MASON CITY | Des Moines-based classic rockers Standing Hampton will be scouring the crowd for one man when they take the stage at the 12th annual Up In Smoke BBQ Bash in East Park Friday night.

They'll be looking for the cowbell guy.

Channeling the famous "Saturday Night Live" "More Cowbell" sketch featuring a cowbell-playing Will Farrell gyrating to "(Don't Fear) The Reaper," the band invites audience members to play cowbells during a medley.

No audience member bangs that cowbell with the rhythm and Farrell-like enthusiasm better than an Up in Smoke BBQ Bash regular the band always invites on the stage, said band member Doug Dixon.

“He was perfectly in time — that was one thing. And secondly, he was kind of doing the Will Farrell moves. You shake and, you know …,” Dixon laughed. “It’s just very entertaining. It’s entertaining for the band, but it’s also entertaining for the crowd.”

Entertaining is at the heart of the band members' mission. They're at their best when the audience is enjoying the show.

"I like to say that it's the band and the audience that builds the show," Dixon said. "So we try to get them involved early and often, jumping down off the stage and getting them to sing along with some of the songs."

In addition to Dixon, the band includes Tony Benson, Nancy Benson, Tommy Walker, Anthony Cravero and Joey Russell.

The newest member of the band, Russell won the 2008 Iowa State Fair Iowa Idol contest with the band Rukkus.

The group is stacked with strong vocalists, including Nancy Benson, giving it the range to tackle a wide variety of songs.

"They are going to see a fun look back at the '70s and '80s classic rock," Dixon said. "There's six of us and we move right along with the material."

The band enjoys coming to the BBQ Bash for the food as well. Just don't look for Dixon to enter the competition anytime soon.

He recently upgraded from a gas grill to a wood pellet model his wife gave him for Father's Day. He's still adjusting.

"First time out I did pretty well, and if I can keep the steaks at medium rare, everybody's happy," he said. "Anything more than that, they kind of look at me like, 'Dad, you really goofed up,' so I do my best.

"I enjoy eating barbecue more than I enjoy cooking barbecue."

 

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