There has been several notable rock musicians and bands that came from Oelwein. Undoubtedly the most successful rock band that based themselves in Oelwein during the 60’s and 70’s were The Pages. In 1999, they were inducted into the Iowa Rock and Roll Hall Of Fame.
Tom Kammer has the distinction of playing in 11 bands that are featured on HubCityMusic. His drumming and singing were featured in the legendary Oelwein country bands Johnny Clendenen (when he was only 10 years old) and Milt Campbell and the Country Buddies. He later played with The Plainsmen, and The New Beginning. He then moved to the rock style and played with the popular bands Blue Horizon and Shatter. Other rock bands included The Blitz Brothers, The Basics, and The Bruce Berringer Band. He also played with the lounge act The Keith Thompson Trio and the big band called Tuxedo Junction. In addition to his professional career, he won awards for his drum skills while playing with the Oelwein High School Jazz Band and also was a member of the OCHS marching band and Swing Choir.
He personifies what HubCityMusic is all about by being a professional drummer that could play any style of music. He was without a doubt the most sought after and “go to” drummer in Oelwein for over 30 years. There is an old saying among musicians, “the band is only as good as its drummer.” Every band that Tom Kammer played with was better because of him.
Tom is presently going through a health crisis and you can learn how to help him out by visiting his page. Please leave a comment on his page to let him know how much you enjoyed his music.
Born December 14, 1942, in Oelwein, Iowa. As far as we know, Wagner never actually played in Oelwein. However, since he was born here, he deserves top billing as an Oelwein musician. DICK WAGNER’S songs and lead guitar have been featured on more than 200 renowned albums, garnering more than 35 Platinum and Gold records, BMI songwriter awards and numerous prestigious international awards. Dick has helped define an era in rock history by playing lead guitar and writing songs for Alice Cooper, Aerosmith, Kiss, Lou Reed, The Frost, The Bossmen, Peter Gabriel, Meat Loaf, Guns N’ Roses, Ringo Starr, Tina Turner,Etta James, Air Supply, Hall & Oates, Little Richard, Roy Orbison, Jerry Lee Lewis, Lita Ford, Nina Simone, Frank Sinatra, and many more.
Jay was the number one fan of live music in Oelwein during the 70’s. His enthusiasm while watching Oelwein bands inspired both the musicians and audience members. He has taken that love of music and is now known world-wide for his efforts in leading The Blues Foundation (www.blues.org) in Memphis Tennessee through his role as the President and Chief Executive Officer. Read about his life, including his Oelwein days here.
Born in Oelwein and played locally until he was 14. He later moved to Marshalltown and then to Los Angeles. He has toured around the world several times with artists such as Burt Bacharach, Engelburt Humperdinck, Rita Coolidge, Andy Gibb, Rickie Lee Jones, Johnny Mathis, Marilyn McCoo, Helen Reddy, and Little Anthony and the Imperials. In the recording studio he has played bass on numerous records, television shows, and films, including Columbo, Murder She Wrote, Will and Grace, The District, Who’s the Boss, Boston Public, General Hospital, Caroline in the City, Mad About You, and The Tonight Show.
MEMBERS: Ken Berry, Jim Hines, Rich Michael, Paul Bezilla, Bill “Saki” Megonigle, Jon James, Mike Ruse, Jim Enke, Al Naylor, Loren Fagen, and Denny Carlson
When it came to being top guns on the North East and Eastern Iowa rock scenes in the late 60’s and early 70’s, 1964 was the year The Pages from Oelwein, Iowa started their rock and roll journey.
The original lineup included: Ken Barry-drums, Jim Hines-guitar, Paul Bezilia-bass, and Rich Michael-keyboards.They got their start by working with KOEL’s DJ, Jack Mihall at the famed Lakeside Ballroom.
By 1968, they were top draws across Eastern Iowa, and parts of Wisconsin and Illinois. Their key markets were any of lowa’s famed ballrooms. From Matter’s in Decorah, to The Lakeside in Guttenberg, to The Hi-Way Gardens in Stanwood, to The Dance-Mor in Swisher, they set attendance records wherever they played..
