Da Band celebrates 15 years
By Morgan Quinn
"In 1992 we were sent to prison by a deranged band director. We escaped from the maximum security band camp into the underground. Today, still wanted by the government, we survive as band members of fortune. If you have a problem, and if you can find us, maybe you can listen to Da Band." We have all seen them gallivanting down Main Street on the Fourth of July sporting only the greatest of fashion trends: pool toys, furry purple hats, Spongebob Squarepants boxers, togas, shiny capes and color coordinated floral print tops with matching gym shorts, but what do Annandalians truly know about members of Da Band? Does anyone know what they actually do, or anything about one loudly decorated Da Band Mobile? Da Band was created 15 years ago by three local musicians: Tory Schaefer, Lee Peterson and Dwight "Dewey" Gunnarson. They were inspired by the Valley Fair Beach Band and decided to entertain Annandalians at the Fourth of July celebration with a more "spontaneous" version. Little did they know Da Band would become a tradition looked forward to by generations to come. Da Band now consists of nine musicians, all congregating in one place to grace the state of Minnesota with their skills: Gunnarson, Warren Young, Amanda Klimesh, Dave Glunz, Micah Johnson, Clint Nolan, Dave Boe, Marschall Carlsted, and the infamous D.J. "Jonesy." There are also many one-time performers who are called on by Da Band when needed. The performers in Da Band are alumni of Annandale, Maple Lake and Howard Lake high schools and lead pretty normal lives away from their alter egos. Gunnarson is the vice president of operations at Minnesota Development Agencies. Young is a business software project manager with six companies in the Twin Cities area. Nolan is a professionally trained musician and an employee at Wal-Mart. Klimesh works at an orthopedics office, and Johnson is a band director in Rochester. So where do the crazy outfits and lack of, well, formalities come from? "We wanted to create a band that let us do whatever we couldn't in high school," Gunnarson said. They don't march in line, they don't play in tune, and all of their costumes come from Wal-Mart. "Even though we are all separately accomplished in our own fields of music, our musicianship is set aside. Everything we do is based on entertainment," said Young, who engrossed onlookers with a break dance routine atop Da Band Mobile in a gorilla suit at last year's Fourth of July parade. Da Band cohorts normally meet on the night of July 3 to "practice" their routine. "We've found the concept of organization to be something of a bore," Young explained. "We work diligently to avoid the feeling of work." However, when questions need to be asked and answers need to be given, two members, Johnson and Klimesh, try a little harder than the rest. While Johnson plans for the majority of the parades Da Band will star in, Klimesh handles public relations. "If you want any real answers you'll have to come to me," he laughed. As for Da Band Mobile, whose name was inspired by the 1980 John Landis Blues Brothers' "Blues Mobile," it has quite the extensive interior. Accented by the exterior's vibrant paint job, the school bus turned mobile has 15 plus speakers, a subwoofer, a TV and a plethora of comfortably worn couches, loveseats and recliners. Of course, it makes for a great show as eight grown men come tumbling down the steps dressed in costumes that might have been found under the bed of a maturing teenager with a multiple personality disorder. As the bus driver, Glunz takes on a whole new personality sitting behind the wheel of Da Band Mobile. With steer horns mounted on the grill of the bus and a loud speaker attached to the top, Glunz appears to own the road. "We like the persona of togetherness and the bus ride is part of the whole experience," Gunnarson said. Boe, the bass drummer of Da Band, is expecting to be a father soon. He met his wife after Da Band put an ad out for a trumpet player. "This child will be the first Da Band purebred," he laughed. All joking aside, Da Band has done some amazing things for the community. They managed to double the budget of the AHS marching band and give a majority of their remaining proceeds from participating in parades to help the band programs at Annandale, Maple Lake and Howard Lake. They also donated their proceeds from meat raffles held every Friday in May. This year is Da Band's 15th year, and on Monday, Aug. 13, Da Band celebrated its 60th parade at the Cokato Corn Festival. Their last parade of the season was Saturday, Aug. 18, in Montrose. If anyone is interested in becoming a member of Da Band, they are looking for a trumpet player. All they ask for is the willingness to have fun and some skill.
Morgan Quinn is serving as an intern this summer at the Advocate.