Tag Archives: music

Music in Siouxland, the Art Pahl-Peter Boe Accordion Festival, Le Mars

8 May
Performers at the Art Pahl-Peter Boe accordion festival included Burt Heithold, Wade and Ruth Bruggemann, Carla Drost, Barbara Rikansrud, Mary Mayer, Nancy Sharon and Preston Moerman playing in the auditorium of the Plymouth County Museum in Le Mars Iowa, Sunday April 24, 2022. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Sometimes entertainment in Siouxland is not a flashy affair. Big named artists visiting a local arena to play some hit or at a festival. A recent trip to the Plymouth County Historical Museum in Le Mars saw the continuation of the Art Pahl-Peter Boe accordion festival, after a hiatus of a couple of years due to the pandemic, like many other normally scheduled activities.

The Art Pahl-Peter Boe accordion festival at the Plymouth County Museum in Le Mars Iowa, Sunday April 24, 2022. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Performers playing their first set during the Art Pahl-Peter Boe accordion festival at the Plymouth County Museum in Le Mars Iowa, Sunday April 24, 2022. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Many of the artists played traditional songs that accordion players play, especially with the attending crowd in mind. The music was nice though and made for a pleasant afternoon in a local museum. And a chance to walk through the place again to see what else was new after a couple of years.

Ruth and Wade Bruggeman perform during the Art Pahl-Peter Boe accordion festival at the Plymouth County Museum in Le Mars Iowa, Sunday April 24, 2022. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Carla Drost performs during the Art Pahl-Peter Boe accordion festival at the Plymouth County Museum in Le Mars Iowa, Sunday April 24, 2022. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Burt Heithold performs during the Art Pahl-Peter Boe accordion festival at the Plymouth County Museum in Le Mars Iowa, Sunday April 24, 2022. Heithold plays an accordion that belonged to Carla Drost’s father who also attended and performed at the festival in years past. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

The players all knew one another as did most of those in attendance. There was a short remembrance of some former players who have passed in recent years and festival’s emcee played the accordion of a former player who participated in the festival for many, many years.

Not too many flashy performances, but one player did get a bit theatrical with his 55 pound instrument (which he said weighed 50 pounds the year before-age has that affect).

Perston Moerman puts some effort into his performance with his 55 pound accordion (while playing he said last year it was 50 pounds) during the Art Pahl-Peter Boe accordion festival at the Plymouth County Museum in Le Mars Iowa, Sunday April 24, 2022. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Perston Moerman puts some effort into his performance with his 55 pound accordion (while playing he said last year it was 50 pounds) during the Art Pahl-Peter Boe accordion festival at the Plymouth County Museum in Le Mars Iowa, Sunday April 24, 2022. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Perston Moerman puts some effort into his performance with his 55 pound accordion (while playing he said last year it was 50 pounds) during the Art Pahl-Peter Boe accordion festival at the Plymouth County Museum in Le Mars Iowa, Sunday April 24, 2022. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

And those in attendance were appreciative of the folk playing and giving up a Sunday to perform. Sharing their talent and love of an instrument that not so many really appreciate for have possible even heard before. Some Sundays are meant to be a quiet, albeit, song filled day, to enjoy.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

Accordion player and emcee Burt Heithold, standing, helps out Nancy Sharon, seated center, as they ask the attending audience to “name that tune” that she and performers Mary Mayer, far left, and Barbara Rikansrud , second from right played at the Art Pahl-Peter Boe accordion festival at the Plymouth County Museum in Le Mars Iowa, Sunday April 24, 2022. At far right is accordion player Preston Moerman who seemed to enjoy the exchange. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Players Mary Mayer, left, Nancy Sharon, center, and Barbara Rikansrud, right, perform at the Art Pahl-Peter Boe accordion festival at the Plymouth County Museum in Le Mars Iowa, Sunday April 24, 2022. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Fellow accordion players give Mary Mayer, Nancy Sharon and Barbara Rikansrud applause after they finished a particular song at the Art Pahl-Peter Boe accordion festival at the Plymouth County Museum in Le Mars Iowa, Sunday April 24, 2022. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Hearing Music in Siouxland again, National Music Museum, Vermillion, SD

