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These families play, and stay, together: Hanks, McGregor bands to hold reunion jam this Saturday

The McGregors took the stage at WE Fest back in 1998, and also played there in the early 1980s, during the music festival's formative years. (Submitted photo)1 / 5
The original lineup of the Hanks Family Band included (from left) the late Frances "Jonesy" Hanks and his siblings, Bobbie, Bill and Tom. (Submitted photo)2 / 5
With a pint-sized Bud McGregor taking center stage, the McGregor family was a familiar sight at local music venues and summer festivals in the 1980s and 1990s. (Submitted photo)3 / 5
The Hanks Family Band lineup that played the Pine Point Music Festival in 2015 included (from left) Tom Hanks, Shirley McGregor, Kandi McGregor, Bobbie McGregor and Bill Hanks. (Vicki Gerdes / Tribune)4 / 5
On April 13, 2017, the Hanks Band performed at Shooting Star Casino in Mahnomen to celebrate the retirement of Bill Hanks (center) from the band after 62 years. (Submitted photo)5 / 5

It's been almost a decade since the last time it happened, but Saturday, June 15, at the Ogema VFW Hall, first cousins Dustin "Bud" McGregor and Romyn Hanks will be taking the stage together once again — along with dozens of other siblings, cousins, aunts, uncles and even a parent or two.

"Working onstage with both of these guys is so rare that there's a tremendous level of excitement among the whole, entire family," gushed Bud's older sister, Kandi, when she first contacted this newspaper with the news.

Set to start at 3 p.m., the Saturday event is being billed as the "Hanks-McGregor Band 10-Year Reunion Jam."

The families' favorite reunion pastime is not at all surprising, considering that the Hankses and McGregors have been making music together in various configurations since as far back as the 1950s.

The last family jam where both Bud and Romyn were present took place back in December 2009, at the Detroit Lakes VFW. "Some families go horseback riding or roller-skating — we play," Bud McGregor was quoted as saying in a Tribune news article about the 2009 event.

"You can put just about any combination of us up on stage and make a band," said Kandi — and she plans to take advantage of that this Saturday to sing lead vocals with what she calls her "dream band": Bud and Romyn on guitar, along with her older sisters, Shirley and Diane, playing drums and bass, respectively.

Also expected to make appearances are Bud and Kandi's mother, Bobbie Hanks McGregor, and her brothers, Bill and Tom Hanks, who along with their brother, the late Frances "Jonesy" Hanks, formed the original Hanks Family Band in the 1950s.

"We'll start at 3 p.m., but we don't know when it will end," said Bobbie McGregor.

"All I know is that it will probably end a lot quicker than it used to — at least for some of us," Kandi joked.

"I used to play gigs from 9 (p.m.) to 1 (a.m.)," Bobbie said. "Now I'm ready for bed by 9:30."

But that doesn't mean the younger family members won't be jamming long into the night, as she used to: Altogether, five generations of Hanks and McGregor musicians will be taking part in the family band jam, in some configuration or another.

Bud will be making a rare trip to Detroit Lakes this weekend from his current home in Mesa, Ariz., which is why this event is such a special occasion, Kandi said. She readily acknowledges that he and Romyn have achieved the most notoriety amongst the musicians in their families — most memorably, as fellow contestants on the now-defunct CMT music competition "Nashville Star."

Back in 2003, during the show's second season, the two cousins both advanced to the regional finals of the competition — Bud in Phoenix, Ariz., and Romyn in the Twin Cities.

Bud had also achieved national recognition before, when he appeared on "Star Search" — the granddaddy of all televised music competitions — for the first time, at just 8 years of age.

"He won it three times," said his proud mother, Bobbie. "We went to Los Angeles to watch him twice."

Bobbie also recalled another of Bud's brushes with fame, which occurred right here in Detroit Lakes.

"Merle Haggard pulled Bud up on stage to perform with him at WE Fest," she said, adding that, altogether, Bud has taken the stage at the Soo Pass four times, with different groups.

"I've performed there twice," Kandi added, noting that the McGregors performed there once as a family, back in the early 1980s.

They've also toured with some pretty famous country artists through the years.

"We went on tour with Jim Ed Brown one time, and we took her (Kandi) with us," Bobbie said, adding that Kandi was pretty young at the time.

"It was a good life experience for me," says Kandi of that tour. "My parents were troubadours, and I didn't mind... I loved music so much. We all do."

Vicki Gerdes

Staff writer at Detroit Lakes Newspapers for the past 18-plus years, currently editor of the entertainment and community pages as well as covering city council and the Detroit Lakes School Board. 

(218) 844-1454
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