Just over a year after quitting his day job to form a rock and roll band with his brother and another young performer, Ben Shoemaker, drummer and backup vocalist of ‘Blu Simon’ says he’s optimistic about the group’s musical future.
“So far it’s working,” Shoemaker said in a phone interview last week. “We are seeing progress...As long as it continues to build, we’ll keep working at it.”
Blu Simon, an Omaha-based trio made up of Shoemaker, his brother Aaron on guitar and lead vocals, and Garrison Garza on bass, will perform at the Overdraft in Chadron on Sept. 10. It’s the group’s third appearance in Chadron, and Shoemaker said the reception has been good each time.
“The crowd is great,” he said. “Everytime we play at the Overdraft, everyone gets into the music. It’s fun and makes it more exciting for everyone.”
Shoemaker, age 24, is a Creighton University graduate with a degree in business. His brother, 27, also graduated from Creighton, but with an English degree. The two “played together our whole lives” but only decided to try hitting the road as professionals last May, said Shoemaker.
“We decided that’s what we wanted to do and if we were going to, we had to start when we were young and not wait until we were 35,” he said. “Last May we all quit our jobs and started to book shows.”
Ben said he was working as director of a day care at the time, and Garza, who they had met by chance a couple of years ago, was working with him. Aaron was giving guitar lessons and working at schools.
The three began concentrating on their music, and on the promotion end of the business. “We didn’t know the ropes. We had to build a contact repretoire and sell ourselves to venues,” said Shoemaker.
That’s where the Creighton degree came in handy, he said. “It’s a lot of the stuff I learned in school, and I’m learning more.”
Blu Simon’s first booking in Chadron came as a result of a “cold call’ to Overdraft owner Jeff Kienitz, said Shoemaker. “I sent him a press kit and a tape, and he liked it.”
After a year performing, the group now has more contacts with club owners, and promotes via its website and Facebook page as well, he said.
Blu Simon plays a mix of original music and covers of other rock songs. “We won’t blast you all night with originals. You can’t associate with that,” Shoemaker said. “We play one of our songs and one you know.”
The band is keeping busy on the road now, touring in Nebraska, Iowa, Kansas and South Dakota. They have also released one album, and have a second one in the works, with an expected release at the end of the year.
It’s playing for an audience though, not work in the sound studio, that Shoemaker says is the best part of being in music. “When you are playing a show and everyone is dancing and singing along because of you, that’s a great feeling,” he said.
But aspiring musicians have to be ready for more than just the enjoyment of performing before a receptive audience, Shoemaker advised. “There are a lot of bumps in the road,” he said. “You just have to keep going..If you want to be in a business where things don’t go wrong, don’t be in music.”
Fans can listen to clips from Blu Simon’s music on the group’s website, www.blusimon.com and on Facebook. The performance in Chadron is scheduled to begin at 9 p.m. Sept. 10.