2016 Nebraska Music Hall of Fame Inductees – THE DEAL

The History Of The Deal

The nucleus of The Deal came together late in the summer of 1979 when Jimmy Rains met Dave Sommermeyer in the rehearsal space Rains was renting in the old Swifts Chicken Processing Plant in downtown Columbus, NE. Sommermeyer had come with a friend to listen to the band Disway, and Rains was helping the band out with a place to practice and someone to run sound for them. The two soon discovered a mutual interest in starting a band and began a conversation about music and life that continues to this day.

Rains and Sommermeyer soon put together the band Avenue with Richard Molacek on bass and Rod Watson on drums. The band had limited success, but they gained valuable experience playing at a few private parties in and around the Columbus area. Next came Perfect Stranger with Julie Carlton on bass and Scott Adkisson on drums. Perfect Stranger enjoyed more success than Avenue, but also ultimately disbanded after a couple of years.

After hearing Billy Drozd sing at a high school band concert, Sommermeyer contacted Rains and the three arranged to meet. Drozd brought his friend, bass player Jay Augustin with him, and the four hit it off immediately. Augustin and Drozd “joined the conversation” and The Deal was born. John Liebentritt also played keyboards with the band but left after a short time to pursue college full time.

The Deal began practicing in the basement of Drozd’s mother, Della DeRock and remained there at home-base with our “Mama Della” for the length of the band’s professional tenure. The Deal played its first paying gig at Saint Joseph’s Church Social Hall on September 18th, 1985, a wedding reception for some friends.

Over the next seven years The Deal played hundreds of shows wherever and whenever they could with regular stops at Steve’s Place in Bellwood, Nebraska, Ma and Pa’s in Fremont, Nebraska, Jacks or Better in Lincoln, Nebraska, P.J.’s Lounge in Hastings, Nebraska and The Navigator Lounge, The Quarthouse, Maximus, and Wishbones in Columbus, Nebraska.

The Deal played a number of benefit shows over the years and they opened shows for national recording artists Head East and Kansas as well as international recording artists, The Bay City Rollers, and Accept.

The Deal was also voted “Best Band In Columbus” in the Columbus Telegram’s annual Best Of Columbus poll several years in a row, and they were regularly invited to participate in the yearly Septemberfest festival in Omaha, NE.

The Deal was always looking for new places to play and made trips to Yankton, SD, Clarinda, Iowa, Carroll, Iowa, and Beatrice, Hastings, Scottsbluff, and Kearney, Nebraska among other memorable stops.

The Deal was fortunate enough to exist at a time when the live music scene in Columbus was truly alive and well and they enjoyed a healthy competition and camaraderie with the other bands in the Columbus area including Downstream, Black Pearl, AKR, The Tramps, and Nobody’s Business. Nobody’s Business, in particular, were extremely helpful and supportive of The Deal acting as friends and mentors to the band early on, and throughout their career. This included selling The Deal it’s first official “band bus”, a vehicle that bassist Jay Augustin quite possibly loved more than any human being has ever loved any vehicle.

In this era, there were good places to play, good bands playing at them, and it was a great time to be a musician in Columbus, Nebraska.

Several people provided invaluable help and support to The Deal along the way, notably, Kent Frerichs, who in the early days served as road crew, sound/light man, and bus driver for the band, as well as keeping them loose before performances with the absolute worst pep-talks in the entire recorded history of motivational speaking. When other obligations limited Kent’s availability, James “Skupper” Egr stepped in as The Deal’s “fifth man” and despite a serious medical condition, worked and supported the band tirelessly until his untimely passing in the fall of 1993.

After Sommermeyer and Augustin left the band in 1992, Rains and Drozd continued on as The Deal with Jim Pitts on lead guitar and Mike Congdon on bass, and enjoyed continued success in the Columbus area. The Deal eventually disbanded, and Rains, Drozd, and Congdon joined with guitarist Scott Murphy and drummer Tommy Jackson to form the band Tantrum.

