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Whenever Bo Bice travels to Ohio, he said, there s just something about the Buckeye state that sparks a memory of home.
That s why the long-haired Southern rocker said he s looking forward to coming back to the Toledo area to jam with his band at The Andersons 25th Annual Northwest Ohio Rib-Off.
We love coming to Ohio. We ve been there several times, said the 32-year-old singer who is slated to play at the Rib-Off at the Lucas County Fairgrounds in Maumee at 7 p.m. on Thursday.
One of the things I most like about traveling in general is as different as everything is in each town, there always seems to be something like being at home.
These days, the singer who came in second place to Carrie Underwood in the fourth season of American Idol doesn t have a whole lot of spare time to spend at home in Nashville with his wife, Caroline, and their son, Aidan, who is almost 3 years old.
Since returning from a Stars for Stripes tour in February to perform for U.S. troops deployed in Afghanistan and Kuwait, Bice has been singing live in cities around the country to promote his sophomore album, See The Light, which hit stores last November.
The album, which the Alabama-born singer co-produced; recorded in his home studio, Rockhound Studios, and released under his own independent label, Sugar Money, gets back to the Southern boy s rock and country roots.
It s really getting back to what I do, he said in a soft drawl, explaining that he was not given the chance to be as hands-on with his inaugural album, The Real Thing.
If people dig the Allman Brothers and Lynard Skynard, and ZZ Top, they ll really like the new album.
Plus, since most of the songs on the album are meant to be played live, he said it s a rush to tour around performing them, including his hit single, Witness.
We re a real high-energy group. We love to put on a good show, he said of his family-oriented performances that can last up to 110 minutes. It s more of a party atmosphere than anything else. They see I m just a normal cat out here enjoying playing live music.
Yet, the singer recently put the brakes on his tour for 10 days, a hiatus that will begin after his performance at the fairgrounds on Thursday. The break was planned around the due date of his second child a boy Bice and his wife plan to name Caleb.
Though he said it will be tough leaving a toddler and newborn at home while on tour, it s not completely unfamiliar territory.
His oldest son was born in September, 2005, just four months after his stint on Idol, where he was known for being among the first rockers to compete in the competition.
But Bice doesn t consider himself to be the one to have paved the way for rockers, including this season s winner, David Cook. He said he was just there at the right place and time for the first season of Idol when producers raised the age limit from 26 to 28 and put together a live band for the show.
I think the stars lined up more than anything, he said. It wasn t anything that I particularly did.
The same year, his first single, Inside Your Heaven, debuted on the pop chart at No. 1, and he released his solo debut album, The Real Thing.
So he said knows how hard it is to juggle both a family and a rising musical career.
It s kinda the same situation I was in before, he said. In some weird, twisted way, we re almost used to it. It s hard, but you gotta do what you gotta do. We stay busy, but we like busy a lot better than slow.
He said it does get much easier for him in the winter months, which is when he drops off the radar for a bit.
I shut down at Thanksgiving, except for Christmas specials, until the first of February just to spend a lot of family time, he said. God and family are the most important things of my life. At the end of the day, even though I have a really cool job, I have to make a living, and they understand. It makes the time I get to spend at home more special.
Until then, he said the jackrabbit pace won t be tapering off anytime soon.
He s already working on another album, a live version of See The Light that will come complete with bonus tracks, due out next year.
Bice also has another trip overseas planned to entertain the troops this fall between working on a TV show the details of which he is keeping under wraps.
I can t let the cat out of the bag, he said. But all kinds of fun stuff is coming for 2009.