 performance at the Milwaukee County Historical Society. At that event the BoDeans released their new single inspired by Milwaukee, My Hometown, which was written by the band’s founder, Kurt Neumann. That single will be featured on the forthcoming album “The Way From Here,” the BoDeans’ 13th studio album scheduled for release on September 30, 2016.
The Ashton Kutcher comedy series on Netflix, “The Ranch,” will feature other songs written by Neumann and be included on the new album. Proceeds from the sale of the single on iTunes benefit the Milwaukee County Historical Society, where an exhibit honoring the Bodeans is currently on display.
BoDeans band members are: Kurt Neumann, Kenny Aronoff, Bukka Allen, Stefano Intelisano, Sam Hawksley, and Eric Holden. The band’s Summerfest support team also included Kurt Neumann’s wife, Barbra Neumann, and their daughter, Rain Neumann.
Best known for their catchy single, “Closer To Free,” the band’s accessible adult alternative sound has led to many a milestone, including a Rolling Stone Reader’s Poll For Best New American Band in 1987, and support slots with U2, Bob Dylan, Paul Simon, Tom Petty George Thorogood, The Pretenders, David Bowie and numerous others. Appearances at Farm Aid, Summerfest, ACL Festival and others followed, along with TV appearances on “Saturday Night Live,” “Letterman,” “Today,” “Imus,” CNN, and ESPN, to name a few. BoDeans have a permanent installation at the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Museum in Cleveland as part of their Midwest Artists exhibit. After multiple chart- topping radio singles, and movie and TV placements, BoDeans have defined a sound that a generation embraced – songs like “Good Things,” “You Don’t Get Much,” “Idaho,” “If It Makes You,” “Closer To Free,” “Stay,” and “All The World.”
BoDeans signed their first recording contract with Slash/Warner Brothers Records in 1985 and their debut record, “Love & Hope & Sex & Dreams” was released in May, 1986. Since then, they have released 12 studio albums with ten records that hit the Billboard Top 200 Chart, and numerous singles on the Mainstream Rock, Top 40 and Triple A radio charts.
Few would expect them to still be going strong – so many years after Wisconsin’s favorite musical sons first formed, but they’ve proved as energetic and determined as they did on day one. Their music will be featured throughout the new Netflix original series, “The Ranch,” which premiered in April and features Sam Elliott, Ashton Kutcher, Danny Masterson and Debra Winger.
A celebratory exhibit of the BoDeans’ 30-year history is available beginning on June 16 and continuing through the fall at the Milwaukee County Historical Society. The exhibit will include commemorative photos, instruments, posters, articles, t- shirts, laminates, and various other artifacts. Also on display is the first exhibition to explore Milwaukee’s beer and brewing history, Brew City MKE: Craft, Culture, Community.