Neon Blue Bio Page
Rock Hall of Fame inductee Percy Sledge calls them the best band he's ever
worked with. D.J. and club proprietor Lindsay Shannon calls their music, "jumpin'
and shoutin' Rhythm and Blues". Kansas City Mayor Kay Barnes requested them by
name for her inaugural ball on both occasions. They have performed as the
back-up band for The Coasters, The Platters, and have been requested by The
Drifters to back them up numerous times. In the years since their inception,
Neon Blue has come a long way toward becoming, in movie producer Rick Cowan's
words, "Kansas City's premier R&B band", with a playing schedule that includes
everything from concerts and clubs to corporate and civic events.
Guitarist Allen Blasco and saxophonist Butch Smith started Neon Blue in 1993. Shortly thereafter, the band did a national TV commercial for Toyota, and played every major festival in the Kansas City area, including the Blues & Jazz Festival. The band has two songs on the K.C. Blues Society CD "Bustin' Loose", plus a cut on the "Kansas City Holiday Album" with The Deliverance Temple Choir. Their CD, "Live Rock'n Soul", includes classic Rock and R&B songs done Neon Blue style. Their latest album, "Stories, Grooves & Melodies", a studio CD of original material, will soon be available on CD Baby and iTunes. It is currently available during the band's live performances, and at Village Records.
Band leader Allen Blasco hails from Kansas City. Besides his contributions on
guitar, harmonica, lead vocals and songwriting for Neon Blue, Allen has an
extensive list of
other commercial and music credits. These include the popular Chiefs/Price
Chopper commercials ("Get Fired Up"), and the soundtrack to the movie "Ninth
Street", starring Isaac Hayes and Martin Sheen, which won the Independent Film
Channel Award. As a musicologist, Allen was hired by Atlantic Records to work on
the 9-CD boxed set "The Complete Stax/Volt Singles, Vol 1", which was nominated
for a Grammy.
Smith started his long and varied career as a member of the legendary Kansas
City soul band the Jumpin Jacks. Still in his teens, he went on the road with
Danny & the Juniors. A short list of performers Smith has played with over the
years includes the Righteous Brothers, Stevie Wonder, Martha & the, Vandellas,
Dionne Warwick, Joe Cocker and Jackie Wilson.
On trumpet for Neon Blue is Brian Macdonald. Classically trained, he originally hails from South Dakota but found his true calling playing jazz and blues in Kansas City with the likes of the Steve Miller Orchestra, King Alex & the Untouchables and the Boulevard Big Band. In addition, Brian has a fine ability for horn arrangements and plays occasional guitar and piano.
Bassist/vocalist Gordon Larsen is the newest addition, coming on board in January, 2001. Originally from Los Angeles, he played bass with The Rocky Fellers, who had a top 10 hit with "Killer Joe" in the 60's. In the Kansas City area, Gordon had a lengthy stay with Psycho Joe and the Hypnotics. His quick ear and keen sense of musicality make him a perfect addition to the band.
Drummer/vocalist/songwriter Rick Aubrey spent many years in the KC rock bands Plain Jane (2010 Kansas Music Hall of Fame inductees), which did the soundtrack for the movie "Zapped", and In/Out. Rick is well known for his unorthodox ambidexterity on the drums, switching from right to left hand lead. With a degree in Percussion and Composition, Rick's studio credits include a long history of commercial, soundtrack, and demo work, where his broad abilities in a wide variety of styles have served him well.
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