The Blue Canyon Boys will perform a concert this Saturday, Aug. 19, at 6 p.m. on the grounds of Labadie Station Art & Antiques, 128 Front St., in downtown Labadie, across from The Hawthorne Inn restaurant.
Band leader Jason Hicks is a Labadie native, who helps draw crowds of 400-plus bluegrass fans to the intimate outdoor venue. Hicks, son of Debbie Wagonseller and the late David Hicks, has been based in Colorado for many years. The Blue Canyon Boys have been performing together since 2005.
Opening for the BCB will be Washington alt-bluegrass band, Woodshine, with their unique blend of not-so-traditional bluegrass, outlaw country and acoustic rock and roll.
People should bring lawn chairs or blankets to sit on the ground. Some drinks and snacks will be available, but coolers are welcome.
We spoke with Jason briefly on Thursday afternoon to catch up with what’s new since last year. Below are condensed excerpts from the interview.
Missourian: So, how’s it going this year, Jason?
Hicks: Good, we’re all in Missouri, and it’s not raining right now, hopefully it stays that way for a few days!
Missourian: So you guys are playing Labadie Station Saturday, but you’re also playing the Focal Point in Maplewood Friday?
Hicks: Yeah, it’s our first time. I haven’t been since I was in school at Webster; the Focal Point was right down the street. Actually the first time I saw Norman Blake, my all-time favorite guitar player, was there years and years ago. So, yeah, I’m excited to be there. It’s been a staple of the St. Louis acoustic community for almost 40 years. I’m excited to be doing the show there, really looking forward to it.
Missourian: Right on, then Saturday at 6 in Labadie.
Hicks: Yeah, a band named Woodshine is playing for half an hour opening up for us. I have not heard them yet, but I was told they are a really good band who’s kinda new. It’s our sixth annual show at the station.
Missourian: So anything new or any crazy stories since we last heard from you?
Hicks: Ha ha, there’s always something. They happen in the moment, and you have fun with it, then you move onto the next one! (Laughs.) We’re learning more new material, and we’re hoping to get into the studio this fall and record a new album. We were hoping to this spring, but various trips abroad and things like that moved our plans away.
Gary, our mandolin player, was actually sent to India for a couple of weeks for some work-related stuff, and we had to work around that. We’re looking to get into the studio this fall.
This will be our seventh album, no idea what we are going to call it, but we have a number of songs picked out and a few more waiting in the back to find out if we want to put them on the album or not. But that’s our next big thing we are looking forward to. And already in that phase of doing our festival booking for next year, and things like that.
Missourian: Are we going to hear some of that new material Saturday then?
Hicks: Yeah, there will be some new songs on the docket, and it seems like every year we work something up for that show that we’ve never performed before. But I remember one year we did it, for our encore we were trying to figure out what to play and somebody yelled out a song we had been listening to all week, but we hadn’t actually learned it, but we gave it a shot! (Laughs.) But then learned it properly the next day so we wouldn’t be so caught off guard next time.
But last year we worked up an old rock song, but who knows what it’ll be this year. We’ll see. There will be some new songs, and probably some old songs that we had not thought about for a long time or planned ever to play, but we’ll see what happens when we hang out this weekend. We just have fun, hanging out with friends and family and rehearsing. A lot of fun stuff comes out of that.
Last year on the way home, Zach our banjo player started writing a song about Labadie, maybe he finished it, and we can refresh that in his mind and maybe we can play that. I actually wrote a song a few years ago, down at the Labadie Gas station, that had a wall with a number of people from town that when you turn 50 your picture goes up on that wall, and a song came out of it, just about some people that were important in my life. Maybe we’ll do that song. We’ve only performed it a couple of times. We’ll probably refresh it; it goes with the territory.
Missourian: Well that all sounds really good! I imagine you get a lot of requests and sometimes for songs that might seem bizarre for a bluegrass band.
Hicks: Yeah, you know, we’re always open to song suggestions. We take all suggestions somewhat seriously. We never just straight up say no to an idea. We might be rehearsing and working up material, and this is on our original songs too.
Somebody might have an idea that might seem off the wall or dumb, but we always give it one shot. Because sometimes you try that dumb idea, and you know what, it sounds great and works really well for the song! We’re a very democratic band, all opinions are always listened to even if we think the idea is pretty dumb initially.
Like, there’s a song we end with a cha-cha-cha, and you know, ending with a cha-cha-cha is really cliche, but we were working on a song and Zach said, “No, you gotta end it with a cha-cha-cha,” and we were like, “What!?” and he convinced us to try it, and we all agreed, “Yeah, we gotta end it with a cha-cha-cha!” It worked, because it’s the right ending for that song, sometimes you just need a cha-cha-cha!
Missourian: That’s right! Jason, it’s been great talking with you again, anything else before we see you Saturday?
Hicks: Just really looking forward to being back in Labadie. It’s one of our most fun shows of the year, every year. Not just saying that; it truly is. We have a great time when we come back to Missouri. Lot of friends and family, the shows are wonderful, and hopefully we have a great weekend of weather. It’s gonna be a great time. I had some brand new shirts made up and available for the first time this weekend, and as well as our albums! Come on out!