New Year's Eve revelers will be in good company, when British singer-songwriter Brian Howe brings the music of Bad Company to the Eastern Iowa Sports Complex in Hiawatha on Monday night. Host is Erin Murphy, who played Tabitha on the perennially popular '60s-'70s sitcom, "Bewitched."
"Itís a party night, so letís make it a party music night," Howe says by phone from his home in Fort Myers Beach, Fla. "It's going to be every song that everyone knows. It'll be one long singalong. It'll be jokes, it'll be music, it'll be stories, it'll be everything. It's going to be a great all-round show. I think the audience will be more exhausted at the end of it than we will.
"I can think of no better way to kick in 2013, can you?"
- Rockin' New Year's Eve Bash
- Featuring Brian Howe of Bad Company, Well Lit and host Erin Murphy
- 7 p.m., doors open at 6 p.m.
- Eastern Iowa Sports Complex
- Tickets: $30 to $60 at (319) 730-6301 or Cedarrapidstitans.com
- Includes: Party favors, balloon drop, champagne toast at midnight
- Artist's website: Brianhowe.com
Even though it's the Brian Howe Band coming to Hiawatha, and heís the only one who performed with Bad Company, he says "it's still a Bad Company show, basically. It's all the songs, but we'll do it my way."
The retro hit parade includes "Can't Get Enough," "Bad Company," "Holy Water" and "Ready For Love."
"I generally keep it to the songs everybody knows and loves, the Bad Company hits," he says. "I donít want to try to educate people on my solo career."
Howe, 59, spent a decade as the lead singer for British super group Bad Company, beginning in 1984. He had bounced around in a couple of bands early in his career, and was singing and touring with Ted Nugent for the "Penetrator" album when Bad Company drummer Simon Kirke and guitarist Mick Ralphs recruited him to replace their original singer, Paul Rodgers.
Howe walked away from his year with wild man Nugent with a solid work ethic and a big dose of reality in hand.
"The wildness is all an act," Howe says of Nugent. "The tough-man image is all an act -- heís a pussycat, and really not tough. He's really not all that he tries to pretend he is for his image. But he is an intense worker. When it's time to go to work, you go to work, and there's no excuse for being sick in bed or under the weather. If you're sick, you still have to produce.
"That's one of the disciplines I learned from Ted. It was a learning experience. No matter how bad you feel one day, you've got to go out onstage and you've got to perform to the best of your ability. And Ted does that. Ted unquestionably is a showman."
With Bad Company, Howe spent a decade as rock royalty, playing the world's major venues. He calls it "a whirlwind" experience.
"It was a period of intense work, intense travel, intense recording, intense relationships with band members. It was just a crazy 10 years, it really was. It was like non-stop writing, rehearsing, recording, touring, come off the road for two months maybe, and start again writing, rehearsing and touring," he says.
"It just got to the point where I thought it's getting pretty crazy now, and there were a few internal problems with band, too, because I was the new boy and yet I was doing a lot of the writing and was being very much resented. So the band basically fell apart as bands do, and I went solo in 1995."
He walked away with many fond memories.
"It was 10 great years, crikey. A great dance, great experiences. A marvelous time, marvelous," he says. "I did what many people said was impossible, to bring a band back from the dead. I was part of that process of bringing them back, and it was cool -- very cool."
While the fact that he doesn't do drugs and doesn't drink to excess helps him remember those years, he says that's also why he's enjoying a long rock 'n' roll career.
"I've never gotten into drugs. I've never done the silly stuff. I've never touched cocaine. I've never done anything other than I think I've probably squeaked on a few joints, but that's about it," he says, turning droll. "I love drugs and I love the drug culture. I love it because it removes so many of my competition. It's fantastic."
He says he's always maintained a healthy lifestyle, plays soccer and has recently become vegetarian.
"I thought I'd give that a shot," he says. "It's cool. I like animals too much to eat them. I realized that at this stage in my life, I don't want to eat my friends. However ... I do have leather shoes on."
With 13 years between solo albums "Tangled in Blue" in 1997 and "Circus Bar" in 2010, he says he simply "lost the appetite for recording." A new, young producer helped rekindle the desire, solidified by a trip to Guatemala specifically to concentrate on writing† music. He penned 13 songs in a week, over pizza and beer at a local establishment called Circus Bar. Hence the name of the album.
In 2010, he traveled to Kuwait to entertain the troops. Reality flew in his face, as he had to wear body armor at all times and says he "never really felt totally safe," adding that was just a taste of what the troops endure 24/7. With the wind and heat, he says it's "like being in a perpetual hair dryer."
"I don't know how they do it," he says. "They earn every penny that they get and they're not paid enough. They need to triple the pay. Let's pay some musicians and some sports stars less and pay people that really deserve it a bit more."
These days, Howe, who moved to the United States in 1985, is toying with the idea of making another record, "something a bit more old fashioned," he says. He also does two or three shows a week, but is at a point where he feels he can be more selective in his choices.
"I don't like playing little clubs," he says. "I tend hold out and wait for the real shows to come in, and luckily, the last few years, that's what's been happening."
The novelty hasn't worn off.
"I love everything to do with this. I actually love to travel. I like meeting people -- thatís always a good thing," he says. "When you walk out on stage and you know that most of the audience is going to know every single song you're singing -- probably better than I do -- itís a thrill to know they've come to hopefully sing along. You're bringing back memories for them and you're helping to create new ones.
"It's always an experience. It's always a different thing. I hate to treat an audience as if it's just another show," he says. "I never do that. I always try to make it something unusual at every show, to make it stand out. Sometimes I get away with it, sometimes I don't, but I try. I like it to be fun. I don't like to be taken too seriously.
"I like it to be a fun show. We all have a laugh. It's really just an organized party, that's really what it is."