Photo 1: Band members are back, Don Waxdahl, Jim Birnbaum, Bill Jenkins, Roche Rosheim. Center Karla (Logeson) Krick. Front, Duane Johnson, Danny Thomas and Doug Johnson. Photo 2: Don Waxdahl, Roche Rosheim and Jim Birnbaum reminisce over the years they spent playing in the band, The Nickel Bag of Soul. The local former band will be inducted into the SD Rock and Roll Music Association’s Hall of Fame on April 13 in Sioux Falls.
“Feeling that should make you move;
Sounds that should help you groove.”
Those are the lyrics of the popular Sly and the Family Stone song “Want to Take You Higher.”
It also happens to be one of the favorite songs the Flandreau band “Nickel Bag of Soul” performed during their reign as the best show around in the early 70’s, and over 40 years later - those lyrics describe their sound perfectly.
The “Nickel Bag of Soul” will be inducted into the South Dakota Rock and Roll Music Association’s Hall of Fame on April 13th at the Ramkota Exhibit Hall in Sioux Falls, putting them in their rightful place after so many years of rocking the house down.
The induction comes just one year after “Gemini 6”, another Flandreau band, was inducted. This makes perfect sense, being as four of the Nickel Bag’s original members were part of Gemini 6 and the other four members looked up to the band as their idols.
“Well the Vietnam War kind of took care of Gemini 6, so we added some new members and changed the name,” Jim Birnbaum, the Nickel Bag of Soul’s trumpet and bass player said.
Joining Birnbaum in the band was Don Waxdahl, Roche Rosheim, Bill Jenkins, Duane Johnson, Danny Thomas, Doug Johnson and Karla (Logeson) Krick. Those eight started something in 1969 that can only be described as amazing.
“Bill Jenkins said we either needed horns or a chick singer, so we got both,” Birnbaum said about the bands formation.
“We started practicing at the Dailey School House - got kicked out. Then we went to the Jenkins - got kicked out. Then over to Jim’s (Birnbaum) parents house and my house,” Don Waxdahl, one of the bands original two vocalists said humorously about the bands start up.
“We practiced in a lot of places but a lot of the time it was in my dad’s garage and my mom used to sneak us some cold beer and really take care of us,” Birnbaum said. As a matter of fact, the original eight members of the band were the pallbearers at his mother’s funeral.
The band went from doing their first performance at a dance in the Trent Gym to setting attendance records at the Macomba Club in Sioux Falls, and for those of you old enough to remember the Macomba Club, that is a huge feat.
But music came easy to these people, they all were music majors and had been playing for years.
“I had my first gig with PV (Steve) Dailey in Madison when I was 14. I couldn’t even drive,” Roche Rosheim, the band’s original drummer said as he reminisced of the days of old.
The Flandreau cover band quickly became a hot commodity with their fast tempo 70’s rock and roll music and passion they showed on stage.
“We jumped in this circuit where we played in Flandreau on Thursday, Friday in Lake Benton, and local ball rooms with roller rinks on the weekends,” Birnbaum said.
It certainly wasn’t easy for the band to pick songs, let alone learn them.
“We didn’t have internet back then, so we had to get the music from old 45’s,” Birnbaum said. “I would sit in my apartment for hours recording the 45’s onto cassettes,” he added.
“And while the band was practicing, they would send me to the back room with the turn table and old 45 and I’d play it over and over again to learn the words,” Waxdahl said laughing.
But all that hard work started paying off for them. They started becoming regulars at all the local hot spots including Horts in Brookings, the Macomba Club in Sioux Falls and all over Flandreau.
But the band got a real surprise the first time they were ever on the marquee. In a true sign of the times, the local club owner was racist and didn’t want his club filled with “the wrong crowd” so he changed the Nickel Bag of Soul’s name on the marquee to the “Nickel Bag of Business.”
“After the first night, when he saw the masses we brought in, he quickly changed his mind and we got him to change the sign out front,” Birnbaum recalled.
That was just the beginning of the band’s reign on the local scene, but they didn’t stay local for long. The Nickel Bag of Soul became a traveling band in a four state area – going to Minnesota, Iowa, Nebraska and all around South Dakota. As their distance grew, so did their modes of transportation. “We started using our parent’s cars, then we bought a school bus, (which they painted purple) and then we bought a greyhound bus,” Birnbaum recalled.
As their popularity rose, their shows became more and more crowded. They started setting attendance records everywhere they went. They have the record at the Dells Ball Room before it burnt to the ground, although the two occurrences are unrelated. They also have the record at the old Macomba Club.
“The people working at the club were usually such sticklers, we would only get 15 minutes breaks,” Rosheim said. “But we had that place so crowded they came into our dressing room and told us to wait because the waitresses couldn’t get through the crowd to serve any cocktails.”
But that didn’t stop the place from going dry. “They actually ran out of beer. The owner told me that was the first time that had ever happened,” Birnbaum said.
But as they grew up, the members of the band dropped out, replacing them with others but at one point, in between members, Birnbaum realized they had a gig in Topeka, Kansas, but they only had three people. So Birnbaum learned to play the trumpet with his right hand and the key bass with his left, Danny Thomas learned to play right handed trumpet, left handed keyboard and Scott Klayverkamp (who had recently joined the band) could drum and sing.
“It was quite the show to watch, but we found out that if you screwed up part way through the song, just put one of the two down because it only got worse,” Birnbaum said laughing.
As the rest of the group members started departing and joining other bands, Nickel Bag of Soul disbanded, only to play again 15 years later at their reunion concert at the Japanese Gardens in 1986, where true to form, they shattered the attendance record.
Most of the 16 members that had made up the band throughout its time will be present at the Hall of Fame induction ceremony. They will give a 25-minute concert, for most of these guys it will be the first time playing since the reunion.