'We will never have another summer like this': Ames band Saucy Jack performs last concert Friday
Update: Due to weather, Friday's concert at Bandshell park has been canceled. The Ames Jaycees are working on rescheduling the Saucy Jack concert for sometime in August. We will update this story with the new date.
They’ve been rockin’ crowds for 23 years, but Friday at 5 p.m., Saucy Jack takes to the stage for the last time as they return to Ames On The Half Shell.
“We’ve played the Bandshell several times over the years, and of course it’s our hometown,” Jim Poffenberger, one of the founding members of the power trio said. “It’s gonna be a strange feeling, I think, when we bring everything home for the last time.”
Saucy Jack started practicing in the winter of 1997 and had its first gig on April 1, 1998, at the Hayloft bar in Fort Dodge.
“I remember that night very vividly,” Poffenberger said. “We were a support act for a regional traveling band and we had just worked up enough songs that we were comfortable with.”
It was an hour or so to get their feet wet. They didn’t even want any money for that first concert.
“We did our thing and afterward our band members were looking at each other and we were like, ‘We’ve got something here,’” he said.
The band, which has featured Poffenberger and Stacy Peterson from the beginning, has only had one band member change, when drummer Dan Trimble moved away in 2009.
When Trimble left the band, Poffenberger and Peterson considered calling it quits.
“Then I got a message — it might have even been on MySpace — from Andy Shelley, who’s from Fort Dodge,” Poffenberger said. “He had seen us locally, either in a bar or at a town festival.”
Shelley wanted to throw his hat in the ring to be the new drummer. The three made plans to practice together in Peterson’s basement.
“We gave Andy a setlist of like 12 songs and we thought that would give us an idea of how we’d play together,” Poffenberger said. “I don’t know how he did it, but he learned all of our songs.
“We had a pretty good energy with the three of us. So Stacy and I thought maybe we weren’t ready to give this up yet.”
The forming of that power trio gave Saucy Jack another 12 years of playing.
“We’d had a pretty good local following and we’d done some opening acts for some platinum-selling bands,” Poffenberger said.
Saucy Jack opened for groups like Molly Hatchet, Head East and Marshall Tucker Band.
“We got an offer to do Fort Dodge’s Shellabration in about 2009,” Poffenberger said. “That particular show was opening for the band Chicago.
“It was kind of a trial by fire because we hadn’t played together very long and our biggest crowd had been about 100 people. But we pulled it off and were reinvigorated.”
Saucy Jack has been called back to Shellabration. One year, they opened for REO Speedwagon.
“We were having a good night. We were doing our thing playing,” Poffenberger said. “One of the guys from REO came up on the side wing of my stage and he was checking out my guitars and my amplifiers.”
As Saucy Jack was loading up their gear, the guitar player from REO came backstage and asked to buy Poffenberger’s Marshall amps.
“I was kind of taken aback about that, but I told him I thought I’d be using those for a few more years,” he said with a laugh. “But he was ready to pull their truck up and load them right on there.”
The REO Speedwagon member invited him to see his collection of guitars.
“Sometimes when these guys aren’t at the pinnacle of their careers, they’re a lot more down to earth,” he said.
At last weekend’s Fort Dodge event, Saucy Jack opened for .38 Special and Cheap Trick.
“That was probably the highlight of our music careers to do something like that,” Poffenberger said. “Memorial Day weekend we played the River Valley Festival (in Boone) and opened for Great White and Vince Neil, the singer of Motley Crue, and the headliner was Night Ranger.
“We will never have another summer like this.”
In Ames, Saucy Jack played Mother’s Pub many times over the years, but a lot of venues in central Iowa have closed, he said.
The band has seen a lot of changes in its decades of playing.
“There just aren’t as many places to go,” Poffenberger said. “We’ve had a pretty good run, and I really don’t think we could ever top a summer like this. So it feels like a great way to bow out.”
If they get a call to play another one of the big shows, they’ll practice and get ready for it.
“But as far as being an active band, out there on a regular basis, we’re not doing that anymore,” Poffenberger said. “It’s kind of a strange situation to be in after all these years. It went so fast. I can still remember that first gig like it was last week. I’ve seen band members’ kids grow up.”
Sponsored by the Ames Jaycees, Ames On The Half Shell concerts are $5 for admission and run from 5 p.m. to 8 p.m. at Durham Bandshell Park. Food and drink will be available for purchase. Carlos Quesadillas food truck will be selling food on Friday.
Future concerts include Brad & Kate on July 16, The Specialists on July 23 and Burnin’ Sensations on July 30.