The original members of The Deal reunited on November 25th, 2005 for their 20th Anniversary and the Grand Opening of Kudron’s Keg in Humphrey, NE. The original line-up was able to play three more times; at a benefit for the Make-a-Wish foundation, at the Twister’s Bar and Grill Summer Luau, and finally, one more time at Kudron’s Keg in Humphrey for the bar’s 5th Anniversary celebration on May 15, 2010. Remembered by all who were there as a particularly great night for the band, it also proved to be the last for the original line-up, as Jay Augustin was to die tragically just over two weeks later. Jay was remembered by the Columbus area musical community following his death with a benefit concert that raised over $10,000 for his young daughter, Jena.

The Deal would like to thank The Nebraska Music Hall of Fame for this wonderful honor, and we would also like to thank all of the people who stuck with us then and now, and who have made and continue to make all of our time together so memorable, and so much fun! As Jimmy Rains once said:

“We don’t have fans; we have friends!”

2016 Nebraska Music Hall of Fame Inductee – Columbus Music

Columbus Music Co. was started in 1945 by Forrest Corn, who had been the Columbus High School Band Director from 1935 to 1943. The first location was in downtown Columbus at 2312 13th Street, two blocks east and across the street from its current location.Television, radio, and record sales were added to our offerings in the early years. Many customers enjoyed the try-it-before-you-buy-it method of listening to 45’s in the record booth, played by Mary Jo Tucek, before making their purchase.
jan-mike-moser-2Mike and Jan Moser purchased the business from Forrest in 1977, moving the business to the U.S. 30 Center in the former T.G & Y location.
After renting in the mall for 6 years, they purchased the former Kaufman Hardware buildings downtown at 2514 13th Street, where they remain today.
Mike has been active with music since his teen years, playing at St. Bon’s church and in bands, and formed the band Cruisin’ in 1990 with Fred Ritter and Bill Boucher and still plays for weddings, dance clubs, and other celebrations.
Jan has been active in music since her youth, playing piano and organ in church, for weddings and funerals, for the Consonaires singing group, and helping various schools with music program accompaniment.
Mike and Jan help organize the entertainment for Lawn Chairs on the Square. The 10-week music series in Frankfort Square has been a summertime staple for decades. They have helped organize Community Band for the last two years and Mike has amplified events, like Columbus Days and the Columbus Marching Festival for the last four decades. Many musicians got their first instrument at Columbus Music and still shop here many years later.

2016 Nebraska Music Hall of Fame Inductees – The Country Ramblers

country-ramblersThe Country Ramblers

The Country Ramblers band was started in the summer of 1971. The band members then were: leader, vocalist and guitarist Jack Merrill from Silver Creek, NE; bassist and vocalist Dale Parker also from Silver Creek; lead guitarist and vocalist John Johnson from Columbus, NE; and drummer-vocalist Rick Graham from Silver Creek. This group played together for three years for numerous weddings, anniversaries, parties and bars around Silver Creek, Columbus and the surrounding area.

In 1974 two members moved on. Ron Sypal of Columbus was a new member on lead guitar, and George Thielen of Shelby, NE joined the group on drums. The group’s first female vocalist, Denise Klassen of Silver Creek, was with the band for a few years. Then Moni (Nienaber) Albrecht joined the group in the early 80s. Also in the 1980’s the band picked up Jutta Graham (bass guitar, Columbus). Later on Mike Allen (guitar, Columbus) and Howard Ernst (guitar, Columbus) would also be part of the Country Ramblers.

Since their inception in the early 1970’s, they have been playing country, classic rock, and even polkas and waltzes across the state of Nebraska for more than four decades.

In 1978 they made their first recording at Renee Sound Studios in David City, NE, produced by Bud Comte. The album “Just for You” was released on 8-track tape and over 600 copies were sold.

The band played some of Nebraska’s most historic and popular ballrooms: the Flying V, Utica; Oak, Schuyler; Starlite, Wahoo; Havens, Clarks; Pioneer, Silver Creek; Platt Deutche Hall, Grand Island. All across Nebraska many fans enjoyed their music.

Most recently they have been playing for veteran’s events, such as the Nebraska Viet Nam Veterans Conventions in Columbus, Omaha and Norfolk. In Norfolk they played the DeVent Center opening for Gary Puckett and the Union Gap.

