Butch Gage Band, 1977-1978
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Butch Gage, Duane Lamphier, Keith Benter, Kelly Murphy, Dave Rehlander, Donnie Stohr and many others
Butch Gage was a blue collar, country music icon in Oelwein and northeast Iowa. He never made it big, but his band played every weekend at all the local bars.
Butch Gage and Duane Lamphier from the Country Squires joined together to become Gage Country. Dave Rehlander, Donnie Stohr, Keith Benter, and Kelly Murphy also played with them off and on.
Murphy played with Gage while he was working at the Oelwein Daily Register selling advertising. This was a band that never rehearsed. They were playing standard country and western songs that were played by many bands in the area. All songs were announced on stage and Butch would lean over to Murphy and tell him what key it was in, and the drummer would kick it off. Murphy knew some of the songs, but a lot of them were totally new to him and involved listening closely and trying to follow along.
According to Murphy, this stage of his career was summed up as “working the small town country band circuit”. Working with Butch kept him still playing guitar in a band every weekend and keeping his guitar chops from becoming rusty. Although the songs might not have been too challenging, this band played them correctly and were an example of a small country band making a decent check playing weekends in northeast Iowa. Big songs of this band were “The Auctioneer Song”, “Proud Mary”, and “Rocky Top”.
While he was finishing out the last year with Blue Horizon and playing weekends with the Gage band, Murphy was commuting to college at University of Northern Iowa about an hour away from Oelwein. He was part of a four-person carpool that included Clay and Chuck Hallberg, Tom Kammer and himself. Each member would take turns driving a week at a time. This group of 19 year old musicians who were seeking an education turned out pretty good. Clay Hallberg is a family doctor based out of Oelwein. His twin brother Charlie is a lawyer in Cedar Rapids. Tom Kammer owned his own manufacturing company in Cresco and now lives in Mankato MN.. Murphy went on to graduate school at Indiana University and is now a public school administrator as a Director of Technology.
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