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Sources: Mike Herman, 785-532-6741,;
Walter Dodds, 785-532- 6998,;
and John Blair, 785-532-7065,
Video available:
News release prepared by: Andrew Morris, 785-532-2535,

Wednesday, Sept. 22, 2010


MANHATTAN — Kansas State University students may be used to seeing their professors rock complex material in the classroom, but probably not rock a crowd in Aggieville.

Rocking crowds, however, is just what eight K-State professors do at least one weekend a month as members of the Red State Blues Band.

"The band really got its start from a jam session held by a couple of faculty members," said Mike Herman, associate professor of biology and bassist in the band. "We would go over to their house and bring our instruments. After some time we said, 'Hey, this might be something to do more with.'"

The band members deal daily with the multiple aspects of their jobs -- teaching, mentoring, researching and presenting research at conferences across the nation and more -- but when it's time to rock, they're ready.

"We're all committed to the band and really enjoy it," Herman said. "It' s a great release from our daily scientific and academic pursuits."

Managing their daily routine as professors and band members can be challenging. "I practice my harmonica walking to and from work pretty much every day," said Walter Dodds, university distinguished professor of biology and harmonica player in the band.

"It can be difficult to find time to practice together as one unit. We try to practice once every week as a full band when people are in town," he said.

"Growing up I played in a rock band in high school," said John Blair, university distinguished professor of biology and guitarist in the band. "My major influences were probably Led Zeppelin, the Beatles and Jimi Hendrix. They continue to be influences, along with a lot of the early blues masters."

Along with Blair, Dodds and Herman, members of the band include K-State's Neil Dunn, instructor of dance and drummer; Stephen Dyer, professor of electrical and computer engineering and keyboard player; John Fellers, assistant professor of plant pathology and vocalist; Bernd Friebe, research professor in plant pathology and guitarist; and Seth Galitzer, systems manager for computing and information sciences and saxophone player/vocals.

The band's debut album "12 Tracks" was released in 2008 and features six original songs and six blues standards, or covers.

"The Red State Blues Band really focuses on electrified blue," Herman said. "It's not so much rock, but blues inspired rock -- kind of from the Chicago style and postmodern sound."

"We have a really wide variety within the blues," Dodds said. "We'll have a slide guitar and acoustic harmonica in some songs, to pretty straight-up rock songs."

Red State Blues Band has performed at many venues in Manhattan, including Arts in the Park and the Little Apple Jazz Festival, as well as in Topeka. The band's next performance will be 9 p.m. Friday, Sept. 24, at Pat's Blue Rib'n Barbecue, 1200 Moro St. in Aggieville. The performance is free but limited to adults 21 and older.

"We' d like to grow musically and in stature as a band," Herman said. "We have other commitments that we' d like to honor, but we'd like to gain recognition as one of the top blues bands in Kansas."

The Red State Blues Band is on the Web at; the band also has a My Space page,; and is on Facebook,