Rollie Jensen

Age: 64

Hometown: Brookings, SD/Humboldt, IA

Instrument: Percussion/Drums

1. How did you first become interested in making music?

I grew up in a musical family, my Mother playing church organ and my Father playing accordion. There was always music in our house day and night. Growing up on a farm, we learned early on that “hard work always beats out talent”.

2. What was your educational path? 

I graduated in a class of 27 students from a small school in White, South Dakota called Deubrook. My college years were spent playing percussion at SDSU – Brookings, graduating with a Bachelors in Music Education in 1982. I taught Grades 5-8 band at Pocahontas from 1983 – 2006. 

3. What was your most memorable part about being an educator?

We had band every day, so seeing enthusiastic youngsters and their progress was memorable. Music was my hobby, so I basically never had to go to work a day in my life as a band director. Most enjoyable part of teaching is when that “lightbulb” moment happens with the students. “I See, Forget, I Hear, I Remember, I Do, I Understand.”

4. How long have you been performing?   

Around 50 years, as I started playing drums with “Harlof Jensen & the Bluebirds”, my Dad’s polka band in South Dakota. I was 14 years old earning $40 for a 4 hour gig and paid my way through college performing in many polka, country & rock n roll groups in eastern South Dakota.   

5. Tell us about some of the bands you have been in.

  • I have been playing drums and singing with “The Expressions” Rock n Roll Band out of Storm Lake from 1986 – present.
  • A longtime member of the percussion section with the Karl King Municipal Band from 1985 – present. 
  • I also have led the Humboldt Big Band for over 38 years during the annual Humboldt Community Chorus Show in February.
  • I played drums for the Miss South Dakota Pageant in the Black Hills for 16 years. 
  • Playing polka music is my passion, having played with Little Joe Polka Band, Wayne Ripke, Karl Hartwich, Peter & Paul Wendinger, Barefoot Becky and others throughout the Midwest. 

6. Who has had the greatest influence for you when it comes to music?

I was fortunate to have many teachers, musicians and friends who gave me the opportunity to explore and discover my potential through my years in music. Find your passion and surround yourself with folks who love music, and everything else will fall into place. 

If I were to pick one person, it would be Cameron McCurdy, my co-worker, mentor and high school band director at Pocahontas Area for over 20 years. Cam taught me to be organized and learn something from every musical experience and carry it to the next performance. He was the most talented all-around musician I have ever met, and a wonderful, kind, passionate person who kept me on level ground. 

7. If you had a chance to meet any performer/musician, alive or dead, whom would you choose and why?

Doc Severinsen because he has been an idol of mine for years since watching him play trumpet and lead the band on “The Tonight Show”. Doc is a very colorful figure and continues to perform at age 96. He is a true inspiration and achieved tremendous success with his hard work. He taught me: “Don’t practice until you get it right. Practice until you can’t get it wrong.”

8. What are some of your musical accomplishments?

  • I was selected to South Dakota All-State Band & Orchestra my junior and senior year in high school.
  • Percussion Section Leader at SDSU when we marched in President Reagan’s Inaugural Parade in 1981 with “The Pride of the Dakotas” Marching Band. 
  • A very successful school band program at Pocahontas Area with many awards through the years at Carroll Band Day, Orange City Tulip Fest, Algona Band Day and “Best of Class” at Adventureland Contest in 2005 being some of our highlights. 
  • Iowa Rock n Roll Hall of Fame Inductee in 2011 and Midwest All-Music Association Hall of Fame in 2021 with “The Expressions”. 

9. What is the most unusual thing to have happened to you during a show/performance?

1981 President Reagan Inaugural Parade, with over 450 horses in the parade and we were instructed to keep our heads high, lines straight and march through the horse droppings no matter what. At the end of the parade route, everyone took off their shoes, tied them together and hung them out the bus window. 

10. These days, where can we see you playing throughout the year?

You will find me playing drums in NW Iowa with “The Expressions” throughout the summer months, Karl King Band Concerts in Fort Dodge, Pocahontas & Emmetsburg Community Bands, many area jam sessions, big bands at Lake Robbins Ballroom, and Midwest Polka Fests with “Barefoot Becky”. Music is my life and would mean nothing without the support of my lovely wife, Becky. You will see Becky and I attending and supporting many live music events in the area. 

11. What has been the hardest lesson to learn when it comes to music and performing?

The hardest lesson is that perfection is something none of us will ever reach. However, it is the journey towards perfection that matters more than the end result. Not sure I have ever played a perfect song from start to finish, but keep going, smile and never show the audience you made a mistake. Strive to be the best you can be and have the confidence in yourself and your potential. Make a connection and interact with the audience before, during and after each performance. Pick music that the musicians will like playing, and the audience will enjoy listening to. “Happy Music for Happy People.”

Emily Eastwood

Age: 32

Hometown: Fort Dodge

Profession: Dance Instructor

1. Tell us a little bit about your background in dance as a child?

I started Dance & Gymnastics at the age of 3 at Hollingsworth School of Dance and Gymnastics under the direction of Sandy and Roger Hollingsworth. I did both dance and tumbling competitions from the age of 5-18. The main styles of dance I competed with were Tap, Jazz, Lyrical, Clog, and Hip Hop. After High school Graduation, I danced with the Iowa Central Dance Team for two years where our focus was on the styles of Jazz, Pom, and Hip Hop. 

2. What made you decide to make a career in dance and what has your training been?

Being a leader has always been one of my strongest attributes. Three people that really lit a spark in me to pursue a life of dance are my college dance and theater instructors: Lesa Dencklau, Cassidy Vermeer, and Teresa Jackson. They are each unique and have different attributes but the one thing that they all have in common is that they know what they want out of themselves and their performers, and they go get it. After college, Mindy Debaun approached me to start a dance program at United All Stars. Mindy has grown from my boss to someone I can go to for anything and everything. I am very thankful for everything she has helped me accomplished. 

3. What do you most enjoy about performing?

When I was younger, my favorite thing about being on the stage was displaying my hard work and sharing my passion for dance with the audience. Each routine showcases a different emotion and tells a different story. As a dance coach, the journey from the beginning of the season to the stage is one of my favorite things about my job. Every time I watch a dancer or team perform their routines on the stage, I am overwhelmed with so much pride because I know what it took to get to this point. I feel incredibly lucky to share these moments with them. 

4. Who are some of your role models?

My parents, Kim and Todd Eastwood. They did everything they could to help me during my dancing career growing up and continue to support me as a dance coach. They are both hard workers, they always put their family first, and have taught me to never take life too seriously. I love you both so much!

5. What has been the biggest challenge working in a dance studio?

Learning that it is impossible to please everyone. Over the years, I have grown to understand that at the end of the day, if I know that I gave my students my best, then that is enough. Staying true to who I am as a person, a dancer, and as a coach is what I strive to achieve.  

In the competitive dance world, it is easy to get caught up in the placements so we are constantly working on reminding the dancers that there is so much more to life than a trophy. 

6. If you could take a trip anywhere in the world, where would you go and why?

Paris, France to put my High School French classes to test… and to see the attractions, of course.

7. What groups are you involved with in the community?

I have been teaching dance at United All Stars for 12 years and the Head Dance Coach at Fort Dodge Senior High for 8 years. In addition to coaching dance, I have been the choreographer for the Comedia Musical for 5 years, for Stage Door Productions for 3 years and I have been helping with the choreography for Iowa Central’s musicals since 2013. 

8. What would you tell a parent who is thinking about signing their child up for dance lessons?

Overall, dance is a great activity for kids of all ages. It has many benefits that can help improve coordination and motor skills, boost self-confidence and self-esteem, and a fun way to socialize and make new friends. I still get to see my “dance friends” once a week when they come to our Adult Dance Class at United.  

Byron Stuart

Age: 71

Hometown: Pomeroy

Career: Living Day by Day

1. When did your love of music begin?

When I went to Iowa State University for college, I found some friends that I started to hang around with.  They took me along to see the Allman Brothers. I had never been to see live music. I saw them and the first thing I wondered was “Where have they been hiding this all my life”. Their 15 minute long songs turned me onto music for the rest of my life. Then I was introduced to the Grateful Dead. I saw them in the fall of ‘71 after Duane died earlier that spring. The cover to attend live music was only $5 back then. You got in early and left late. People were respectful and fully embraced the talented musicians. I went to ISU to major in Telecommunicative Arts and switched to a Speech and Drama major later. I wanted to go to a school in Minnesota to be a DJ ,but my mom wouldn’t let me. 

2. Did you come from a music loving family?

My family didn’t even have a stereo. They finally got a suitcase radio when I was in high school. My mom went to a record store and asked them to suggest something for me for my birthday. They picked one out and I was given an album by the Eagles. 

3. What inspired you to open Byron’s?

I had been a bartender for 10 – 15 years and when the bar, where Byrons is now located, came up for auction I was interested. Initially they wanted $60,000 - 70,000 for the building. I got it at the auction for $17,000 with everything in it. I said I wasn’t going to make it into a Grateful Dead shrine but, after a guest brought me a Jerry Garcia t-shirt, it all got out of hand. 

4. When, after opening, did you start having live music?

I opened in January and had Larry Myer perform in May. Larry suggested I have Rob Lumbard. After Rob performed, live music started happening once every two or three months. Shortly after,  I saw Brother Trucker at the M-Shop in Ames. I fell in love with their sound instantly.  They started showing up often enough to play that they quickly become known as the “house band”. My first national act was Todd Snyder on March 4, 2001. Todd was so great and I was nervous something would go wrong with a musician of this caliber. Word started to spread and before long Canned Heat had contacted me to play. The date they played just so happened to be my 50th birthday. What a way to celebrate!

5. What have been some of your most memorable performances?

There are simply too many to pick from. I always say “the next show” is my most memorable show. I do remember Kevin Gordan playing the night before Ragbrai came through Pomeroy one year. He ended up playing for 6 hours that day. I’ll never forget that show. 

6. Why is live music important?

I don’t know. It affects my body. I don’t know how to explain that. I only feel it when I’m listening to live music. It must be in the air. The vibrations are felt through every cell in my body. 

7. Do you play any instruments?

I played baritone in high school. I was in plays, band, choir, editor of the paper and manager of all the sports teams. I was a social butterfly in high school. I loved the experience. 

