Hoopla

Drake Bell sells out show at Iowa City's Blue Moose Tap House

DRAKE BELL

Drake Bell, star of Nickelodeon’s “Drake and Josh” from 2004 to 2007, has reinvented himself as a musician. He’s headlining a sold-out show Saturday night (1/19) at the Blue Moose Tap House in Iowa City.
DRAKE BELL Drake Bell, star of Nickelodeon’s “Drake and Josh” from 2004 to 2007, has reinvented himself as a musician. He’s headlining a sold-out show Saturday night (1/19) at the Blue Moose Tap House in Iowa City.

Reinvention isn’t easy. Just ask a plethora of teen sensations who tried and failed when attempting a second act.

Whatever happened to Jamie-Lynn Spears (“Zoey 101”), Dylan Sprouse (“The Suite Life of Zack and Cody”) or Amanda Bynes (“What I Like About You”)?

Drake Bell appears to be an exception. The charismatic actor, who starred in the sitcom “Drake and Josh” and appeared on the amusing sketch comedy program “The Amanda Show,” which featured Bynes, during the prior decade, has reemerged as a singer-songwriter.

Unlike many of his peers, Bell, 32, isn’t penning pedestrian pop. The former child actor, who made his debut on a Whirlpool Appliances commercial when he was just 5 years old, crafts clever pop, rock and even Latin music. He also has good taste when it comes to covers.

“Sunny Afternoon” by the Kinks and “California Man” by The Move are part of Bell’s impressive 2014 album, “Ready Steady Go!”

“I love music,” Bell said. “A lot of people know me as an actor but I’ve always been very passionate about making music.”

Bell impressed during a show in Toms River, N.J., last September. He upped his cool quotient by kicking off the 16-song set with a version of under heralded Sondre Lerche’s “Heartbeat Radio.” Bell, who is a big fan of Brian Setzer and The Stray Cats, rendered the cool Stray Cats obscurity “Drink That Bottle Down.”

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What separates Bell from the pack is that he’s moving on sonically. “Fuego Lento,” a Latin pop song sung in Spanish, dropped in September.

“I think it’s important to push the boundaries as an artist,” Bell said in a recent phone interview. “What’s the point of doing the same thing over and over again.”

Bell, who will appear Saturday in a sold-out show at the Blue Moose Tap House in Iowa City, is light-years from who he was during his “Drake and Josh” days.

“I hope I’m a different person,” he said. “It would be boring to stay the same. I never want to be boring.”

Bell has become a provocative entertainer. His videos are steamy and his live performance is unpredictable. During his New Jersey show, he engaged the audience throughout the event.

“There’s nothing like getting in front of a crowd,” he said. “I’ve always had a great time being up there and living in the moment. I work hard at what I do. I’m driven. Nothing is going to stop me.”

That includes serious injury. When he was 19, his car was struck by a driver who had fallen asleep while behind the wheel. Bell suffered severe injuries. He had a fractured neck and vertebra, a broken jaw and lost several teeth.

“You’re going to have adversity in life,” he said. “You have to just keep moving on. You can’t let things get in the way.”

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Such venerable entertainers as Roger Daltrey, Dennis Quaid and Ed Asner have worked with Bell but he was over the moon when the Setzer coproduced “Ready Steady Go!”

“It doesn’t get much bigger for me than having that experience with Brian Setzer,” he said. “Getting to work with him on ‘Ready Steady Go!’ was very cool. The perk for me in this business is having the opportunity to work with my idols. Brian is right at the top of that list. What he’s done solo and with the Stray Cats is amazing.”

Expect Bell to mix it up in the future.

“The cool thing about being independent is that I can do what I want,” he said. “I can make a pop song, followed by a rock song or a song that sounds like it should be played in a club. I don’t want to put limitations on what I can do. I do what moves me.”

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