Tag Archives: music

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

Siouxland’s Oz, Maybe, Sioux City

3 Sep

It’s already September and local schools are underway. I teach a couple of photo courses mainly attended by adults who want to learn a little more about photography and so time will become a bit more hectic in the coming months. And I have projects I need to finish, but somehow find something else to do instead. I recently completed a very short video of impressions of the city I live in using some images I have taken over a while, accompanied by some music I created with a program called Garage Band, which comes with every Mac laptop I have purchased the last few years. I like music, although I don’t always go out of my way to see live bands. I lean toward classical, jazz, world music, some electronica, ambient sound music and blue grass.

I missed a festival this year that I need to attend next year, which is something I said last year. But next year I do need to follow through on that. So recently I played around a bit with Garage Band. It has presets with instruments and music loops. I don’t really know anything about music except that there are notes, minor and major keys, different rhythms and tons of possibilities. It’s fun and good I think to do something completely different time to time, and just be creative no matter how it turns out. So I put together this short video to see what happens. At least if someone throws a tomato, it will hit their screen and not mine.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

Siouxland Celebrates the 4th of July, Orange City

8 Jul

Orange City, Iowa, celebrated the Fourth of July with a family fun time in Windmill Park, Wednesday afternoon, with contests for children and a cookout for everyone along with a parade. The folk duo Bella Ruse also performed with  fun, touching and irreverent music. Photographs of the event are here.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

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