During their career they played with the likes of the New Colony Six, Paul Revere & The Raiders, Climax, and Tony Orlando & Dawn. In 1968, they released their solo recorded effort, “High School/Sugar On The Road” (UA Records 54300).
Jim Hines: Later formed Shatter, an extremely popular Oelwein band.
MEMBERS: Mike Vargason, Tom Kammer, Terry Wheeler, Rob Tatro, Kelly Murphy
From 1974 to 1978 Blue Horizon performed nearly every Friday and Saturday night at hundreds of dances, showcases and concerts in ballrooms, county fairs, and high schools throughout the Midwest.
The band featured strong vocal harmonies, two lead guitar players, and an electric violin that allowed them to play both original music and all the current hits of the day. Blue Horizon also distinguished themselves by performing deep album tracks by Frank Zappa, Jeff Beck, Little Feat, Elvin Bishop, Steely Dan, The Beatles, Charlie Daniels Band, George Benson and Stevie Wonder. Blue Horizon appeared in concert with multiple Midwest bands including the Minnesota band Judd and future IRRHOF bands Headstone and Dahcotah.
- Kelly Murphy – See his musical career here.
- Tom Kammer – See his musical career here.
- Rob Tatro – See his musical career here.
- Mike Vargason – See his musical career here.
- Terry Wheeler – See his musical career here.
MEMBERS: Jim Hines, Tom Miller, Mike Fereday, Clay Hallberg, Charlie Hallberg, Mark Nicolay, Tom Kammer, Rob Tatro, Danny Gordish, and Tom Lippold.
A five piece rock band featuring the lead singer and guitar player from the group “The Pages”. Shatter’s music ranged from heavy music to current hits, plus many original tunes. Their set list featured tunes by Little Feat, Lynryd Skynyrd, B.T.O., R.E.O. Speedwagon, Bad Company, Wishbone Ash, Z.Z. Top, and some old rock and roll.
- Mark Nicolay – previously member of High Society. Now performing with Patchy Fog out of Cedar Rapids.
- Tom Miller – Previously with Thirteenth Hour. Now performing with Patchy Fog out of Cedar Rapids.
- Charlie Hallberg– Now performing with the Bruce Bearinger Band
- Clay Hallberg – Now performing with the Bruce Bearinger Band
- Mike Fereday – Now playing in bands in Georgia
- Jim Hines – Now living in Cedar Rapids
Members included Blaine Fallis, Kurt Langel, Tin Klatt, Mike Goldsmith, Roger Wetlaufer, Mark Treat, Mike Perez, Tim Jack, Donny Stohr, Terry James, and Dan-the-Man Malloy.
The New Danny & the Jrs’ began in the spring of 1974 when Dan Malloy, OCHS Vocal Music Teacher, was contacted by the ladies of Grace Methodist Church to provide entertainment for their annual Mother/Daughter Spring Banquet. That year’s theme was 1950’s Rock & Roll. Due to a timely resurgence of 50’s music by a retro-group known as Sha-Na-Na, it was right in vogue to be performing 50’s music again. Read more about The Juniors by clicking on their picture.
After making his mark in the local music scene of Oelwein, Blaine made his way North Texas State where he studied Jazz Improvisation before taking his first full time professional gig at the La Quinta on the beach in Corpus Christi, and then toured with various bands; mainly with David Alan and Joe Milton who hired him to tour with a band called Opera Coupe.
In addition to establishing himself as a top-notch, highly touted jazz bassist, he also became a writer, submitting a story to About.com about his favorite bassist Jaco, and became their “Jazz Guide” for four years where he learned a lot about web content, and writing, and email newsletters. He also spent some time as a writer/editor for allaboutjazz.com. He’s the co-founder of A Train Creative, atraincreative.com where he, (along with his talented designer and wife Youngsuk whom he met while teaching ESL in Pusan), create websites, business branding, and provide SEO and Video services as well.
Multi-faceted artist in both music and films. Cult icon in “Song Poem” genre.
Forney wrote many songs for many other artists for years and had his first two major radio releases in the mid 90′s.