15 Feb
Acoustic musician Jake Blount performs in the newly opened auditorium of the National Music Museum at the University of South Dakota, Vemillion, Friday, February 4, 2022 in Vermillion, SD. Blount is playing a Henry Dobson banjo, which is part of the museum’s collection, which was made sometime between 1853 and 1867 in New York state. Blount specializes in the music of black and indigenous communities of the southeastern United States. The music museum closed in 2019 for expansion and renovations and recently opened the performance auditorium. The renovation of the music museum which houses the permanent collection of historical instruments may not open again until sometime in 2023 or 2024. (Photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

I recently visited a museum in which I haven’t ventured into for almost 3.5 years in Siouxland, which closed for renovations and expansion. The addition has been completed with a new performance auditorium but the museum housing the collection of instruments at the National Music Museum at the University of South Dakota, Vermillion, SD, may not open until 2023 or possibly 2024.

For someone who has never stepped foot inside the historical museum they may be shocked to find such a diversity of musical instruments that have been collected and donated to this facility from ancient to more modern pieces of instrumental music. And the fun part of the museum’s mission seems to be the opportunity to sometimes hear some of the instruments being used in performances by musicians.

That occurred recently when acoustic musician Jake Blount of Rhode Island performed and gave a short oral history of Black and Indigenous groups who used the banjo and fiddle as means of expression long, long before blue grass or old timey country music was given a thought.

National Music Museum Dwight Vaught introduces acoustic musician Jake Blount performs in the newly opened auditorium of the National Music Museum at the University of South Dakota, Vemillion, Friday, February 4, 2022 in Vermillion, SD. Blount specializes in the music of black and indigenous communities of the southeastern United States. The music museum closed in 2019 and the recently opened performance auditorium has been under construction for the past two years, while the renovation of the music museum which houses the permanent collection of historical instruments may not open until sometime in 2023 or 2024. (Photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Acoustic musician Jake Blount performs in the newly opened auditorium of the National Music Museum at the University of South Dakota, Vemillion, Friday, February 4, 2022 in Vermillion, SD. Blount is playing a Henry Dobson banjo was that was made sometime between 1853 and 1867 in New York state. Blount specializes in the music of black and indigenous communities of the southeastern United States. The music museum closed in 2019 and the recently opened performance auditorium has been under construction for the past two years, while the renovation of the music museum which houses the permanent collection of historical instruments may not again open until sometime in 2023 or 2024. (Photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Blount talked about the history of the banjo and how it was created by slaves and its long journey into the mainstream music scene and again how black musicians have once again begun playing it after attempts by white people to disparage the idea of blacks and the their early music by parody of the blackface musicians and entertainers who traveled the country and the world giving a very unflattering portrayal of such “low down and dirty music” that he explained made many black musicians ashamed and embarrassed to play this music for decades. He cited an academic piece by a historian whose name I did catch during the performance but apparently goes into detail about the journey of slaves who escaped to freedom and used their talent journey to a better life and location but who also created lasting music along the way.

I found a piece doing an online search and am not certain if it is the same historian, Laurent Dubois, who writes “a narrative of how this instrument was created by enslaved Africans in the midst of bondage in the Caribbean and Americas. He documents its journey from 17th- and 18th-century plantations to 19th-century minstrel shows to the bluegrass of Appalachia to the folk revival of the mid-20th century. In the process, Dubois documents how the banjo came to symbolize community, slavery, resistance, and ultimately America itself. A historian of the Caribbean and a banjo player himself, Dubois relied on the work of academic historians as well as insights from musicians, collectors, and banjo makers to tell this story.”

