The Red Willow Band
was based in southeastern South Dakota from 1974 to 1982.
Their business card read "Red Willow
Band.....the best in country swing".
The band came together at barn
dances held at a Gage family property called Weathertop Farm. Just outside
of Brandon, the barn was witness to many life changing musical jams and at least
one Red Willow wedding. The old red barn sadly burned down while the band was en
route to a performance at Dan's Back Porch in Spearfish, leading to the popular
singalong tune on the first album called "Very Old Friend".
Two albums and several singles were
recorded and released, with one single "I Wish I Had Your Arms Around Me"
reaching #97 on the Billboard Hot Country 100 charts for a whopping 7 days. The band
made numerous TV specials for South Dakota Public Television, hosted the successful NEMO
series of outdoor festivals, and toured nonstop in the upper U.S. from
Washington State to New York City.
Red Willow Band core members
were Chris Gage, Hank Harris, Kenny Putnam, Marley Forman and Barry Carpenter.
Wally Saukerson helped form the band, then became the booking agent.
Hank Harris and Chris Gage, the
singer/songwriters of the band continue to write and record new music on their
Also serving time were Lonnie
Schumacher (bass), Tom Peterson (bass), Susan Osborn (vocals), Boyd Bristow (guitar &
vocals), Owen DeJong (fiddle), Mike 'Razz' Russell (fiddle & vocals), Wally
Saukerson (mandolin), and Johnny Palomino (aka soundman Mike Grunendyke, guest
Special thanks still go out to Dale Gage, Lost Records, Wally Saukerson,
Chris Buren, Rowdy Walterman, Terry VanderPol, Dan Picht, Byrd Burton, Gary Laney,
Ann Morton, and many more.