Stagebrush / Briskoe
( and Briskoe )
1973 – 1990
1973: In the North suburban area of Minneapolis, a new band forms called Briskoe. The lineup is: Daryl Johnson on keyboards, rhythm guitar and vocals; his brother: Keith Johnson on lead guitar and vocals; Wally Jones on bass guitar and vocals; Greg Junker on rhythm guitar and vocals; and Mike Golyer on drums and vocals. Daryl does most of the lead singing. The band plays a variety of popular music, including current hit songs and oldies from the 1950’s. The band starts out playing at The Oasis in Lino Lakes, then move to Bimbo’s in Coon Rapids and then on to The Frontier Club in Fridley, where the band plays for 15 months.
1975: Briskoe comes to an end and the Johnson brothers join forces with Tom Nystrom and Ken Sand to start a new band, Stagebrush. The lineup is: Daryl Johnson on keyboards, rhythm guitar and vocals; Keith Johnson on lead guitar and vocals; Ken Sand on guitar and vocals; and Tom Nystrom on drums and vocals. The four band members, all veterans of the local rock scene, decide to make a dramatic change in musical direction from their prior bands. With the rise in popularity of country music throughout the country, including the Midwest, the group decides to cover some of the country classics from the 1950’s and 1960’s, including songs by Marty Robbins, Patsy Cline, Hank Williams, Web Pierce and Don Gibson. The band dresses in custom made, matching suits and cowboy hats. The band starts out playing at Bimbo’s.
1976: The Blainbrook Bowl opens in Blaine and the band quickly becomes booked at the new facility on a regular basis that will result in a nine year gig, playing two weeks (fourteen days in a row) per month. The other two weeks of the month, the band plays the Holiday Inn circuit in Minnesota, The Launching Pad in Mounds View , The Blue Goose in Mille Lacs and some out state jobs in North Dakota and South Dakota.
May 1, 1976: Tom Jung from Sound 80 records the band playing live at Bimbo’s and 1,000 albums are pressed on the Boss label. The recording and pressing costs are all paid for by two fans of the bands. The albums are given to the band to sell to fans. The album is called “Our 1st Album” and contains 10 cover songs. Liner notes on the back of the album are written by “Sweet” Michael O’Shea, a DJ at WLOL. A 45 from the album is also released: “Up Against the Wall Redneck Mother” (Jerry Jeff Walker) backed with “Don’t it Make You Wanna Dance” (Rusty Wier).
Late 1970’s: The band enters a talent contest at Blainbrook and wins. The band declines the prize, a trip to Nashville to record, and the runner-up, Shotgun Red (who had a combined musical and comedy act) is awarded the trip to Nashville. The band did not want to leave Minnesota and take a chance on losing their solid bookings and their strong fan base. The band becomes so popular that Daryl is able to book the band a year in advance within a two week period during August of each year.
1980: After a successful four year run with the original band members, Stagebrush goes through some personnel changes. The new lineup is: Daryl Johnson on keyboards and vocals; Keith Johnson on lead guitar and vocals; Wally Jones on bass guitar and vocals; Brian Amenrude on rhythm guitar and vocals; Bruce Weikleenget on steel guitar, lead guitar, violin and vocals; and his brother, Grant Weikleenget on drums and vocals.
The band releases their second album, this time at their own expense. The album is called “Steppin’ Out” and is recorded at Brookhall, adjacent to the Blainbrook Bowl. The album contains 13 songs, 5 of which are originals: “Playin’ the Same Ol’ Songs” (Wally Jones); “One, I’m Sorry” (Randy Amenrude); “Here I’ll Stay” ( Wally Jones); “Sorrow on the Rocks” (Kieth Johnson; and “Sayin’ Goodbye” (Keith Johnson). The album is produced by Stagebrush and Steve Nelson (owner of Blainbrook) and recorded by Sound 80. Other credits are as follows: Production Coordinator, David Leake; Production Assistance, Barb Fuller; Engineer and Mixing, Scott Rivard and Steve Gamble; Photography, John Lehn. The album is released on the Sound 80 label.
1984: Due to a change in ownership at Blainbrook, the bands nine year run of playing two weeks a month comes to an end. During the nine years at Blainbrook, the band would typically sell out the weekend shows by 8:00 in the 500 seat venue.
Keith Johnson leaves the band and is replaced by Joe Hallbeck on lead guitar and vocals.
1985: The band changes members. The new lineup is: Daryl Johnson on keyboards and vocals; Tom Nystrom on drums and vocals; Paul Kruger on lead guitar and vocals; and Dick Moebakken on bass guitar and vocals.
The band continues to play the Holiday Inn circuit and also play at Povlitski’s in Spring Lake Park, The Office in St. Cloud and various VFW’s. This version of the band adds cover tunes by Roy Orbison, Gene Pitney, Elvis Presley, Conway Twitty and Ricky Nelson to their song list.
1990: After a successful 15 year run, Stagebrush comes to an end.
1992: Stagebrush plays their first reunion concert at the Bel-Rae Ballroom in Mounds View and sell 1,000 tickets. This concert turns out to be the last major concert held at the Bel-Rae before it closed.
May 7, 2006: Stagebrush plays their second reunion concert at the Courtyards in Andover. Over 1,000 tickets are sold.
May 26, 2006: Stagebrush are inducted into the Rock Country Hall at the Medina Ballroom. Fans of the band from across the country are there for the event. Dawn Shnickels Johnson has four live performances of the band pressed up on CD’s. Three of the CD’s are of the first version of the band, one of the CD’s is the last version of the band at Povlitski’s,
December, 2010: Daryl Johnson reports the band recorded numerous songs at Creation Audio in Bloomington. No records were pressed from the sessions. Dawn reports 100 copies of each of the four CD’s were made in May, 2006, most all are sold out.
Red Neck Mother – From Stage Brush CD
Mr. Custard – From Stage Brush CD
Roll On Big Mama – From Stage Brush CD
Crying – From Stage Brush CD
Ramblin’ Man – From Stage Brush CD
(image of Bandtree)