North Dakota is not a fly-over state for Scott Bartlett.
The Saving Abel guitarist and founding member said the band has been to the area nearly 30 times in its 17-year existence.
However, May 9 will mark the first time the rock group, known for its hits “Addicted” and “18 Days,” has played in Hillsboro.
“The Midwest – we kind of burn it up there,” Bartlett said Tuesday. “Especially the smaller markets, off the beaten path that don’t get a lot of rock and roll.
“As soon as you walk on the stage, they go crazy.”
Saving Abel is set to perform an acoustic set at the A&R Bar in Hillsboro for Mother’s Day as a way to celebrate Hillsboro.
The show, complete with an opening act, starts at 7 p.m. that evening with food provided by Cruizin Cafe.
Saving Abel will open about 8:30 p.m.
Mike Deck with Cruizin Cafe said he, Randy Simonson with the A&R Bar and another local connection were able to get the band to Hillsboro to provide some entertainment locally.
“This town used to have bands all the time,” Deck said. “I think this town is just needing it – a big-name band like that.”
This isn’t Saving Abel’s first time along Interstate 29.
The band visited Central Valley School in rural Buxton in 2016 to talk to the school’s music students about overcoming obstacles.
Bartlett said the group experienced plenty of that over the last year, with the COVID-19 pandemic heavily affecting their touring schedule.
The guitarist said they’ll work with local guidelines but want to do what they can to help local businesses.
The May 9 show is free to the public ages 21 and over, but a suggested freewill donation of $5 is asked to support the Hillsboro Kiwanis Food Pantry.
“We’re excited to do something for a good cause,” Bartlett said. “We’re human beings, too.”
The guitarist said the band’s acoustic set is shorter than their full show – around an hour – but it’s an intimate setting where the group can interact with fans.
“It’s almost a coffeehouse-style set,” he said. “It’s kind of like MTV Unplugged, but we rock it up a bit.
“Shows like this are how the band started.”
Deck said Cruizin Cafe plans on serving pork wing baskets with fries, chicken drummies, mozzarella sticks and deep-fried mushrooms.
He hopes the community comes out to support the food pantry and enjoy the evening.
“I know it’s Mother’s Day, but I’m just excited for Hillsboro,” Deck said. “If not for the contact that got Saving Abel here, this never would have been possible.”
“We’re very excited,” Bartlett added. “We’re excited to be in a small town for people who probably don’t believe they can get Saving Abel there.”