Remember when

Popular local 1980s band
‘Aura’ reunites for one concert

Local musician Rusty Bladen
is organizing the event

By Konnie McCollum
Staff Writer

(August 2008) – The 1980s pop culture in the United States was a time when “big hair” was teased to the tallest heights possible and kept there with Aqua Net hairspray. MTV, an all-music cable television station, hit the airwaves to the delight of millions of teenagers, and spandex pants were a must-have wardrobe item. Computers were only for “geeks” and break dancing replaced gang fights in music videos.


Photo provided

This 1986 photo of Aura pictures
from left: John Canfield, Warren
Schacklette, Rusty Bladen,
Todd Brindel and Mark Bear.

During that time in Madison, Ind., one local musical band of young men called Aura, complete with “big hair” and spandex, became a hit favorite on the regional music scene. The popular band attracted fans throughout the area with their lively performances of Top 40 rock and roll. The band broke up in 1987 after almost a decade of success and much to the dismay of loyal fans.
Now that band has decided to reunite after 22 years for one show. At 8 p.m. on Aug. 2 at the Madison Moose Lodge, fans will get the chance to reminisce with Aura and listen to their favorite tunes of the 1980s. All ages are welcome for the performance. Tickets will cost $7 at the door; children 12 and under are free. Prior to the concert, a slide show of old pictures and concert footage will be presented. The band will take the stage at 9 p.m. and play until midnight.
“It’s not just a band reunion; it’s a fan reunion,” said former band member Rusty Bladen, who became the only professional musician in the group.
“It’s a chance to see old friends and reflect on some great times when they were younger and maybe just a bit wilder. It’s also a chance for the younger generation to see what they missed when their parents were rocking out in the 1980s.”
Bladen, 48, was one of the founding members of the band. He has since gone on to a career in music that has spanned several decades. Bladen has cultivated an extremely loyal Midwestern fan base for his band and his solo performances.
He plays 150 shows a year, both solo and with his band, Rusty Bladen and the Designated Drivers. He has become one of the top independent selling artists in the state of Indiana and has released five CDs of original music.
Bladen was instrumental in organizing the reunion and is excited about it. “It’s going to be a lot of fun for all of us,” he said. “I think people will really enjoy themselves.”
Mark Bear, 44, was the band’s original drummer and left it in 1985. “We should have a good show to put on; we’ve been rehearsing for several months now and are ready to have some fun.”
Bear, co-owner of Bear’s Furniture on the Madison hilltop, met the rest of Aura band members during high school. He played the drums seriously for several years but then said he put his sticks away for awhile to raise a family. Several years ago, he joined a local punk rock group, “Shock Treatment,” and enjoys playing with them.
“It’s great to get with friends and help out doing benefit concerts for people with needs,” he said.
Other band members who will join the reunion include Derin Lowry, who currently resides in Los Angeles and works as a school teacher, and area residents Todd Brindel and Warren Schacklette. Former members of Aura also include John Canfield, Tim Kelly, Dave Wells, Berry Burleson, Bobby T. Sampson, Bill Dossey and Jim Stewart. Many of those musicians will also join in the reunion concert.
“We want everybody to come on out because we have a special surprise in store during the reunion,” said Bladen. He would not elaborate on what the surprise is, but said it is “big.”

• For more information about the Aura Reunion Concert, visit www.rustybladen.com. A portion of the proceeds from the concert will go to benefit the Jefferson County chapter of the United Way.

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