From the Archives: Untold Stories Series – BoDeans return to Indy, minus a founding member

NOTE: For whatever reason, there are columns/stories I write that never get published on the Rockforward blog.  Why is that?  I have no good explanation.  I mean, it’s my blog.  All I have to do is write it, spell-check it and hit publish.  Weird, don’t you think?  In the face of such insanity, I have created a series called Stories Untold: The Mysteriously Unused Works of Rob Nichols  (I am nothing if not a little bombastic when it comes to series titles).  So enjoy the first in the series.  It’s one written last fall, preceding the first Indy appearance by the BoDeans since Sammy Llanas had abruptly left the band.  We came to find out it was a long-simmering breakdown between Kurt Neumann and Sammy. (Read Kurt’s terrific Q&A with the Pollstar website or Chicago Tribune’s interview for  Sammy’s version)  The band soldiers on, embracing the name and the history, and released an album (American Made) this year – the first minus one of the two distinct voices of the band’s 25 years together. Take a listen here.

And if the story below feels a little dated,  it is. But it’s now part of a series, man.

(originally written October, 2012)
When the BoDeans make an appearance at the Vogue on October 6, it will be the first time that the band will play an Indianapolis show without founding member Sam Llanas. The singer – one of band’s two singers, along with Kurt Neumann – is no longer part of the group.

Llanas, a high school friend of Neumann’s, didn’t show up for a BoDeans show in Winter Park, CO, and officially left the group five days later.

According to their Wikipedia entry, the split was due to “differences of opinion” that had been “going on for years”, said Neumann.

Nuemann will continue under the BoDeans moniker, and has added Jake Owen to take the spot of Llanas. Their website ( has new pictures of the band – minus Llanas – and have five shows scheduled through November 4.

According to the web, the group is working on a new studio album for 2012. Llanas has a new solo album titled 4 A.M., which came shortly after the latest BoDeans album, Indigo Dreams, was released this summer.

So what do we make of the split? As I wrote in Nuvo in July, 2010, “I can’t remember walking away (from a show) thinking that the band hadn’t worked hard at making a connection. The sound they make is unique.”

At the time, I wrote that the new album, Mr. Sad Clown, was thoroughly BoDeans, and the unique blending of two voices the reason they survive.

REVIEW – Mr. Sad Clown – Rob Nichols – July, 2010

Without the Everly’s like harmonies, it is difficult to imagine the band not changing it’s sound; the BoDeans morph into the Kurt Neumann Band. And I am good with that.

But the BoDeans in my head is Sammy and Kurt, teaming up to harmonize through “(She’s a) Runaway” and “Don’t Pass Me By” and “Good Things”.

That will be gone.

We will get a chance to see an early version of the new lineup, with the Indy show the first of the aforementioned five shows. The band has used Indianapolis as one of their regular stops over the past 20 years and the local fan base seems loyal and always appears by showtime to fill up the Vogue.

It is BoDeans name on the marquee.  In Indy, there is value in that brand.  It will be up to the remaining membesr, especially the remaining, likeable frontman Neumann, to make the new lineup work.

The show will surely contain the rock and rolling deep catalog of familiar, midwest-flavored BoDeans songs, and it will probably be a little bittersweet for fans

But carry on, my man.  Carry on Kurt.  Because we still need American rock and roll.  It will be different, and it will be the same.  Played with some heartland passion and with a band that is a little sweaty and confident, it will work.

Check back in a year.  My guess is you will still be on the road, and just maybe, happier than ever.

(editor’s note: The band has continued to tour, and came back around to Indy for a show in June, 2012  -still rocking and still singing BoDeans songs.  And that’s a good thing.)