By Sue White | For MLive.com
SAGINAW, MI – For the 42nd time, Dean Rusch will miss his family’s celebration of the new year in the final hours of 2012.
But that’s good news for those heading Monday, Dec. 31, to The Dow Event Center for “Rockin’ through the Decades,” featuring a gourmet buffet followed by dancing to Rusch’s band Ceyx.
“We’ve thought about it, one of the guys will say ‘Hey, we’ll take one off,’ but then someone asks us to play and it’s hard to say no,” Rusch said. “To be in demand like this puts us in a unique position and we’re thankful for that.”
And those 42 years not only leave Rusch and bandmates Bob Strunk and Tom Miller firmly grounded in five decades of music but also with stories to tell on past events.
“That was in 1999, when Peter Shaheen asked us about playing at Horizons Conference Center,” Rusch said. “We had about 2,000 people there and we were supposed to trade off with one of the local big bands so neither of us had to play all night.”
But that didn’t go over so well, he said, when the dance floor bunch tried to transition from lively Motown tunes to the big band era.
“Everything went into a tail spin,” he remembered. “We wound up playing a lot more than we expected.”
Then there was that time in ‘70s, playing Schuss Mountain before the day of portable keyboards, when Rusch and his bandmates had to carry a Thomas organ with dual keyboards and foot pedals up a set of stairs to the balcony.
“We snapped off five or six keys along the way but it was so heavy, we didn’t care,” he said. “We just wanted to get it up there and we’d worry about fixing it later.”
Last year, he said, Ceyx became part of a growing trend, scheduling weddings on the last day of the year.
“There’s a reason we’re called the ultimate variety band,” Rusch said of the music they’ve played at 1,300 weddings and counting. And that’s exactly what The Dow Event Center was looking for this year in its New Year’s Eve celebration.
“We’re starting at 7 p.m. with dinner in the hall,” said Regina Demski, jumping into a buffet menu that includes prime rib, grilled chicken with pesto sauce, lemon-pepper cod, Caesar and Waldorf salads, three-cheese potatoes, green bean almandine, cheesecake and more.
“Then we’ll start the music at 8:30.”
They’ll ring in the new year with a champagne toast at midnight with a keepsake flute and the admission of $75 a person or $140 for two includes complimentary parking, party favors and a full-service open bar.
Call 989-758-5700 for reservations.
And Saginaw Township’s Four Point Sheraton is offering a hotel package for $89, featuring a shuttle to and from The Dow at 303 Johnson and accommodations and complimentary breakfasts for two.
“We did this last year with the Beatles tribute band Toppermost, out of Detroit, coupled with a dinner, and there was a lot of interest,” Demski said. “People danced and had a good time but it was wrapped around the Beatles.
“We thought we’d go for a dance party this time and so far, it’s going well.”
And those who want their fix of the Fab Four might want to jot down 8 p.m. Saturday, Feb. 23, when 1964: The Tribute returns to The Dow. Tickets, on sale now, cost $31.50.
Ceyx will traverse five decades on New Year’s Eve, Rusch said, though they might tweak the ‘50s a little and combine it with the ‘60s.
“The only song from the ‘50s that most recognize today, whether they’re 17 or 70, is ‘Great Balls of Fire,’” he said. “We’ll throw in some Elvis, too, and then we’ll work our way into the ‘80s through Kid Rock.”
With Miller and Strunk on vocals, “we can do everything from AC/DC to Michael Jackson, and we have a really great version of ‘Auld Lang Syne’ that moves from the slow version to disco. By then, there’s so much energy, people just go crazy with it.”
They’ll also reprise a number that works well at their summer concerts at the Apple Mountain Resort, the Super Psychedelic Heavy Metal Acid Rock Medley that begins with “Smoke on the Water” and closes with The Association.
“By the end of the night, we’re running from 105 to 140 beats a minute,” said Ceyx’s drummer. “We’re doing the Isley Brothers’ ‘Shout’ and ‘Footloose’ and ‘In-A-Gadda-Da-Vida.’ It’s going to be wild.”