8. What makes Byrons so special?

This is not like church, Byrons fills in from the front as opposed to from the back. It’s become a family. Live music only happens once. 

9. What can people to do help “Save Byrons”?

People are encouraged to attend our fundraising events scheduled for March 3 at Historic Phillips Auditorium. Tickets are available on for that and will be available soon for our events on April 12 and 13 at Historic Phillips Auditorium and the Laramar Ballroom. People can also bid on the online auction that contains artisan items donated by friends, family and musicians. The Friends of Byron committee also set up a Gofund me where anyone can donate. 

Gabriel Alves

Age: 38

Hometown: Recife, Brazil

Profession: Professional Pianist

1. How did art and music influence you as a child growing up in Brazil?

I’m from the north east region of Brazil, which is the birthplace of Carnival.

Music, dance, singing: I couldn’t escape it if I tried. My family is very

musical. In my house there was always music playing. I had two neighbors

who were professional musicians, and they always inspired me and took

me with them to concerts and shows they play. I always pictured myself on

a stage performing like them.

2. When did you know that you wanted to make a career in music?

I was eight years old when I had my first contact with a keyboard. When I

pressed the keys and a piano sound came out, that was it. I felt instantly

connected with that instrument and I just knew it would always be a part of

my life.

3. What has been your educational path?

When I was 14 years old, I started attending a Conservatory of music where

the focus was classical piano. At the age of 18 I graduated and started

teaching there. Then when I was 19, I got into the university of music in my

state - Pernambuco, Brazil. My major was bachelor in classical piano

performance. Three years later, right before my last semester, an

opportunity to study in America came up. Parallel to my classical piano

studies was also my passion for jazz piano. Hence why the US was my first

choice to study abroad. In 2007 I started attending Iowa Central

Community College. That’s where I learned English and made connections

to further my education in America. In 2009 I transferred my credits from

my Brazilian university to Briar Cliff University in Sioux City. There I finished

my bachelor degree in classical piano performance. I then headed to

Chicago in 2011 to get my master’s degree in jazz studies at Northern

Illinois University and concluded that degree in 2013.

4. What brought you to ICCC when you were a student?

A connection had already been established between ICCC and my Brazilian

University where other Brazilian students had already come to Fort Dodge

to attend Iowa Central. So I happened to be one of the ones chosen to


5. Were you involved in the community during your time at ICCC? If so, in

what ways?

In my first two years in Fort Dodge, I was involved with First Presbyterian

Church. I was playing piano for their praise team.

6. What made you decide to make Fort Dodge your home?

My experience at Iowa Central and the friends I made around Fort Dodge

and at First Presbyterian Church made me feel welcomed here and that was

very special for me.

7. What is the most rewarding part about being a performing musician?

It’s to see things coming together and your hard work being appreciated.

8. When not working, what are some of your hobbies/interests?

I love going on road trips with my wife, watching movies, going skiing,

exploring new places and bicycle trails, and being in nature.

9. What do you most enjoy about the arts and culture scene in Iowa?

The love and support that the artists give to one another. That’s what

brought me back.

10. Who influences or inspires you musically?

I’ve had many friends and mentors throughout my career and student life

that still inspire me on a daily basis. Listening to other musicians performing

also has had a big impact in my life.

11. You could sit down for dinner with anyone, famous or not, alive or not,

who would you pick and why?

My grandma Maria who was my everything in my early years, who brought

music into my life, and who left earth too soon when I had just turned 11.

Ronley King

Age: 34

Hometown:  Gowrie, Iowa

Profession: Full Time Painter – Part Time Musician

Artistic Medium: Guitar & Vocals

  • How was music a part of your life growing up?

I was always involved in and surrounded by music growing up.  I was always going to my brother and sisters’ high school concerts and recitals.  I believe around 6 or 7 years old my parents had me start taking piano lessons from Linda Benson in Gowrie and from then on I was always involved in some form of musical performance. 

  • When did you learn to play guitar? 

I first picked up the guitar around my sophomore year of high school.  The band department had an old beat up guitar that I kind of “commandeered”…….I’ll put it that way!   Around that time I had discovered my love for improvisation and I instantly realized that guitar was a great outlet for that.  I learned the basic chords, and with the theory that I had taken in from piano lessons, it was a matter of transposing that knowledge to different instrument.  So it really kind of came somewhat naturally!

  • What is one word you would use to describe yourself? 

One word I would use to describe myself - Addicted - in a good way. That’s really how my musical journey has developed by getting addicted to performing, different types of music.  And when I do, I can’t get enough of it!

  • Growing up, were you involved in the community artistically? 

Yes.  I was involved in most musical activities growing up.  Along with the usual suspects like band, choir, musical, I was also involved in musical church groups, community choir and such.  More recently I was involved a number of years with the Gowrie Arts Council as well helping to put on community events.  

  • Tell us about your current music projects. 

Currently I’m involved in two different groups. The first being Cory Waller and The Wicked Things.  While Cory and I have played together for over 10 years now, this group is still relatively new.  We formed about 3 years ago and since have played quite frequently throughout the Midwest.  If you wanted to label the band we would probably be categorized in the “red dirt” country genre or Blackdirt Country as we like to call it!  

My second project is my own, the Ronley King Band.  Going back to the idea of improvisation, I wanted to form this group, selfishly, to have an outlet to continue to grow personally as a musician.  I’ve always had a love for the blues, jazz, and other forms of music that lend themselves to open ended jamming and free flow of ideas.  All the while, maintaining some of those country influences that I’ve been playing for many years now.  In 2022 we entered and won the Iowa Blues Challenge and had the opportunity to represent Iowa in the international blues challenge!   This was an amazing experience for us and I couldn’t be more thankful!  Both groups are currently working on releasing new original music, or by the time this comes out, will be out!

  • What has been the most challenging part of gigging?

The term “weekend warrior” is used a lot to refer to musicians like me - run my business during the week, gig on the weekends.  The most challenging part of that is as time goes on and there’s more demand for these groups and myself as musician, it’s started to become more than weekends.  Add week nights, and sometimes whole weeks it seems to accomplish our goals.  So balancing that along with family time at home is the hardest thing to do!  (Shout out to my unbelievably amazing and supportive wife Claire for always pushing me to follow my dreams!!!  You’re the best!!!)

  • What is the most rewarding part of gigging?

On the opposite end of that last answer, the most rewarding thing about gigging is the relationships and people I have made and met because of playing music.  Between playing in my own groups as well as filling in for others, this has formed many connections and friendships over the years that I wouldn’t trade the world for! 

  • Where can the readers find your music online?

You can find both The Wicked Things, and Ronley King Band on all of the major streaming platforms!  Also give us a follow on Facebook and Instagram as well!  We like to post a lot of updates of what we’re doing and some of the shenanigans we get into while traveling and gigging!

  • If you could trade places with one person for the day, who would it be and why? 

If I had to trade places with one person for the day…..that’s a tough one…..I would probably have to say Joe Bonamassa.  While he’s been one of my biggest influences musically, I would just want to have access to his guitar and amp collection for just one day!

  • What shows do you have coming up in the next few months that you are most excited about? 

We have a lot of great gigs coming up in the next few months but two that really stand out is March 2nd, The Ronley King Band will be opening for the Avey Grouws Band at Phillips Auditorium!  Avey Grouws is amazing and to get to share the same stage as them will be a blast!  Then on April  6th, Cory Waller and The Wicked Things are playing a show with Tyler Richton and The High Bank Boys at the Laramar!  If you’re a fan of country music, that show will be crazy good!  Both are local, and tickets will either be available, or available soon!! 

  • What do you most enjoy about the art and culture scene in the Fort Dodge area? 

It’s truly unbelievable the amount of great music that can be found right here in Fort Dodge!!  There are so many great musicians and acts!  I would say per capita we probably have one of the most vibrant music scenes in the state!  A lot of that of that has to do with the amount of venues that support live music, and the people that come to the shows!  For that we are very fortunate!  I look forward to only seeing that grow in the future!

Schoon Brothers

Name: Mike and Mark Schoon

Hometown: Manson, IA

Instrument: Vocals, Guitar, Keyboard Instrument: Guitar/Vocal

1. How did you first become interested in making music?

A. Just listening to my favorite bands and my dad was in a band so it was a normal part of life and just made it natural to start playing. Then finding an outlet outside of school aside from sports. Just a natural transition. The 90s and early 2000s pop punk scene really sparked it too.

B. I became interested in trying out guitar, because a lot of my family plays. So that’s how I started, and I was getting better and learning more. But I kinda fell out of it with going to school. Meaning I wasn’t really playing that much. Eventually though, I saw my brother Mike’s first high school band play live, and that’s what helped motivate me to really get back into playing, and also sparked my interest in playing in a band.

2. How long have you been performing?

A. 19 Years

B. 17 Years

3. Tell us about a couple of your most memorable performances or musical


A. Definitely playing prom my senior year. Pretty cool since no one does that kind of stuff anymore. Even back then it was kind of old school when we did it. Playing at the Whisky A Go Go in Hollywood is always a trip and all those Whisky shows collectively would be a memorable moment. Such a legendary establishment and so much history there. On top of that they have a great stage/sound/lights/crew etc.....Shellabration 2023 was also super memorable. Coming back home to play such a big show. So many more memorable shows but that’s what comes to mind at the moment.

B. Playing at Wooly’s in Des Moines, when we got into the top 5 bands for Lazerfests battle of the bands. Our first time playing at the Whisky A Go Go, in LA. And playing Shellabration, where we opened for Collective Soul.

4. Who has the greatest influence on you musically?

A. So many at different periods.... Again starting out it was the 90s/2000s pop punk scene and also the Nu Metal Scene. Bands like Sum 41, Green Day, Linkin Park, Creed, etc. then came Classic rock such as Queen, The Beatles & Ozzy Osbourne, Metallica etc. The typical entry level kind of bands.... Was always a big Randy Rhoads (Ozzy Osbourne's first guitarist) fan in terms of guitar. At this point I've had so many different phases I just love everything from Classic rock to Hardcore Metal.... to Rap... to Country. There is no Greatest....just multiple influences. Lately I’ve even tapped into some EDM....every day I feel a different influence haha

B. When I was younger I grew up around a lot of Rock and Country. The first actual band CD I got when I was a kid, was Matchbox 20 haha. But before I got into playing music, I was more into football and I kinda listened to whatever was popular on the radio. Like all the radio hits. But when I started learning guitar. Green Day, Metallica, Ozzy, to name a few. Those bands really became big influences to me. Especially in the early learning phases. I have a lot of modern influences too. But those bands layed the groundwork for me.