2016 Nebraska Music Hall of Fame Inductee – Ryan Comte

Ryan was immersed in music at an early age.  With a big band leader for a father and a mother who could sing nearly any song from the 30’s to the 60’s, music was bound to be a major part of his life.

Ryan started his musical career by learning to play trumpet from Bob Olsen in Fremont, NE.  He played trumpet in both marching band and concert band throughout his junior high and high school years at David City Public Schools.  Around the age of 12 he started sneaking into his dad’s recording studio to teach himself how to play drums.  When his dad, Bud, caught him playing to rock music one day, he said “if you are going to use my equipment, then you are going to learn how to play all kinds of music.”  Bud thought that was the toughest punishment he could dole out, but in reality it was one of the best things that ever happened to Ryan.  He learned how to play many different types of music, which in turn, has helped him greatly throughout his musical career.

At age 14, Ryan had his first “professional” gig playing drums for Joe Cockson at a keg party near Bellwood, NE.  His pay was sandwiches and a beer.  At that point he was hooked, and he continued to hone his craft by keeping the beat for the David City High stage band his Sophomore, Junior and Senior years.  Towards the end of his high school career, he had the privilege of playing with his dad in The Bud Comte Orchestra.  The regular drummer for the band was way too dependable.  Ryan only got to play about four gigs but it was a tremendous experience and one that he will never ever forget.

Ryan went off to college at Wayne State.  During his Sophomore year he was approached by a couple of guys in his dorm.  They asked Ryan to be in the backing band for a variety show on the Wayne State College TV Station KWSC.  The rock band Magnum was the result of this collaboration.  The band played in the Wayne area as well as on the TV show.  They disbanded after his Junior year when a couple of the members moved on.

A musical collaboration between Ryan’s dad Bud, Dalton Fuller, Larry Good and Bob Palensky resulted in the album “A Bit of Country with a Touch of Brass”.  A few years later, a demand escalated for that music to be played live.  The group put together the band Country with a Touch of Brass.  While Bud managed the band and ran sound, Ryan and his little brother Rick worked as the lighting crew.  The brothers traveled with the band during the summer months as they played state and county fairs all throughout the Midwest.  Then, when Dalton’s touring drummer quit unexpectedly, with gigs already booked, the scramble was on to find a new drummer.  While most of the guys in the band weren’t even aware he could play drums – Bud suggested Ryan could play the charts.   After a few rehearsals, they hit the road that summer with Ryan behind the kit.  Ryan continued to play drums for “The Brass” until they disbanded a few years later.

As a result of their time playing together in The Brass, Ryan was asked by Dalton Fuller to join the country portion of that group, The Dalton Gang.  Ryan played locally with The Dalton Gang for around seven years.  When the decision was made to go back out on the road, Ryan bowed out because of his involvement with the family business – Five Star Feeds.

Then, as a result of a business association, Ryan met Patti Mahoney and joined The Sunny River Band.  He continued to play country music with them locally for around four years.

After his time with The Sunny River Band, Ryan was contacted once again by Dalton Fuller to play for the River City Roundup as part of the Trail Ride Band.  This was an annual event that started each year in Ogallala, NE.  The band played nine gigs in eight days across the state, ending up at the River City Roundup in Omaha.  Ryan played this annual gig with The Dalton Gang for seventeen of the twenty five years they performed as the trail ride band.

Sometime towards the end of Ryan’s time with The Dalton Gang, Delmer Schultz, the manager of The Country Troubadours (and a lifelong employee of Five Star Feeds) approached Ryan about replacing his departing drummer.  Ryan agreed to fill in for only six months until they could find a permanent replacement.  He had been trying to form a blues band with some buddies that had put together a weekly jam session at The Pour House in Surprise, NE.  Those six months turned into seven years, and when Dalton Fuller decided to leave the band, Ryan followed and left the Troubadours to pursue his desire to play the blues.

With a funny turn of events, the jam band Ryan had played with at The Pour House got their first gig for the Butler County Arts Council and quickly became The Blues Infectors.  Over the span of a couple of years, The Blues Infectors played at several fund raising events for local charities.   Almost everyone in the Infectors was already involved in other projects so they disbanded.  Ryan and a couple of the others formed what was to become Out Of The Blue.

