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The original Butch Automatic returns
Sept. 2, 2013

Sept. 7 street dance to raise funds for DMS auditorium upgrades

By Starrla Cray
Staff Writer

WRIGHT, CARVER COUNTIES, MN – If you think you see Elvis masquerading as Delano’s mayor at the Saturday, Sept. 7 street dance in downtown Delano, don’t be fooled – it’s actually Delano’s mayor, Dale Graunke, pretending to be Elvis.

Graunke is an original member of Butch Automatic, a classic rock and roll band that’s reuniting Sept. 7 for a benefit concert on River Street.

Tickets are $10 in advance and $14 at the door, with 100 percent of all sales supporting upgrades to the Delano Middle School auditorium. Gates open at 7 p.m., with music from 7:30 p.m. to midnight.

“I think it will be fun for people to see,” Graunke said. “We were always a theatrical band.”

Butch Automatic has entertained well over half a million people since its inception in 1974.

In addition to Graunke, the band’s first members included Bob Hutter, Dave Socher, Mike Mathisen, Bob Seliski, Dave Pawelk, and Brad Bruhn (all natives of Delano and Watertown).

Bob Seliski’s brother, Joe Seliski, joined soon after the band’s start, and vocalist Doreen Shrode was added in the 1990s.

“All nine of us will be performing,” Mathisen said. “The theme for the night is ‘50s and early ‘60s.”

Among other theatrics, Graunke plans to do a three-song set as “Mayor Elvis,” and Bob Hutter will bear the likeness of Buddy Holly.

“It’ll be double nostalgia – sending people back to the days when Butch Automatic played at dances, plus reliving the old music,” Bob Hutter said.

Butch beginnings
When Butch Automatic began, its members were music-loving teenagers who looked up to groups like White Sidewalls, The Rockin’ Hollywoods, and Travelin Band Grease Band.

“Butch Automatic was a group of regular guys – with below to average musical talents – who took an idea, and worked very hard to create a musical experience that appealed to their audience,” noted Joe Seliski. “The group added an energy to the music that was not present with other groups.”

That “energy” has taken many creative forms throughout the years – like the time Mathisen rode a Honda motorcycle on stage as an intro to the song, “Little Honda” by The Hondells . . . or the time they sang “Monster Mash” with a coffin on stage and creatures walking around . . . or when they wore crazy costumes while performing “Short Shorts.”

“It’s been fun; we enjoy the music and each other’s company,” Bob Hutter said.

“I wish every person could experience performing on stage,” Graunke said. “Yes, you can have jitters, but once you get up there, that moment is such an incredible high.”

Performing for a cause
The band’s fondness of the performing arts is one reason they’re dedicating the Sept. 7 street dance to the Delano Middle School auditorium.

“The theatre is 35 years old, and in really rough shape,” band member Brad Bruhn said.

When Bruhn’s twin daughters were little, his family used to attend many of Delano’s theatre productions together, as their own “local Broadway.” Now in eighth grade, both of Bruhn’s girls are actors in Delano’s theatre program.

“[Brad] was tiring of performances in which none of the performers can be heard . . . and the loud, squeaking chairs, among other issues,” Joe noted.

The auditorium has been used extensively through the years for artistic productions, large-group teaching, guest artists, ambassador coronations, business meetings, Girl Scout activities, dance competitions, regional contests, and church services, resulting in wear and tear on the facility.

“After coming up with the idea to upgrade the sound system, we found out the school administration was actually thinking about how to upgrade the seating, flooring, and lighting, also,” Joe noted. “The stars aligned.”

A committee of various community members, called “On with the Show,” has been formed to help raise money for the project, and the Sept. 7 concert is a kick-off to the campaign.

“The cool part about a community effort like this is that every dollar goes directly into the project,” Joe noted.

Street dance info
Nine band members from Butch Automatic, including Delano Mayor Dale Graunke, will be performing at the upcoming street dance.

Where: River Street in downtown Delano

When: Saturday, Sept. 7; gates open at 7 p.m., with music from 7:30 p.m. to midnight

What: High energy street dance featuring classic rock and roll music and theatrical entertainment

Cost: Tickets are $10 in advance, and $14 at the door. They can be purchased at the State Bank of Delano, Crow River Bank, Dave’s Town Club, Three Crows Coffee House, B’s on the River, Linnie’s Ice Cream, Delano American Legion, and Delano City Hall.

Purpose: The event is a fundraiser for Delano Middle School auditorium upgrades.

Auditorium upgrades
The Sept. 7 Butch Automatic concert is the first event to raise money for Delano Middle School auditorium upgrades, as part of an effort called “On with the Show.”

The committee consists of residents, school personnel, alumni, and other supporters. The goal is to raise $169,000, which will go toward refurbishing lighting and sound systems, and replacing seating and carpeting.

To become involved, contact Mike Lindquist or Steve Heil at Delano Public Schools, at (763) 972-3365.

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