Bands with roots to perform at street dance

Published 12:00 am Thursday, July 5, 2001

Two bands whose members have had a part in the history of rock ‘n’ roll in the area, will perform together Friday at the SPAMTOWN USA Festival street dance.

Thursday, July 05, 2001

Two bands whose members have had a part in the history of rock ‘n’ roll in the area, will perform together Friday at the SPAMTOWN USA Festival street dance.

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Reconstruction will play a mix of Top 40 hits ranging from the 1950s to the 1990s.

Barry Rush and the Reunion Band will play popular songs from the 1950s and 1960s.

After they got together in 1968, classic rock band Reconstruction played three to four nights a week to earn money for college. The band continued to play the same number of gigs after college, balancing family, work and performances. The band still is playing together 33 years later, but the number of performances has slowed to a couple of weekends a month.

"We had the desire and the energy to do it," band member Jeff Volkenant said of their busy schedule. "Now we have the energy and desire to do it, but not as often."

Volkenant and Jerry Johnson, both of Albert Lea, started Reconstruction in 1968 to pay for college expenses. They recruited Marlene Olson as a vocalist and Bill Apold for their drummer and performed in bars, clubs and dance halls in southern Minnesota.

The three- and four-part vocal harmonies carry their performances of Fleetwood Mac and Eagles songs, Volkenant said.

Apold agrees: "The highlight of the band is the vocals. They really do well."

Apold is also the drummer for Barry Rush and the Reunion Band. Jim Ruud, rhythm guitar player for the band, arranged for members Apold, Barry Rush and Gary Bailey to play for his 35-year high school reunion in 1993. They have been asked to play at high school reunions for 1950s and 1960s graduates since.

Rush and Bailey started playing together in 1956 and were a part of three bands until Bailey joined the Air Force. Rush joined the Nomads with Ruud and played with them until 1964 when Bailey returned from the Air Force. Rush and Bailey formed a trio with Apold called Natural Gas for two years.

"Nobody played together for a number of years," Ruud said. Rush moved to Massachusetts, Bailey lives in Colorado and Ruud and Apold remain in Austin.

They play in the summers at reunions and other events. Although they don’t have much rehearsal time, Ruud said their experience makes performing easier.

"We come back, get together once or twice and it all falls together," he said. "It’s kind of amazing, after 40 years you would think we would be rusty."

The vocals also work well for the Reunion Band.

"You’ve got Gary and Barry singing and you would swear that it was the Beatles playing," Ruud said. "And they’re just two-part harmony."

Experience also helps Reconstruction. Its play list is pages long and Apold is confident that the members could play almost any request.

"That band could play any wedding with the variety of music," he said. "It wouldn’t be a problem."

Performing has become less of a job over the years for the band members.

"We do it more for each other’s company than anything else," Volkenant said.

Ruud remembers a week when he went to classes all day and performed every night of the week at different venues, not getting home until 3 a.m.

"A lot of times it wasn’t really fun," Ruud said. "It’s just not all fun and games."

Volkenant sometimes wishes he would have spent more time at home while his daughters were growing up.

"I missed out on a lot of things," he said.

Apold also remembers how tough it was to work and help raise a family while preforming weekly.

"I was burning the candle at both ends, trying to do the impossible sometimes," he said.

The bands will perform separately at the street dance on Friday, but will play a finale together of about three songs. They haven’t narrowed down which songs they will play together, but are excited to perform.

"I’m looking forward to having Barry Rush and his old group," Volkenant said. "It will be fun."

Call Cari Quam at 434-2214 or e-mail her at