Audience members listen to acoustic musician Jake Blount performing in the newly opened auditorium of the National Music Museum at the University of South Dakota, Vemillion, Friday, February 4, 2022 in Vermillion, SD. Blount specializes in the music of black and indigenous communities of the southeastern United States. The music museum closed in 2019 and the recently opened performance auditorium has been under construction for the past two years, while the renovation of the music museum which houses the permanent collection of historical instruments may not open until sometime in 2023 or 2024. (Photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

An audience member takes a photo of acoustic musician Jake Blount performing in the newly opened auditorium of the National Music Museum at the University of South Dakota, Vemillion, Friday, February 4, 2022 in Vermillion, SD. Blount specializes in the music of black and indigenous communities of the southeastern United States. The music museum closed in 2019 and the recently opened performance auditorium has been under construction for the past two years, while the renovation of the music museum which houses the permanent collection of historical instruments may not open until sometime in 2023 or 2024. (Photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Audience members enjoy acoustic musician Jake Blount performing in the newly opened auditorium of the National Music Museum at the University of South Dakota, Vemillion, Friday, February 4, 2022 in Vermillion, SD. Blount specializes in the music of black and indigenous communities of the southeastern United States. The music museum closed in 2019 and the recently opened performance auditorium has been under construction for the past two years, while the renovation of the music museum which houses the permanent collection of historical instruments may not open until sometime in 2023 or 2024. (Photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

The new facility in which Blount performed is more of a theatre setting than the previous performance space in the museum, with more seating available, while still retaining its small and intimate space. Performances will again draw the targeted audience the museum had in the past, depending on the time of day and day of performance. And of course over time some of the performances and performers change especially those associated with the university.

I always enjoy my visits and once again look forward to the musical instrument collection being available to view and admire. It is such a different experience that seeing something like this online. And someday it will happen.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

National Music Museum Dwight Vaught introduces acoustic musician Jake Blount performs in the newly opened auditorium of the National Music Museum at the University of South Dakota, Vemillion, Friday, February 4, 2022 in Vermillion, SD. Blount specializes in the music of black and indigenous communities of the southeastern United States. The music museum closed in 2019 and the recently opened performance auditorium has been under construction for the past two years, while the renovation of the music museum which houses the permanent collection of historical instruments may not open until sometime in 2023 or 2024. (Photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Audience members listen to acoustic musician Jake Blount performing in the newly opened auditorium of the National Music Museum at the University of South Dakota, Vemillion, Friday, February 4, 2022 in Vermillion, SD. Blount specializes in the music of black and indigenous communities of the southeastern United States. The music museum closed in 2019 and the recently opened performance auditorium has been under construction for the past two years, while the renovation of the music museum which houses the permanent collection of historical instruments may not open until sometime in 2023 or 2024. (Photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Audience members listen to acoustic musician Jake Blount performing in the newly opened auditorium of the National Music Museum at the University of South Dakota, Vemillion, Friday, February 4, 2022 in Vermillion, SD. Blount specializes in the music of black and indigenous communities of the southeastern United States. The music museum closed in 2019 and the recently opened performance auditorium has been under construction for the past two years, while the renovation of the music museum which houses the permanent collection of historical instruments may not open until sometime in 2023 or 2024. (Photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

The National Music Museum at the University of South Dakota, Vemillion, Friday, February 4, 2022 in Vermillion, SD, recently began hosting noon concerts again. The music museum closed in 2019 and the recently opened performance auditorium has been under construction for the past two years, while the renovation of the music museum which houses the permanent collection of historical instruments may not open until sometime in 2023 or 2024. (Photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Rock and Roll in Siouxland, Rock and Roll Museum, Arnolds Park

12 Aug

The museum is a tribute to artists who played at the Roof Garden and other venues around the Arnolds Park Amusement Park area located in Arnolds Park, Iowa Tuesday, July 7, 2020. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

In Siouxland it’s possible to find a wide variety of museums and places that showcase historical significance, if just to the locals. The Rock and Roll Museum in Arnolds Park is one of those places. Many artists up and coming have passed through the area playing a local venue, the Roof Top Garden to the delight of fans over the years.

