Red Wanting Blue finally is playing Westside Bowl, two years after the concert first was announced.
“We’re so excited to play for Nate,” lead singer Scott Terry said, talking about Westside owner Nate Offerdahl. “It’s been a couple years since the offer was on the table. We had to cancel, move the date a couple times. I’m glad it’s the first show we’re having in Youngstown since this all began (because this) is the place we were going to play originally.”
Terry called Youngstown the “second home” of the band, which officially is based in Columbus. Terry now lives in Brooklyn, N.Y., but his wife, Jenna Pace, is a Liberty native.
“When I go to Ohio for any personal reason, I’m in Youngstown,” he said. “It definitely feels like a homecoming, for sure.”
It’s even more so for drummer Dean Anshutz. Not only does he live in Youngstown when the band isn’t touring, he co-owns Cycle Breakers Records & Tapes, which is located inside Westside Bowl, the final stop on the current tour. The show starts at 8 p.m. Saturday with Brett Newski and Meaghan Farrell opening.
Terry talked from the band’s tour bus on a day off in Baltimore on what he called the band’s first real tour since the COVID-19 pandemic started.
“We started playing again last summer, but it was more weekend warrior stuff, not a tour with a beginning or end,” he said.
There have been a couple hiccups — a date canceled for travel concerns before the tour ever started and another was postponed — put Terry said each show they’ve played on this run feels like a victory over the last two years.
“With omicron, people started canceling tours again. I wasn’t ready to do that at this point. You have to fight for a sense of normalcy. In 2020, it (canceling) was a no-brainer. 2021, if you don’t cancel, it’s probably bad optics. But now vaccines have been available for about a year. They’ve all had the opportunity to make themselves safe if they want to venture out. I felt like, don’t cancel; if it falls apart, then it falls apart.”
A sense of normalcy and being back on the road are important are important steps in Red Wanting Blue’s creative process. It’s been almost four years since the release of its last album of new material, “The Wanting” in 2018. “The Peppermint Sessions,” featuring several songs from “The Wanting” re-recorded at Youngstown’s Peppermint Studios, was released in 2020.
The band members — Terry, lead vocals, tenor guitar, ukulele; Mark McCullough, bass and vocals; Greg Rahm, guitar, keyboard and vocals; Eric Hall, guitar, lap steel and vocals; and Anshutz, drums and percussion — did plenty of writing during the pandemic, but trading ideas online is different than being in the room together.
“No one person does all the writing,” Terry said. “We all work (on ideas) and pass it around. But also there are ideas I’ll be sent and I don’t get it. I’ll listen to it when I go on walks or go on bike rides and I’m not hearing a song here. But you can take that exact same song that one of the other guys was excited about, and when we’re all in the room together in our rehearsal space and start playing it, it’s completely different. It still blows my mind that that can happen. I’ve heard this before, but I haven’t felt this before. In the room, it feels very different.”
Seeing how the audience feels about those songs also has been a part of the process on Red Wanting Blue’s best albums. Terry said the band kept the songs on 2014’s “Little America” under wraps until the album’s release, and he thinks the record suffered because of it.
RWB has been playing one new song on the current tour called “Hey ’84,” and a second one called “Run for Your Life” may be in the setlist by Saturday’s Westside Bowl show. “Hey ’84” became one of the first songs the band focused on in the studio because it didn’t sound like the sad, introspective songs that the pandemic seemed to inspire.
“At the end of the day, I don’t want to have a record that isolationist and sad,” Terry said. “I feel that’s what a lot of people were doing because that’s where your heart is … But what does the world need right now. I don’t think the world needs anything sad right how. ‘Hey ’84’ is a really positive song. It’s a little lighter fare. Lyrically, it runs all over the place, like ‘Younger Years.’ It’s just a little more fun, really catchy.”
There’s no set timetable for a new album, but Terry said the band would like to have it ready to release by fall.
In addition to the new songs, some of the older songs have taken on new meanings after the shared experience of the last two years, especially “My Name Is Death,” a live favorite that’s a hidden bonus track on the “From the Vanishing Point” album.
“Never before did I think I’d be singing that song to audiences where I can guarantee there are multiple people in this audience who have just lost people or are in the middle of losing people,” Terry said. “I didn’t want it to come off the wrong. I’ve been introducing the song, just so we’re clear, this was written to poke fun at things we aren’t in control of. It was meant in jest and should be taken that way.”
If you go …
WHO: Red Wanting Blue, Brett Newski and Meaghan Farrell
WHEN: 8 p.m. Saturday
WHERE: Westside Bowl, 2617 Mahoning Ave., Youngstown
HOW MUCH: $30 with tickets available through Eventbrite