The new band went through several personnel changes before they played their first gig at an open stage night at Duggan’s Pub in Lincoln, NE.  The band gelled and with only two other personnel changes, Out Of The Blue played throughout the tri state area for the next fourteen years.  The band broke up after this long run due to changes in day jobs and geographical locations.

In the midst of all this, Ryan was approached by the principal and the athletic director of his alma mater, DCHS, to put together a stage band to play during the Holiday Basketball Tournament.  Ryan called on his A-list of musician friends and The Swinging Neck Breakers were born.  They played for the tournament over the next three years.

In the meantime, at an Out Of The Blue gig, an old friend Scott Murphy (formally of Black Pearl), brought the lead singer from the current rock band he was playing in, Standing Stranded, to hear the band play…or so he said.  Little did Ryan know – it was actually an audition.  A few days after the gig, Scott called Ryan and asked if he wanted to be the drummer in Standing Stranded as the current drummer and the band were parting ways.  Ryan agreed and rehearsals ensued.  Ryan has been playing 70’s, 80’s and 90’s rock with Scott, Mike Smith, Vince Christie and Trevor Heeney for the last eight years and they continue to play locally every chance they get.

About the same time, Ryan got a call from Virgil Balmer, another former Black Pearl member, to play for a fund raising event at Camp Pawnee and the band Virgil Balmer and His Rowdy Friends (now known as The Balmer Brothers) was formed.  The band plays old & new country, classic rock and some hard rock too.  Ryan continues to play with this band a few times a year whenever The Balmer Brothers make their way back to their “Good Old Nebraska Home”.

Out of a jam session with a group of “who’s who” of Columbus musicians and Max Carl (lead singer for The Chancellors, Jack Mack & The Heart Attack, .38 Special, Grand Funk Railroad and many others), a group called The Enablers was started.  This group that covers classic rock, soul and R&B plays whenever Max is available.  Their last time on stage together was the 1st Annual Rivers Edge Music Festival last year.

After not playing blues music for a couple of years, Ryan talked with Mike Martin, a former Out Of The Blue band mate and he expressed the same yearning Ryan had, to start making music together again.   They enlisted Brad Walker, the former bass player of Out Of The Blue and Mike Smith, the guitar player from Standing Stranded and formed Barrelhouse.  The blues/rock group has been together for a little over a year now, and continues to play throughout the area.

Along with playing music, Ryan has also carried on the business of running the Nebraska Music Hall of Fame recording studio his dad started out of the family garage many years ago – Renee Sound Studio.  Although not as active as it once was – Ryan still enjoys the creative process and jumps at the chance to record area artists whenever they ask.

In addition to all of the bands Ryan has played with and filled in for over the years, he has also continued another tradition started by his dad back in the late 60’s – to celebrate this brotherhood of musicians.  The annual Comte Jam Session, now known as Comtestock, just celebrated its 20th year this last August 14th.  What started as a small backyard gathering has grown to become an annual event that Ryan’s musician friends (and family and friends who appreciate listening to good music) look forward to every year.  Comtestock is a Sunday afternoon (and evening) filled with fantastic music, great food and a wonderful comradery between friends, old and new.  Ryan looks forward to carrying on this tradition in the future…as long as people keep coming.

Ryan wants to thank all the musicians, past and present, that he has had the privilege to play with over the last 45 plus years…many of whom have also been inducted into this great organization.  He feels truly blessed to be receiving this honor for simply doing one of the things he absolutely loves to do…make music!!

