So long Saucy Jack…for now
Popular central Iowa classic rock band announces hiatus
For Saucy Jack, a central Iowa classic rock band, it isn’t goodbye, it’s see ya later.
After 23 years of performing in a variety of venues ranging from local bars to concerts with upwards of 8,000 people, the classic rock trio has decided to unplug the amps and go on sabbatical.
Lead singer and bass player Stacy Peterson is joined by guitarist Jim Poffenberger and drummer Andy Shelly.
“We have been at this a lot of years. I mean a lot of years – 23 years,” said Peterson. “It has come to the point we still love playing, but it tends to be a little more taxing now – we started to think maybe it’s better to go ahead and go out on a high note.”
Peterson does admit one never says never and is hopeful he will get to play on stage with Shelly and Poffenberger again.
“We are just not going to actively book anything,” he said. “If somebody came forward and wanted us to do a big show again, I don’t think any of us would balk at that. I know I will share the stage with them again. It is never done forever.”
When Peterson said going out on a high note – indeed they are. They most recently opened the annual Shellabration concert in Fort Dodge for 38 Special and Cheap Trick. Earlier this spring, they were the opening band at the Boone River Valley Festival, where they opened for ’80s rock stars Great White, Vince Neil and Night Ranger.
“It is really tough to beat the opportunities we have had as a band this year,” he said.
In the beginning
Saucy Jack started in 1998. Peterson said he and Poffenberger were both auditioning for another band and they made a connection.
“Jim and I hit it off – he asked what I wanted to do, I said I wanted to put together a rock trio and just have some fun,” said Peterson.
They contacted Dan Trimble, who owned Fort Dodge Music Center at the time, to play drums.
“The three of us just started playing together, practicing his store after hours,” said Poffenberger.
Soon thereafter, they were given an opportunity to play in front of a crowd.
Poffenberger said it was the late Tony Tornabane, who owned and operated the Hayloft, who reached out to them and their first gig was opening for Jimmie Van Zant on Thursday, April 1, 1998.
“Tornabane is a key figure in this,” said Poffenberger. “He gave us our first chance to play. I will always appreciate what he did for us.”
Tornabane must have been impressed with the newly formed Saucy Jack because he told the trio if they could get enough material for a whole night’s performance, he would hire them to play.
Saucy Jack did just that and they soon began to be regular entertainment at the Hayloft.
They soon got a following from fans in Fort Dodge. They also opened up for Molly Hatchet at Laramar Ballroom and played there several times as well, in addition to other area clubs, small town bars and street dances.
They soon began traveling to some neighboring states thanks to connections Peterson had with some agents he had previously worked with. They eventually became more widely known, playing to larger crowds and venues.
What could possibly be considered their biggest opportunity came to them by pure luck.
Poffenberger said it was the day of Shellabration, he believes in 2007. 38 Special was scheduled to open up for The Guess Who, but at the last minute were unable to make the trip. Jim Reed, president of Shellabration, reached out to Peterson.
“It all happened so fast,” said Poffenberger. “We did our set and it went over good. We were a bar band going up against several thousand people, but we pulled it off. I always thought this was what this band was meant for – doing bigger shows.”
Trimble left the band after moving away in 2007. It was then that Peterson and Poffenberger considered retiring.
“We thought we would call it good then – we had a pretty good run with nine years,” said Peterson.
That was when Andy Shelly, the band’s current drummer ,contacted them.
“We got together and jammed,” said Peterson. “We were sold. He is fantastic.”
“I was super excited,” said Shelly. “They were a successful band and we just continued that.”
Shelly returned to Fort Dodge after graduating college, and it was during that time he got familiar with Saucy Jack.
“I loved the music they were playing,” said Shelly.
In fact, it was after a show, Shelly had a conversation with Trimble.
“I said I would love to play drums for a band like this someday,” said Shelly. “He smiled and said ‘well you never know.'”
Not only did the band have a new drummer, they decided to bring out a slightly different version of Saucy Jack.
“We decided to bring in new-to-us songs,” he said. “We have always been a classic rock band, but we were able to get ourselves to another level.”
Shelly said they played their first show together at a bar in Ames.
The second show he played as the new drummer to Saucy Jack was a lot larger, however, as Reed did not forget about the local band and invited them back to Shellabration, where they opened for Chicago.
“That was my second show with them, that was a big jump,” Shelley said.
Just not an ordinary band
Peterson said when they started Saucy Jack, they had the idea to bring something different to the stage.
