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Bands booked, plans underway for Delano’s Fourth of July ‘12
Feb. 20, 2012

By Ryan Gueningsman
Managing Editor

DELANO, MN – The bands are booked and representatives from the six local organizations that make up the Fourth of July Celebration Committee have begun meeting to plan the 2012 celebration.

The event will be split this year due to the Fourth of July falling on a Wednesday. The celebration will take place Saturday, June 30 and Sunday, July 1, break on Monday, July 2, and then resume Tuesday, July 3, and Wednesday, July 4.

Bands booked for this year’s celebration include Rocket Club, GB Leighton/Tim Mahoney, and DiamondBack.

Rocket Club, a Twin Cities-based band that has hit the Billboard charts several times over the last few years, will kick things off Saturday, June 30.

In 2009, Rocket Club took the music industry by surprise when the band appeared on the Billboard Country charts, staying for seven weeks, and reaching number 49 with the single “One More Day.”

This early national success came in spite of the group’s many non-traditional qualities: an unsigned band, a self-produced album, and hailing from the North Country of Minneapolis, Minnesota, far from the country music mecca of Nashville.

Chock full of big guitar hooks, rich vocal harmonies, and good old-fashioned American storytelling, this band is setting out to create a whole new blend of music. And to their pleasant surprise, a whole lot of people have taken an early liking to the taste.

“North Country” is the title track from Rocket Club’s upcoming third album by the same name. The song has already been called an “Anthem to the North” by Minneapolis country music station K102.

“We are incredibly excited about North Country as our newest single,” said Don Smithmier, Rocket Club vocalist. “As a Minnesota band, we realized there are a lot of songs that pay tribute to the southern states – Georgia, Louisiana, Tennessee and Mississippi – but none that are dedicated to the northern part of the country. This is a song that captures the universal love for heading ‘up north’ to be with family and friends.”

Rocket Club began as the songwriting duo of Don Smithmier and Brian Kroening. The band quickly grew to include Chris Hawkey, Billy Thommes, Joel Sayles, and newest member Luke Kramer.

Celebration organizers are still making plans for Sunday, July 1.

Tuesday, July 3 will feature a special tag-team performance by two of the Twin Cities’ top musicians – Tim Mahoney and GB Leighton.

GB Leighton will return to the Delano Fourth of July Celebration following a stellar performance last year.

The leader and namesake of GB Leighton, who calls himself “a working class kid from a Twin Cities suburb who loves to put on a good show” is arguably the region’s most popular rocker.

His six-piece band performs some 200 shows a year across the Upper Midwest at such varied venues as nightclubs, county fairs, and church festivals.

Leighton’s generosity is legendary. He and the band have performed countless benefit concerts over the years for medical research, needy patients, and National Guard members heading off to war.

Long before becoming a cancer survivor himself, Leighton was headlining the annual Randy Shaver Cancer Research and Community Fund benefit.

Whether partying with fans on his annual winter tour to Mexico or singing with the crowd on the dance floor, Leighton is, by his own definition, “a man of the people.”

Over the past 10 years, Tim Mahoney, a former contestant on the hot television show “The Voice,” has undergone a transformation.

One that began with the high-energy pop-rock band, the Blue Meenies, which quickly made its mark on the Twin Cities music scene, colleges, and clubs all over the midwest.

His success allowed him to release five solo albums that have since sold over 80,000 copies and were well received by the strong audience he has built.

He was choosing his own road and had interest from almost every major label. Naturally, he had expectations of “making it” with national tours, the swank tour bus, and a big record deal.

Major labels showed some interest but didn’t bring a deal to the table. Depressed, he did the only thing he knew how to do – he focused on the music. Ultimately this was an eye-opening and therapeutic learning experience. This was the beginning of the evolution of his opinion and attitude toward his career. The reception was overwhelmingly positive.

So he released a solo acoustic CD “Full Circle” and in just nine months had already sold over 4,000 copies.

Mahoney plays more than 150 shows a year between full band and solo acoustic. He moved through disappointment and disillusionment to the realization that he has been living his dream for 10 years. He has built a business and is making a living doing something he loves.

But now, Tim is more focused, more mature and more appreciative of his fans. And in turn, his fans have remained loyal and faithful in supporting him.

Closing things down Wednesday, July 4 will be local country favorite DiamondBack.

DiamondBack consists of four multi-talented musicians, well-known for always learning the “new stuff.”

The band plays a wide variety of music that people of all ages can enjoy. Artists include Garth Brooks, Toby Keith, John Mellencamp, Keith Urban, Kenny Chesney, Johnny Cash, Nickelback, and Metallica, just to name a few.

St. Cloud has been home to DiamondBack since 1998. The band has opened up for national acts such as Jo Dee Messina, Montgomery Gentry, BlackHawk, and Little Texas. DiamondBack has also played the Winstock Country Music Festival in 2006 and 2008.

Along with the top-notch musical entertainment, organizers are proud to be bringing back the ever-popular baseball and softball tournaments, the GoldStar Carnival, fireworks, and plenty of food and beverage options for the entire celebration.

The grand marshal for the parade has yet to be set, and other plans for the celebration remain underway.

The 28th annual 5k race will also be taking place in 2012, with sponsorships and runners presently being sought. In 2009, the course was certified, which attracted more runners and brought the event to a higher level.

The first meeting of the year for the committee took place Feb. 13, with another set for Tuesday, Feb. 21.

Representatives of six local organizations make up the committee – the Delano Athletic Club, Delano Lions, Delano Sportsmen’s Club, Delano Jaycees, Delano Area Chamber of Commerce, and Delano American Legion.

Committee Chairman Alex Roeser joined the Fourth of July Celebration Committee in 1997, became its vice president in 2007, and its chairperson in 2011, taking over the position from Jack Lynch.

Vice President Joe Tipka joined the Fourth of July Committee in 2009. Tim Diem will remain on the board as secretary, and Steve Gilmer will remain as treasurer.

In addition to the festival norms, organizers are putting together an event sponsorship package, a memorial program, a chainsaw carving demonstration, and are investigating a change to the parade route (see separate article).

Roeser encouraged people to stay up-to-date on additions to the Fourth of July schedule by checking www.delano4th.com and also by finding the Fourth of July page on Facebook.

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