Honky-Tonk Traditionalist Moe Bandy Ain't Clowning Around
By the time he became a honky tonk hit machine, Willie and Waylon had already begun the Outlaw Movement, but Bandy was never considered a part of that rebellion against Nashville.
"That whole thing kinda happened without really affecting me or Gene Watson much," Bandy recalls. "I loved what Willie and Waylon were doing, but that wasn't me. I'm a strict traditionalist musically, and so is Gene Watson. We just kept plodding along our path and luckily it worked for us."
Bandy left a trail of cowboy and cheating songs in his wake as he closed out the '70s with a handful of charting hits. And in 1979, he finally had his first solo No. 1, "I Cheated Me Right Out of You." That also marked the year that Bandy teamed up with Joe Stampley for a series of tongue-not-so-in-cheek tunes. Their first attempt, "Just Good Ol' Boys," also hit No. 1 in 1979.
Above: Moe Bandy and Joe Stampley got in some legal trouble with "Where's the Dress" but they did look good in drag.
The duo ran into trouble with their Boy George parody, "Where's the Dress," in 1984 when Boy George sued for copyright infringement.
"Man, that was a weird deal," Bandy laughs as he recalls the situation. "I honestly didn't even know the song, but Joe and the producer sampled that guitar intro from 'Karma Chameleon' without getting permission. We finally settled, but that little mess up cost us $50,000."
As traditional country singers were forced off the airwaves in droves, Bandy joined in the movement that made Branson, Mo. a center for older, traditional country acts. He had his own theater there for a while, but eventually got out of that, although he still lives just outside Branson.
"It's very centrally located for touring," says Bandy. "The country is nice, we have all four seasons but it's not terribly cold."
These days Bandy is back at it, making the casino circuit, playing the nicer halls. Friday will mark his first time at Dosey Doe. When told that the venue is known as an intimate listening room with high-dollar tickets, Bandy laughed and said, "Well, I guess I better get my seventy dollar show ready."
What really gets Bandy excited these days, as he approaches 70, is the thought of recording another album.
"I'm working on a new album with Jimmy Capps, the great Nashville session guitarist," says Bandy. "Right now, we need about two more good songs and we'll be ready to record. Radio won't play it, but satellite sure will."
Bandy hopes to have the new album out next year. Meanwhile, he continues to tour. He also has an annual cruise that departs from Galveston.
"My cruise is a little different," Bandy explains. "It's just me and my band, and we do a show every night. Then in the daytime, we either sightsee or just cruise to the next port. That's become something I really look forward to every year. Last year was a blast."
A man who is certainly terse and thoughtful in his answers to questions, Bandy thinks carefully while framing his thoughts about country star Blake Shelton's dismissive rant regarding old-school country singers a couple of months back.
"Look, I idolized guys like George Jones, Hank Williams, Ray Price, I even had my hair cut like George Jones's when I first started in this business," Bandy explains. "Now I don't begrudge anyone making a living, and I think the guys in this new-country stuff do work hard. But when you start disrespecting the artists that came before you, you don't deserve their respect in return."
As for new country, Bandy just shrugs.
"I can't listen to it," he says. "It doesn't touch me in any way."
Moe Bandy plays Dosey Doe, 25911 I-45 N., The Woodlands, at 8 p.m. Friday, October 18.
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