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DL band to make debut Feb. 21 -- Will perform at Cabaret Night at Holmes Theatre

John Hutchinson's new band, Vincent & the VanGoes, is so new that when he invited two of his guitar students to be a part of the band's debut performance on Feb. 21, he forgot to check with them first.

"They seem to be OK with it though," he said.

Hutchinson, a Cleveland, Ohio native who graduated from high school in Benson, Minn., has been a Detroit Lakes resident since 1979.

A graphic artist by trade, he has been playing with different bands around the lakes area "continually" since 1990, "in one form or another."

He also teaches music to

"a number of students" in his garage -- most of which has been converted into a music studio and rehearsal hall. Two of those students, Lauren Kauffman and Caitlin Berg, are the aforementioned invitees who will be taking part in the debut public performance of Vincent & the Van-Goes on Thursday, Feb. 21 at the Historic Holmes Theatre Ballroom.

"This is going to be our first public appearance as Vincent & the Van-Goes, and we're pretty excited about it," Hutchinson said.

The band will be performing as part of the theater's monthly Thursday Cabaret Night series, from 5:30-7:30 p.m.

"I was also asked to do the very first Cabaret Night (a couple of years ago)," Hutchinson continued. "I was asked to do it solo."

But it didn't turn out that way. Hutchinson invited friend and long-time bandmate Bill Mohn (they were the founding members of the Sky Blues Band) to take part in the performance with him.

But while Hutchinson had long been known by the professional moniker "Mr Jack," Mohn, a drummer, did not have a similar nickname.

"I came up with 'Jazz Sticks,'" Hutchinson said, as Mohn jokingly interjected to ask why he couldn't have given him a name like "Mr. Cool."

In addition, Hutchinson also invited a few of his music students to take part in that inaugural performance.

"It gives my students an opportunity to actually perform in front of an audience," Hutchinson explained, noting that one of the original purposes for the creation of the Cabaret Nights series was "to provide a showcase for local talent."

"Every one of them has a different talent," he continued. "People who come to Cabaret Night will have an opportunity to see these young people using their talents and doing their stuff."

They will also be seeing the full lineup of Vincent & the VanGoes performing together in public for the first time.

Besides Hutchinson and Mohn, the band also includes Joe Wambach, who said he first got to know the other two "when I started coming to Sky Blues band shows."

"Bill and I have been playing together for 14 years, and Joe and I for eight years now," Hutchinson said.

The fourth member of the group, bass player Corey Bliss, has not been with the band for very long, but Hutchinson said he's already gelled well with the other band members, and is a great addition.

"I've known Corey for a long time," Hutchinson said. "One night we were at a benefit, and both of us were playing acoustic guitar ... we started talking, and he said he'd be interested (in joining the group).

"We've been a formal band since December," Hutchinson said. "Bill came up with the name 'Vincent & the Van-Goes.'"

Their repertoire includes both original songs written by band members, and songs that have originally been covered by other bands -- commonly referred to as "cover songs."

Though their business card says the group plays "Blues, Rockabilly, Surf & Stuff," Hutchinson said, the songs they play may not be ones that people automatically identify as "blues" or "surf" music.

"When people think of blues, they think of B.B. King ... but blues includes such a wide range of styles," he continued. "I'm an educator as well as a performer -- I like to teach the public about what it means when you say 'blues.'

"It can include everything from Mississippi Delta blues, to Chicago blues in the 1930s and 40s, to West Coast or Piedmont blues ... there are so many different types (of blues), and we try to bring as many different types of blues to our repertoire as we can."

Hutchinson also noted that when you say "surf music," most people immediately think Beach Boys -- but their music was actually more pop than true surf music.

"Surf music -- that's The Sentinels, The Safaris, The Ventures," he said. "Those are the kinds of covers we do."

In fact, even the word "cover song" means something different to Hutchinson and the rest of the Van-Goes members.

"We like to pick a song that was once popular, but hasn't been played over and over and over," he continued. "We want to play something that's recognizable, but that hasn't been heard from every cover band that comes along."

"That's why our groupies are 21 to 70 years old," joked Mohn.

"We have groupies?" asked Bliss, sounding amazed, as the other band members laughed.

Come Feb. 21, they just might.

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