SERGEANT BLUFF | It can be said that the rock band 35th and Taylor has been on a bit of a roll.
The band -- consisting of singer Anna Taylor, lead guitarist Evan Kaler, bassist Jack Osborn and drummer Max Miller -- is slated to play both Awesome Biker Nights and Saturday in the Park this summer.
Yet Taylor, 19, is much more excited about recounting the band's experience opening for legendary rocker Jon Bon Jovi.
A different opening act was selected to play at each stop of Bon Jovi's current tour. 35th and Taylor opened for the band at Chicago's United Center on March 26.
"The arena was packed with more than 23,000 people and that was, by far, our biggest audience," she remembered. "But we rehearsed like crazy and was really ready for this opportunity."
So, was Taylor nervous at all?
"Nah, as soon as I hit my first note, I was comfortable," she said, smiling. "The whole experience was pretty awesome."
For Kaler, 20, the experience was more than a little surreal.
"We had seen Jon Bon Jovi on (NBC's) 'Today' Show a few months ago, saying he was looking for opening acts for his band's upcoming tour," he explained, still shaking his head in amazement. "35th and Taylor was among the thousands of bands submitting a performance video. A talent agency narrowed the selection down to the top 10 and (Bon Jovi) personally chose us to play the Chicago show."
And how did Osborn, 17, handle the news?
"I freaked out," the Bishop Heelan Catholic High School junior admitted. "Guess we all sort of freaked out."
That was certainly true for Miller, 18, a Bishop Heelan Catholic High School senior who had playing in bands with Osborn since the two were in middle school together.
"We've worked hard to get to this place," he said. "Now I can't imagine doing anything else in my life except making music."
Kaler and Taylor, both original members of the group which was formed in 2011, said marketing is just as important as performing.
"We're in a business where having the right image is really important," Taylor, currently a University of South Dakota strategic communications major, said. "We're a band as well as a brand."
And what exactly is 35th and Taylor's brand? Well, right now, it's a mix of different genres.
"It's bluesy with, maybe, an alternative indie vibe to it," Taylor, who considered Janis Joplin as a major influence, explained. "It's hard to pin us down."
Kaler, who grew up listening to his mom's Beatles album, agreed.
"The four of us all bring different musical influences to the table and that makes our sound uniquely ours," the University of South Dakota undeclared freshman said. "I fell in love with music when I heard (Nirvana's) 'Nevermind' when I was 11. Jack, on the other hand, has a different ear for music than me."
"Yeah, I'm into hip-hop, punk, soul, you name it," Osborn said.
"And me? I'm into heavy classic rock," Miller said. "We're four people who like different music but we still work well together."
Soon, Miller will following band mates Taylor and Kaler to college.
"I don't know if it was deliberate decision for us all to go to USD," Miller said, "but it works."
Does that mean Osborn, the youngest member of the group, will also be joining them in Vermillion?
"Well, the plan is for 35th and Taylor to be so big that I won't have time for college," Osborn said jokingly. "I don't know if my band mates were aware of that though."
Considering the success 35th and Taylor is having so far, anything is possible. But Taylor is taking nothing for granted.
"We're lucky because we have our families behind us plus a fan base that's been pulling for us from the very start," she said. "Every performance gives us another opportunity to attract new fans."
Can Taylor envision a time when her group will be attracting 23,000 fans for an arena show like Bon Jovi did?
"That would be nice," she said. "Anything is possible."