We don't realize how many amazingly talented musicians we have here in the Iowa Great Lakes Region until we attend one of the seasonal Open Jams.
The Pomerantz Hall at the Pearson Lakes Art Center was the perfect venue for musicians to showcase their talents to an appreciative audience while making new friendships with other instrumentalists and vocal virtuosos.
The evening began with the house band performing "My Cup of Tea." Band members included Becky Thoreson of Okoboji on keyboard and flute, Jerry Jones from Spencer on bass guitar, Joe Cuttell of Wahpeton on guitar and vocals, Tyler Pedersen of Spirit Lake on drums, Ryan Middleton of Spirit Lake on sax and Mark Broderson of Kansas City/Okoboji on the Hammond B3 organ.
They really got the audience fired up with a great rendition of "Rock Me Baby." Middleton was new to the group and fit in nicely. He could improvise and played his horn masterfully. Broderson, Pedersen and Thoreson contributed vocally throughout the evening, either in solo style or harmonizing for Cuttell.
Bill Lauridsen from Spencer came up to do a fantastic version of "Kansas City" that brought high praise from the audience.
An incredible singer from Spirit Lake named Mira Henderson took to the stage and gave an outstanding performance of "Stand By Me." I would love to hear her sing The Blues all night long.
There were several others from the audience who mounted the steps to the stage to entertain us. Chuck Cihlar can pick a guitar with the best. Lloyd Bottin from Lakefield, Minnesota, is a perennial participant. Anne Schneider lives in Spirit Lake and is probably one of the best-kept secrets in the area. This lady really blows a mean sax and can sing extremely well. I hope she connects with some area bands so we can enjoy more of her talent.
Brent Tinderholt was on vacation in Okoboji from Clinton. He came up and sang with a great, deeply-rich voice. He also plays guitar very well. Then he asked his grandson to join him on stage. Thirteen-year-old Elijah Lewerenz was amazing. His guitar picking skills were astounding and he sang like a pro. They were a great team and I, for one, am so glad they joined in that night.
Well known entertainers Tim Horsman and Mick Buckley joined Jones, Cuttell and Broderson on stage for a couple of tunes. Buckley's "Business is Good" had the audience keeping time, unable to sit still in their chairs.
Thoreson treated us to "Moon Dance" which really showcased her excellence on the flute. Dave Rowley, Performing Arts Director at the Pearson Lakes Art Center, is a well-known area entertainer. The evening would not have been complete without his favoring us with a tune or two.
We loved a rousing version of "Sweet Home Chicago" and Henderson's growling adaptation of "Roll Baby Roll."
While it is true that every individual on that stage is a talented musician and/or vocalist, I think the amazing thing is to witness the way they can pick a song and a key in which to play it, then just have fun entertaining the audience. Obviously they had not all played together before the evening began and some of them had never met.
That is the beauty of a jam session. The date for the next Open Jam has not been solidified, but we are all looking forward to that event this fall.