Washed in blue lights and with a buzzing crowd crowding the stage, Blue Apollo band members Mitch Gruen on lead guitar, Jeremiah Jenson on drums, Luke Nassar on the rhythm guitar and performing lead vocals, Rodman Steele on bass guitar, and Grant Wolfe on the keys and synthesizer, took the stage at the Prophet Bar in Deep Ellum on Thursday, Sept. 24, beginning their performance with an upbeat and crowd-pleasing round of songs.
The members of Blue Apollo, all currently students at SMU, describe themselves as having “the sound of indie-alternative and modern pop edge,” with many influences ranging from John Mayer to Stevie Wonder.
Throughout the performance, the band showed its wide range of musical talents, from Nassar’s leading tenor vocals singing both upbeat songs and ballad performances, to the skillful guitar solos performed by Gruen, who really engaged with the audience during the performance by getting people to clap along, to a keyboard solo by Wolfe. All of this was relied on by Jenson and Steele’s steady rhythmic and musical backbone.
“Luke and I formed the band two summers ago in Austin. We’d bounced some musical ideas around during the school year, but had never really done any intensive writing session,” said Jenson. “That summer we figured out we both lived in Austin and decided to write and record some songs. At that time, it was just Luke and me. First he would track rhythm guitar, then I’d record the drum tracks, and from there Luke would add bass and lead guitar. After we got done with a couple of songs we realized we had something good going and decided to become a band.”
When asked about how exactly the band decided on the name “Blue Apollo,” Jenson explained that it took the members “three hours to name the band. Eventually we settled on Blue Apollo, one because Apollo in Greek mythology is the god of music and light, two, blue is a cool color, and three, the name reminded us of a jazz club, so we thought it reflected some of our jazz influences.”
However, according to Jenson, it took the band a while to form into what it is today.
“After that [naming the band] nothing happened for a while because we got busy. It wasn’t until second semester last year that we really started to pick up the tempo. We added two band members Mitch Gruen (lead guitar) and Rodman Steele (bass guitar) and started rehearsing regularly. We are now a five piece band, having recently added Grant Wolf who plays keys/synth for us.”
The band ended the show with its rendition of “Superstition,” enticing the audience to dance and clap along, chanting for an encore. Blue Apollo received a standing ovation, and fans asked for pictures and were able to talk to the band members after the performance.
When asked about how they thought the show went, the band was elated at the crowd’s response.
“We had a great crowd come support us, and judging by the crowd’s reaction, we did really well. I think the most valuable thing we gained from the concert was simply an entry to the music scene in Dallas. One of the hardest things about starting a band is finding good gigs. This was an awesome opportunity to play one of the most beloved small venues in Dallas, and I’m happy to say that it went really, really well. We’re blessed.”
If you didn’t get a chance to see Blue Apollo, don’t worry, because the band will be performing on Oct. 25 on SMU’s campus, free of charge, at an event held by Crum Commons. For more information, check out the band’s Facebook page.