Peter Tork promises dancing bears and great music at Bay City’s State Theatre
BAY CITY, MI — Former Monkees member Peter Tork is bringing elephants, a fly over by the Royal Canadian Air Force and dancing bears on bicycles to Bay City’s State Theatre. At least, that’s what he says.
It’s all part of the fun in Tork’s Shoe Suede Blues act coming Sept. 8.
While he might exaggerate a bit, the evening will be filled with performances of pop blues, blues pop, Chicago blues, rock ‘n’ roll and perhaps bluesy versions of songs from the past.
Joining Tork on stage Arnold Jacks on bass, Joe Boyle on guitar and Sturgis Cunningham on drums.
“What a band these guys are,” Tork said. “I always wanted to be the least of the band members. I should be the least talented and in this particular band I’ve succeeded beyond my wildest dreams. These guys are good. Boyle is a mad genius on guitar. I’m going to be remembered in history as having been in a band with him.”
That pretty much is Tork in a nutshell – a little whimsy, a little laughter and lots of music.
“I love music,” he said. “The craft of it remains endlessly fascinating to me. There isn’t much that I want to do other than music. I love a good joke. I love to laugh. Humor is an important part of music.”
With a little humor and a lot of music, Tork and Shoe Suede Blues hit the stage with songs written by friends, stuff Tork has written and stuff his brother has written, plus a version of “Last Train to Clarksville,” that Tork describes as the Monkee’s meet “Black Velvet.”
There will be other Monkee tunes as well, such as “I’m a Believer” and “She Hangs Out.”
The description of Tork on various Web sites as a serious musician makes him laugh. After chatting with Tork, while he may not describe himself as serious, one thing is clear, he has a definite passion for music.
“I don’t know how serious a musician I am,” he said. “I think it actually gives me some grounds for self examination. Sometimes I think that I am an entertainer who uses music to entertain and that I’m not really a good musician. Sometimes I think I’m a really good musician who just uses music. I can never really settle this in my own mind.”
He’s had years to think about the equation. Before he and fellow Monkees, Mike Nesmith, Mickey Dolenz and David Jones became pop stars both on TV and on stage, Tork was part of the Greenwich music scene.
From a suggestion by fellow musician Stephen Stills, Tork tried out to play himself on the new sitcom about four musicians trying to make it big in the LA music scene.
The show, The Monkees, ran for two years, and made household names of its stars.
Once the Monkees decided to go their separate ways, Tork continued to make music. And that’s exactly what he intends to do for as long as it lasts.
“I don’t want to relax from what I do,” he said. “Playing music is not work. Suppose someone made a living lying on the beach, and then someone comes up and says you’re not going to make a living at this anymore. I would just stay there anyway.”
In fact, in addition to touring with his band, Tork is also hooking up with Nesmith and Dolenz for a Monkee reunion tour doing 12 shows in three weekends in November. Tour dates are on the Monkee’s Web site.
“The three of us will be on stage for part of the show, that will be fun,” he said. “ We’ve rehearsed and talked and it’s been fun. It will be fun. We’ll be playing at larger houses than I do with Shoe Suede Blues.”
While all the Monkee tour comes with all the trimmings – including a lot of staff – Tork says he’s just as happy on stage in the smaller venues with just the four members of Shoe Suede Blues.
“It makes no different to me, large, small” he said.
Tickets for the Tork concert in Bay City are $15 for adults and $10 for those 18 and under. Those buying a combo ticket that includes Taste & Theatrics, which kicks off the evening at 5 p.m., pay $35 for both events.
Who: Peter Tork and Shoe Suede Blues
When: 8 p.m. Sept. 8
Where: State Theatre, 913 Washington Ave.
Tickets: $15 for adults $10 for those 18 and under, or $35 for a combo, which includes Taste & Theatrics
Info: 989-892-2660, State Theatre