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'Tribute to Woody Herman' involves many locals

Several local musicians will come together April 30 in the Historic Holmes Theatre for a tribute to big band leader Woody Herman.

The Historic Holmes Theatre in Detroit Lakes will get you into the swing of spring with its Spring Gala, followed by "A Tribute to Woody Herman" on Friday, April 30.

The tribute will feature several area musicians, from drummer Bill Mohn to trumpet players Greg Johnson and Rob Anderson and trombone players Russ Kadow, Gary Harris and Jeff Johnson (bass trombone).

Anderson is from Ulen, Kadow from Perham; the rest of them hail from Detroit Lakes.

Vocalist Doug Newman, also of Detroit Lakes, will join the 17-piece ensemble for several songs, and DL native Bryan Harris will play bass guitar.

The remainder of the ensemble is comprised of professional musicians from the Fargo-Moorhead area, said Mohn, who organized the tribute.

Mohn had first approached Historic Holmes Theatre Manager Amy Stoller Stearns a couple of years ago about the possibility of bringing Woody Herman's former band to the theater.

But when they learned that the cost of doing so would be a bit beyond the theater's budget, Mohn got the idea of organizing a tribute to the late bandleader, featuring local musicians.

Mohn said that his motivation for putting together a tribute to Herman was twofold. Not only did he have a strong affinity for the man's music, but there was a family tie as well.

"Woody's wife Charlotte and my mother were first cousins," Mohn explained.

In addition, Mohn said, Herman was the kind of man whose music deserves to be remembered.

"Woody was such an exceptional bandleader," he said. "His musicians loved him. He knew how to treat them and made them feel important, which gave them a sense of ownership in the band.

"He was so admired by everyone -- a neat guy, a nice guy and a good, decent human being."

Herman's music also covers a fairly broad musical spectrum, Mohn said.

"Woody led a big band from 1936 until he died in 1987, so you're looking at 50 years of music," he added.

Herman was also the kind of musician who refused to rest on past successes, Mohn continued. "He used to say, 'My business is excitement... as long as I'm alive, I'm going to keep doing new stuff.'"

Because of that, Herman's music was always "fresh and relevant," Mohn said. Friday's concert will cover music from every era of Herman's career, including hits like "Woodchoppers Ball," "Apple Honey" and "Laura" as well as some of his more obscure work.

"There are going to be songs most people have never heard about, but I think they're fun and accessible enough that people are going to love them," Mohn said.

Prior to the concert, the Historic Holmes Theatre will host its annual Spring Gala, which includes a social hour and formal three-course meal.

Spring Gala ticket prices are $25 per person. Woody Herman ticket prices are $22 for adults and $11 for students. For more information, visit or call 218-844-SHOW (7469).

Vicki Gerdes

Staff writer at Detroit Lakes Newspapers for the past 16 years, currently editor of the entertainment and community pages as well as covering city council and the Lake Park-Audubon School Board. Living in DL with my cat, Smokey.

(218) 844-1454