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Johnny Holm Band comes back

October 12, 2006

Homecoming is an event schools set up to welcome alumni back to their alma mater.  This year UW-River Falls welcomes back The Johnny Holm Band.

The band has been absent from UW-RF for a few years, and this year the Homecoming Committee is bringing the group to perform at Homecoming.

The Johnny Holm Band is a rock ‘n’ roll cover band. The seven-member crew plays a fast-paced set on instruments ranging from drums to bass to saxophone to violin.

“The show is dedicated to the fans, and they do most of the entertaining. Mostly impromptu, the show moves with the speed of lightning,” the band’s Web site states. The “band rocks, picks, and thunders along for 3-4 hours, almost non-stop from the first song to the last laugh.”

Rooted in memories and tradition, Homecoming events aim to bring people back to the campus and keep them involved.

“Tradition, tradition, tradition,” lead singer Johnny Holm said, is the reason he keeps coming back to UW-RF. “The crowds are always great; I really love playing there.”
Homecoming Committee Chair Marcus Bonde said the group decided to bring the Johnny Holm Band to the Homecoming festivities after a successful performance on campus in January.

“Homecoming is about the alumni,” Bonde said.

He said he has spoken with alumni who tell him stories about how they used to jam to the cover band, and how much fun they would have during the concerts.

“It sounded like they had a lot of fun,” he said.

Bonde said he thinks many alumni will come to the concert because it was a tradition for them. He expects they will choose to stay in a hotel on the night of the concert and then wake up the next morning for the parade and game.

Campus Planner Dale Braun was a UW-RF student when the Johnny Holm Band first started coming to UW-RF around 1980.

Braun remembers the band performing in the ballroom, which is where the Leadership Center is now, he said.  At the time, the legal drinking age was set at 18.

“It was a pretty wild time,” Braun said.

Holm also said he remembers when beer would be served at their concerts.

“We used to play outdoors, then they moved us inside and started to serve beer,” he said. “They had a good time.”

In addition to alumni enjoying the element of tradition, Bonde said the group chose to bring the band back because the music appeals to all ages.

“Johnny sings songs everyone knows,” he said. “My parents know the Johnny Holm Band.”

Terry Willson, director of residence life and staff development, has been at UW-RF for 31 years, and he said he remembers the band coming for more than 25 years.

When the Johnny Holm Band first started coming, Willson was active with the Inter-Residence Hall Council, which orchestrated the concerts annually.

He also said alumni who bring their children to school here will inquire about the band’s Homecoming concerts.

“They ask about it because they remember when the Johnny Holm Band would play,” Willson said.

Holm said he was unaware of the impression he and his band had on the campus community, but “it’s really exciting to know we have that impact.”

While the Homecoming Committee wanted to bring tradition back this year, it also wanted to make sure to implement a historically ignored aspect of Homecoming here on campus.

“Homecoming was always geared towards student orgs,” Bonde said, “This year it’s for everyone.”

Aside from the band and the parade, Bonde said he thinks the mechanical bull ride on Tuesday night will be a big attraction for students. He’s hoping there will be a great turn out for all of the events.