Backwater to be inducted into MAMA Hall of Fame

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Backwater will be inducted in the MAMA Hall of Fame on Saturday, Oct. 13, at Electric Park Ballroom in Waterloo. Playing in September at a car cruise dance at Lakeside Ballroom in Guttenberg were, from left, Steve Dikkers, Scott Fischer, Ed Dvorak, Bruce Bryant and Mick Thein. (Press photo by Shelia Tomkins)

  By Shelia Tomkins

The Backwater band of Guttenberg will be one of five bands inducted into the The Midwest All Music Association (MAMA) Hall of Fame at Electric Park Ballroom in Waterloo on Saturday, Oct. 13. 

"Backwater is honored to be selected for this award," said member Bruce Bryant. "It is humbling achieving this by doing something we all love to do and would have done for free. Our thanks goes out to our family and our fans for their support throughout the years."

The local band had its beginnings 35 years ago at Guttenberg High School, when faculty members Bruce Bryant, Steve Dikkers and Ed Dvorak invited talented high schooler Scott Fischer to join them in a band for a school picnic. 

The rest, as they say, is history. The band first played mainly for school events, such as pep rallies. In that role, the band furthered music education as decades of students learned about music from the golden age of rock and roll, the band's favorite genre. School performances led to requests to do benefits and other gigs.

Through the years other local talents stepped in and out of the band's line-up, including Troy Thein, Barry Shea, Adam Thein and Mick Thein. " I think many of them will be playing with us Oct. 13," said Bryant.

Although the band "retired" in 2008, members joined the Rock the River Road Show in Guttenberg in 2011 and have played at the annual Lakeside Ballroom event the past four years.

A legacy of giving back

The band's most notable legacy may be the many benefits and fundraisers it has taken part in through the years. 

"Backwater has played so many benefit dances throughout the years," recalls Bryant. "In fact the first gig the band ever did was a benefit dance. We had booked our first gig at Diamond Jo's (Dam Bar in Guttenberg), but before we played that show there was a local car accident that severely injured a couple. They needed financial help so we held a dance for them at the Osterdock bar before our official opening gig at Diamond Jo's." 

"I also remember playing a benefit dance for our local library after just getting back from the senior class trip to Florida," he said.  "We were so tired from chaperoning the high school students for a week in Florida, but the energy of the music and the audience got us through the night."

Many community organizations and fire departments in Iowa and Southwestern Wisconsin have benefited with the help of Backwater.

In addition, guitars built by Steve Dikkers have been auctioned off, raising thousands of dollars for charity. In fact, a guitar donated by him will be the top item at a silent auction to be held at the Hall of Fame event on Oct. 13.

Hall of Fame event

The Oct. 13 event will feature short performances by six bands, including Backwater. Scott Sanborn, well-known Eastern Iowa broadcast veteran, will be the emcee. Backwater will play from 7-7:30 p.m.

Doors will open to the public at 2 p.m. and the Hall of Fame ceremony and award presentations will take place from 3-4 p.m. 

An autograph session will follow, with each honored band having a table to display band memorabilia.

The event will also include  a silent auciton (featuring the Dikkers guitar), food and beverages. All proceeds will benefit school music programs and other worthy music organizations.

“We want to help all music and people associated with music, including musicians, lighting and sound technicians and songwriters,” said Dick Cole, MAMA board member. “We feel this is a step in the right direction as we work to ensure there will always be music for everyone.”

In addition to Backwater, the other bands to be inducted into the MAMA Hall of Fame that evening are CJ Ryder and the Pastmasters, of Cedar Rapids; Midnite Express of Decorah; Jammers of Le Mars; and Richie Lee and the Fabulous 50s of Des Moines. Four individuals will also be inducted.

Doors for the MAMA Hall of Fame Extravaganza open at 2 p.m. Tickets can be purchased in advance for $15 by calling Donna Volker at (319)290-8097, or at the door for $20.

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