5. If you had a chance to meet any performer/musician, alive or dead, whom

would you choose?

A. Dead, I’d say Elvis or Randy Rhoads. Alive, I’d say James Hetfield of Metallica or Post Malone. Definitely want to meet some living legends .....but there are a lot of musicians I want to meet and I’m sure most readers wouldn’t know half of them since a lot aren’t known as well

B. Close to what Mike said. First would be Randy Rhoads, then Elvis.

6. What are some of your musical accomplishments?

A. I’m proud of the recordings we have on different streaming services ...7 Music Videos the past there were a good handful of Battle of the Bands 1st place awards...Playing in Multiple legendary venues in California...I don’t feel anywhere near done but I would say the fact we made something out of Twenty 2 Salute (although it’s small in some people’s eyes)...I feel we’ve broken out of the beginners or local tier for sure at least...still climbing but we’ve worked very hard and to see some fruits of our labor is the biggest accomplishment. Also making music that other people sincerely enjoy objectively is a big accomplishment and feeling.

B. Having our first recording, to now having multiple ones. Our music videos, to getting played on the radio, to opening for big acts. It keeps progressing. I’d call those accomplishments.

7. What is the most unusual thing to have happened to you during a


A. Fell into the drum kit at a show in front of everyone and knocked things over. So embarrassing....but I collected myself in time to hit the next chorus perfectly on time so it worked!

B. We won this one battle of the bands, and we were supposed to open for this bigger name band in Las Vegas. Well, the promoter of the battle of the bands, took off with the money raised from the competition, and the headliner band that we opened for, hardly had anyone there to support them. Just a whole weird experience.

8. In 2024, where will we be able to see you playing throughout the year?

A. We will be playing with Twenty 2 Salute and our Acoustic Duo “The Schoon Brothers” in California AND in Iowa. There will be several Iowa dates and Southern California dates. People just need to keep an eye on our facebook pages and Instagram pages and all the news will be there!

B. We’ll be playing shows in Iowa, California, and other states with our band Twenty 2 Salute. Also our acoustic duo “The Schoon Brothers” around the state of Iowa.

9. What groups are you both currently involved in and how would you

describe those groups?

A. Twenty 2 Salute- It’s been our main project since 2011. It’s a high energy Hard Rock/Metal act in which we write all the songs. We moved to California with it and have big plans to continue it.

B. Schoon Brothers Acoustic Show - This is our side project but is beginning to become bigger and bigger. It’s basically our 2 man duo show in which we play acoustic guitars and both sing equally in. We play for 4 hours usually and play 90s/2000s/Modern Acoustic Alternative and Country hits.... we will probably begin to add our own written songs in an alternative/Country manner eventually with the duo act here.

10. What has been the hardest lesson to learn when it comes to music and


A. To just fight through the hard times of life and keep the passion of your music project alive when times are tough and especially for such a long period of time...been going nonstop since happens and it can take the wind out of yours sails so you have to keep finding ways to keep your mind motivated to keep the machine moving. Also for a performing lesson it would be to engage the crowd and remain energetic and entertaining regardless of the audience energy in the have to create the energy yourself and not base it off crowd energy or reaction.

B. Persistence is key. A lot of bands phase out because things aren’t going the way they want after a short time, or they get kinda jaded. If you really are into playing in a band. You have to persist through those times.

11. What are your hobbies?

A. Movies, sports, fantasy football, gym/running and spending time with friends. I love to socialize, have some drinks and especially go out with friends to hangout. Nothing crazy....pretty simple hobbies outside of

music at least for now.

B. Other than music. Just hanging out with friends, going to the gym, running, movies, watching football, going out on the town in general. I love going to the beach/mountains when I’m able to. Karaoke, fantasy football, video games..... very sparingly lol.

Melissa Hindt

Age: 49 

Hometown: Rockwell City, IA 

Instrument/Profession: Piano, Guitar, Percussion / Pre K- 12 Music Teacher 

1. How did you first become interested in making music?

My parents shared their love of music with me. Dancing by the record player to the Lakewood Ballroom to singing in the tractor and at church. My greatest honor was to play and sing for them as they reached the fullness of God’s love in 2021. I know my mom and dad are still a part of my music making and every time I sing or play the piano I still feel them right beside me. That is why I put that picture in of me playing the home piano, they would always stop and listen to me. 

2. How long have you been teaching? And, what made you decide to major in Music Education?

This is my 19th year teaching but my first year teaching high school music. My sister, Julia, helped me decide to major in music education. She was teaching second grade at the time and as any good big sister she nudged me to get serious about my plans and encouraged me to share my love of music with kids. 

3. Tell us about a couple of your most memorable performances/concerts?

Every concert I have with my students is memorable; all of their work and their trust they put in me lights up the world. Hearing their voices and seeing their smiles is like a little piece of heaven. 

A personal memorable performance was the summer of 2022. I played Mavis in the 2nd Helping of the Chruch Basement Ladies for the Webster City Comunity Theatre. My character was the farm wife who could do anything and producing new life on the farm or in the farmhouse was “God’s Way of Sayin” life must go on. It was a joy for me because my character was a way of celebrating my childhood with my parents and my siblings. It was the best way to work through my new life here on earth without my parents in it. I have a picture of me and 5 of 6 siblings coming to see the show that I put as a part of this article. It was our mom’s birthday the night they came to see the show. The pose we are creating was one of my lines on how those in heaven are always looking down at us but of course I was a humorous character so as I was thinking of our loved ones looking down and I needed to be proper with my top. So my siblings recreated that part with me. 

4. Who has the greatest influence on you musically, and why?

My husband has been the greatest influence in my life in every way; even musically. We were high school sweethearts and listening to music was and still is one of our favorite things to do. Especially movie scores. He has written many beautiful poems and short stories that come to life with our favorite film collections. This love and influence is now something our 4 children share with us and we love it! 

5. If you had a chance to meet any performer/musician, alive or dead, whom would you choose, and why?

Karen Carpenter, her voice and her music filled the days of my childhood and still do to this day I am captivated by her songs, her voice and her ability to bring her listeners into her melodies. 

6. What are some of your musical accomplishments?

Being a music teacher is my greatest musical accomplishment. I love sharing the joy of music making with my students and seeing them light up when they learn the songs and instruments. 

7. What is the most unusual thing to have happened to you during a performance/concert?

This is a tough one to answer because I believe when something happens out of the ordinary that you don’t expect it is all how you handle it. From the messed up words, to the shenanigans among the little ones and the unexpected light outs you just have to roll with it. And those moments make it all real. 

8. Outside of music and the classroom, what other things do you enjoy? Any hobbies?

I love to be with my family and playing games. We love to watch movies together in the theater and at home. I love to read and decorate; especially for the holidays. We love the gift of Christmas! And I love to dance! 

9. What has been the hardest lesson to learn when it comes to music and education?

I think the hardest lesson has been trusting myself enough to know how to teach my students and meet their individual needs. To not be afraid of taking risks when it comes to choosing music because of my insecurities; if I am excited about it that will rub off on them and their excitement and talents will grow right along with mine. And this gives me the courage I need to be the best teacher I can be. 

10. What do you tell a student who is interested in pursuing a career in music/music education?

I would say, “If you have music in your heart and you want to change the world go for it!!”

Jefferson Fosbender

Age:  30

Hometown: Fort Dodge, IA  

Instrument: Guitar and Vocals

  • How did you first become interested in making music? 

Growing up, I always took the opportunity to join the choirs and theater performances at my high school, and later at Iowa Central. At first, I think I was more interested in spending time with my friends than I ever was making music. But that exposure to music, and that choral training, from a young age stuck with me and has given me the opportunity to join bands and write music as an adult.

  • What projects are you currently involved in?

My primary project is the Tank Anthony Band, where I play rhythm guitar and sing harmonies. I also recently started a folk duo with Alejandro Trevino, called Stadium Dr. That group has already released one single (Don’t I Know), and is set to release a full album by the end of 2023. And since 2016, I’ve been playing and recording with a group from Cedar Falls, IA, called Oakland. We have one album on Spotify (Between Now and November), and look to release our second album sometime in 2024.

  • Tell us about a couple of your most memorable performances or musical experiences.

My most memorable performance by far was opening for Big & Rich with the Tank Anthony Band, at the Downtown Country Jam, in 2022. Getting to play on a massive stage, in front of thousands of people, while also being in our hometown, was unbelievable! Beyond that, Stadium Dr. did a “mini-tour” of eastern-Iowa and Wisconsin back in May of 2023, which was also an incredible experience.

  • Who has the greatest influence on you musically?  

Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers have always been my biggest musical influence. I grew up listening to their Greatest Hits album, and have always loved their songwriting style. Lyrically, I’ve always been drawn to folk artists like Bon Iver and Noah Kahan. Even now, a lot of my writing for Stadium Dr. is largely influenced by these artists.

  • If you had a chance to meet any performer/musician, alive or dead, whom would you choose and why? 

Hands down, I would’ve loved to meet Tom Petty. I’d love to hear the stories of his time on the road, and the inspirations behind writing some of his biggest hits. I also imagine there are some pretty amazing stories from his time with the Traveling Wilbury’s, and hanging out with some of the biggest classic rock names of all time. 

  • What are some of your musical accomplishments? 

Beyond the roles I’ve played on musical theater stages, and in bands, my favorite musical accomplishments have always been the songs we’ve released. No matter if dozens or thousands of people listen to our music, there is no better feeling than making art with your friends and being able to share that art with your community.

  • What is the most unusual thing to have happened to you during a show/performance either as a teacher or a performer? 

I think one of the funniest moments came when I was performing at an Iowa-brewery. It was an afternoon show, and there were many young families hanging out on the patio. At one point, a little kid noticed that people were putting cash in my guitar case, and must’ve thought it was a community fund – he proceeded to come up and take all of the money out of my guitar case while I was playing a song. Luckily, his dad noticed and chased him down before the “little robber” got too far away!

  • What has been the hardest lesson to learn when it comes to music and performing?  

The toughest thing about being a traveling/career musician is undoubtedly time management and finding a balance. It’s obviously incredibly fulfilling, but staying upbeat and healthy while performing and constantly being on the road can also be challenging. It’s important to find time to recharge and stay motivated.  

