Courtesy - The Morning Call
In July, Bo Bice, the runner-up on the fourth season of "American Idol," got an unexpected phone call.
It was from the legendary jazz-rock group Blood, Sweat & Tears, saying vocalist David Aldo had returned to his solo career and telling Bice, "We're interested in having you come out and possibly do a couple of shows if you'd like to."
ice's career was rolling along just fine — perhaps not at the 2005 level when sales of his recording of the "Idol" coronation song "Inside Your Heaven" nearly matched winner Carrie Underwood's, and his debut album "The Real Thing" hit No. 4 and went gold. His last album, his third, broke the Top 200 and he continues a strong touring schedule.
Bice says the offer intrigued him. He sang Blood Sweat & Tears on "Idol" and released a cover of the group's song "Vehicle as a single after the show.
"I think that they did their homework on me. Because I did [the song] 'Spinning Wheel' on 'American Idol,' people could kind of gauge — you know, Can the cat sing this stuff?" Bice says with a laugh by phone from his home outside Atlanta.
"But I've done my homework on them just through the love of their catalog over the years. They've had some really great hits. And so what drew me in was just that catalog of music and the great folks that came before. I kind of said, 'Yeah, man, I'd love to do that.'"
So on Wednesday, Blood, Sweat & Tears comes to Musikfest Cafe in Bethlehem with Bice singing lead.
The union was announced Oct. 30, and after about a dozen shows into the pairing, the group decided it worked so well that it would put out its first disc of new material in more than 30 years — since 1980's "Nuclear Blues."
"It turned into, Wow, this is a lot of fun. Do you think you'd be interested in doing a new album and being a part of that with us?" Bice says. "So that kind of tumbled into a whole new thing for me and, I guess, for Blood Sweat & Tears. It's really turned into something that grew some legs.
"So I just signed up to really do some new music for them and if they want to keep me out on the road doing some gigs with them, man, I'm loving doing that, too. You can't complain about having top-notch musicians to play with every night and drawing from an incredible catalog of music."
Blood, Sweat & Tears does, indeed, have an impressive musical history: a dozen charting albums with five gold or platinum and five Top 30 hit singles. Its 1968 self-titled disc went four times platinum and won the Grammy Award for Album of the Year as well as another Grammy for "Spinning Wheel."
Even more important is the group's groundbreaking and influential mix of jazz and rock, as well as the roster of important musicians who were among the 145 people who have played in the band over the years, including founding members keyboardist Al Kooper and trumpeter Randy Brecker, and vocalist David Clayton-Thomas.