For a dozen years, the Pearson Lakes Art Center has been the beneficiary of the talent of six great musicians. That annual event will take place on Friday night with the audience starting to purchase their tickets well in advance.
"Dave Rowley and Friends" will play to a packed house in the Lauridsen Performing Arts Theatre at PLAC.
Rowley said the idea came up at an art center board meeting in 2005.
"A board member suggested I get together with some musician friends and play a little show as a fundraiser for the art center," the singer/guitarist said. "I called my friends Ryan, Perry and Brent. I had played with Brent in a praise band, Perry was a friend who played guitar and Ryan was the keyboard expert."
Ryan Sather owns Midwest Piano and Organ Company in Spencer. Brent Wallin is a computer programmer in Sioux Falls, South Dakota. Perry Pearson was the owner of Brooks Golf Club in Okoboji. They practiced and did that first show in the Pomerantz Hall on the lower level of the art center. Attendance was 100-120.
"We were so excited to break 100 because we didn't know what to expect," Rowley said.
One friend of Rowley's was missing.
"My friend Carlis Faurot lives in Cedar Rapids, and he couldn't change his schedule to come over to play in that first one," he said.
Faurot makes the trip every year now.
"It is a good chance to get out of town," he said. "Your business tourist season is ending so it is not so crowded."
As the facilities manager of the Cedar Rapids Museum of Art, he appreciates the fund raising element of their annual get-togethers.
But, he almost missed the 2008 show.
Cedar Rapids was in a major flood situation and Faurot had worked tirelessly, transporting their valuable Grant Wood and other collections to higher ground.
"The flooding began on Friday the 13th in June and we worked long and hard for weeks," he said. "When August rolled around I was so tired I decided I really needed to take a break so we came up for four or five days to do the show. We got to relax too."
Rowley feels the fundraising has been successful.
"I believe we have raised $60,000 to $70,000 so far," he said.
Sather agrees. "It is a fundraiser but it is also fun to get together with these wonderful musicians to play before a great crowd. The audience is so appreciative and communicative it is really fun."
The crowds grew quickly from those first couple of years. It was standing room only, some of it outside on the patio until a few years ago when it was moved upstairs to the performing arts theatre. The show continues to sell out each year in the 284-seat theatre.
Wallin willingly makes the trip from Sioux Falls, not only for the performance but for a practice or two.
"I really enjoy playing with these guys and I enjoy the crowds," Wallin said. "PLAC brings us back every year so I guess they are having as much fun as we are."
When asked why he continues to be part of the show, Pearson chuckled, "I ask myself that every day! I don't play as often as those guys do so I have to concentrate more. I look forward to it as it is a great time. It is funny how traditions start but I do think the ambiance is different from when we played downstairs."
Lambert is the drummer for this band of troubadours and has been for the past 10 years. The owner of Highway 86 Music in Wahpeton thinks performing this particular gig is fun.
"It is a party-like gig and the camaraderie among the musicians is great," Lambert said. "It is a really easy audience to play for. They love Dave and the music."
The group usually plays 22-24 songs during each show.
"The audience expects us to do certain specific songs each year but we add at least six new ones annually," Rowley said. "We always open with 'Summertime' because it is very demanding on my arthritic fingers and I need to get that one out of the way. And of course they want to hear 'Walleye' too," he said. He also hinted to a few surprises in this year's show.
The "Dave Rowley and Friends" show at PLAC begins at 7:30 Friday evening, Aug. 26. Those hoping to obtain any of a few remaining tickets should call the PLAC box office at 712-332-7029. The six guys will be ready after a rehearsal on Thursday night and mic check on Friday afternoon. They intend to have a great time together and look forward playing to an enthusiastic crowd. Their intent is to keep the 12-year tradition going and their many fans hope so too.