When we roll the dice and land on the pop culture question about such TV shows, many of us will first think of The Rembrandts singing “I’ll Be There For You” during the opening credits of “Friends.” If that’s not the answer, the other option is The BoDeans, the band that will be forever known for singing “Closer to Free,” the opening theme song of the Fox drama “Party of Five.” For most of us, The BoDeans will just be the answer to an obscure trivia question, but real fans will know that the band’s history predates the show that propelled them to fame and they will likely be the ones in the audience when The BoDeans play at John Ascuaga’s Nugget on Saturday.
Friends Kurt Neumann and Sammy Llanas teamed up to form the core of The BoDeans almost 30 years ago and, according to the band’s official My Space page, received critical acclaim for their debut album, “Love & Sex & Hope & Dreams” in 1986. That first effort was produced by T-Bone Burnett, who arranged the music for the Johnny Cash bio-film “Walk the Line” and also produced several other BoDeans albums including “Still,” released earlier this year.
In 1987, Rolling Stone magazine named The BoDeans “Best New Band” and the group began touring with U2. Three albums and further success after the groups initial release later, Neumann, Llanas and company again teamed up with Burnett to record “Go Slow Down,” which featured as its opening track the song that would be chosen as the theme song for “Party of Five.” That album was released in 1993, and three years later when the group’s next album, “Blend,” was released, “Closer to Free” had made it to No. 16 on the U.S. Hot 100 and was receiving significant radio play. In 1999, The BoDeans tried to make lightning strike twice by recording The Beatles song “I’ve Just Seen a Face” as the theme song for the “Party of Five” short-lived spin off “Time of Your Life,” starring Jennifer Love Hewitt.
Since the close of the 1990s, the band has not stopped releasing material. “Slash and Burn,” released in 2001, was a greatest hits album and “Homebrewed: Live from the Pabst” in 2005 was a two-disc live album. With the release of “Still” in March, The BoDeans began touring small venues all over the country. The Sparks stop is the middle of the second leg of the tour, covering the western part of the country.
With nearly three decades of music to pull from, The BoDeans’ bluesy, roots rock will appeal to long-time fans and new listeners. A few of the tracks from the new album have the catchy flare of the tune that made the band famous: “Lucille” gets your foot tapping with a driving rock beat and reflective lyrics and a soothing sound of “The First Time” would be appropriate for yet another TV show featuring young, pretty actors with deep, dramatic relationships. Some of the songs on “Still” are forgettable, but overall it demonstrates the mellow, easy-going rock that makes the band appealing to many.
The BoDeans play Saturday in the in the Celebrity Showroom at John Ascuaga’s Nugget. Tickets are $35, and are available by calling (800) 648-1177 or (775) 356-3300 or by visiting janugget.com.