Blue Dogs still rocking strong after 25 years

Charleston roots rockers to play Beaufort and Hilton Head this weekend

jpaprocki@islandpacket.comJuly 18, 2012 

  • The Blue Dogs play 8 p.m. July 20 at Plums Restaurant in Beaufort and 8 p.m. July 21 at The Big Bamboo Cafe on Hilton Head Island.

    Details: www.bluedogs.com

Life as a musician is a bit different after 25 years. It's not months on the road, playing clubs from New Orleans to New York. Instead, it's finding time to record between family vacations and diaper changes.

The Blue Dogs have come a long way.

The Charleston roots rockers are celebrating their silver anniversary this year. They play July 20 at Plums Restaurant in Beaufort and July 21 at The Big Bamboo Cafe on Hilton Head Island. The four members all have families with young children now, making touring and recording a bit more difficult. But they still play regularly around the Southeast, drawing strong crowds around Charleston.

"Not to sound cocky, but I honestly think it's a testament to the fact that we're well known as a good band," said lead singer and guitarist Bobby Houck. "We always get feedback that people have fun when we play. And we're proud of that."

The origins of the band stretch back to their childhood when Houck and bassist Hank Futch developed a friendship while in Cub Scouts. The South Carolina natives formed the Blue Dogs initially as a part-time project, then went full-time in their early 30s and started touring the country. They developed a reputation for their country rock that could range from fun-loving party songs to heartfelt ballads.

"At some point early on we thought, 'We can probably do this for the rest of our lives,'" said Houck of him and Futch. "As long as we're friends, we can do this."

Members have come and gone, but Houck and Futch remain the core. To their credit, Houck said even the long-departed members still come back and play with the group from time to time.

"It's like being friends with your ex-wife, I guess," Houck said with a laugh.

They've released nine CDs and two live performance DVDs and have shared the stage with the likes of Willie Nelson and Widespread Panic. A national audience caught a glimpse of them when they worked as the house band for a week in 2007 when "Wheel of Fortune" filmed in their hometown.

"There's no better place than Charleston, South Carolina," Houck said to a cheering audience when host Pat Sajak asked about the city.

The group has scaled back since its early years, but they still have big plans. In the near future, look for a kids album from the band and an anniversary concert.

"We don't have the same aspirations," Houck said. "But we're still doing well as a band. We haven't lost it yet."

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The Blue Dogs

The Big Bamboo Cafe

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