'Dweebs' invade downtown Bradenton with music and fun

rdymond@bradenton.comApril 6, 2013 

BRADENTON -- Dweebs invaded downtown Bradenton on Friday night.

No, we are not talking about nerdy teens.

The Dweebs are a real band from Somerset, Wis., comprised of a father, two sons, a daughter and a cousin or two, who energized the crowd at Friday's kickoff of the 2013 De Soto Heritage Seafood Festival.

The band's claim to fame throughout the Midwest where they are most popular is winning crowds by joyful and playful covers of Lady Gaga, Michael Jackson, The Beatles, Johnny Cash, Robert Palmer and others.

Led by guitarist Mike "Papa Dweeb" Blue Sr. and his sons, Ben Blue on guitar and vocals and Mike Blue Jr. on drums, every member of the group performs wearing nerdy black glasses with tape on the bridge of the nose in keeping with their dweeb heritage. Mike Blue Jr. wears a beanie with a propeller. The band sells the glasses and beanies at their shows, including Friday's, which lasted two hours under a cool, clear sky in downtown Bradenton.

Cousin Trevor Radtke played bass guitar Friday and family friend Breana Tagg filled in on vocals and keyboard for a Blue sister who was back home having a baby, said a band associate.

As the night wore on and The Dweebs kept winning fans, more and more of the crowd of 3,000 or so were wearing Dweeb glasses.

"The Dweebs gave them to me themselves," said proud dweeb Ansley "Pookie" Boyd, a De Soto princess in 2006.

Terra Ceia's Margaret Washburn and Donna Kyzer were not wearing Dweeb glasses, but became fans of the group before the night was out.

"We've enjoyed listening to them," said Washburn, a Manatee Memorial Hospital nurse who was sitting near the stage and dining on fried clams, black beans and rice next to Kyzer, owner of Kyzer custom aluminum.

"I'm a closet guitarist myself," whispered Washburn as Papa Dweeb riffed on the guitar.

One whole family on vacation from Georgia wore Dweeb glasses and danced in front of the stage.

"It's fun," said Becca Eiland, mother of Ella, 10, Addie, 8, and Finn, 4.

Ben Blue, who has the charisma a frontman needs, during one number jumped off the stage and into the arms of audience member Jean Lynch from Indian Rocks Beach.

The Dweebs won kids' hearts by firing toilet paper from a toilet paper cannon.

Officer Jay Gow of the Bradenton Police Department said he could not put on the Dweeb glasses while on duty.

But was he a dweeb as a teen?

"Nah, I was into sports at Bayshore High School," said Gow, a 1994 Bruin graduate.

The Seafood Festival continues from 11 a.m. to 11 p.m. today in downtown Bradenton.

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