  • What are your hobbies?

Music has slowly become my largest hobby. But outside of that, I enjoy being outdoors, homebrewing, reading, and doing crossword puzzles while drinking coffee out of my favorite mugs.

  • What do you most enjoy about being a working musician in the Midwest?

The best part about being a musician in the Midwest is how welcoming and supportive our music community is. We hear so many stories of music scenes that are full of competition and bitterness, but here in Central Iowa, all of the musicians I meet always try to come out to other people’s shows and root on their peers. It’s very unique, but in the best way.

  • What would you tell a student who is interested in pursuing a career in music?  

Be prepared to work outside of your comfort zone, and don’t be afraid of failure. You’ll have shows where very few people show up. You’ll have shows where no one seems to be listening. To me, those seem to be the moments where I’m growing the most. Learning to be comfortable and confident when things aren’t going well will only make you a better performer when everything is going well. Just keep going!

Megan Secor

• Name: Megan Secor

  • Age: I'm like a fine wine - I get better with time, but you won't find the exact vintage on the label 😉
  • Hometown: Fort Dodge, Iowa
  • Profession: Marketing Coordinator and part-owner at Soldier Creek Winery

  • Growing up, what artistic activities did you participate in? 

During middle school and high school I played clarinet for our school’s band and marching band, it was a lot of fun and I liked the challenge of learning new music. I was always pretty crafty, my grandma taught me how to embroider and knit when I was in elementary school and that carried over into my adult life. In middle school and high school I was an avid participant in theatrical plays and competitive speech. 

  • Did you grow up in an art loving household? If so, how?

Our household was full of creatives, my dad whittled when I was young and was always building something. My mom loved to cook and sew—she used to make whole outfits with matching accessories for my brother and I. My brother and I were always creating things from any sort of building material: legos, Lincoln logs, sand, you name it!

  • Tell us about some of the “artsy” organizations that you are involved with.

I serve on the board for the Fort Dodge Fine Arts Association and the Catherine Vincent Deardorf Charitable Foundation, I love being in a position to support the arts in Fort Dodge! I’m also involved in a needle arts group full of lovely women who get together once a week to embroider, knit, or crochet together.

  • What is the mission and goal of the Catherine Vincent Deardorf Charitable Foundation?

The mission of the Catherine Vincent Deardorf Charitable Foundation is to support and promote art, libraries, nature, and heritage through collaboration within Webster County, Iowa. Our goal is to keep the arts and culture in Webster County thriving! There are some notable public art projects that have been supported by the Catherine Vincent Deardorf Charitable Foundation: “Over the Treetops” mosaic at the Fort Dodge Regional Airport, “DNA Strand” hand-blown glass sculpture at Iowa Central Community College, and “Parade” aluminum sculpture at the intersection of 5th Avenue South and 8th Street South… just to name a few. The Catherine Vincent Deardorf Charitable Foundation has given over $10,000,000 to the arts, libraries, nature, and heritage to date.

  • What areas of art and culture in Fort Dodge do you most enjoy?

I couldn’t possibly pick one that I enjoy most! I enjoy hearing my family play in the Fort Dodge Area Symphony, I enjoy seeing the public art pieces around our community, I love seeing Stage Door and Comedia shows, and I am so happy at the thriving live music culture in Fort Dodge.

  • From your perspective, how has the art and culture scene in Fort Dodge varied over the years?

In the 13 years that I’ve been in Fort Dodge, I’ve seen the public art and live music scene become such a force in our community. The murals, public art, and extensive trails system have really boosted the quality of life in our community—not to mention the countless live music events taking place all over town! It’s been amazing to witness the change.

  • In what ways are your kids involved in the arts? 

My daughter is learning to play the violin through the Gillette & Chen Music Academy, and my son will join her next year. They both take dance classes through United All Stars. My daughter will be trying out for next year’s Stage Door production as well!  

  • In your opinion, why is a diverse arts and culture scene important in our community? 

It’s so important for communities to have a thriving arts and culture scene, not only from a quality-of-life perspective, but it’s also such an important part of the fabric of our society. Historically, the arts and culture of a society has been used to tell our story. Art can provide an outlet for our thoughts, feelings, beliefs, and traditions—this is how we can convey our world to the future generations. 

Kelby Wingert

1. Name: Kelby Wingert

2. Age: 31

3. Hometown: Fort Dodge

4. Profession: Journalist

5. Congratulations on your 4th Anniversary at the Fort Dodge Messenger! We are lucky to have your talent in our community. What do you most enjoy about your job?

Thank you! What I love most about my job is getting to spend time in my community, hearing peoples’ stories and being able to help tell those stories to a larger audience. Between going away to college and spending the first four years of my career in Texas, I’ve really enjoyed that my job here at The Messenger allows me to get re-introduced to my hometown.

6. What is the most challenging part of your job?

As a journalist, I have to report on an infinitely wide array of topics and events. If you’ve picked up the paper any time over the past couple months, you may have read about several violent incidents in our community or maybe you’ve read about some of the criminal trials I’ve covered. Those kinds of stories are always the most challenging. It’s a delicate dance to balance the public’s right to know what’s happening in their community, but also acknowledge and respect the parties involved, especially the victims of violent crimes. I definitely don’t always get it right, but I’m always trying my hardest and aim to be better the next time. 

Though reporting on violent crime can sometimes be a significant part of my job, I’m grateful that Fort Dodge and Webster County also have plenty of good news to report on as well. 

7. Who, or what, inspires you?

I try to find inspiration everywhere I look. I’m inspired by the nine-year-old who decides that instead of asking for presents for her birthday, she wants her friends to bring pet food and toys to her party so she can donate them to Almost Home. I’m inspired by the siblings who were separated as children and reunited in a Fort Dodge diner nearly 60 years later. I’m inspired by the ingenuity of a group of fifth-graders who thought that encasing a chicken egg in a jar of peanut butter might soften the landing of a drop experiment. I’m inspired by the courageous victim of a horrific attack looking her attacker in the eye as she confronts him in the courtroom during his sentencing.

Most of all, I’m inspired by how quickly the Fort Dodge and Webster County communities step up to help one another in need.

8. Besides writing, what other creative outlets do you enjoy?

I’m also a photographer and actually focused on photojournalism when I was a student at Iowa State University, though I don’t spend as much time behind the camera as I used to.

When I’m not writing, you can most likely find me in the kitchen. I’ve always said that if I wasn’t a journalist, I’d be a chef. I love cooking, especially for others. In my family, I’m pretty famous for my lasagna sauce recipe (the secret is an entire bottle of cheap red wine and lots of simmering).

Cooking can be such an exercise in creativity. I’ve never once followed a recipe exactly as written – I always add my own little spin (though sometimes it’s less than successful). Recently, I’ve been focusing more on baking. This summer, I spent about six weeks perfecting a cookie recipe to enter into the Webster County Fair’s open baking show, and I won a blue ribbon! 

9. What do you most enjoy about the art and culture scene in our community?

I love the variety and affordability of events and opportunities in our community. If you check out the calendar in Twist & Shout, you’ll see there’s no shortage of live music throughout the summer. The Blanden Memorial Art Museum offers so many art classes and camps for all ages. And between the Hawkeye Community Theatre, Stage Door Productions, Comedia Musica Players and the schools in the county, there is almost always at least one play or musical taking the stage each month. 

Whether you want to get involved in a show or just enjoy the view, there’s something for everyone in the community.

10. What advice do you have for a student considering a career in journalism?

The world has never needed caring, inquisitive, dogged journalists more than it does now. This is very often a thankless job, but it is paramount to a democratic society. It is our job to hold accountable those in power, ask the tough questions and – in the words of the late Washington Post publisher Phil Graham – be the “first rough draft of history.” 

Ask hard questions even if you know the answer is going to be “no comment.” Let your readers know what questions you’re asking and who’s refusing to answer them.

Above all else, remember the people who will be impacted – even in the most minute ways – by your work. The HBO drama “The Newsroom” had a line of dialogue that I have printed out and posted above my computer on my desk – “News is only useful in the context of humanity.”

11. What would you like your readers to know about you?

I truly and deeply care about the Fort Dodge community. This isn’t just my hometown and where I grew up – this is Home, with a capital H. It was my dream since I was in seventh grade to see my name on the byline in The Messenger and I take this responsibility incredibly seriously. As I mentioned before, I am always trying my best with every story I sit down to write. Sometimes it comes easily, sometimes it doesn’t. And sometimes I get it wrong. I’ve learned from every mistake I’ve made in print – from misspelling someone’s name (often my own) to getting the math wrong on some statistics I’ve calculated to misunderstanding a medical term. I will always fix those mistakes and aim to do better the next time. If any reader wants to pitch a story idea to me or has any questions about my process for writing a story, I welcome them to stop by our newsroom in downtown Fort Dodge, located next door to the Webster County Courthouse.

I am beyond grateful for every single reader who picks up The Messenger every morning. You are why I do what I do.

Tyler Sandstrom

Age: 41

Hometown: Harcourt area

Current City: Dayton

Profession: Potter

  1. Growing up, did you grow up in an artistic household? If so, how? 

I was brought up in an encouraging, creative, and hardworking family. My mother has a good eye with home décor and flower arrangements and my dad is very diligent worker. I was encouraged to develop and use my God given gifts. For me, this happened to be a creative mind that keeps at a task until it is done. 

  1. Tell us about your educational path. 

I graduated high school and then did an apprenticeship with a master potter.

  1. Do you remember the first pottery piece you made? 

What was it and what were your first impressions of creating pottery?

I do remember my first piece of pottery. It was a bowl type looking…thing.

I thought making pottery on the wheel was super difficult and extremely fun. 

  1. What are some of the challenges in owning your own pottery studio?

Challenges abound when you have been a full-time, self-employed artist trying to sell art in rural Iowa since 2006. Most of the answers come by perseverance.

Some of those challenges are getting your story out and your product known, getting people to your storefront, and keeping up with demand. 

  1. What are some of the best things about owning your own pottery studio?

I get to live where I work and create functional pottery that gets used every day all over the country. Best of all, I get to work alongside my lovely wife, Laura, and together we teach our three children to work smart & hard in whatever they choose to do with their God given talents. 