The Roof Garden, recently renovated for an updated look, played host to a number of famous musicians and bands who played in the area over the years and located in the Arnolds Park Amusement Park in Arnolds Park, Iowa Tuesday, July 7, 2020. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

 

A variety of musicians passed through playing at the Rock ‘n’ Roll Museum at Arnolds Park Amusement Park in Arnolds Park, Iowa Tuesday, July 7, 2020. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Reading over a list of who’s who and seeing various guitars collected and signed would make many a would-be musician and fan aficionado stop in their tracks and spend time looking and reading

the Rock ‘n’ Roll Museum at Arnolds Park Amusement Park in Arnolds Park, Iowa Tuesday, July 7, 2020. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

 

Signed guitars by artists hang in a small theatre room with a video about the local music scene over the years seen in the Rock ‘n’ Roll Museum at Arnolds Park Amusement Park in Arnolds Park, Iowa Tuesday, July 7, 2020. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

On a summer’s day when one wants to get away from the heat and humidity, and a poor excuse it may be, stepping inside and spending some time allows one a snapshot into many a famed artist who actually visited this part of Iowa in Siouxland, rather than “flying over” on the way to a larger venue.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

A number of famous musicians and artists passed through the lakes area and are memorialized at the Rock ‘n’ Roll Museum at Arnolds Park Amusement Park in Arnolds Park, Iowa Tuesday, July 7, 2020. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

 

Deep Purple’s Tommy Bolin’s custom stage suit circa 1975 seen at the Rock ‘n’ Roll Museum at Arnolds Park Amusement Park in Arnolds Park, Iowa Tuesday, July 7, 2020. Bolin, a Sioux City native, also played in the bands Zephyr and James Gang. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

A Pause in Activities in Siouxland, Grandview Park, Sioux City

17 May

A stormy looking day creates contrast in Grandview Park in Sioux City, Iowa Tuesday, May 12, 2020. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

The current pandemic, COVID-19 or the coronavirus as some prefer, has caused many people and places to hit the pause button here in Siouxland. For many activities. And like elsewhere, as various political bodies and people decide what time is right for folk to plunge back into “normalcy”, there will be many missing local events. Already high school graduations are being posted online and not held at the various schools with throngs of parents and friends cheering as students cross the finish line, er stage. It seems since May is already here, there will be few Memorial Day celebrations throughout the Siouxland region.

Fans enjoy the performance of The Dirty Heads playing at the 23rd annual Saturday in the Park music festival in Sioux City, Iowa, July 6, 2013.

A couple events I will miss seeing happen in Grandview Park in Sioux City. The Sioux City Municipal Band playing consecutive Sunday evening concerts and the perennial Saturday in the Park music festival. Both are free to those attending. SITP draws people from all over, as big name entertainers perform along with up and comers.

MELISSA ETHERIDGE performs during the 23rd annual Saturday in the Park music festival in Sioux City, Iowa, July 6, 2013.

 

MELISSA ETHERIDGE performs during the 23rd annual Saturday in the Park music festival in Sioux City, Iowa, July 6, 2013.

The park’s bandshell was built during the depression years by the Civilian Conservation Corps and has hosted many events. On a pleasant summer’s eve it is a nice place to sit and relax, even with a few hundred of your rowdy friends, depending on the program.

A family enjoys the Sioux City Municipal band as it plays a medley of songs at the Bandshell in Grandview Park in Sioux City, Iowa, Sunday July 5, 2015. (Photo by Jerry Mennenga©)

But keeping one’s distance at these events would be impossible, no almost about it.

The Sioux City Municipal band plays a medley of patriotic songs at the Bandshell in Grandview Park in Sioux City, Iowa, Sunday July 5, 2015. (Photo by Jerry Mennenga©)

And so the park will sit quiet for a few months. No music to enliven its environs or bring smiles and memories to those attending. It’s hard to imagine outdoor or indoor concerts happening any time soon. Outdoor would be safer, but there just isn’t enough space.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

A quiet, tempest looking day in Grandview Park in Sioux City, Iowa Tuesday, May 12, 2020. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Enjoying Food, Music and Hot Cars in Siouxland, Vermillion, SD

24 Sep

Muscle and vintage cars fill the downtown area during the Ribs, Rods, and Rock ‘n Roll Festival in Vermillion, SD check out some muscle cars Saturday, September 7, 2019. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

While out looking for another event one weekend I stumbled upon a community’s celebration of food, music and muscle or classic cars, something which has been going on for years but I had no clue.