2016 Nebraska Music Hall of Fame Inductee – Jack McKown

jack-mckownJack McKown

Topeka, Kansas born Jack moved to Columbus when adopted at 8 months of age by Joe & Gerry McKown. His music interest started when he was quite young listening to his mom playing piano and cousin Jean playing boogie-woogie. He recalled watching Roy Clark playing guitar on TV. One day when he was 14 his father went to Tom’s Country Music to get a washing machine, Jack saw Gibson Melody Maker guitar on the wall. His dad told Tom to get the guitar down for the boy. The Beatles on TV started the British Invasion. Jack hung around other musicians living in “the brown house” (now a parking lot for McKown Funeral Home). Among those were members of Freedom Road. The first band that Jack helped to form was Purple Stone. Other members were Jim Holmstead, Jan Zaura, Robin Oberg, Jerry Moore. He later played with a series of Nebraska bands including Sweetwater, from Platte Center and Otis, from Fremont. Young Jack laid off for a couple years, then played with Bill Vickers’ country band Southern Comfort with old bandmate Jim Holmstead and wife Joann. After a short run with Patchwork on the road he rejoined Jim and Joann in the Sunshine Bottom Band. Rejoining Bill Vickers & Southern Harmony Jack hit the road traveling throughout Colorado, Oregon, New Mexico, etc. Returning home Jack found work at Columbus Music and joined former Freedom Road members Don Swager, Don Peterson and Tim Tarnick to form the New Road Band. From there Jack began a 16-year musical relationship with Rick Jacobson, Warren Frerichs, Bob Hartle, Harley Zumbrum and Jan Zaura in the Nebraska Hall-of-Fame band Shilo. As a journeyman guitarist Jack moved to Pilger, NE with Ricky & Harley (Nobody’s Business). He played with Bernie Kavamy (Young Country) in the Off
the-Wall Band, and Sidestep with Pete (New Road Band), Ann, Byron and Bart, and with Tom Pinkleman. From there he rejoined former Shilo members Warren & Luke Frerichs, Jan Zaura, Coleman Broaders, and Mark Burns to form Cactus Flats. With some change in membership the last 12 years have gone by much too quickly. It is with great pleasure that the Nebraska Music Hall-of-Fame and the Rivers Edge Music Festival recognize the journeyman-guitarist from Columbus with his solo induction into the family.

2016 Nebraska Music Hall of Fame Inductee – Darrell Duane “Abe” Lincoln

duane-abe-lincolnDarrell Duane “Abe” Lincoln (April 30, 1938 – August 24, 1997)

In the early 1960’s “Abe” worked the graveyard shift (midnight to 8:00 a.m.) at BD’s and I (Sam, his wife) worked the day shift (8:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.) at Dale’s. My guess is that Gene Hadley, who played in a local rock & roll band and maybe worked at BD’s was probably the one who convinced “Abe” to start promoting dances in the Columbus City Auditorium. Every Friday morning after “Abe” cashed his paycheck, you would find him in the city clerk’s office putting deposits down on dates to rent the auditorium for dances. The City clerk was Leo Boettcher and his secretary was Lucille Munson. She had sons who were the age group that these dances appealed to. The two of them always had good advise – don’t book that date because something is going on the day before or the day after that would hurt the crowd, or don’t forget, there is no school on certain dates. I addition to paying rent for the use of the auditorium, two police officers, one male and one female had to be present so off to the police station he would go to reserve officers for the dance dates he booked. Most of the time Vince and Florence Galley were the officers on duty. The teenagers couldn’t have asked for a better couple to be their chaperones. I sold concessions at these dances. The concession stand counter was even with the entrance to the auditorium from the lobby. Mrs. Galley always sat close to the concession window so we could chit-chat. The highlight of our evenings would be when Chuck Jura from Schuyler came in. He would stand in the entrance looking for his friends and from our angle looking at the entrance, we could not see his body but there was two foot of shoes in the doorway. Sorry Chuck, but it was funny! As dances became more popular and successful, he brought in Little Joe & the Ramrods / Smoke Ring (I don’t remember which name they went by first.) from Norfolk. They brought big crowds because the Norfolk teenagers followed them. We had to hire an extra male police officer for those nights. Then “Abe” truck out and brought in the Rumbles. They were the greatest in the eyes of the teenagers. Eddie Haddad of Omaha, who had a well-known polka band, was their manager. After we paid our first long-distance phone bill to Mr. Haddad, in the future we drove to Omaha to personally meet with Mr. Haddad. In the 60’s you paid for long distance calls which anything over three minutes was really expensive and gas was cheap so it was cheaper to drive to Omaha that call there if you planned to talk for more than three minutes. Really think “Abe” could talk for just three minutes! He also booked the Rumbles for a Sunday Sundown dance (6:00 to 10:00 p.m.) in Wayne, NE. It was on the Sunday the college classes resumed on Monday after Christmas break. What a crowd! He booked it again the next year – 1967. I stayed home because I came home from the hospital that morning with our newborn son. After “Abe” left for Wayne, but before he could possibly be there (even though he always had a lead foot), Mr. Haddad called to tell us that the Rumbles were snowbound in Minnesota where their gig was the night before and would not be in Wayne that evening. Now without a cell phone(we didn’t even have cordless phones yet) or a CB radio, I have to figure out how to get ahold of “Abe” to let him  know that the dance is cancelled. Logically, call the Highway Patrol. Okay, what route did he drive to Wayne? Besides that, if they would find him, they probably would give him a speeding ticket. Okay, call the Wayne Police Dept. and tell them to find a white 1967 Chevy Caprice with 10 County plates and have “Abe” call home. Immediately the police department found him doing “cookies” on a snow-packed intersection. A wife should be smarter than to tell the police dept. to have her husband call home immediately when he just left her at home with their newborn son, but I was worried that he would get the correct message. Nervously, he put the $1.35 in the pay phone to call home. He was overwhelmed with relief and full of anger when I told him the news. There was a lot of disappointed teenagers in Wayne that night as “Abe” drove home. That was the last out-of-town venture. His biggest undertaking that he will be remembered for was when he decided to promote the now-famous Battle of the Bands. There were six rock & roll bands in Columbus at the time: the Echoes, the Shantells, the Sonex, the Shades of Blue, the Rustics, the Mob. All six played on the same night. The dance started at 6:00 p.m. and ended at 1:00 a.m. Each band played one segment of time. The advertising posters had a pisture of each band on it. I’m not sure that there has ever been anything in Columbus that caused more hype in teenagers than this Battle of the Band did. As always, good thing must come to an end. City forefathers decided that it was not fair for “Abe” to be making money using city facilities so the city auditorium was no longer available for him to rent, so he just cranked up the jukebox at Dog ‘N Suds and enjoyed being with the teenagers there. Who is not hungry for a coney dog, charburger, texas burger or BBQ Bee basket!

