By Jennifer Gallus
Many people in the area have heard of the local country-rock band High Noon which will perform at this year's Good Neighbor Days, but few may know that musical stars have been born from that band, including Howard Lake's own Bruce Hoffman.
Hoffman, a successful musician in Branson, Mo., was the original fiddle player for High Noon. Hoffman left High Noon for bigger venues in 1992, according to High Noon's owner and one of its singers Bob Thompson.
“We always performed the Howard Lake city function when Bruce was in the band,” Thompson said. “But we haven't played there since 1993.”
“Nick Hoffman, High Noon's fiddle player from 1998 to 2000 has spent the last seven years playing fiddle for Kenny Chesney, country's number-one artist,” Thompson said.
Bruce and Nick aren't related, but they do know each other, Thompson explained.
“Bruce is one of Nick's heroes. Originally, Kenny Chesney offered Bruce the job, but Bruce wanted to stay in Branson so he recommended Nick,” Thompson explained.
“OK, High Noon or Kenny Chesney I think I'll . . .” Thompson laughed.
High Noon's next fiddle player, Dan Hochhalter, who was with the band from 2000 to 2002, has also made it big in country music.
“Dan left the band to join and play fiddle with the well known country act Lonestar. In 2005, Dan left Lonestar and is now with country music star Gretchen Wilson,” Thompson said.
During his time with High Noon, Hochhalter was diagnosed with leukemia and underwent six months of treatment. All the while, Hochhalter would perform with High Noon as much as he could because he loved it so much.
The band has a rich history and begins in the '80s when big and long hair on men was quite popular.
An interesting tidbit about the band is that its first album cover pictured its members in long hair, and they looked very much like a rock band, although they were country.
A company in England approached the band and asked if it could print the album cover in a coffee table book it was publishing. The book was called “The World's Worst Album Covers.” The band agreed and the book was distributed world-wide.
“We think it’s funny,” Thompson laughed.
Another interesting fact about the band is that it performed on Star Search twice in 1989. The band won one episode and lost the second.
“We'd always play the song that we lost with, and say ‘This is the song we lost,’” Thompson laughed.
High Noon is in its 25th year as a band and although it has no original members left in the group, it has never broken up. Thompson has been in the band for 16 years now.
“It's nice to be a mainstay of the community for 25 years. We always say that when people stop showing up, then we'll quit,” he added.
In fact, High Noon performs about 100 shows per year in about a two-hour radius of the Twin Cities, although it will travel into Iowa and Wisconsin.
In the '80s, the group traveled to Arizona, New Mexico, and even Canada. Then, “people started having families,” Thompson said.
“We have a big production for a local band with a sound and light system and a four-man crew that sets up and takes down the equipment,” Thompson explained.
High Noon gears its summer shows toward families, and the band gives kids free autographed pictures.
“We play new country, '80s, pop/rock, and High Noon originals,” Thompson said. “Everybody knows the music.”
All the current members have originally played in rock bands, to which Thompson attributes their high energy on stage.
With all the talent that has come and gone and that continues in the band, Thompson said, “We're like a minor league baseball team. Members go on to the big show.”
“I think the band we have now is our best version yet. We've been lucky and blessed that the fans keep coming out,” he added.
High Noon will perform Saturday, June 21 from 8 p.m. to midnight in Howard Lake during Good Neighbor Days.
The band's sixth CD has just been released titled, “High Noon Legacy,” and its web site is www.highnoonlive.com.