When the original Whiskey River Band first hit the road 40 years ago, the Riverside Arena in Moose Lake had yet to be built. On Friday, the Fourth of July, Whiskey River packed the place.
The highly anticipated reunion of Moose Lake's hometown band from a bygone era more than fulfilled expectations of both the crowd size and quality of performance; and I'm sad to say, I missed it. I really wanted to see this progressive country rock band from the past, but what I hope was our last annual Fourth of July party on Sand Lake took precedence.
By the time the last of our revelers departed our party, the original Whiskey River Band had played their final encore to a large raucous crowd. At least that's how it was reported to me by one of the evening's bartenders. "I bet I poured a thousand drinks last night," he added.
Ironically, the first time I had the pleasure of listening to the original Whiskey River Band was at a Fourth of July concert held in the '70s on Long Lake just outside of Rutledge.
The place where I found my first job in this area was at a resort on Long Lake where I was bartending at the time. Playing the concert alongside Whiskey River that day was The Red Willow Band who were longtime friends of mine from South Dakota. Like their counterparts, next month Red Willow will also be playing a 40th hometown reunion at Newton Hills State Park in southeastern South Dakota.
Reunions featuring rock bands, especially from the '60s and '70s, have been going on around the country for some time now. Local gambling casinos are one of the main venues where you'll find bands like Santana performing their old hit tunes from yesteryear. My wife and I enjoyed the Fourth of July concert featuring Carlos Santana at Hinckley Grand Casino a few years ago, to the extent that we bought tickets to his Twin Cities performance with Rod Stewart next month.
Every few years, Cher has what is referred to as her Final Reunion Tour, only to reappear promising yet another final performance. Some people just have a hard time giving it up.
Some rock bands are called on to perform once again by audience demand. The Eagles, Bruce Springsteen and The Who are legends who come to mind. Performers such as Bob Dylan and Willy Nelson seem to perennially stay on the road. Then you have your bands that will never be reunited because of deceased members, as is the case with The Beatles and The Doors.
The reunion of Jan and Dean, a few years after Jan Berry was seriously injured crashing his Corvette, was a complete disaster. Unbeknownst to their fans, Jan lip-synched his part to a recording. They were booed off stage when the record stuck.
During ZZ Top's reunion tour in October of 1987, the band famously booked the first reservation to the moon.
In related news, it was just leaked to the press that a much anticipated album by Pink Floyd will be released in October of this year. They are one of my all-time favorite bands, and I can hardly wait.