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 Kammer was recently diagnosed with a very serious medical condition. Please explore the following links to learn about his condition and take the opportunity to assist him in his recovery:
Message from Tom’s wife Brenda Kammer: On Wednesday October 14, 2015, Tom received news none of us ever wants to hear. Pancreatic Cancer. Our hearts are heavy but we are trying to stay positive as he begins treatment. We have received many calls and messages of support and prayers and appreciate this more than we can say. As word gets out, we know there will be a lot of people who want to stay updated as things progress. We felt the best way to do this is to start a caring bridge page where I will do my best to keep current info and where people can leave messages. I have put what information we know on there. Cancer sucks. Just sayin’
The CaringBridge website allows people to easily get updates and offer support and encouragement. Since 1997, more than half a million CaringBridge websites have been created. One in nine people in the U.S. have used CaringBridge to rally support for a loved one during a health journey, and their reach extends to 236 countries and territories around the world. Sign in to Tom Kammer’s CaringBridge page to keep updated on his condition.
GoFundMe: It’s so much easier to give help then to ask for help. That’s why the “Sandbar Gang” have come together to set up this site for Tom and Brenda. Two of the best friends a guy or gal could be lucky enough to have. We love you two. Hang in there. We’re with you all the way. Many, many prayers coming your way.
On October 14, 2015, after not feeling well for a couple of months, weight loss of 25+ pounds, and out of control blood sugars, Tom had an ultrasound done on his pancreas. The doctor called later that day with a preliminary diagnosis of pancreatic cancer. He was seen at Mayo Clinic in Rochester, MN the next day by 2 GI doctors and surgeon who confirmed the diagnosis.
The good news is that it appears that Tom is in the lucky 10% who have a fighting chance!
But fighting isn’t going to come cheap. Tom will be going through chemo and a rough surgery. There will be medical expenses, hotel expenses, gas, missed days of work, getting family here and there, and more that will come up.
Tom adds so much to each of our lives with his “little witticisms”, his hospitality, his music, his (mostly) fine cooking and his friendship. We’d like to offer each of you the opportunity to give back to him.
If you are like us, you are probably wondering what you can do and how you can help Tom and Brenda. This seems the simplest way for us all to pull together for them. Then Tom & Brenda will be able to use your kind gifts however they need to in Tom’s fight against the stupid cancer.
Your gifts of $10 or $20 (or more!) will add up, relieve the stress of financial worries and will be so very, very much appreciated.
Visit Tom Kammer’s GoFundMe page to contribute to his medical expenses.
Benefit Concert: Tom Miller and Mark Nicolay known in some circles as The Patchy Fog music duo, organized a benefit concert for Tom and Brenda at the Oelwein KCs on December 12, 2015.
Musicians who have played with Tom Kammer in one of his many bands traveled in to perform at KAMMERSTOCK. Huge thanks go to the musicians who traveled to Oelwein from Georgia, Oregon, Indiana, Minnesota, Ohio, Arizona, Texas, Washington DC, and from all across Iowa.
For complete information about KAMMERSTOCK including pictures and information about each band, visit: The KAMMERSTOCK Page. To see pictures and videos taken at KAMMERSTOCK, go to the Kammerstock Retrospective.
Tom performed with the following Oelwein bands:
MEMBERS: Johnny Clendenen, Sherry Clendenen, Jim Mazziotti, Rick Clendenen, Jim Ponder, and Tom Kammer.
Johnny’s band was the “House Band” at Berger’s Tap in Downtown Oelwein for many years.
Johnny’s band played all over Iowa in addition to Wisconsin and Minnesota.
The band recorded two songs, “Bull Dog”, and “Blues Stay Away From Me”
Johnny Clendenen was “Rockabilly” before the term was invented and he enjoyed how many of his fans thought he looked and acted like Elvis.
MEMBERS: Steve Bachman, Linda Bachman, Ed Kammer, Tom Kammer, Chuck Baker, Larry Donaldson
The Plainsmen soon morphed into “The New Begining” after Baker quit and they added Steve’s wife Linda on vocals. They traveled all around Iowa while being booked by GMA – The Good Music Agency out of Minneapolis
MEMBERS: Milt Campbell, Jim Campbell, Judy Campbell, Danny Campbell, Janet Campbell, Ronnie Fitz, Jodeen Fitz, Tom Kammer
Milt Campbell was one of the top country bands in Eastern Iowa at the time. They also made money recording and playing on jingles for local merchants that were broadcast on local AM radio station KOEL. Milt was a member of the Oelwein music base that included Bobby Hankins, Leo Greco (hit song “Little Red Wagon”), Pee Wee Cherrier, Andy Doll, Alex Ricchio, and others. A lot of those guys would stop at Milt’s studio frequently. Milt played steel guitar, banjo, fiddle, and mandolin. Milt was a “cool” guy that came from a completely different generation and musical background and yet was friends with many of the young musicians in Oelwein.