To “Abe”, Gene Hadley and all the other members of these bands that have died: Rest in peace!

2016 Nebraska Music Hall of Fame Inductee – Dalton Fuller

dalton-fullerBorn in Keith County, NE September 3, 1940, Dalton Fuller spent eight years in country schools, graduating from Ogallala High School in 1958. He taught at Arthur Murray Dance Studio in Beverly Hills, CA, and then enlisted in the U. S. Navy.

Dalton’s musical life began playing bass guitar with the Silver Bell Rangers in Imperial, CA. He began to learn to play and also began to learn the music business with the help of Dugan Robinson.

After receiving his honorable discharge from the Navy Dalton began working for Electronic Tec. In 1965 he formed his own band, and in 1966 started in the music business full-time.

The listing of musicians that Dalton worked with over the years includes some of the best across the country, including many inductees in the Nebraska Music Hall of Fame.

In music promotion Dalton served in the following areas: General Manager and Coordinator of USO Tours overseas division out of North Hollywood, CA; Entertainment Director at the Lucky Nugget in Deadwood, SD; Marketing Manager for the Ramada Inn in North Platte, NE; Business Manager for Good Life Recording in Grand Island, NE; Business and Road Manager of White Water Jade, a band out of Nashville, TN; and Co-Owner & Marketing Manager of Industrial Power in Black Hawk, SD. He helped boost membership in the Ex-Serviceman Club in Ogallala, NE; designed a new sound system and worked for Renee Sound Studios in David City, NE; and he produced 26 weeks of television programming for Country Showcase from David City, NE.

In 1998 a bad car accident caused Dalton to slow down some.

Dalton currently works with Black Hawk International, a booking agency in Pine Bluffs, WY; is owner of David City Publishing, a BMI publishing company in Black Hawk, SD; owner of the Performing Arts Forum in Pine Bluffs, WY (a business started in 1969); and still does solo shows in Veterans’ Homes and Nursing Homes, plus his regular dance jobs. Dalton is inducted into the Nebraska Hall of Fame not only for his musical career but also for his lifetime work in the music business.