BVO band playing music, having fun in the Manistee area

MANISTEE – With over 100 years of experience, the members of the BVO group perform out of a passion for music rather than trying to make a living from it.

The three-piece band has been performing together since 2019 and consists of drummer Brad Blakeslee, bassist Bob Veine and lead guitarist Dave O’Brien. Since then, they have had 54 performances.

“We do 60s, 70s and 80s dance band music because we like to get people dancing on the floor,” Blakeslee said. “We can also do a country music show if need be, so we’re mixing it up.”

Blakeslee said they play bars and clubs around Manistee as well as special events. He pointed out that the three enjoy getting on stage and performing.

“We’ve been doing it for a long time and we love it,” he said.

Blakeslee said his two bandmates carried the same passion for music and performing, as they both performed with longtime local country band Larry Bialik and the Rambling Band.

He pointed out that being a performer is the same for all venues and part of the fun comes from watching the crowd reaction.

Manistee area band BVO has several performances scheduled in the coming months.

  • 8 p.m. April 9, trout season opens at Oak Grove Tavern, 5482 W 10 1/2 Mile Road in Irons
  • 7 p.m. April 23, Rockin Robin Pre-Party, at the Civic Club, 671 Mee St. in Manistee
  • 8 p.m. April 30, Dance Saturday, at Riley’s Rendezvous, 6626 US 10 in Fountain
  • 8 p.m. May 14, Springing into Summer, at Manistee Moose Lodge 1128, 1010 Robinson St. in Manistee
  • 8 p.m. May 21, Spring BVO, at Oak Grove Tavern, 5482 W 10 1/2 Mile Road in Irons
  • 8 p.m. May 27, Fish Fry Friday, at Manistee Elks Lodge, 432 River St. in Manistee
  • 5 p.m. May 28, Memorial Day Weekend Weener Roast, at Frankfort Crystal Lake RV Park, 2060 Frankfort Hwy. in Frankfurt

“Playing in the band is the same as a baseball player, because I played baseball in high school and it’s just people watching and enjoying the moment,” Blakeslee said. “I play drums watching people and it’s great to see people tapping their feet under the table. We try to have taste and play at a reasonable level focusing on dynamics.”

What he thinks will also make a difference is that they play a set list of music that people aren’t always used to hearing in a club.

“We play things like The Beatles, Paul Revere and that kind of stuff with a lot of variety,” Blakeslee said. “It’s a lot of old and not just all the old standards, but we can do them too.”

He said they had good crowds when they performed in Irons with the 20- and 30-year-old band, but they usually draw an audience with more fans in the 40-plus bracket.

“We’re not making music right now like we’ve done in the past with other bands, but right now as BVO we’re doing all the covers,” Blakeslee said.

Blakeslee said Manistee has good performers and musical groups. He said the scene was starting to bounce back after being delayed by the COVID-19 pandemic.

“We try to help each other succeed because you don’t want to be stuck playing in one place all the time,” he said. “If each band has about four or five rooms to bounce around, that keeps us busy and everyone gets a taste of different music. We just played at the Elks Lodge and it went well so we were asked to come back 4th of July weekend.

He said Manistee was ready to start listening to live music again.

“It’s really good considering what the pandemic has done and we had 36 (performances) last year from St. Patrick’s Day to New Year’s Eve,” Blakeslee said. “We had a few reservations…in June and July. There are some in Manistee, Frankfurt and they love us at the Oak Grove Tavern in Irons where we played seven times last year.

He said the band enjoys performing in that general area and works with bar owners and others on their fees.

“I’ve been in sales for 30 years, so I understand that a club that can only seat 45-50 people can’t sell enough beer to pay the same price as a club that can seat 400 people, and it’s a simple math,” he said. “I’m upfront with all owners and tell them what’s right because we want everyone to win.”

Find photos and videos of the group, as well as more information on upcoming performances on

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