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That old time rock 'n' roll

February 19, 2011
By Cindy Votruba

Organizers of the latest exhibit at the Pipestone County Museum hope people will relive the days when local live bands were the reason people flocked to the clubs and dance halls in the area.

The museum recently opened the exhibit "Rock and Roll Record Shop," which contains memorabilia on three area bands - Steve Ellis and the Starfires, Clutch and the Shifters and The Pilgrims. The exhibit also pays special attention to the long-running KLOH radio station based in Pipestone. Most of the exhibit is of records and posters and other items from the collection of Tony Texley, a Pipestone native.

The exhibit also features records, posters, photos and other music memorabilia from the era.

"I was always around music," said Texley, who now lives in Willmar. "I listened to those guys practice." Texley's father was in a country-western band, the Country Gentlemen, in the 1960s and his brother was in a high school rock and roll band named Hallucination Generation.

About 15 years ago, Texley said his mother was cleaning out a closet in their house and came across a Steve Ellis and the Starfires album "Songbook."

"I was right there and picked it up," Texley said. It was just the record jacket, and the album was missing, he said, so he thought of finding more information on the band.

As he'd learn more about Steve Ellis and the Starfires, Texley would hear stories about other bands from around the area.

"That's how I started collecting memorabilia of Midwestern music," Texley said. "Pipestone was a hotbed of music in the 1960s."

He also heard a lot of great bands at the Hollyhock Ballroom in Hatfield.

"That was the place to be on the weekend," he said. "I've become friends with a lot of Midwest music legends and one of my favorite pictures is with Myron Lee and Bobby Vee."

Texley said his dad know a lot of people who were involved with music and before he knew it, he had amassed a good collection of posters, music, contacts and stories.

Hoskins said Texley approached her last fall about doing an exhibit. The Pipestone County Museum does have changing exhibits from time to time, Hoskins said.

"It's a great story and we're happy to tell it," Hoskins said.

Clutch and the Shifters, which had Joe Keyes, another Pipestone native, as the front man, was formed at then-Southwest State University in 1973. Each of the bands has a connection to the Pipestone area, said museum director Susan Hoskins.

Texley said about 90 to 95 percent of the exhibit comes from his collection.

"We've got some one-of-a-kind items in that," Texley said.

One such item is a hand-painted 28-by-44 inch poster of The Pilgrims playing the Danceland Ballroom in Cedar Rapids, Iowa in 1968, Texley said.

"That's how they (the Danceland) advertised their dances," Texley said.

Originally, the exhibit was going to be about music from the 1960s in the area.

"We've narrowed down the topic which was huge," Hoskins said. The focus beam on bands with Pipestone connections that were inducted into a music hall of fame. Clutch and the Shifters were inducted into the Mid-America Music Hall of Fame last year. Steve Ellis, who was killed in a motorcycle accident in 1967, received the "Lifetime Achievement Award" posthumously in 2001 from the Minnesota Rock/Country Hall of Fame. The Pilgrims will be inducted into the South Dakota Rock and Roll Hall of Fame later this year.

In the Clutch and the Shifters portion of the exhibit, there's also a costume jacket on display and a guitar from one of the performers, Hoskins said.

Texley said there are some items from the Sensational Sleepers, that had members from Tracy and Marshall. He also has an audition copy 45 record of Steve Ellis' hit "Walking Around" and the exhibit also features a poster from 1963 of the Marvelous Marauders, another local band.

Texley said he travels a lot of miles in a year interviewing people to find out about their bands. He's now working on a band out of Walnut Grove from the mid-1960s called The Blazers.

"It's really neat and unique," Hoskins said about the exhibit. "We're hoping to reach a different audience and bring people into the museum."



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