To say that Talent Factory owners Larry and Cindy Sloan are bringing in some great shows would be an understatement. Tribute performances have been huge for them in the past year or so, and the Sloans didn’t even have to go after their March 15 tribute show.
The “Made In America” Toby Keith tribute band leader called the Sloans.
“I was scouting venues in Iowa, looking for a place to do this show,” said Paul Wenzel, who noted that Made in America has done well in the Heartland and Southern United States venues, but has never done a show in Iowa.
“Toby has a lot of his fan base [in Iowa],” Wenzel said. “I noticed that the Talent Factory was doing a lot of tribute shows… reached out to Larry and … he felt we would do well.”
If you love country music, love America and/or love Toby Keith, the Friday, March 15 show is one you won’t want to miss.
Those attending are going to see the same size band that Keith actually tours with, Wenzel said. “We have all 12 pieces… fiddle, horns… and the hits; we have two hours-plus of nonstop Toby Keith top 100 hits.” With lights and props, they will drape the stage in patriotism. “You’re going to feel a lot more patriotic going out than you feel going in… We make you feel proud of your country before the night’s over.”
Keith songs Wenzel enjoys performing most include, “You Ain’t Much Fun,” “Should’ve Been a Cowboy,” “I Love This Bar” and “How Do You Like Me Now?”
And he really enjoys the end of each show — where they unleash the patriotism. “We go into ‘American Soldier’ and ‘Courtesy Of The Red, White and Blue (The Angry American).’ That’s the crescendo,” he said.
Toby Keith, an America country singer, songwriter and record producer, has definitely made a name for himself when it comes to big and patriotic country songs. But knowing him personally, Wenzel said the media has not always captured who Keith really is.
“He’s a man’s man. He loves hunting, fishing, having a beer and talking about sports. And he has a deep love of America… I think he’s a bit misconstrued in the media… He’s portrayed as a far-right conservative when he’s really a moderate independent. When you talk to him, you figure that out,” Wenzel said.
Wenzel feels it’s incumbent on him, as the tribute artist, to spread the word about who Keith is and to bring the best “Almost Toby” performances to his audiences. “Toby Keith just loves his country and the military… That comes from fact that his father served and lost an eye fighting for the United States in the Army. A lot of his songs that are patriotic are stories about his dad. [Keith] loves life and he loves his county and that’s what I try to portray.”
Wenzel actually opened for Keith’s band — Easy Money Band — when he was in another tribute band. “I’m probably the only person to open for Toby Keith and play him in a band,” Wenzel said. But Wenzel, 46, notes that he doesn’t profess to be a Keith clone in life. “That impersonation (of Keith) begins and ends on stage… I bring it all to the stage,” Wenzel said.
A native of Chicago, Wenzel has been playing music for nearly 30 years. He switched over to country music around 2010, “when I started my band Suburban Cowboys.” That band went on to win a couple of Chicago country music awards for best country entertainer. “It was in that band (Suburban Cowboys) that I opened for Toby Keith at his (Keith’s) bar in Rosemont, Ill.”
Wenzel’s current band, Made in America, has been performing for about two years. “We’re all seasoned veterans,” Wenzel said. “We’re very fortunate that we get to perform a lot of our shows with the horn section of the Great Ides of March band.” Great Ides of March is a famous band out of Chicago that wrote hit song “Vehicle” back in the 1970s. The horn section will be in the Made in America band when they come to Nevada.
Along with a lot of the band’s regulars, Wenzel said he’s pleased to announce that two Iowa musicians, horn players Dave Rezek and Paul Bilson, both of Des Moines, will join the band at the Talent Factory. When possible, “we like to add local musicians,” he noted.
The closest Made in America has ever come to Iowa before is a performance in Savannah, Ill. So, for Iowa’s Toby Keith fans, this show is a unique opportunity.
Tickets are on sale through The Talent Factory website: www.iowatalentfactory.com. The show offers general seating, $20 per seat; or preferred seating, $25 (for front and center rows, while they last). Doors will open at 7 p.m.; the show itself will start at 8 p.m. and run a little over two hours.
“We hope that country fans will give us a spin and enjoy the night with us. This show is so much fun. He (Keith) basically sings about three different things — beer, women and the American flag. What’s not to like about those three subject lines?,” Wenzel asked. “If you went to a Toby Keith show, you would leave there smiling. It’s always about having a good time, touching just a little of your patriotic side … and for those who like country music, it hits the sweet spot.”
For Wenzel and the guys in the band, “we’re all patriotic dudes. (The Toby Keith tribute show) it’s a labor of love. We try to entertain… salute our veterans and tie the American spirit into the show every night.”
One last reminder from Wenzel, for those who attend, “Make sure you bring your red Solo cups. There’s a very big hit … and everybody loves it, and if you don’t have your cup, you can‘t cheer with us at that point of the show.”
As a side note, those who enjoy good shows should come back the next night, Saturday, March 16, for Beatles tribute band, Rocky Raccoon. Tickets for this band, which has been a favorite in past performances at The Talent Factory, are $10 for general seating.
Go to www.iowatalentfactory.com for more show information.