Kenmare ND - Upside Down Under

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Upside Down Under

By Marvin Baker, a new weekly column in The Kenmare News


Rock 'n' Roll community...

Posted 10/03/17 (Tue)

There are several bands that have enjoyed a longevity spanning more than 50 years. The first name that comes to mind is the Rolling Stones, who surfaced in 1962 and struck the airways with their first hit song “Satisfaction,” in 1965.

Others include the Moody Blues (1966), Rush (1968) and ZZ Top (1969). These rock bands, of course, have received lots of publicity but there is a North Dakota band that continues to perform 53 years after it played its first venue.

Some of us remember, some of us may have forgotten and others don’t know that Hazelton/Moffit was the home base for one of the most popular 1960s garage bands in North Dakota.

Ray and the Ravens got its start with a group of musicians from Hazelton and Moffit and as they continued to practice and play gigs, they got better and their fan base expanded.

Originally known as the Pacifics, the first performance was a Halloween dance in Moffit in October 1964. The first Hazelton show was an Easter dance in April 1965. So when you think about the shock and awe of the Rolling Stones’ longevity, Mick and crew have only two years on the Ravens.

Ray Renz, Moffit, played lead guitar and sang vocals. Mel Bauer, also Moffit, played guitar and sang vocals. Alan Moch, Hazelton, was the drummer, Duke Rosendahl, Hazelton, was rhythm guitar and vocals and finally Harvey Jahner, also Hazelton, played bass and sang.

These guys were in high school or barely out of school when they got started, which may be why their following across North Dakota, South Dakota and Montana was such a success.

Ray and the Ravens played cover tunes that major market bands made popular. In fact, I still remember, and I believe it was 1972 when I was 13 years old; I was standing outside the Community Center in Hazelton listening to the band play and sing “A Horse with no Name” by America.

There was another time I heard them practicing in the building where the Rosendahl family lived. Just walking by, the music was loud and sounded good.

Over the years, Ray and the Ravens began to change as members left the band and others joined. At one point, they added brass instruments to duplicate the sound of groups like Chicago and Herb Alpert. Barry Seeklander became a trombone player and Jerry Seeklander and Roger Baker both played trumpet. Les Job joined the band as bass guitarist.

When some of those changes were made, the band’s name was also changed to “The Ravens,” but not until well after their retirement. After leaving the music scene in 1968, the band regrouped in 1983 playing another five years.

In 1998, Ray Renz passed away from complications of diabetes and the band members decided to focus on families and jobs as priorities rather than their music.

But, these guys had too much chemistry between them and made an encore at the Hazelton Centennial street dance in 2003.  Rosendahl took the lead to get the band going for that concert, but the band, under the new name “The Ravens,” continues with their classic Rock ‘n’ Roll music today.

These days the band plays a variety of venues including fraternal parties, weddings, anniversaries and an occasional dance like they did in the beginning.

Since 2007 band members have included Moch, Bismarck (percussion and drums), Rosendahl, Hazen (lead guitar/rhythm - vocals), Jahner, Linton (bass guitar - vocals), Ronnie Weber, Bismarck (lead guitar/bass guitar - vocals) Allan Bosch, Bismarck (lead guitar), Keith Grotewold, Bismarck (drums and percussion), Phil Feser, Stringbean Inc., Bismarck (sound and light technician), and William “Billy” Rambough, Bismarck (AV/Photographer technician).

So here we are 53 years after the beginning of the band and three of the original members are still together. That, in itself, is truly amazing. These guys are certainly to be commended for that.

And being a traveling musician isn’t easy. There’s lots of nights in hotels, and since most venues run until midnight or 1 a.m., there’s tearing down and packing of equipment. And travel – this group has traveled four states and we are all grateful for them staying with their roots and bringing their sound to small town North Dakota.

I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention that in this day and age of digital communication, the Ravens have recorded their music on CD. If you don’t have their recorded music, you need to add it to your music library.

Rock on Ravens! Rock on Hazelton/Moffit!