BWNR note: This is a tribute to a man who played the music of others for over 30 years for the joy of it - our father. The following article is the biography of the band as recalled by Rod Broyhill - the founder of The Country Wonders Band.
In the Beginning
The Country Wonders Band originally formed around 1958 with three brothers-in-law: myself (Rod), Earl “Walt” Hackett (married my sister Ruth) and Carl “Todd” Hackett (married my sister Catherine). Before that the three of us and a friend, Dick “Rosie” Rosenkrans, would just have occasional jam sessions at one of our homes. It got so that we would get together and play music and party with close friends and family on Saturday nights at a different home each week.
My sister Helen and her husband Herman were at one of these parties and mentioned that the DC Bar in Dakota City, NE wanted to have a band on New Year’s Eve of 1959-1960. Helen called Jack Harrell on the phone and he listened to us play some songs and asked us to come down. He had found out that there was a city cabaret ordinance that allowed live music in the local bars. We became the first band to play music in a bar in Dakota City. We were paid a total of $25 to split between the 3 of us. This left $1 which Ruth tore into 3 pieces and gave one to each of us. My 1/3 of a dollar shows the date and I still have it in my band scrap book.
The Early Years
It was at this point we began playing on Saturday night and continued with the 3 guitars for about 6 months until Todd decided he wanted to tend bar on those nights. It was then we hired our first drummer, Ken Beaulieu. We continued to play Saturday nights at the DC until sometime in 1967 when Jack decided he wanted to make a change and hired a different band. From there he started rotating bands but we did not get booked back at any time. Ken left the band during this time.
We hired a new drummer, Joe Hernandez, and added a steel guitar played, Cliff Schultz and booked into the CROSSTOWN TAVERN for Friday and Saturday nights at $15 each per night. We worked until 2:00 a.m. on Friday night and till 1:00 a.m. Saturday night. After about a year Cliff’s job transferred him to Eastern Iowa. I contacted Lloyd Thompson who was basically retired from playing music and convinced him to join us. When I was a teenager I watched Lloyd’s live TV show on Channel 4 TV in Sioux City. He was the first country band that I saw in a local club in Sioux City.
It was while at the CROSSTOWN TAVERN that Joe had a sign painted on his bass drum, Rod Broyhill and his Country Wonders. That officially changed the name of our band. We stayed at the CROSSTOWN TAVERN until late 1969 when we booked into CORKEY’S ALL GIRL BAR in Dakota City, Nebraska. While there we added the 5th member of the band bass guitar player Harvey Davis. We stayed at Corkey’s for about 2.5 years playing Friday and Saturday nights for $15 each. Corkey decided she wanted to actually make it an all girl bar and hired an All Girl Band. At that time the Country Wonders Band dismantled. I, Harvey and Joe played several private parties until Harvey got transferred to Texas and we retired for a couple of years. While at the Crosstown Tavern, I met Cathy Chedester when I needed a substitute drummer. Her husband Willie played guitar and sang. During the next couple of years the 3 of us played several parties, New Year’s Eve, Saddle Club dances, birthday parties and an occasional barroom gig but nothing steady.
Country Wonders Reborn
In 1975, Mary Harrell, owner of the DC Bar, asked me to put a new band together and come back to work for her on Friday and Saturday nights. My neighbor, Teddy James was learning to play rhythm guitar so I gave him a chance. He knew a drummer, Ron Posey who came to work with us. Teddy then learned to play the Bass guitar so I replaced him on rhythm with Ted Richter who could also help with the vocals. After a few months, Ted left and we were left without a rhythm player.
I was still looking for a steel guitar played and called an ad in the newspaper and auditioned Dave Fry. Dave had grown up playing music in California and had worked as a studio musician in the same Bakersfield, Ca studio where Buck Owens and Merle Haggard recorded. We then hired Jerry Mayo to play rhythm guitar and help out with the vocals.
After leaving the DC Bar, we played many gigs in bars and clubs, wedding, anniversary and birthday dances in the Nebraska, Iowa and South Dakota corners. Ron Posey left the band in 1979 and we hired Patty Klemme (now Patty Richter). About 1980, Jerry cut the end of a finger off in a work accident and I replaced him with Mary’s baby brother Larry Beach. Larry did a real good job on vocals and rhythm guitar. He stayed with us until 1982.
During this period (August 1979), we started doing some dates for Channel 9, KCAU TV in Sioux City, Iowa. These were Farmer’s Markets and taped some shows in their studio that they later broadcast in special spots.
We also set up outside for the Jerry Lewis Labor Day Telethon and did all day shows which drew large crowds that contributed to the cause.The band we had at this time stayed together for approximately 5 years. In 1980 I needed to replace my drummer and hired Rick Labrie. Marilyn Wetroski replaced the bass guitar player. After Larry left the band, I felt honored when a rhythm guitarist and fiddle player, Bill Albright, called asking if I had an opening for him. He had played fiddle for me on several special occasions. I had gone to the KSCJ radio station studio many times as a young teenager and watched Bill’s group do their live broadcast radio show.
In 1981 Larry left the group and I auditioned a friend of Rick’s to play rhythm and help on vocals. It was then that we added Lee Quade. In 1982 Lee decided that his music playing was putting a strain on his semi-pro softball playing so he left. Rick also decided to retire from drumming and fine-tuned our 14 year old son Darrin so he could take over the position. We hired Jerry Mayo back to sing and play rhythm and put Darrin on the drums. Darrin progressed to be, in my biased opinion, one of the top drummers in the Sioux City area. This is when Bill Albright actually joined the group. In 1986 Marilyn and Bill left the band to go with another group. At this time, I hired Jack Fry for bass guitar and vocals. Jack stayed until after New Year’s 1988 at which time the band dismantled and Darrin went on to form BOSS TWEED, a Pop-Rock group.
The Final Years
Mary and I moved to Ash Grove, MO in October 1989 and Darrin and his family followed in late August 1990. We attempted to revise the Country Wonders Band and contacted one of the original members, Walt Hackett and played a few shows for celebrations in Ash Grove for a few months. Later we hired a bass player, Junior Whitehead from Walnut Grove and played some Saturday night gigs at the local Legion Hall to benefit fund raisers for the Downtown Betterment Society. However, we couldn’t get the support of the local people and due to the strict rules set up by the Legion Post, we chose not to continue the effort. At that point, the Country Wonders Band retired in August 1992.
The Band Members
|Rod Broyhill – Lead and Rhythm Guitars, Vocals|
|Todd Hackett – Guitars, Vocals|
|Walt Hackett – Lead and Rhythm Guitars, Mandolin|
|Lloyd Thompson – Lead, Rhythm, Vocals|
|Harvey Davis – Bass, Vocals|
|Bill Albright – Lead, Rhythm, Vocals and Fiddle|
|Willie Chedester Rhythm, Vocals|
|Jerry Mayo – Rhythm, Vocals|
|Teddy James – Rhythm, Bass|
|Larry Beach – Rhythm, Vocals|
|Marilyn Wetroski – Bass|
|Lee Quade – Rhythm, Vocals|
|Ted Richter – Rhythm, Vocals|
|Jack Fry – Bass, Vocals|
|Junior Whitehead – Bass|