Vermillion’s Rib, Rod and Rock and Roll Fest started off a little soggy but didn’t dampen people’s enthusiasm to enjoy themselves as they strolled the downtown area looking at classic cars and eating. The latter always a favorite past time of mine.

One car owner makes a second attempt after a rain shower to keep her vehicle looking spotless during the Ribs, Rods, and Rock ‘n Roll Festival in Vermillion, SD check out some muscle cars Saturday, September 7, 2019. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

 

One car owner makes a second attempt after a rain shower to keep her vehicle looking spotless during the Ribs, Rods, and Rock ‘n Roll Festival in Vermillion, SD check out some muscle cars Saturday, September 7, 2019. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

There was a rib cooking contest and for a fee people could help judge the various cook’s results and come away with a full tummy. Unfortunately since I had been out looking for an event I came to find out had been cancelled because of rain, I missed that part of the festival. But I feasted on the smell of what must have been a sumptuous chance to give input on smoked ribs.

Tables were at the ready for hungry folk checking out the food vendors and bbq rib making contestants during the Ribs, Rods, and Rock ‘n Roll Festival in Vermillion, SD check out some muscle cars Saturday, September 7, 2019. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

 

Attendees of the Ribs, Rods, and Rock ‘n Roll Festival in Vermillion, SD check out some muscle cars Saturday, September 7, 2019. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

People ate, walked about looking over the cars and listening to music then ate some more and repeated steps 2 and 3. And everyone got into the mood, even a cute little guy that put up with his mistress and seemed to take the day in stride.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

One cutie took in passers-by during the Ribs, Rods, and Rock ‘n Roll Festival in Vermillion, SD check out some muscle cars Saturday, September 7, 2019. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

 

One attendee of the Ribs, Rods, and Rock ‘n Roll Festival makes his point about the event in Vermillion, SD check out some muscle cars Saturday, September 7, 2019. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

 

Storm clouds still hovered nearby during the Ribs, Rods, and Rock ‘n Roll Festival in Vermillion, SD check out some muscle cars Saturday, September 7, 2019. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Summer Concerts in the Park in Siouxland, Sioux City Municipal Band

13 Aug

Summer is that season everywhere and here in Siouxland as well when all want a chance to relax and enjoy local festivities and other forms of entertainment. The local Sioux City Municipal Band has been playing summer concerts for a number of years. It’s a free event and people can bring lawn chairs, pack a snack or summer and sit back and enjoy the sounds which can include patriotic tunes, show tunes, movie tunes and classical tunes. Although I am sure music aficionados would not refer to the music as tunes.

The Sioux City Municipal Band performs at the Band Shell in Grandview Park as part of a free summer entertainment series Sunday, July 14, 2019. Photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

 

The Sioux City Municipal Band performs at the Band Shell in Grandview Park as part of a free summer entertainment series Sunday, July 14, 2019. Photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

 

The musicians themselves spend the time to practice and then play these summer evenings which occasionally can include thunderstorms and most likely hot and humid nights towards the end of July. But they persevere as well as perspire like the rest of us, they just don’t show it. But it’s a nice event for local residents and those visiting family over the summer months. The 8-week long series varies with the music selection year to year. But their performance never varies, always enjoyable.

The Sioux City Municipal Band performs at the Band Shell in Grandview Park as part of a free summer entertainment series Sunday, July 14, 2019. Photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

 

The Sioux City Municipal Band performs at the Band Shell in Grandview Park as part of a free summer entertainment series Sunday, July 14, 2019. Photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Something residents can look forward too again next year now that the last performance has come and gone and as parent’s thoughts return to the coming school year and others to autumn season which is just around the corner. Instead of hearing the municipal band’s music wafting over the neighborhood Sunday nights, some will begin hearing marching band music Friday nights as the local high school football season kicks off and a different kind of entertainment marks another season of its own.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

The Sioux City Municipal Band performs at the Band Shell in Grandview Park as part of a free summer entertainment series Sunday, July 14, 2019. Photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

 

The Sioux City Municipal Band performs at the Band Shell in Grandview Park as part of a free summer entertainment series Sunday, July 14, 2019. Photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

 

The Sioux City Municipal Band performs at the Band Shell in Grandview Park as part of a free summer entertainment series Sunday, July 14, 2019. Photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Another Sunday in Siouxland, the Sioux City Municipal Band

17 Jul

I attended another local concert by the Sioux City Municipal Band. I was looking forward to seeing them play in another outside venue at Morningside College, the Buhler Outdoor Performance Center where during the summer the Betty Ling Tsang Summer Performance Series are held. Except, in the advent of questionable weather.