“We started out with the idea of we don’t want to play the same songs that every band does,” he said. “A lot of songs out there are standard – you go out, hear a band and it’s the same set list. We wanted to find songs we like to play, that people may not remember how much they like. That is something not every band does. We were pulling some obscure stuff out sometimes. Some songs that were really popular that some bands did not try. It worked really well for us. We were different in that sense.”
One of Peterson’s signatures is telling the crowd in between songs to “drink ’em up,” which became popular among their fan base.
As their popularity grew, Saucy Jack found themselves with opportunities to open for some national acts.
“Once you get a taste of that – of sharing the big stage with some of those nationals, that is what you live for,” said Peterson. “That is a peak. There is a huge crowd. You see a lot of professional musicians. It is a lot of fun.”
A highlight for Peterson is opening for Loverboy.
“That was a big one for me,” he said. “That was one of the first concerts I had seen back in high school. But this year has been some of my favorites, opening for huge heroes of mine – Night Ranger, Cheap Trick and 38 Special – those are some of my favorite bands that as a kid I was buying their music.”
Regardless of who the lead band was, Peterson is grateful for the chance.
“All of them have been fantastic,” he said. “All of them with a slightly different experience, different crowd, different sound crew – and they have all been really good.”
Peterson, who now lives in Ames and is originally from Farnhamville said he has been performing on stage for about 40 years, starting at the age of 12 playing drums, joining his dad, Jim Peterson.
“There were numerous country bands I played with back then,” said Peterson. Those bands included Caliber, Cedar Creek, and Rowdy.
His first rock band was 2 a.m. while in high school. From there, he played for other bands including a frat band while in college at the University of Iowa his freshman year and then performed with the Delivery Boys – a band he toured with on the road for about six years.
Peterson has played drums, bass and guitar in a variety of bands, bringing his musical talents to each group he has played with filling in where ever he was needed.
“I enjoy playing all of it,” he said.
Peterson said he will continue performing. He is currently with the band Burnin’ Sensations and also performs some solo acoustic shows.
“I will always be playing and singing somewhere,” he said.
Although Peterson’s resume is long, he said he is very fortunate to have the 23 years with Saucy Jack.
“I have been pretty lucky to be with some good players and good people,” he said. “There is no drama like you see with a lot of bands. That has never been the case with this band. It has just been easy. They are talented guys and it speaks well of the fact of the popularity of the band there is definitely some talent there and those guys embody it completely.”
Poffenberger said as a teen, he decided playing sports wasn’t for him, so he decided to put a focus onto music.
It is a hobby that he describes turned into a larger hobby. Prior to playing with Saucy Jack, Poffenberger performed with other bands in the Ames area. He had also been playing an acoustic-solo scene for a time as well.
Poffenberger has decided he is going to take it easy during this hiatus for Saucy Jack and just felt it was time to slow down.
“You play because you enjoy doing it,” he said. “We are never going to have a summer like this and I wanted to go out on a high note.”
To many Fort Dodge area residents, they may know Shelly as Dr. Andrew Shelly, DDS, the orthodontist at Shelly Orthodontics in Fort Dodge.
Shelly said he got his start as a musician when he started band in fourth grade. He initially began playing the trumpet, but after a short two weeks made the switch to percussion.
Throughout high school, Shelly said he made his extra-curricular focus on music. He played in a band while attending Fort Dodge Senior High called The Faction. That band, he said, had four original songs.
Moving on to college he continued to play with bands performing a variety of music including heavy metal, pop and grunge.
During dental school, his drums collected dust, but as soon as he could bring them back out, he did. He joined his church band and played with them for several years before joining Saucy Jack.
“I never would have guessed, when I was in high school or younger, that I would be in a band someday that would open for world known acts like Chicago, REO Speedwagon, Cheap Trick, 38 Special, Granger Smith, Great White, Vince Neil and Night Ranger,” he said. “I never would have guessed I would be sharing the stage with people like that.”
Shelly said he knew his time with Saucy Jack wouldn’t last forever.
“I knew someday it would come to an end, I just didn’t think it would be now,” he said. “I am very thankful they took me on. It worked out great and between the three of us, the chemistry was real good, we all get along.” They were a successful band and we just continued that.”
Shelly said he is hopeful he will find a new opportunity that will allow him to continue playing the drums.
“I am not ready to quit,” he said.
Peterson said there is a lot to be said about fans of Saucy Jack.
“A lot of people in Fort Dodge area and all around there have been with us since that first night at the Hayloft and it is really cool they have stuck with us,” he said. “We will see you out there somewhere.”