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!”