Oh, What A Night!

Posted: Monday, May 25, 2009 at 12:00 am
By: Doug Lund
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To be honest, I wasn’t sure how many would actually show up at the Shrine Mosque in Sioux Falls Sunday evening for the very first South Dakota Rock and Roll Music Association hall of fame induction ceremony and dance. (whew, such a long title..gotta do something about that)
After all, it was Memorial Day weekend..plus lots of graduations and other diversions that could easily keep people away in droves.
I’ve been saying for months that if we could fill the place, all of the hard work, expense and promotion would be worthwhile..but as of two  weeks ago, only a couple hundred of the thousand tickets we had printed were sold.
Then Saturday night, association board member, Dave Rowe, said “I can’t believe this but most of the tickets for sale at Lewis Southgate are gone!”
Don Fritz, the Sioux Falls music historian who dreamed up the hall of fame idea, has been saying all along that there are still a lot of folks like him who are crazy about old  time rock and roll.
Turns out he was spot on because when Linda and I arrived at the Mosque (The old Arkota Ballroom) around 4:40..the place was nearly full already even though the induction ceremony wasn’t until 6. But the time flew by thanks to some great old rock and roll performed by The Cavaliers out of Lake Preston.
After the hall of fame plaques were passed out, the concert and dance began..leading off with Sherwin Linton and his band playing some of the rockabilly songs he did back in the mid 50’s with his band called The Rocketeers.
He was followed by Dean Byrnes..the last surviving member of the Byrnes Brothers band from Lower Brule who absolutely wowed the standing room only audience performing the old hits with a great band he put together just for the ceremony.Dean Byrnes (wearing hat) Gordie Bird (guitar) Tom Hoy (bass) Denny Gerald (sax)
After the stage was cleared..up came Bobby Vee. The dance floor filled with cheering fans as this rock and roll superstar from North Dakota and his musician sons that make up the band brought the house down performing many of his big hits like Rubber Ball, The Night Has a Thousand Eyes and Take Good Care of My Baby.  Bobby Vee accepts Hall of Fame award
After a breather, The Mystics, out of Aberdeen proved that they hadn’t lost a lick even though it’s been over 40 years since they traveled the country playing rock and roll.
I’m running out of superlatives trying to describe how good everybody sounded.
It’s now getting close to 11 pm and still a huge crowd remained to hear Spearfish native Gary Mule Deer do his comedy/music act that has led him to regular appearances on The Tonight Show, David Letterman and touring with legendary singer, Johnny Mathis. He was a huge hit bringing roars of laughter from the audience.
With the clock winding down to Midnight, Gene Carrol and the Shades took stage. Gene Carroll, who started a rock and roll band in Sisseton when he was still in high school, is better known to millions as “Mean Gene” Okerlund..who has spent forty years as a professional wrestling announcer and interviewer.  Gene hadn’t sung rock and roll for ages but when he jumped on stage..backed by a terrific band he’d put together..then put on his trademark sunglasses it was magic.
But now it’s getting really late would anybody stick around for our closing act..The Jadesmen. We needn’t have worried. This Sioux Falls group that was so popular in the sixties still has the right stuff.  Even though members of the Jadesmen are spread out all over the country now..they still get together a few times a year to play at events; often to raise money for charity..but mostly because it’s so doggone much fun. So fun that they’ve recoded two CD’s containing many of the golden oldies they..and audiences..still love.
That includes my college-age granddaughter, Allison, who was there and just had to buy one of their albums.
 Lots more pictures will be posted on our web site.
Maybe it was beginner’s luck that the ceremony and dance were such a success..but we really had a lot of help from so many folks who have believed in and helped promote this project since its inception through donations of time and money.
We also can’t say thank-you enough to all those in the media who did stories and interviews in advance of the event. TV, Radio, Newspapers, The AP, internet bloggers and magazines all gave us lots of air time and ink to make this Hall of Fame spectacular really BE spectacular.
Few caught the vision more than Grant Peterson who has a highly popular afternoon  program on KBRK radio in Brookings. For the last six weeks, he’s pretty much earmarked his entire Friday shows to the event..interviewing familiar names in South Dakota rock and roll music..including most of this years hall of fame inductees.
What about next year? Can we possibly come close to equaling the musical magic that happened at the Arkota Sunday night?
Too soon to think about that now. 
I’m just basking in the glow of one of the most memorable nights of my life.
Who says Captain 11 is the one man in each century with the power to control time?I just witnessed nearly 900 rock and roll fans transported to a golden age without even having to flip a switch on a time converter. THANKS!

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