In 2000, he formed The Iowa Mountain Tour, an experimental folk-country band. They were filmed for the documentary OFF THE CHARTS, and were mentioned in The New York Sunday Times in 2003, along with other papers coast to coast, giving them a type of cult fame.
In 2005, he formed his current band, Punk’N. They have performed in Chicago numerous times and have been on TV there twice, the most recent being Halloween of 2012. They did songs for a comedic horror film PUPPY that starred Alice Cooper’s daughter, Calico.
Punk’N is internationally known and have been featured in Punk Globe Magazine three times.
There is a movie called “Gary” that will premier in 2015. It is being produced by Sandeep Chopra out of UCLA film school.
MEMBERS INCLUDE: Brad Hughes, Bill O’Brien, Robbie Casey, Dan Falck, Tom Kammer, Mike Fereday and Kent Moore.
“The Blitz Brothers” started in about 1983. This band started out with Brad Hughes, Tom Kammer, Robbie Casey, and Dan Falk.
Another member of the Blitz Brothers Band was UNI Theatre major, Bill O’Brien (lower right hand corner in the band picture) from Cascade, Iowa who played keyboards and sang. O’Brien went on to a national musical and acting career, playing Buddy Holly in a touring company that traveled across the country and appearing on NBC’s West Wing during each of it’s seven seasons as the character, Kenny Thurman, doing signing for deaf actress Marlee Matlin
Members: George Foy, Burr Ekstrand, Les Jack, Mark Reckhemmer, Rick Connor, Fred Steele, Bill Ramsey, Mike Blair, Steve Reints, Jack and Clay Passick, Rick Conner, Curt Schuchman, Tom Kammer, Tim Jack, Terry James
Not technically a rock band since they played Big Band music, but they fit this page better than the country page.
MEMBERS: Mike Vargason, Randy Landas, and Kelly Murphy.
Although this band had very few appearances locally, it was the start of the musical careers of 3 guys who were only 14 years old and 8th graders at Sacred Heart..
Read how schoolmates Randy, Mike and Kelly began their first band. Little did they know that they would spend the next 40 years of their life in the music industry.
Randy went on to touring around the world several times with artists such as Burt Bacharach, Engelburt Humperdinck, Rita Coolidge, Andy Gibb, Rickie Lee Jones, Johnny Mathis, Marilyn McCoo, Helen Reddy, and Little Anthony and the Imperials.
Kelly teamed up with Mike Vargason in Blue Horizon and later played in the Waterloo area with “Hip Pocket“ and the supergroup “Tennyson“
After Mike and Kelly played in Blue Horizon, Mike moved to Colorado and played with the extremely popular Denver groups, Stickman and The Slabz
MEMBERS: Tom Miller, Jim Mazziotti, Chris Theobald, Jerry Michels, Jeff Coselman, Steve Bartels
MEMBERS: Jim Mazziotti, Jim Trewin, Dave Palmer, Chris Theobald
AFTERFLASH, a northeast Iowa band that played many ballrooms, college campuses, high schools and community halls throughout Iowa from about 1968-1971
MEMBERS: Mark Kroeger, Harley Williams, Mark Nicolay, Dave Hill, Dic Emory
Murphy started his 40 year career with music by playing with Oelwein bands Bilbo Baggins Blues Band, Country Patriots, Blue Horizon, and the Butch Gage Band. He then relocated to Waterloo where he attended University of Northern Iowa and played with Hip Pocket and the Waterloo “Supergroup” Tennyson. Later moved to Indiana for graduate school at Indiana University and played with Step On It, Trevor Gage Band, Sundown, B.J. Baxter Band, Fatcat, Mainstreet, and Kelly “Midi” Murphy.
He is now working as an Instructional Technologist in Indiana emphasizing the integration of technology into K-12 and Higher Education curriculum to increase student achievement. In addition to his academic and musical interests, his expertise in website development led him to create the HubCityMusic website.
MEMBERS: Jason Klassi, Bass; Jim Mazziotti, drums; Steve Castle, guitar; John Klassi, guitar; Greg Madsen, keyboard & trumpet; Tom Schwickerath, lead vocals.