Storm clouds hover over the area including the Buhler Outdoor Performance Center where the Sioux City Municipal Band was going to perform before moving indoors to the Eppley Auditorium on the campus of Morningside College because of a rain forecast for the Betty Ling Tsang Summer Performance Series Saturday June 30, 2018. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Again it had been storming in and around the immediate and other Siouxland area. And for caution, the event was moved into the Eppley Auditorium which is just around the corner from the outdoor venue.

The Sioux City Municipal Band performs at Eppley Auditorium on the campus of Morningside College because of a rain forecast for the Betty Ling Tsang Summer Performance Series Saturday June 30, 2018. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

 

The Sioux City Municipal Band performs at Eppley Auditorium on the campus of Morningside College because of a rain forecast for the Betty Ling Tsang Summer Performance Series Saturday June 30, 2018. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

As always the band did a very nice program that included a solo performance by member Richard Bogenrief who did a trumpet solo, but also performed on a bugle a piece titled “The Bugler’s Lament” and accompanied by the band.

Solist Richard Bogenrief plays a bugle whie playing tHe Bugler’s Lament accompanied by the Sioux City Municipal Band as it performs at Eppley Auditorium on the campus of Morningside College because of a rain forecast for the Betty Ling Tsang Summer Performance Series Saturday June 30, 2018. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

 

Members of the Sioux City Municipal Band perform at Eppley Auditorium on the campus of Morningside College because of a rain forecast for the Betty Ling Tsang Summer Performance Series Saturday June 30, 2018. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

 

Members of the Sioux City Municipal Band perform at Eppley Auditorium on the campus of Morningside College because of a rain forecast for the Betty Ling Tsang Summer Performance Series Saturday June 30, 2018. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

And the set is never complete without their announcer, emcee Dave Madsen who reminds everyone who attends that he is keeping his day job, as his jokes generally receive the snare drum tribute that occurred in many burlesque routines of the day. With a loud cymbal thwack for resonance and exclamation. But combined these local folk present a couple of hours of listening melody and respite from the daily goings on that we all need an escape from time to time.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

Emcee and host Dave Madsen introduces the next song as the Sioux City Municipal Band performs at Eppley Auditorium on the campus of Morningside College because of a rain forecast for the Betty Ling Tsang Summer Performance Series Saturday June 30, 2018. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Singer Andy Williams born in Siouxland, Wall Lake

16 May

 

I am always somewhat amazed but also delighted when I find a bit of nostalgia and history tidbits as I drive about Siouxland. One of those tidbits is the fact that the singer and entertainer Andy Williams was born in the small community of Wall Lake, roughly about 800 people. His birthplace and home for the first eight years of his life is now a restored show place in the community and maintained by the Wall Lake Historical Society.

An autographed photo of himself, Andy Williams, sits on an end table at the singer Andy Williams’ birthplace in Wall Lake, Iowa, Sunday July 16, 2017. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

 

Members of the Wall Lake, IA, Historical Society Esther Bielema, seated, and Janice Determann, standing at the singer Andy Williams’ birthplace in Wall Lake, Iowa, Sunday July 16, 2017. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

The day I visited the home I was greeted by a couple of enthusiastic members of the society and fans of Mr. Williams, Esther Bielema and Janice Determann. While the home is not filled from floor to ceiling with memorabilia, it is full of all sorts of historical items about the singer and his family and basically a shrine to a small town boy who made it big.