  1. What would you like people to know about From Miry Clay Pottery?

Fun fact: Our kilns have been fired over 1,480 times, and I go through 2,000 lbs. of clay every 

7 - 8 months…which means I make a LOT of pots! Together, we create over 350 different functional stoneware vessels in 14 established glaze colors. Along with that, we also have fun making horsehair pottery and illuminated pierced vessels. Find out how versatile and amazing clay is by making a trip to Dayton and seeing our studio and gallery in an old bank building. Go to for our hours and more info.

  1. What advice would you give to an artist just starting out?

Be a hybrid artist: organized, business minded, and adaptable. Don’t waste your talent and always treat others better than yourself. 

Eric Anderson

  1. Age: 45
  2. Hometown: Estherville Iowa 
  3. Profession: Art Museum Director / Artist 
  4. Did you grow up in an artistic household? How did you first become interested in creating art?

I would say that I grew up in a somewhat artistic household, I know that my mom worked for the public school, and she would create items for teachers’ classrooms. My dad is a singer and would participate in church and area performance groups and musicals. There are artistic people on both sides of my family, my mother’s brother is an exceptional drawer and my dad has a cousin that creates amazing objects out of wood.  I think I had an interest in creating art, drawing, and coloring as far back as I can remember.  I do recall that one of my favorite subjects in early elementary was tornados after seeing one from a distance from my house. But my favorite memory would be when I asked my elementary art teacher if he could draw my California Raisin figure like he did for others and he stated that if I wanted one by him that he wanted one from me first.  I remember sitting at the kitchen table and concentrating on drawing this 3-dimensional object onto a flat sheet of paper.  Then taking that drawing into the art teacher and giving it to him and in turn later receiving the biggest drawing than anyone else in the grade back from him.  I found out that he was tired of drawing the figures by the time I asked him that he thought that if I had to draw it I would give up and he would not have to do it no more, but when he saw that I had tried he was impressed leading to the drawing that he created for me.  I still have that drawing today.     

  1. What has your educational path been?

My educational path has always been focused on art and creative design. I started out at Iowa Lakes Community College in Estherville. I graduated with a AA / AS in Graphic / Advertising and General Art Transfer.  I had worked at the local newspaper for a summer and found that I did not like that type of Graphic Design work, so I went on to Minnesota State University – Mankato and studied Studio Art. I majored in Painting and printmaking. During my time at Mankato, I enjoyed art history courses and also working at the art gallery on campus.  I earned my BFA and MA in studio art from MSU.  After MSU I applied and was accepted to attend the MFA program at the University of Nebraska – Lincoln studying Studio Arts and Art History.  

  1. What do you most enjoy about creating artwork?

There are many things I enjoy or find interesting in relation to creating art, one is the ability to create something new, the act of taking something from my head and bringing it into existence.  I enjoy the problem-solving aspects of creating art – being able to take simple materials and create an illusion of reality, transformation of materials, and or the dialogue of understanding. I find the whole process fascinating.  

  1. How has your work changed over the years? 

I would say that the visual nature of my work has changed because I have changed. My understanding of things and how I experience the world gets reflected in my art. The work also changes as I find new materials to incorporate into the work.  I would say that I have always tried to stay true to a core idea – a contradiction - “Simple Complexity.” So, the visual nature of the work has changed but not the core idea.   

  1. Why is it important for children to be exposed to artwork? 

It is important for children to be exposed to artwork because it presents them with a world of color, expression, and imagination.  This exposer stimulates innovative thinking and creative problem-solving.  Art allows children’s minds to think outside of the box and develop their own personal thoughts.  Art allows children to use emotional expression as an outlet and presents them with an alternative way to communicate if words are not enough.  Art has a great impact on children, it introduces them to world cultures, shows them diversity in the world, expands understandings.  

  1. What do you most like about the art and culture scene in Fort Dodge? 

The Fort Dodge Art and Cultural scene is thriving and growing. I like the diversity of opportunities available, the organic growth of events and activities, and the richness of artistic development happening.   

  1. Who, or what, inspires you? And why?

I am always inspired by individuals that have the courage to be a full-time artist living and working for creative spirit.  I find inspiration from my kids seeing their love and enthusiasm for creating is amazing.  I love seeing new works of art that challenge my understanding, I also enjoy meeting new artists and seeing what they are working on.  

  1. What is the most challenging part of being an artist?

I think the most challenging part of being an artist is finding time to work and be by oneself but also connecting when needed to a larger community of creative people. 

Hans Madsen

Age: 56

Hometown: Ord, Nebraska

Profession/Artistic Medium: Photographer, Film, Traditional Photo Paper, Smelly Chemicals

1. Did you grow up in a creative household? If so, in what ways?

Yes. I grew up in a home where exploring things, like art, was encouraged and given lots of time. There were always plenty of materials, books and time to create. I still have a set of water colors my mom painted. She never pursued it thought. They’re very good! When I took up photography, there was a steady supply of film and paper provided. 

2. At what point did you become interested in photography?

The photography bug bit when I was about 14. I haven’t really sought out a cure for it since then, assuming there is one. 

3. What challenges you as an artist?

The biggest challenge is staying active. It’s far too easy to give in to other activities that require nothing more than gluing your eyeballs to a screen. 

4. Who inspires you?

As a photographer, my first teacher, T. Leo Lauyer still has an influence. Other photographers include Mary Ellen Mark, Robert Frank, W. Eugene Smith, David Stock, Henri Cartier Bresson and Robert Mapplethorpe. 

5. What is the most enjoyable aspect of photography for you?

On the technical side, I love the darkroom. I’ve yet to tire of seeing an image emerge from a blank sheet of paper in a tray of developer. It’s close to magic. For my ongoing Iowa Blues project, I enjoy it’s an overcast day with some sort of event going on where there’s a lot of people doing odd things for 1/500th of a second at a time that I can capture in my favorite light. 

6. You can have dinner with one person….famous or not….alive or not….Who do you choose and why?

My grandmother, Anna. I’d love to be able to tell her about all the adventures I’ve had in life as a working journalist and artists. Then show her some pictures. She died when I was 8 and I’ve since heard from family members she knew a few rather raunchy jokes. I’d love to hear them. 

7. What do you like most about the art and culture scene in our area? 

The sheer volume of talent here. It’s not just gifted photographers. There are lots of talented individuals that paint, draw, sculpt and make some really great music. I’m also a big fan of the Blanden Art Museum. Director, Eric Anderson features many Fort Dodge area and Iowa artists. 

Al Paulson

Age: 60

Hometown: Council Bluffs, IA

Instrument/Profession: Saxophone/Woodwind Specialist

1. How did you first become interested in making music?

I started in band in 5 th grade playing the French Horn. I then switched to

bari-sax after getting braces. I loved playing bari, and never stopped.

2. How long have you been teaching? And, what made you decide to major

in Music Education?

I have been teaching high school band for 36 years. I was drum major in

high school and loved the feeling of leading the band. I was also inspired to

by my high school band director, Mr. Waddington.

3. Tell us about a couple of your most memorable performances/concerts?

My jazz band was selected for the Iowa Band Master’s Convention in 1998,

we have had 20 appearances at the Iowa Jazz Championships and have

placed in the top eight, 13 times and as high as 3 rd place.

Both FDSH bands received Division I ratings at large group contest.

4. Who has the greatest influence on you musically?

My high school band teacher, Rob Waddington.

5. If you had a chance to meet any performer/musician, alive or dead, whom

would you choose?

Duke Ellington and Glen Miller, two of the greatest big band leaders of all


6. What are some of your musical accomplishments?

35 Division I ratings in March Band

36 Division I ratings in Concert Band

30 Division I ratings in Jazz Band

Numerous championships in both march and jazz bands at independent

festivals during my career.

7. What is the most unusual thing to have happened to you during a


The lights went off on stage during a large group contest performance in

Texas. The band knew their music so well that they continued to play until

the lights came back on. They did not miss a note and received a Division I


8. Outside of music and the classroom, what other things do you enjoy? Any


Hiking, bike riding and spending time with my wife, Glenda.

9. What has been the hardest lesson to learn when it comes to music and


Work hard and practice a lot. Hold your students to high expectations and

they will rise to it.

10. What do you tell a student who is interested in pursuing a career in

music/music education?

I love coming to school and making music with young people and chasing

them around the football field. Become proficient on your instrument,

learn piano and join choir to learn to sing. All of this will be very important

as you attend college.

Andrea Bodhudlt

How did you first become interested in making music? 

My mom started teaching me to play the piano when I was in kindergarten. I started lessons with a teacher the next year. In high school, I became interested in taking organ lessons from Kathleen Schreier and throughout the rest of my college years. I also started vocal lessons in college and earned my BA in Vocal Performance.

How long have you been performing/teaching? 

I was asked to play for the St. Paul Saturday night church service when I was 12 years old. I have played for a church ever since. I started teaching piano lessons in 2004 and have been teaching piano lessons ever since. I have also added vocal and organ lessons. 

Tell us about a couple of your most memorable piano recital experiences.

My first recital was the most memorable since I had no idea what a recital was. I was very shy and when my teacher asked if I would like to play a certain song, I said yes even though I did not like the song at all. I had no idea I could ask if I could play my favorite song. So, lesson learned there. 

In the early years, my mom and I often played duets together at the Villa Care Center since we had an adopted grandma there. I remember one lady in particular during one of our piano visits, pretty perturbed that we were making her miss her afternoon tv program. Not sure if they had TVs in their rooms, but there was one in the room next to the piano where we were playing. I think she called war on our music. We could hear the volume get louder, so we giggled and played a little louder. Other residents (and staff) were asking her to turn the TV back down. I can’t remember who won that round. 

Fast forward a few years, adding much more experience. We had a music recital at the old Thompson Friendship Haven center. That was rewarding because we had a room of residents who were eager to see and hear young students perform. Not only did I play my solo piano pieces, but I also played a few pieces in a trio with a violin and cello. That was the first time I played with any other instruments. A whole new exciting world opened up to me!

Who has the greatest influence on you musically? 

The two people that really encouraged me and taught me to pursue my passion in music include Joellen Brightman and Kathleen Schreier. There are so many people to include in the last 25 years. 

If you had a chance to meet any performer/musician, alive or dead, whom would you choose?  

Never thought about it. I have no idea.

What are some of your musical accomplishments? 

