CEDAR FALLS – Bob Dorr is a night owl.
He’s not big on the whole concept of “rise and shine.” The musician’s sleep cycle has been set by decades of late nights, and the alarm on his body clock generally doesn’t go off before noon.
On Monday, however, he’ll be up earlier and on the road with his wife, Carolyn, heading to Des Moines “for a really cool thing,” Dorr says.
At 1 p.m. Monday, Dorr will be on the floor of the Iowa House of Representatives, listening as a resolution of commendation is read aloud to the entire House.
The commendation recognizes Dorr’s 45-plus year career in music, radio and television. Rep. Scott Ourth, D-Ackworth, a long-time Dorr fan, organized the honor. He’ll be joined by representatives Bob Kressig, D-Waterloo, Timi Brown-Powers, D-Waterloo, Charles Isenhart, D-Dubuque, Ashley Hinson, R-Cedar Rapids and Rob Bacon, R-Sioux City. Ourth also credits Republican Rep. Chris Hagenow, a Northern University High School graduate now of Windsor Heights.
“I told Bob not only do I get to recognize him, but I have the joy of totally wiping out his circadian rhythm,” Ourth said, laughing.
“And he’ll have to wear a tie and jacket because you can’t be on the House floor without them. Everyone’s as excited as they could be about Dorr coming here.”
Immediately following the House commendation, Ourth will walk Dorr over to the Senate where a second commendation will be read by Sen. Bill Dotzler, D-Waterloo.
“It’s rare to be given recognition like this by the whole House, and it’s quintessentially rare to do something like this with both House and Senate. I’ve seen it only once since I’ve been here, and I’m wrapping up my third term,” Ourth explained.
“The idea is to honor Bob for his lifetime of extraordinary contributions to the culture and art of our state.”
Dorr also was promised a free meal in the House cafeteria. “You know musicians and free food. I’ll be there,” Dorr said, laughing. “Seriously, though, this is such a big honor for me. I’m stunned. What a cool thing to have happen.”
Dorr, 66, has several IPR shows and hosts programs during Festival fundraising season on Iowa Public Television. He recently called it quits after nearly 40 years of performing with one of Iowa’s best-known bands, Bob Dorr and the Blue Band, although he continues to perform gigs with other musicians.
Dorr originally connected with Ourth via the Backtracks’ Facebook page. His rock retrospective show often solicits listener picks and Ourth, along with a few other legislators, suggested a few songs.
“I’ve been listening to that guy forever and a day, and I think I suggested something off the Eric Clapton ‘461 Ocean Boulevard’ album,” Ourth said.
“He had some pretty hip song suggestions,” Dorr recalled. That led to Facebook and email exchanges, and eventually Dorr suggested doing a show featuring all legislator-chosen songs.
“Scott ran with the whole thing, and every single legislator — Democrat and Republican — made a song suggestion, and I did a whole show,” said Dorr, who describes himself as a “staunch independent.”
Ourth asked legislators to jot down their two favorite songs (25 years old or older) and include their legislative district and some anecdotal information. “People really took it up and ran with it. I collected the sheets of paper and gave them to Bob.”
The three-hour Backtracks show turned out to be a “nice ratings bump,“ Dorr said. Legislators loved it, too.
Last year Dorr offered Ourth a chance to guest DJ a one-hour segment. The legislator traveled to Cedar Falls with his music collection and recorded in Dorr’s garage studio.
As he’s personally gotten to know Dorr, Ourth is impressed. “He’s a generous guy, a thoughtful person and caring individual. Everything he’s done has been done with the design in mind of sharing with other people and sharing his happiness without reservation for over four decades.
“I felt that deserved to be recognized.”
Kressig said he’s happy to be part of the resolution. “My wife and I have been big fans of Bob Dorr and the Blue Band for a long time. We love listening and dancing to the Blue Band’s music. Bob deserves the recognition for his years of work with music and being elected to the Iowa Rock ‘n’ Roll Music Association Hall of Fame, class of 2000.”
Ourth added, “We travel across the arc of time and space and life happens pretty fast. … . In my advancing years, I’ve realized that the only thing that matters is the love we share with each other and the service we render each other. We have to celebrate life. Just pause and celebrate. That’s what we’re doing for Bob.”