The birthplace of singer Andy Williams sits atop a hill overlooking downtown Wall Lake, Iowa, Friday, April 18, 2014. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

 

Singer Andy Williams, left, with his parents Jay and Florence Williams appearing in one of his Christmas TV Specials on display at the singer’s birthplace in Wall Lake, Iowa, Sunday July 16, 2017. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

 

Various photographs of singer Andy Williams adorn the walls of his birthplace in Wall Lake, Iowa, Sunday July 16, 2017. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

 

The downstairs bedroom where Wall Lake Historical Society member Esther Bielema and others believe that singer Andy Williams was born in 1934 at his birthplace home in Wall Lake, Iowa, Sunday July 16, 2017. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

I can remember growing up that my parents watched the Andy Williams’ Christmas Specials on TV and while I don’t believe they had any of his records, the songs he sang are well known and include such hits as “Moon River”, “Abraham, Martin and John”, “Days of Wine and Roses”, “Dear Heart”, “It’s the Most Wonderful Time of the Year” and “Born Free”.

While there a woman from Des Moines stopped in and walked about the home in awe. For Bielema and Determann the joy of the grand opening when Williams and his wife attended along with other family must have been a thrill they still feel today. History comes alive in places like this mostly because of those who help visitors enjoy it. And one never knows where other historical facts may pop up, but it’s nice to know such gems are still around to find.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

Municipal Band in Siouxland, Sioux City

7 Jul

Sioux City’s, Iowa, Municipal Band plays every Sunday evening in Grandview Park at the Bandshell, at least until July 27. The bandshell was built during the WPA days during the Depression in the 1930’s. It’s a nice venue and the music emanates out and fills the space with sound. This past 4th of July weekend the Municipal Band played a number of Americana songs, the themes to the various armed services and Aaron Copeland’s Theme for the common man. It’s a nice venue and families bring their kids and sit and listen for 1.5 hours enjoying the ambience and a practice dating back a few decades when families and couples spent a Sunday afternoon or evening just enjoying the day.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

 

 

Christmas in Siouxland, Vermillion, SD

12 Dec

I attended a brown bag lunch performance last week in Siouxland at the National Music Museum at the University of South Dakota, Vermillion, where the South Dakota Brass Quintet played some classical selections and some Christmas tunes. Group leader Rolf Olson said the group has been playing together the last 20 years, albeit with changing members in recent years. He said all of the members teach at USD, though not all in the school’s music department.

Dr. Deborah Reeves, Curator of Education and Woodwinds of the Music National Music Museum and Associate Professor of Music at USD said a new schedule is out for the brown bag lunch programs for 2014.  The spring 2014 programs are always scheduled for Fridays, 12:05- 12:55 p.m. at the National Music Museum and is free to everyone. January 24: Wilson and McKee, folk duo, Colorado;  January 31: to be announced; February 7: Was There a Piccolo Before Stars and Stripes?, USD’s  Stephanie Kocher with University of Nebraska-Omaha’s Christy Beard;  February 14: Wayne Weng, 2013 Iowa Piano Competition Winner; February 21: A Touch Of Brass, brass quintet, Nebraska;  March 7: Mat D, guitar and Americana singer, Sioux City;  March 21: In Stile Antico, NMM’s  John Koster in a lecture demonstration; March 28: Jack Norton, co-creator and co-star of “The Zinghoppers” PBS-TV series, featuring music of vaudeville jug bands;  April 4:  USD Percussion Ensemble Plays the NMM’s Guatemalan Marimbas;  April 11: Dick Kimmel, early country music master, Minnesota;  April 25: Winds of Change, USD and NMM alumna Amy Shaw, Irish flute, Minneapolis; and May 2: The National Music Museum’s Kyai Rengga Manis Everist Gamelan.

 

 

The museum itself is worth a trip and time to spend walking through numerous exhibits of musical instruments from around the world. That is, the New World, and Old World. Wind instruments, brass, Asian, South Pacific, American, rock and jazz as well pianos and variations thereof can be found there.

 

And there will be many more programs occurring in the next couple of weeks as churches and schools and choirs from the area present their holiday finest sharing the Christmas spirit in song and mirth and their brotherly love about the birth of a Savior.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

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