Meet The Band
Richard “Dicky James” Wagster was born in 1956 in Gary, IN and raised in Calumet City, IL. As a boy Dicky watched his older brother, Bear, play guitar and immediately fell in love. At age 12 he got his first guitar, a Stella acoustic, and began learning by ear from whatever blues and Motown records he could pick up. Around age 18 he began performing in clubs from coast to coast and opening for numerous major recording artists. Dick has shared the stage with such blues greats as Koko Taylor, Rod Piazza, Big Daddy Kinsey, and Big Twist and the Mellow Fellows. In 1994 he relocated to the Wabash Valley where, in 2008, he and rest of the boys formed Dicky James and the Blue Flames.
Mark Ford was exposed to a wide variety of music from an early age, largely due to the radio station owned by his father, WPFR-FM. “We had that station playing all the time at home to make sure the DJ ran the right commercials and such.” Classical, easy-listening, country, album rock, and finally top-40 rock were played on the air. “I had access to all the records and did a lot of listening. I also began to accompany some of the country musicians who came in to do live radio shows.” Mark played upright bass in the high school orchestra and in the college orchestra while working with a number of garage bands. He also played bass in a pentacostal church for several years. “I became very good at fitting my playing into any style of music.” In the early 1980s he travelled the Northwest with a rock band for over a year, gaining more valuable experience. After returning to the midwest, he began to seek out the best local musicians in hopes of finally getting it right. Along the way, jazz became very appealing, and it opened his ears to a whole new world of bringing musicto life. “I guess all my musical experiences have helped me learn how to express my emotions musically, instead of just playing technically.” “With Dicky James and the Blue Flames I can really let my music flow. Everything in my life has led me to this point in time with this wonderful group of fellows. It feels right.” Mark currently lives with 2 cats and an assortment of basses.
Robert “Ice House” Freeze played his first gig in the summer of 1964. The band was the “Silvertones”, and yes, the name came from the Sears amp of the same name. After a two year run, the band changed some members and evolved into the “Vikings”. As is often the case, the same scenario repeated itself and a number of bands followed over the years. In the mid 70’s Robert dropped out of the world of live music to raise his family. On occasion he would join his musician friends to do special events and band reunions. The desire to perform never subsided, and when he was asked to join the “Take a Turtle to Dinner” band to do a CD project in Nashville, he could not resist the urge. When his youngest child approached the age when she could care less if he was around, he was given the chance to join his long time friend and remarkable guitar player, Kenny Hays, in the Jam Band. Over the following 15 years Robert sang and played congas with the Jam Band. During this time, he was introduced to the harmonica by Steve “Elwood” Elder, and Robert became fascinated with the tiny instrument. In the late summer of 2008 Robert was approached by Will Cox about the possibility of playing harmonica with a new blues band that Will, Dick Wagster, and John Beeson were forming. Since playing the harp was his main focus, it turned out to be the perfect opportunity. Robert will tell anyone who asks that he has enjoyed every minute with “Dicky James and the Blue Flames” and looks forward to many years of, as Dicky would say, “getting to play the blues”.
After watching Ed Sullivan that Sunday night the kids in the neighborhood drew straws to determine who got to play drums. Will won. After moving from coffee cans to a real kit he played in several bands until one day he decided to finish school and get a real job. After a few years reality got boring so he picked up the sticks once again. He played in a few local bands but eventually got the itch to go on the road. Years of living in hotels (some quite odious) and, occasionally out the back of the truck, gave him a whole new perspective. When he’d finally had enough he settled back in Terre Haute. In 1987 he managed to talk his way into Eddie and the Motivators who enjoyed 15 years of success and excess. After the demise of the Motivators and a couple other efforts, in 2008 he helped form the Dicky James and the Blue Flames. The rest, we hope, will be history.
John was born in Indiana, but grew up in Maywood New Jersey, nine miles out of New York City. John got his first guitar right before the Beatles appeared on the Ed Sullivan Show, and that was all it took. The mid 60’s brought John to Indianapolis, where he started playing parties and dances during high school. In 1969 he moved to Terre Haute, Indiana for college, and started playing keyboards in the mid 1970’s. During all this time, he has been playing club dates throughout the Midwest. For almost two years John and Dicky talked about putting together a blues band. Finally in 2008 with the addition of Will, Bob, and Mark, Dicky James and the Blue Flames was born.