Kenmare ND - Upside Down Under

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Upside Down Under

By Marvin Baker, a new weekly column in The Kenmare News


A Rock 'n' Roll community...

Posted 5/22/19 (Wed)

There are several bands and members of bands who have enjoyed longevity that spans more than 50 years. And when we think about it, the first name that comes to mind is the Rolling Stones who formed in 1962 and struck the airways with their first hit record “Satisfaction,” in 1965.

Others include the Moody Blues (1966), Rush (1968) and ZZ Top (1969). These bands, of course, have received lots of publicity but there is another band that continues to perform almost 55 years after it played its first venue.

Ray and the Ravens got their start with a group of musicians from Hazelton and Moffit and as they continued to practice and play venues, they got better and their fan base expanded. They became one of the most popular garage bands in the Upper Great Plains in the 1960s and early ‘70s.

The first gig was a Halloween dance in Moffit in October 1964. The first Hazelton show was an Easter dance in April 1965. So when you think about it, the shock and awe of the Rolling Stones’ longevity has only two years on this small-town band from rural North Dakota.

Ray Renz, Moffit, played lead guitar and sang vocals. Mel Bauer, also Moffit, played guitar and sang vocals. Alan Moch, Hazelton, was the drummer, Duke Rosendahl, Hazelton, was rhythm guitar and vocals and finally Harvey Jahner, also Hazelton, played bass and sang.

Ray and the Ravens played cover tunes that major market bands made popular such as America and The Byrds.

The band would often practice in the building the Rosendahl family lived in on Hazelton’s Main Street. Just walking by on the sidewalk, the music was loud and sounded good. This band had struck a Rock ‘n’ Roll nerve and they knew it.

Over the years, Ray and the Ravens began to change as members left the band and others joined. At one point, they switched it up a bit and added brass instruments to duplicate the sound of groups like Chicago and Herb Alpert. Barry Seeklander became a trombone player and Jerry Seeklander and Roger Baker both played trumpet. Les Job joined the band as bass guitarist.

When some of those changes were made, the band’s name was also changed to “The Ravens,” but not until well after their first retirement. After leaving the music scene in 1968, the band regrouped in 1973 and began playing once again.

In 1998, Ray Renz passed away from complications of diabetes and the band members decided to focus on families and jobs as priorities rather than their music.

But, these guys had too much chemistry and came back out of retirement to play the Hazelton Centennial street dance in 2003.  Rosendahl took the lead to get the band going for that concert and it turned out the band, under the new name “The Ravens,” would continue with their classic Rock ‘n’ Roll music.

These days the band plays a variety of venues including fraternal parties, weddings, anniversaries and an occasional dance like they did in the beginning.

Since 2007 band members have included Moch, Bismarck (percussion and drums), Rosendahl, Hazen (lead guitar/rhythm - vocals), Jahner, Linton (bass guitar - vocals), Ronnie Weber, Bismarck (lead guitar/bass guitar - vocals) Allan Bosch, Bismarck (lead guitar), Keith Grotewold, Bismarck (drums and percussion), Phil Feser, Stringbean Inc., Bismarck (sound and light technician), and William “Billy” Rambough, Bismarck (AV/Photographer technician).

So here we are 54 plus years after the beginning of this band and three of the original members are still with the group. That, in itself, is truly amazing when you think about it. These guys are to be commended for bringing us the best in pop music all these years.

Being a traveling musician isn’t easy. There are lots of nights in hotels, and since most venues run until midnight or 1 a.m., there’s the tearing down and packing of equipment. And travel – this group has gone as far as Billings, Mont., and Minneapolis, but tend to stay with their roots and bring their sound to venues across North Dakota.

The Ravens have also recorded their music on CD and have several CDs available. A Ravens Facebook page contains a Hazen number to call for more information. You may also contact the band through Facebook Messenger.

Their last big gig was New Year’s Eve in the Bismarck Elks Club and they don’t show any signs of giving it up like they have in the past.

Rock on Ravens! Rock on Hazelton. Rock on Moffit!