Saturday, April 23, 2011

Magic Returns to Sioux Falls

Thank you for everyone who told me they like my blog. I will update more often.

I'm back from the South Dakota Rock Hall of Fame 2011 Induction event April 16 in Sioux Falls. This is the third year I have attended -- I was inducted into the Hall in 2009.

Each year, a sense of magic returned for me and many others who attended. Though decades have passed, the South Dakota Rock Hall takes me back to when I was 18 and the world was mine to conquer. For a few hours, I felt like I could fly.

Here are some of my personal highlights from the weekend:


(photo: The X-Men in 1965)

Though I didn't book the X-Men, I promoted many shows that featured them. Gary Johnson, Mike Connor and John Everist went on to be part of Those of Us, one of my bands.

The X-Men were in fine form at the SD Rock Hall bash. What I liked the most was that they played two of their original tunes, "Believe Me" and "Until It Is Time for Me to Leave." I had heard these songs many times on 45 rpm singles but the X-Men brought new life to them with incredible passion and raw emotion.

(photo: Mike Connor & Gary Johnson 2011)

The X-Men played so well but the night belonged to Mike Connor who was honored with a life time achievement award from the SD Rock Hall.

Mike Connor brought the best out of each member of the X-Men in the same way he has brought out the best in musicians, friends and associates for four decades. This night was magic and Mike Connor was the wizard. Thank you, Mike.


Back in the day, Steve Ellis and the Starfires were the best band in the area -- terrific musicians, great songs and one step ahead of cool. After Steve Ellis died in a tragic motorcycle accident in 1967, the band dissolved.

Barry Hanson (photo left) was one of the Starfires but seemed to be on the way to becoming a rock casualty. But, he reappeared in Sioux Falls for the Rock Hall concert.

He emerged as a rock showman and storyteller (kind of like Springsteen) with amazing focus and energy -- like he was channeling God. The Starfires set closed with the band playing "Amazing Grace" behind a video tribute to Steve Ellis. But wait -- the tribute video kept going and lovingly remembered other great local rockers who had passed. I cried. It was a highlight of my life. Thank you, Barry.


Fritz Leigh, Rick Gillis, Mike Strub and Gary Meyer were joined by original member Steve Manolis and others to show the incredible influence the Beatles and the Byrds had on all of us.

Time and space evaporated and we were taken to a 1966 Pontiac on gravel road on a moon lit night.


Brian Cummings and Mike Paris from The Mob (above) at the SD Rock Hall reception. Brian is perhaps the most talent radio announcer and voice actor I know. He had enormous influence on my career. Brian rocked at KISD Sioux Falls, KIMM Rapid City and KSDN Aberdeen before fame and fortune in Hollywood where he is still a bfd.

The Mob, from Chicago, made Sioux Falls a second home by making frequent appearances at The Mocamba Club, a famous and notorious hot spot. Their set at the SD Rock Hall bash thrilled the SRO crowd topped by "Try A Little Tenderness."


Chris Harper (photo right with Chris Buren at a book signing at Zandbroz Variety) was the lead singer for my band The Trippers. He has just released the book "Flyover Country" which tells how he and the class of 1969 met the world and lived life.

Chris hired me to do advance work on the book and he appeared on radio interviews, at book signings and in a nice article in the Argus Leader.

In the book, Chris says "rock n roll saved my life."

Me too!

Thank you to the South Dakota Music Association and everyone for such a wonderful time.


  1. Ken...thanks for your post! I really enjoyed it. It was a great show on the 16th, and glad you have been able to be a part of it. Thank you for being such a great supporter of the SDRRMA!

  2. Ken, I mentioned this on my FB page. Thank you so much for your comments. They're particularly meaningful coming from you. Doing the X-men gig was a gas and being able to perform the originals was such a hoot. I only wish we'd been able to do them as perfectly as we'd wanted. Your comments too about Mike Connor are on the money. Mike was the center of the X-men universe and I have been a lucky man to call him my friend, duet partner and fellow songwriter all these years. Thanks again!!

  3. Hi Ken,
    The Mob member pictured with Brian Cummings is Mike Sistak.
    Thanks for your support of the SD Rock and Roll Music Association.