Keith Thompson made a name for himself by performing with the Bobby Hankins Show for years.
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.
MEMBERS INCLUDE: Bruce Bearinger, Clay Hallberg and Charlie Hallberg, Tom Kammer
Bruce Bearinger Band and the Broken Step Recording Studio are two current music projects based in Oelwein.
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
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. 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.
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.
Tom Kammer started his musical career by playing drums with Johnny Clendennen and the Impalas when he was was 10 years old. He played at Berger’s Tap every Friday and Saturday night for 2 years straight! Never tore the equipment down!
After Johnny Clendenon, Kammer joined “The Plainsmen” with his brother Ed on bass, Steve Bachman on guitar, and Chuck Baker on Vocals.
The Plainsmen soon morphed into “The New Begining” after Baker quit and they added Steve’s wife Linda on vocals. They considered themselves to be a “club” band, which seemed cool, and they traveled all around Iowa for a while being booked by GMA – The Good Music Agency out of Minneapolis
When that band broke up, Kammer went with the six piece band “Milt Campbell and the Country Buddies“. Very corny name, but probably one of the top country bands in Eastern Iowa at the time. They had a van with their name on it and Milt had a recording studio in Oelwein at that time. They cut two 45’s there while Kammer was with them. They also made money recording and playing on jingles for local merchants that were broadcast on local AM radio station KOEL. Milt was a member of the Oelwein music base that included Bobby Hankins, Leo Greco (hit song “Little Red Wagon”), Pee Wee Cherrier, Andy Doll, Alex Ricchio, and others. A lot of those guys would stop at the studio frequently and Kammer was in awe. They were great musicians for all coming out of little old Oelwein. Milt played steel guitar, banjo, fiddle, and mandolin. Milt was the guy who gave Mike Vargason fiddle lessons. Milt was a “cool” guy that came from a completely different generation and musical background and yet was friends with many of the young musicians in Oelwein.
Kammer then got connected with Blue Horizon which put kept him busy throughout high school.
After Blue Horizon decided to split up, Kammer teamed up with Blue Horizon bass player, Rob Tatro, and played with Shatter (featuring Jim Hines formally from The Pages, Mark Nicolay, and Mike Fereday) for 3 years and then got out of the business for about 3-4 years. He occasionally did fill in gigs with local bands.
Another member of the Blitz Brothers Band was UNI Theatre major, Bill O’Brien (lower right hand corner in the two band shots) 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.
O’Brien also appeared in the television shows Law and Order, Gideon’s Crossing and Providence. O’Brien previously was the Director of Theatre and Musical Theatre for the National Endowment for the Arts. He is now the Senior Advisor for Innovation to the Chairman of the National Endowment of the Arts in Washington DC. Kammer remembers the first night O’Brien sang in front of an audience and how scared he was! Kammer still keeps in touch with him.
Kammer then spent 3-4 years with “The Keith Thompson Trio“, a 3 piece piano, bass, drums lounge/club act. Keith was the piano player for Bobby Hankins for many years and Kammer remembers seeing them several times by sneaking in the back door of the Coliseum when he was about 12.
After that, 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.
Kammer left The Basics in 2001 and played occasionally with Bruce Bearinger and Clay Hallberg from Oelwein. He also did some recording sessions with Mark Nicolay at Clay Hallberg’s studio in Oelwein. You can hear him on www.mixposure.com/ballheadcapon.
Tom spent the last years of his life in Mankato, Minnesota with his wife Brenda and has three grown children and a couple of grandkids. He passed away on September 22, 2016. He will not be forgotten.
Above are Tom and Brenda’s children:
Michael, TJ, and Kelli
Michael (35) has lived in Krakow, Poland since 2005. He works for an international company doing translating, copy-writing, and customer service.
TJ (32) lives in Saint Paul, MN with his wife Laura. He is a Respiratory Therapist at Fairview Southdale Hospital.
Kelli (29) lives in Mankato, MN. She works at Navitor in customer service and has 2 boys, 10 year old Guy and 8 year old Landon.