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Whitesidewalls coming to Old Gem Theater

The Whitesidewalls perform their Love Potion #10 show for a packed house during a recent concert. The band will be performing the show at the Old Gem Theater on Friday, Dec. 26, in New Richmond. (Submitted photo)

For Whitesidewalls founding member David Swanson, the band, which has been around since 1973, is about more than the music or the fame.

“I started the band on a whim and then it grew to five members and has gained a lot of popularity over the years,” Swanson said. “But music is about more to me than being popular or making money. It is about giving back and making people happy. I love to make people happy, whether they are young or old. It doesn’t matter to me as long as I can make them happy with my music.”

On Friday, Dec. 26, the Whitesidewalls will bring their popular “Love Potion #10” show to the Old Gem Theater in New Richmond for a 7:30 p.m. performance. The show highlights popular songs from 1954 to 1964, which the band sees as the golden age of rock and roll.

“About two and half years ago, I woke up one morning and just had this great idea to take our show in a new direction and do something different,” Swanson said. “At the time, we had been trying to find a way to get out of the bars and back onto the stage with something that people could enjoy and have fun watching. The show has been a big success and people love it.”

While also being one of the main members of the band, Swanson has also wore many other hats over his musical career. He has been a producer, performed at a variety of charities -- both by himself and with the band -- and also played at nursing homes as well as the Special Olympics.

“I’ve played at nursing homes since I was 13 years old and I played at church when I was 10,” Swanson said. “I’ve played for 2,000 to 5,000 people before, but it feels great to play for those 14 people at the nursing home in wheelchairs and get back to my roots as a musician. I enjoy music so much and I’ve seen the kinds of effects it can have on people and how it can heal.”

The Whitesidewalls officially moved to New Richmond six years ago and Swanson and the rest of his bandmates have been diligently honing their craft to make sure that all of the songs they play sound as authentic as possible.

“We have really tried to focus on tight harmonies for the doo-wop parts of the show as well as the choreography,” Swanson said. “I attribute the success of this band, and our current show, to the hard work of the guys in the band. We rehearse once a week and try to make sure we are staying as tight as possible to put on the best show we can.”

Swanson is joined in the band by Erik Swenson (drums, guitar bass, lead/backup vocals),  Brad Nelson (guitar, bass, keyboard, lead/backup vocals), Bill Spalding (keyboard, bass, guitar, lead/backup vocals) and fellow original band member Pat Brown (guitar, bass, drums, lead/backup vocals).

“We all play a lot of different instruments in the band,” Swanson said. “We do that so that we can have the best person on each instrument for any given song. Some songs one person is better at the guitar riffs and other times they are better on the drums or singing. It just depends on the song.”

On Nov. 7, the Whitesidewalls were inducted into the Minnesota Music Hall of Fame, which is the group’s third Hall of Fame honor, not including a special mention at the National Hall of Fame. The group was also named to the Mid-America Music Hall of Fame in 2012.

“When you see the band on stage, you really notice the quality of music they are playing and how much fun they are all having,” said band marketing manager Art Greve. “The whole band is really invested in the sound quality of the music they put out and perform. They want it to sound as perfect as possible to bring people back to the time the music was originally played.

Upcoming shows for the Whitesidewalls include playing at Cricket’s Bar & Grill in Amery on April 24, the Amery Concert in the Park event on June 19 and the St. Croix County Fair on July 17. The Whitesidewalls also have a new CD out, which can be ordered at whitesidewalls.com. For more information on the band, visit whitesidewalls.com. For more information on the Old Gem Theater and other upcoming shows at the venue, visit oldgemtheater.com.

Jordan Willi
Jordan Willi is a reporter for the New Richmond News. Previously, he worked as a sports reporter at the Worthington Daily Globe in Worthington, Minnesota. He also interned at the Hudson Star Observer for two summers and contributed to the Bison Illustrated sports magazine at North Dakota State University.
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