BlueCru Band
The Bluegrass Crusade was a local and regional favorite in the 1970s and '80s. IMGSVC

Tom Franti missed the last time the Bluegrass Crusade reunited for a concert, but it wasn’t for a lack of effort.

“I was blocked out,” the LAFTA board president said. “I couldn’t get in.”

That’s because the Crusaders played to a standing room-only crowd four years ago for a LAFTA (Lincoln Association for Traditional Arts) concert at the old Seventh Street Loft.

Franti expects the audience may be just as large Saturday night when the group gets together again at The Loft at The Mill for another LAFTA event.

“We’re really hoping for the same kind of audience,” band member Steven O. Hanson said. “The last one was a great audience.”

It will be the band’s first concert since that February 2003 event and the third since the members disbanded in the early 1990s when they decided to pursue other projects.

The Bluegrass Crusade formed in 1973 to play a gig sponsored by the Lincoln Guitar Society in Thompson Hall at University Place. It went on to become one of the top regional bluegrass groups during the 1970s and ’80s.

Over the years, the lineup changed, so the reunion event will feature several players.

Joining Hanson will be Terry Schmitt, Pete Blakeslee, Dave Fowler, Gary Howe, Miller McPherson, Dave Morris and Jim Pipher. Howe and McPherson are coming from outside the state for the reunion concert.

Hanson said patrons can expect many bluegrass favorites, including “Fox on the Run,” “Whiskey Before Breakfast” and “Old Home Place.”

The local players got together Wednesday to firm up the set list. The entire group rehearsed Friday night.

“The last time we were kind of nervous because it had been awhile since we played together,” Hanson said. “About a quarter of the way into it, it was like we were on autopilot or something. It just comes back to you.”

LAFTA is celebrating its 25th anniversary this season. Franti said it was a no-brainer to include the Bluegrass Crusade as part of the mainstage series.

“We’re emphasizing something new and something old this year,” he said. “We wanted to bring back an old favorite that has been here before and we know is good.”

That’s why Franti recommends showing up early, so you don’t get shut out as he did four years ago.

“If (the band) invites all their friends, it should be full,” he said.

Reach Jeff Korbelik at 473-7213 or jkorbelik@journalstar.com.

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