MARSHALL - It's a group where no one wants to take the lead.
For more than a year, members of the Grace Life Old-Time Gospel Band have entertained residents at the area nursing homes.
The group consists of Petey Enger, Chris Sanow and Nancy Vierstraete as the singers, Bruce Marks on banjo, Glen Bruns on guitar and Paul Beachem on bass. They've been playing together for a year and a half.
Marks said he's been listening to bluegrass music for a long time and wanted to start an old-time gospel music group. So he started recruiting members. They were more than happy to become part.
"It was wonderful when Bruce asked me to join," Enger said.
Vierstraete said she sazng in a trio in South Dakota and was familiar with a lot of the music Marks wanted to play.
"I know the songs," Vierstraete said.
Some of the songs in the group's repertoire include "Turn the Radio On," "I'll Fly Away," and "I Saw The Light." The women said they like singing the harmonies more than taking the lead.
"We take turns if we have to (singing lead)," Vierstraete said.
"That's what we feature, the three-part harmony," Marks said.
What part each of the women sing usually depends on the tune.
"It changes from song to song," Enger said.
Bruns also had to adjust his guitar playing style. He said he wasn't used to using a pick when he strummed. Marks also learned the mandolin "for a little variety."
The gospel group started taking its music to area nursing homes. Beachem said they go in a 50-mile radius. Marks calls up the nursing home and sets up a performance. They've played from Redwood Falls to Hendricks, Canby to Boulder Estates in Marshall.
And the audiences tend to like a certain kind of music, something that is familiar.
"They like the upbeat songs," Marks said.
"They sing along," Vierstraete said.
"The most rewarding thing is when they sing along," Enger said.
Band members said they get a positive reaction whenever they play.
"We got a 'bravo' once," Marks said.
"A lady held up her phone and was taking our photo," Sanow said.
One of the performances that stuck with the gospel band is when it played for an Alzheimer's/dementia wing.
"That was a wonderful show, actually," Enger said.
"I think we made some of them happy," Vierstraete said.
Other venues they've played include the Lyon County Fair talent show last year, the 4th of July Gospel Festival in Ruthton and a Christmas program at First Lutheran Church.
Recently, the group performed at Marshall's Thursdays on Third.
"That was different, playing for a casual audience," Enger said.
Mainly people were walking around and occasionally listening as the band tried to play over the traffic noise. One man listened for two songs, Marks said and clapped after each one.
Members said they've enjoyed playing for people in the last couple of years.
"The most fun is when we mess up and deal with it," Marks said.
One such incident happened at a performance in Hendricks. Enger said she was just singing along when the microphone stand started to drop.
But despite little mishaps, the band said it's become known in the region.
"Every place we've played, individuals have asked us to come back," Enger said.