Music was my first job. I loved it and played piano all the time. I have played for many funerals and weddings. I don’t think I have missed any more than two Sundays a year in the last 23 years. I have played for services in four different denominations. I have held many piano/music recitals in all kinds of venues for my students. We have really had a fun time. 

I used to play keyboard and sing in a classic rock band the first two years of college. Then another blues/rock band a few years later. At one point, I would play with the band at a bar or event Saturday evening until 2am, go home and sleep and play one or two services Sunday morning. It was never boring!

Tell us about your educational background with music.  

I went to ICCC and took music theory, vocal lessons, and participated in jazz, concert band and choir for two years. Those were great years of learning, making friends and memories!

I finished my degree at BVU taking most of the classes needed to be a music teacher. I drove from my house in Fort Dodge for two years to Storm Lake. I still needed to do student teaching, but after getting my BA in vocal performance, I thought I would finish that part in Fort Dodge. I was asked if I would consider teaching music/choir at Community Christian School. I wasn’t sure about it, but decided I would give it a try. I enjoyed my time teaching the kids and being part of the staff for 5 years. 

If a parent, or student, is considering taking lessons, what are some things you encourage them to consider? 

One of the questions I ask is why they want to learn. There are many different reasons that kids and adults want to either learn how to read music or play the piano. I encourage them to set a routine for practicing. Just like eating and sleeping, we need a routine so we can evaluate our progress and be encouraged by how far we have come. 

What has been the hardest lesson to learn when it comes to music and performing?  

Hm. Hardest lesson – no matter how hard you practice or rehearse, something will be “out of the ordinary” when its time to perform. You can only learn how to overcome or get through that during the performance. That is one thing you cannot practice, but the practice itself comes from performing enough so you can expect those unexpected out-of-the ordinary things. Nerves. Sweaty hands. Dry mouth. A little breeze that sweeps the music off the piano. A sticky piano key that won’t play. A bench that isn’t that right height. Someone holding a microphone for you instead of in a stand. Someone standing over your shoulder holding up the music. Your hands being ice cold. A music stand that is busted and can barely hold up your music. A binder too big for the keyboard stand. Not enough light to see the music or the sun shining so bright on the music that you have to lean to the left in order to see thru the glare. 

What do you tell a student who is interested in pursuing a career in music/music education?  

You have to have a desire for it. You can tell who has it and who doesn’t.

MaryAnn McSweeny-Buhr

Age: Youth is ageless. 

Hometown: Born and raised in Maynard, Iowa. 

                     Have lived in Fort Dodge since 1990. 

Instruments: Voice & Piano.


1.    Tell us about your musical background/education.  MaryAnn McSweeny-Buhr is owner of McSweeny’s School of the Performing Arts where she teaches voice lessons, and is music director of the Fort Dodge Area Children’s Chorus.  She has over ten years of public school experience and twenty-nine years of private school experience.  She is a graduate of Mankato State University and Loras College, and holds a bachelor’s degree in music and a master’s in educational leadership and administration. Buhr has pursued additional graduate work at the University of Iowa, the University of Northern Iowa, the University of Wisconsin, Moorhead State University and Marycrest College. Mrs. Buhr has taught vocal music at the elementary, junior high and high school levels as well as applied voice at the college level.    Mrs. Buhr considers herself to be a lifelong learner and has been a voice student of Michael Ricciardone, New York City, former Associate Coordinator of Vocal Studies at New York University Steinhardt School of Education, and Dr. Jonathan Retzlaff, Associate Professor of Voice at the Eastman School of Music at the University of Rochester, New York. She served a two-year term as President of the Lewis & Clark National Association of Teachers of Singing Chapter (2016-2018).  In 2013, MaryAnn assumed the responsibility as coordinator of the Youth Honors Recital co-sponsored by the Fort Dodge Area Symphony and McSweeny’s School of the Performing Arts. McSweeny’s School of the Performing Arts was the host of this yearly event from 2013-2020. Her students are frequent semifinalists and finalists in the National Association of Teachers of Singing (NATS) competitions, continue to be consistent recipients of college vocal music scholarships and are frequently cast as musical leads in area school and community musical theatre productions. Younger vocalists and instrumentalists are encouraged to pursue musical excellence through participation in area Bill Riley State Fair Talent Search Shows during the summer with vocalists consistently qualifying to perform at the Iowa State Fair with a Grand Champion Sprout awarded in 2018. Former voice students are currently pursuing music at the college level, teaching music at the elementary, junior high, high school and college levels, pursuing vocal performance careers and teaching voice privately.   


2.    Who has had the greatest influence on you musically?  PARENTS. I have been involved in the arts since I was three and have been teaching since I was seventeen years old, so I know firsthand the impact the arts have in a life. I grew up on a dairy farm in Northeast Iowa near Maynard, Iowa and my parents sacrificed so that I could study dance beginning at the age of three and piano lessons at a very early age. The arts were valued, encouraged and important in my family. TEACHERS. My favorite teachers were those who inspired me to use my imagination and creativity, encouraged me to use my heart and to think outside of the box. Mrs. Helen Mills was my fourth grade teacher. For one writing assignment, she allowed our class to choose a picture and write a story about it. I chose a mermaid. I loved being in Mrs. Mill’s class since she brought out the creative, inquisitive, and dreamer in me. Mr. Daryl Libke was my high school English teacher, and speech and drama director. Believe it or not, I was very shy and somewhat of an introvert throughout my formative years. Mr. Libke saw something special in me and encouraged me to participate in speech during my junior and senior years of high school and also encouraged me to try out for the musical “Hello Dolly” my senior year. I really didn’t want to try out for the musical, but after much encouragement, I tried out and was cast as Irene Malloy, a leading role. I also used my dance skills, as assistant choreographer.  My senior year, Mr. Libke created a new class in modern poetry.  During this class, I found one of my passions, poetry. We read, interpreted, analyzed and even wrote poetry. I will be forever grateful for all that he taught me and know that my love of poetry has guided my love of texts in my music career. Mrs. Dora Miehe, my piano teacher from 5th-12th grade was an amazing woman. She had a beautiful baby grand piano in her home. I remember our lessons were filled with the fundamentals of music theory, Hannon Exercises, Bach Inventions, lesson books and of course, lots of laughter. When Mrs. Miehe found out I loved to sing, she even allowed me to play and sing during my piano lessons. She was a delightful woman who allowed me to grow naturally, instilled a love of music in me, and even allowed me to teach her a little bit about rock music. Dr. Jonathan Retzlaff, my voice teacher as an adult, taught me so much about musicianship, artistry, vocal pedagogy, following my heart, and taking risks.  I’m sure I went into the field of education because of the impact teachers made in my life. “If just one person believes in you.” So often, that is all it takes. I was fortunate to have been surrounded by amazing people who impacted my life as teachers. My life has truly been blessed by great teachers and for this I will be forever grateful. 


3.    If you had a chance to meet any performer/musician, alive or dead, whom would you choose? I would love to meet Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, George Frideric Handel and Antonio Vivaldi. Their music speaks to me in so many ways. As a soprano, I have sung many of their arias and art songs.


4.    What are some of your musical accomplishments?  Teachers had a profound impact on my life, so I continue to dedicate my life to teaching, inspiring and supporting the next generation of musicians and artists. It is truly a privilege to have former students enroll their own children in the children’s chorus and  return to study voice as adults. This is a testament to the value of the arts and the impact the arts have and continue to have in one’s life.


5.    What is the most unusual thing to have happened to you, or to a student during a performance? I remember a number of years ago, accompanying a quintet during an area Bill Riley Talent Show. When we arrived, I checked out the piano and realized the piano was an older piano that had seen it’s better days. As I began accompanying, the ivories started flying off every direction while this young male quintet was singing. All I could do was stay focused! I also remember a Bill Riley Talent Show at the Fort Museum Opera House when there was a tornado warning and everyone had to evacuate to the bathroom areas.   



6.    Would you describe the mission of the McSweeny’s School of the Performing Arts? McSweeny’s School of the Performing Arts mission is to nurture the next generation of artists, musicians, and performers through our example, teaching, mentoring and guidance and enhance the quality of life to all involved in these artistic endeavors. The arts are a lifeline to many, and we have a moral obligation and responsibility to bringing out the performing musician in students of all ages. Every person, deserves an opportunity to pursue the arts.   I’ve included a quote from one of my voice students. “Music is what anchors me in the present. It is how I give back, and honor myself and the gifts I have been given to share.” 



7.    What has been the hardest lesson to learn when it comes to music and running a performing arts school? We are celebrating our 27th year in business, so there have been many successes and challenges over the years. When we opened McSweeny’s School of the Performing Arts, we opened it so our children and the children in this community and the surrounding area were taught to be active participants in music and life.  Our children were very young during that time, so It was a challenge navigating business and family life, but to have our children involved in music making at the studio, made it so much easier. They also made many friends and learned the value of a strong work ethic by helping out in so many ways at both the studio and home. I’m fortunate to be surrounded by the best people, family and friends. Our teachers, my husband, (Michael) and area pianist and best friend, (Michelle Havlik-Jergens), and extended family, support the studio in so many ways and for this I am immensely grateful.  The key to success in any endeavor is to be surrounded by great people, family and friends and to never forget your roots.


8.     What do you most enjoy about the art and culture scene in Fort Dodge?  I love attending local and area concerts and musicals and watching my students and their friends perform. There is so much time and energy that goes into each recital, concert, musical or performance so it is essential to support live music and theatre. The arts are truly the lifeblood of any  community.   














Tim Salter

1. Name: Tim Salter

2. Age:...(optional) Old ! Lol! Old Dude’s Rock! I consider myself an old guitar with new


3. Hometown: Born in a Chicago Suburb. Have lived in Fort Dodge most of my life.

4. Artistic Medium: Contemporary Country, Rock, Alternative, Funk. Seems like have played

just about all of it over the past 40+ years of performing.

5. Did you grow up in a musical household? How did you first become interested in music?

Not really a musical family per se but a very athletic family. I played football, basketball and

baseball all thru school. Also, I played in my first bands all thru junior high and high school as


6. Tell us about your musical journey from high school to today. 

Actually played my first paying gig at age 14 and was in a number of bands in junior high school

playing for talent shows, house parties etc…Breaking in to high school, I played in a high school

band called “Legacy" thru out my high school days along with four fellow classmates. We

played high school dances and some college events all over Iowa. In 1981, the year we graduated

from high school, our band Legacy won the annual Iowa Battle of The Bands held at Iowa State

University at the time. The event was pretty big back then and was sponsored and judged by

KGGO rock radio out of Des Moines. There were over 20 bands competing from all over the

state and a few from out of state in front of a huge crowd. What a thrill for we were the youngest

band to ever win the event. It was and still is a great honor to share with my fellow classmates

and bandmates. Bill Saxton, Steve Donahoe, Jeff Abrams, Tony Bald and Marshall Dodge.