Jim Mazziotti played in the local bands The Thirteenth Hour, Afterflash and the Creed. He also had a very successful career as a solo artist. In addition to performing live music, him and his dad Sam Mazziotti ran Samar Music. Every musician in the area were regular customers of Samar. After his dad retired, Jim assumed full ownership of Samar and continued to serve the needs of the professional musicians of Northeast Iowa.
MEMBERS: Tom Kammer, Kent Moore, Dan Sullivan
Tom Kammer and Kent Moore found Dan Sullivan to play bass and spent 13 years playing NE Iowa bars as “The Basics“, doing basic 70’s and 80’s, in a 3 piece rock band. THE BASICS were a popular northeast Iowa band originally formed in 1988 by Kent Moore and Jim Hines. In 1990, Kent Moore re-formed the band with Dan Sullivan & Tom Kammer. They performed all over Iowa, Minnesota & Wisconsin. They opened shows for Rare Earth, Johnny Preston, Cub Koda (Brownsville Station) & Highway 101 among others. THE BASICS stopped performing in 2003 after 13 years together without a change in personnel.
BlueShatter was formed from members of the popular Oelwein bands from the mid 70’s: Blue Horizon and Shatter. This band performed one time at the Knights of Columbus Hall in Oelwein for the benefit of Tom and Brenda Kammer. Read about the band and the KAMMERSTOCK benefit by visiting their page.
Read more about Tom Kammer
Read about the night of the KAMMERSTOCK event and see videos of the performances.
MEMBERS: Don Trower, Blaine Fallis, George Garry, Les Jack, Tim Jack
Based out of Cedar Rapids but played in Oelwein and throughout northeast Iowa starting in 2011. Patchy Fog is a dynamic acoustic guitar duo featuring Mark Nicolay on acoustic guitar and vocals and Tom Miller on acoustic 12 string, keyboards, mandolin and harp. Mark and Tom are former members of famous Iowa bands including 70’s-80’s Eastern Iowa rock band and Iowa Rock and Roll Hall of Fame nominee, Shatter, as well as The Jumpers, The Pawns, High Society, The Avengers, White Rain and The Thirteenth Hour.
MEMBERS: Ed Kammer, Steve Bachman, Tom Kammer, Larry Donaldson, Chuck Baker
Mike Fereday played in the Oelwein bands Shatter, Creation, The Basics, The Jumpers, Pure Joy, The Blitz Brothers, and Pure and Easy. He now plays in Georgia in the bands One Horse Town and Booger Holler.
Dan Gordish – Drummer who played with several Oelwein bands that included Shatter.
MEMBERS: Ed Kammer, Steve Bachman, Tom Kammer, Lynn Marie
MEMBERS: Mike Fereday – bass, Pat Cunningham – guitar, Spencer Hayden – keyboards, Randy Lansing, John Harrington – drums
MEMBERS INCLUDE: Greg McCann, John Gerstenberger, Dan Falck, Jeff Kirkpatrick, Tony Nash, Adam Youngblut, John Hernandez, Scott Thompson, and Tim Gilson.
Played classic rock and performed in the Oelwein area in the late 70’s and early 80’s. View their page to see what they played, where they played, and the fun they had doing it.
Kim Burco played drums in the Oelwein band Sound Incorporated. He now plays in Michigan in the band called the Melon-Burco Project.
MEMBERS INCLUDED: Mike Vargason, Seth Vargason, Shawn Wilcox, Jerod Ledesma and Steve Reed
Band created by Mike Vargason that featured nearly all original music.
The Ruthless Orfanz started off 2006 with the release of “ExamisH” the 9 song debut cd from Michael Vargason. Mike plays Guitar / Bass / Drums / Violin / Keys and does all the Vocals. Vargason wrote all music for the album and collaborated with special friends on a couple of the tunes. “The Music is dance driven with different styles and attention to multiple listenings. So one song doesn’t seem like the other.”
