Stark Raving Madge3/6/2019
Steve Berry, frontman for 60s-70s band
Steve Berry, the voice of Des Moines, is heard virtually everywhere. He is on the radio touting Prairie Meadows, at the Des Moines Playhouse portraying Jesus or performing a Vegas comedy shtick act of Joey Libido. So his latest foray into singing and performing was no surprise when he formed the band, Stark Raving Madge three years ago.
“I had a band years ago and sat in with other bands, really good bands, and thought why not start my own?” he says.
One evening with his longtime musician friends, Dave and Ben, they discussed band specifics and named the band Stark Raving Madge, based on the Palmolive dish soap lady commercials.
“We had one too many scotches one night and came up with the name,” he admits. “She’s iconic from the 60s and 70s and that’s the genre of music we agreed on.”
They discovered that this market had a need in that niche of music.
“I think people like that genre,” he says. “You get everything from rock to cheesy pop. We play disco, even though it’s had a bad rap. We’ll play anything from Bee Gees to the Stones. There’s an amazing breadth of material from that area. You had Frank Sinatra and the Beatles both in the top 20.”
At recent concerts, the band played TV theme songs such as “Petticoat Junction” and “WKRP in Cincinnati.”
The rest of the band is in agreement with playing nostalgic music. Current band members include Krista Haughland, keyboard; Dave Brooks, drums; Ben Hopkins, guitar; Matt Brown bass guitar; and Marian Marturello, saxophone.
They avoid performing over-played songs.
“It’s a matter of throwing it on the wall and seeing if it sticks,” he says. “Some songs don’t make it. If you don’t like one, stick around. You’ll like the next one.”
The band plays limited club gigs, such as the Iowa State Fair, Pal Joey’s and the Gas Lamp. They prefer an earlier start time, with the happy hour time slot ideal.
“We used to play til two in the morning, not a big deal when you’re younger,” he says. “We like gigs where we can relax and get home in time for the 10 o’clock news. We don’t play a lot of gigs. It’s a like dessert — you tend to enjoy it more.”
Berry says the group’s harmonizing sets it apart.
“When you have a great group of musicians, it sure beats going out and singing karaoke,” he says before adding, “I’ve been gifted with a voice. I love to entertain. I hope people enjoy listening to us.” ♦