7. What groups are you currently performing in?

SaltyView is celebrating a 20 year anniversary in 2022. SaltyView is an acoustic based newer

contemporary country cover band that also ventures in to classic rock, funk, you name it. I am so

blessed to have played with an incredible roster of talent in this band over the past 20 years, most

of whom have provided long term support to the band. All incredibly talented musicians and

singers. We are blessed to play many higher end clubs, lake resorts, casinos, corporate

functions. SaltyView has opened for many national acts such as Granger Smith, John Michael

Montgomery, Mitchell Tenpenny and most recently opening for Bailey Zimmerman this past

summer, who has since exploded in to the newer country scene. Our current members include

incredibly talented singers in Alyssa Albee and Jared Benson. 

Also, currently in power rock band called Section 7. This band is an entirely different animal in

terms of genre from SaltyView. This band plays power party rock that leans to a bit heavier side

but a fun mixture of 80’s, 90’s classic and power rock. It’s a pretty high energy production and a

family affair consisting of my brother in law Lance Rossow on Bass and Harmony Vocals and

nephew Jake Rossow on drums and lead vocals. 

8. What do you most enjoy about gigging?

For me personally, I enjoy the production of a pro live show in terms of both audio and visual

presentation. The challenge of creating a professional show. In all of my ventures, I certainly

strive to create a small concert like atmosphere within small to medium sized clubs. This

approach certainly requires more time and investment, but I believe in the concept of a show. I

also have years of "Front Of House" experience and worked with Saucy Jack for nearly 15 years,

as well as several other bands in the past providing sound engineering and production

consulting. Learned so much from one of my mentors and great friend Andy Anderson on FOH

production and creating the best audio mix possible and continually investing in audio and visual

technology. I think it is well worth the additional time and investment and I certainly hope our

incredibly loyal followers that come see us think so as well. From a pro light show to vertical

hazers to fire flash pots and pyro on occasion, I think it is fun to create this kind of atmosphere in

smaller clubs if we can. In the late 80’s and mid 90’s there was a huge emphasis on building the show with the agencies we booked through. That was a bit different time but I recall some of the best advice from one of

our booking agents gave me, he encouraged us to never underestimate the impact of a pro show,

he always said that people “Hear what they See" often times and that has always stuck with me. 

This is certainly evidenced with the incredible concert productions of today as compared to 20

years ago, it is an unbelievable ramp up in production. Not suggesting my projects are anything

near concert level but we try our best to apply this to a cover bar band presentation. I also enjoy

the challenge of creating set lists that can bring people up, as well as bring them back down at

strategic points, then back up again. I believe people want to be entertained, not just played to. I

think all these things are challenging and I personally really enjoy the challenge, not to mention

having a lot of fun doing it. Playing live is also the very best way to hone you’re chops as they

say, to become a better player with an emphasis on consistent improvement from a live

performing aspect. It’s challenge enough to become a great player, it’s even more of a challenge

to improve as an entertainer. Needless to say, after 45 years, I’m still learning!

9. What is the biggest challenge for musicians these days?

I’m really encouraged to see a younger demographic that are starting to form bands. Whether

their goal is to create original music, record, or go on tour performing live, or a combination of

all of these things, we have been somewhat missing the next generation of kids starting as garage

bands and evolving. Kids getting off the Xbox and picking up a guitar or a bass or buying a drum

set. I hope this continues. The music business these days is so much different than it was 20-30 years ago. There are so many technological tools and social media dissemination assets available these days that in a

way I think it's a bit easier to carve your path. We have people with a lot of talent, but very little

experience that are acquiring major record deals in this day and age. The social media influence

has created a platform for discovering overnight sensations. From exploding on Tic Tok or You

Tube or any number of social media assets, there seems to be a much more efficient

and expeditious means of creating massive audiences. Those things just simply did not exist

when I was coming up through the channels. In addition, instructional tools to learn and video

assets to teach you. Social and mainstream media such as "The Voice" and "American Idol" has forever altered the traditional pathway from acquiring and building awareness. I think the most

significant challenge is to trying to retain your uniqueness in what you are striving for to become or accomplish. In a world filled with overwhelming pressure to be part of a cookie cutter

template, don’t be afraid to celebrate your own unique personality and style. 

10. Fort Dodge is filled with talent, what do you like about living in an artsy community?

You are right, I hope the people of this area truly appreciate the vast amount of talent in this

town and surrounding communities. What I like most is simply is the constant inspiration I take

from each and every one of them. I have been beyond blessed to play with an incredible array of

musicians who have crossed my path over the years. We have a very strong support and

camaraderie amongst our local musicians. It’s important in the evolution of a strong local music

scene. I’m very proud to be a part of this awesome community and to learn from each and every

one of them. 

11. What inspires you?

Love! Who you love and what you love and how important is to always have something to chase.

12. Give us an example or two of some crazy live show shenanigans. 

Omg, I could write a book on this. Lol. I have fallen off and on stages for 40 years it seems so

there are so many stories, most I probably should not share. I do recall back in the day a show in

Southern Iowa, Ottumwa I believe. The band had a converted 66 passenger school bus that we

used for both hauling a massive amount of gear, but also served as our lodging and dressing

room at the time. It was actually very nice with paneled walls fresh paint etc...We had some built

in sleeping bunks and a plush 70’s funky sectional sofa etc..I believe it was June or July of 85.

We decided to not spend the money on motel rooms on this multi night show venue and opted

for a camp ground not far from the club. It was brutal hot that time of the year and a few band

members opted to sleep on the roof of the bus for there was no AC! Well a torrential storm came

rolling through in the early morning hours and we all just braved the storm. I will never forget

the other campers were horrified when we rolled in! They didn’t know what to think! Lol. The

next day to cool off we all went to the theatre for it was air conditioned and recall watching

"Back To The Future "and stayed for both afternoon showings to get relief from the heat. Six

long haired rockers wandering around in jean shorts and army boots. What a site! Lol!

13. What's your favorite music to listen to while relaxing?

Brothers Osbourne seems to be my jam lately!

14. You meet someone who's interested in learning guitar....what advice do you have for them? 

Patience grasshopper! Lol! Don’t get in a hurry, enjoy the journey of learning. It will provide

you with a lifetime of solitude and enjoyment!

Jacci Hindt

1. Name: Jacci Hindt

2. 21, 16 times 

3. Hometown: Rockwell City 

4. Profession: Entrepreneur; Owner at Jacci Addison Studios (Photography, Videography, and Social Media Marketing Manager) and Owner of Addison James Boutique

5. In what ways were you exposed to the arts growing up? 

Growing up, I always found myself enjoying arts of different kinds and spending hours trying to draw, paint, and craft. I experimented with music, participated in band, dance and theatre; but it wasn't until I was a little bit older and was able to take a Photography class at school that I finally clicked with an Art. From that moment on, it grew right along with me and I'm not certain I ever put a camera down. 

6. Tell us about your education and professional experience up to this point.

After graduating high school, I took off to California to attend college for Dance and Performing Arts but quickly found myself back in Iowa attending Iowa Central. I graduated with my AA and went on to DMACC to receive a degree in Photography. I began Jacci Addison Studios back in 2008 and Addison James Boutique in 2014. The process of building these businesses and remaining focused on the skills needed to run them, have truly been my biggest educational tools. In addition to that, I spent 8 years as Adjunct Instructor at Iowa Central teaching a variety of classes to the Photography students and watching them go on to succeed. I truly love being able to share my successes and failures to help encourage others to live out their dreams. 

7. What challenges you? As an entrepreneur I think my biggest challenge is self-doubt. It's so easy to begin comparing your life, art, and success to everyone around you. The truth is, we never see what's actually happening on the other side and everyone's definition of success and their end results look different. 

8. What is the most rewarding part about your work? The most rewarding part of my work is hands down the people I get to work with. You get to meet so many really cool, genuine people who become friends. I also enjoy being able to make my schedule work to be present for my kids. 

9. How has your role as a photographer/entrepreneur changed over the years? When I first started out as an Entrepreneur, I was unsure of just about everything. I began as a hobbyist, grew to a second shooter, traveled the United States with After Dark and truly soaked in every single ounce of knowledge anyone would give me (I still do). As time has gone by, my roles have changed. I quickly transformed into an owner who wears a million hats with the coolest team beside me. When you always remember where you began, you truly start to see that anything is possible. 

10. What advice would you give to someone wanting to start their own business? My biggest piece of advice to someone wanting to start their own business is to remember that hearing "no" is okay. We are conditioned to see "no" as a bad thing but what it really means is something better is out there. It's so easy to devalue yourself and your art in fear of someone saying no. Someone else who values your art will see your worth. You will have your highs and you will have your lows, but entrepreneurship is about how you get back up and keep fighting. 

11. You win 2 tickets to anywhere! Where do you choose to travel and who do you take with you? If I won 2 tickets anywhere, I would send two of my team members to the Maldives where I couldn't access them to give them work. In all seriousness, they are the reason I get to live my dream everyday and I am thankful beyond words that they believe in me and my vision! 

12. Who, or what, most inspires you? In what ways? Inspiration is what keeps me going every single day. I truly look around me each day and see people that inspire me; they might be people who have built incredible businesses, people who have overcome barriers built against them, people balancing the chaos of life, people meant to inspire others, and sometimes a simple quote I find on social media. In my personal life I am often inspired by my friends who are the best cheerleaders, the amazing Rochelle Green who always knows the right thing to say when I need encouragement; and my kids who make me strive to be the best version of me and always bring me back to my why. 


1. Name: William Griffel

2.Hometown: Carlinville, Illinois in South Central Illinois

3. Profession: Animal Nutritionist

4. Growing up, what artistic activities did you participate in? Growing up on a farm in Illinois there was not much opportunity to be involved in the arts other than at school/. During my high school years I did participate in chorus, stage plays and musicals. The plays and musicals came along in my junior and senior years.