Played heavy rock and some classic rock covers plus several originals from about 1982-1986. The three principals were Gary Walrath guitar, Chris Kotscher bass/vocals/keys, Russ Fagle on drums. They played Luigi’s, Hickory Grove, Oelwein, Stanley gym and many other locations. They did a great show at Luigi’s once that featured “Scavenger’s Daughter” playing a set, followed by a set by “Nasty Jack,” — a band at the time led by Jim Hines. For a couple years there they were the only show in town. All three played in other bands all over the place after graduating. Others associated with the band included Brian McQueen, Dan Knipper, Scott Thompson (RIP), Steve Humphery (RIP) and possibly Jim Cunningham and John Gerstenberger.
Band members include Kent Moore, Kevin Samek, Rex Mulvaney , Tom and Mark Stahr, and David Albert.
Originally from the Fayette area but played often in Oelwein. Inducted into the Iowa Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in September 2015.
While playing the Top 40 hits of the day, the band also focused on the music of Mott The Hoople, AC/DC, Montrose & similar acts. They also performed updated versions of classic rock ‘n’ roll songs like Elvis Presley’s “Good Rocking Tonight”, Fats Domino’s “Ain’t That A Shame”, Eddie Cochran’s “C’mon Everybody” & Chuck Berry’s “Little Queenie”.
After much practice & several local gigs, the band first signed on with West Union booking agent Allan Enyart (The Agency). Itching to play & travel more, they eventually signed on with Fred T. Fenchell Agency in Mason City, (Tom Tatman’s) Performer’s Agency in Waterloo, Gary Van Zeeland Talent in Little Chute, Wisconsin & Omaha-based Maurey Drea & Associates. They then began performing at ballrooms, schools & clubs in Iowa, Illinois, Minnesota & Wisconsin. They drew particularly well at Dreamland Ballroom, Chip’s Ballroom & Wildwood Ballroom.
Originally from Hawkeye but they performed regularly in Oelwein. Inducted to the Iowa Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2014.
Originally, the band was named the RED BUFFALO BAND and later changed to CRYSTAL AXE a name inspired by former band member Dave Johnson. CRYSTAL AXE began by playing cover music for local school dances, parties, and anyone who needed a good cover music band. Their style of music was a mixture of classic rock, current hits, southern rock and the beginnings of original songs.
In 1995, Crystal Axe was invited to play with Cub Koda (of Brownsville Station) at the 25th Anniversary of the Wadena Rock Festival which included Harley, Kat, Brent, and Kent. Rare Earth, Dr. Hook, Edgar Winter, Starship, and Greg Khin were also on the bill. Through the years, the core members have also performed with Bad Company and actor Tom Arnold.
The Crystal Axe band still holds popularity thanks to their many fans and friends. One fan stated that “Crystal Axe’ has been their “American Idol” long before the show ever began. Much of their original music can be found on the internet and has been shared with many people throughout Australia, Canada, England, Germany and the United States.
Need more information on the bands below:
- The Avengers: Greg Ohl, Randy Robinson, Terry McGrane, Ron Jans, and Mary Coffin Jans. Ohl and McGrane joined Tom Miller and Dale Baldwin to form People in Me in 1968.
- Top Brass – Horn section of this band later joined The Pages.
- Sound Incorporated: Mark Leafstedt, Kim Burco, Roger Wetlaufer, Gene (Beaner) Larson, Log Ohl
- The Last Chance – Terry Kirkendall, Brad Hughes, and Rick Garber.
- Rewyryd – Terry Wheeler, Rob Tatro, Jeff Greene, Terry Kirkendall, and Rick Garber.
- The Kingmen – Mark Nicolay and others
- Cohesion – Steve Morales and others
- Milk and Honey
- Caroline Thomson (Johnson) – Born in Oelwein, played in several Waterloo bands
- The Three of Us
- Velvet Fog – Roger Wetlaufer, Mark Leafstedt, Kim Burco and others. Eventually reformed to be the band Sound Incorporated.
- Nasty Jack
Add a comment to let us know who else to include or to add any additional details (band members, pictures, musical style, etc.) for the bands above. Please limit your additional suggestions for only bands or musicians that actually played out and had a following.