5. Did you grow up in an art loving household? If so, how? My mother and father were not involved in the arts to my knowledge. They did not talk about such things done when they were younger. The farm took up all of our time and sports.

6. Tell us about your connection to the Ringland-Smeltzer family. I moved to Fort Dodge in 1983 to start working for a new company just west of Fort Dodge. I spent many months in town before my wife and son were able to join me. Needless to say I spent many evenings looking at houses in town for a new home for us. I must have looked at sixty plus houses, but the one that caught my eye was in the Oak Hill Historic district. What I didn’t know at the time was that it was just across the alley from the Ringland-Smeltzer house. When we moved in the first week of August 1983, we met all our neighbors but one.The Tarbox family and Eide family were on either side of us, but Miss Smeltzer didn’t come into our lives until about two weeks after moving in. I was cutting out bushes and little trees that had grown up near the alley. Miss Smeltzer came out and wanted to know why I was cutting everything down. I explained I was removing the overgrown bushes to make more room for our son to play, and that we were planning to replace the bushes with new ones. That Christmas, Miss Smeltzer sent me two bushes to make sure I kept to my plan. She became a friend to my family at that time. We were invited into her house at Halloween when my son went trick or treating at her door.. Miss Smeltzer was kind to us all as long as she lived. I have always felt proud of the relationship we had.

7. How did you become the caretaker to the Ringland-Smeltzer house? Miss Smeltzer died in February 1999. When her will was read, I learned she had named me her executer. I spent many hours over the next three years working with attorneys and the courts. It was during this time when I learned about all the good things Miss Smeltzer had done during her life to help people and the Arts in Fort Dodge. She contributed major pieces of art to the Blanden Art Gallery, which sits on the land where her great grandparents lived. She helped many people in Fort Dodge to further their education in the Arts. Most people did not and still do not know of her kindnesses to adults and children throughout her life. When her will was finally confirmed in the courts, a trust was formed to continue to carry out her good works and support of the arts and her other areas of interest. A board was established to represent nine areas in which Miss Smeltzer had always been interested. Board members come from the Blanden Art Museum, Fort Dodge Public Library, Iowa Central Community College, Fort Dodge Community School District, Webster County Conservation Board, Webster County Extension Service, Fort Dodge Area Symphony, Fort Dodge Historic Foundation, and the Oak Hill Historic district. The nine organizations supply a member to serve a three year term on the Smeltzer board and the member can be reappointed for more terms. I represent the Oak Hill Historic District and have been on the board since it was established. I was elected the second president of the board and have served in that capacity ever since. My responsibility is to take care of the house and make it available to the public.

8. What areas of art and culture in Fort dodge do you most enjoy? I enjoy the symphony, Carl King Band and the Blanden Art Gallery the most. However, the Cabaret at the Smeltzer House put on by Stage Door Productions is always fun because of the age differences in the performers and the young lady who plays the piano. I seem to be out of town for work, or not have much time for the other venues.

9. How has the art and culture scene in Fort Dodge varied over the years? When I first came to live in Fort Dodge I did not follow the arts portion of the area, but more of the culture aspect. I place the Fort and the Frontier Parade as the cultural place and event that I most enjoyed. Over the last thirty nine years these two have gotten smaller, but have shown renewed life in the last several years. They are something that is Fort Dodge and I hope continues. Culture in Fort Dodge has had a great history over the years. In my way of thinking, for a town the size of Fort Dodge, we have more things to do than many larger towns. The two high schools, ICCC, the theater groups, the Blanden and the Fine Arts Association have given us more things to enjoy than you would ever expect in a town our size. The reason I think these groups thrive is that they are supported by everyone in town.

10. In what ways has your interest in the art been passed on to your kids? I have a son who enjoys music, but went for the DJ side of presenting music. He traveled all over the state and as far as Utah playing music. He enjoys art and now blows glass at his home in Des Moines. He is quite talented with glass and makes it look easy, something I could never do. He also likes events like art shows and fairs.

11. What is the mission and goal of the Ringland-Smeltzer Trust in our community? The mission of the trust is to create a cultural environmental center that exists to enhance/enrich the community through outreach and resources in the arts, music, literature, history, environmental conservation and stewardship and social justice. The trust’s vision is to develop and utilize the farmland to create income to support the trust’s mission. We want to provide a venue and resources for activities in music, the arts and literature. We also want to provide a model and resources for agricultural and environmental conservation, and also provide a model resource for historical facilities and preservation. However, the basic purpose of the trust is to provide benefits and resources to the community. When I look back over the last 21 years that the trust has been in place, I think we have helped in all areas we set out to have an impact on. As the trust continues in the years ahead I hope we can be as helpful in the community as we have been in these first years. I think Miss Smeltzer would like what the trust has done.



2. Age: 39

3. Hometown: Ipatinga / Minas Gerais / BRAZIL

4. Career/Profession: MUSICIAN (Drummer)

5. Welcome to Fort Dodge! What brings you to our community?

I am very happy to have been so well received in this beautiful city. I came to study. I got a scholarship to Iowa Central Community College where I will study music. And I'm really very happy.

6. Did you grow up in a musical home?

Yes, my mother is a guitarist. A samba and choro guitarist. Since I was 3 years old, she used to put the guitar on my lap while listening to the classics of choro and samba. My sisters are also musicians!

7. Tell us about your favorite musical experiences as a child.

My best memories as a child are me and my family together in church worship. Since I was 8 years old I participated in our church's worship group at the time, and I loved doing it with my family.

8. We'd love to hear about your musical journey as an adult. University experiences - for fresh out of college and in the real world!

I've always worked with several bands and singers from Brazil in addition to several free lances with styles and artists from Brazil.

I worked with several internationally renowned artists, traveling around Brazil and around the world doing my art, playing drums.

I left my mark on more than 80 albums throughout Brazil. I have always participated in several Workshops and Master Class of musicians from all over the world teaching Brazilian rhythm.

I founded the ISAC JAMBA Drummer Institute in Brazil, known throughout Brazil. The institute reached more than 60 enrolled students.

Stand out at the festival internationally as Odery and Mordem Drummer, and being a BDMG Young Musician winner competing with over 3000 drummers.

I participated with my hometown Ipatinga in several social projects throughout my professional career, in public schools, day care centers and with project partners.

And I am currently 100% sponsored (Endorce) by two Pearl brands and MEINL.

9. When did you know you wanted a career as a professional musician?

Since I was 5 years old I've had this idea in my head and I've never deviated from it. Thank God I had 100% support from my parents who gave me a professional drum kit at 5 years old.

10. What are you currently working on?

Currently I am 100% dedicated to my online classes. Together with my wife, Kellen, we created an online platform With in the platform, the drummer has access to several stations from beginning to advanced. I also work as a freelancer in bands and church and recordings for great artists around the world.

11. Who inspires you and why?

My greatest inspiration is God. He teaches us all to be a person of respect and integrity.

12. What was the biggest challenge along the way to where you are today?

My biggest challenge was leaving Brazil. When I came to live here in the United States, I didn’t speak any English. I adapted to the culture. It was very challenging, but today I look back and see that this country is worth it and I would do it again!

13. What advice would you give to a young adult who is thinking about a music scene?

I tell all of my students, for you to become a recognized musician, you need to have hours of study on your instrument. If you go 1 week without touching your

instrument, or a student “forgets” their instrument, they can’t make up for that lost time. There's no secret, it's your dedication and daily study.

14. What was the highest point for you in your career?

I am very proud to answer this question. The highest point came this year. I’ve been given the opportunity to be sponsored here in the United States by two great Drummer brands “PEARL and “MEINL”

15. What else do you like that our readers know?

I'm Christian. I am married. I have experience in recordings of various styles. I have musical experience in all musical styles, live music I am highly professional. I've played with several names in Brazilian and international instrumental music, and my instagram is @isacjamba.

Name: Mark Gales

Hometown: Fort Dodge

Profession: Live Sound Engineer

Did you grow up in a musical household?

I grew up listening to music. No one really played instruments in our household but Mom and Dad always listened to country music. Back in the 70s, they followed a band around the band’s name was the Steve Bledsoe Band. I would tag along and I just loved listening to their music. I watched my Dad help them equalize their mix during their gigs and I loved it!

I also watched him during his time at ICCC when he was teaching broadcasting so I learned so many different aspects of the electrical part of engineering.

At what point did you take an interest in sound engineering?

When I was kid, I actually wanted to be a performer. I learned guitar and would put on my own shows in my mind and in our basement but, I was just way too shy. I couldn’t do it. I tried to play Christmas songs for our family during the holidays but I just froze . So, I learned I’m most comfortable behind the board.

What are some of your most memorable moments during a gig?

Around 1995, I was at the Laramar Ballroom when the Ski Band was opening for Fog Hat. Ed Wilson was running sound for the Ski Band. I watched him like a hawk. He taught me about the balance of a show. Making sure the vocals are always at the forefront and adjusting the bass and treble as needed. I knew in that moment, on that night, that this is what I wanted to do.

I was also fortunate to work with Andy Anderson from 1998 – 2021. He helped me learn more about multiple monitor mixes.

What is the most challenging thing to happen during a gig?

The first national act that I ever ran monitors for was Blue Oyster Cult. To say I was scared doesn’t even describe it. Before the band arrived, we had spent some time getting everything dialed in. I was in control of their monitors and made some adjustments throughout and the show went off without a hitch. After I survived this show, I knew that I could make it through any gig.

What type of show is your favorite to work?

I really enjoy motorcycle rallies. It’s fun to work monitors for their events. Sometimes there are as many as 10 – 12 monitor mixes and I like the challenge.

What famous acts have you worked with?

Head East, Atlanta Rhythm Section, The Byrds, Spencer Davis Group, Rick Derringer, Delbert McClinton, Samantha Fish, and many many others.

What has been the biggest change you’ve seen in sound production over the years?

Going to digital with lighting and sound gear has been a game changer. Not only being compact but more energy efficient and just lighter weight.

You still going to be doing this in 25 years?

I will do it as long as my body allows!

What would you tell a student or young adult, interested in getting their feet wet in your career field?

First of all, you have to be passionate about doing this kind of work. You have to be able to take what you can get for work and try anything and everything. It never hurts to have a second job while you’re getting started. Start training your ear. Listen for instrumentation, listen for highs/lows, bass/treble and the various drum kit pieces just learn it all.