Thanks to the Winter Texan musicians from Canada and the US, the RGV experiences rock and roll music that excites seniors living in park communities each December through March.
This season, there are three classic rock and roll jams each week and two every other week featuring the Esquire Band and their jammers.
They play each week on Monday, 1-3 p.m. at Enchanted Valley, Mission; Thursday, 12:30-2:30 p.m. at Bentsen Grove Resort , Palmview; and Friday, 12:30-2:30 p.m., Green Gate Grove, Palmview.
On the first and third week of each month they play on Wednesday, 7-9 p.m., Mission Bell, Mission; and Saturday, 1-3 p.m., Wagon City North, Mission.
The stage band, known as the Esquire’s, who also perform at dances and parties, consist of Cliﬀ Squire-drummer from Sanford Manitoba, Canada; Mark Schwendner - guitarist and vocals from Michigan; RK Welander - bass guitarist and vocals for Iowa; Gilles La Flamme - lead guitarist and vocals from Lewis QC, Canada; Jerry Spanhanks - lead guitarist and vocals from Minnesota (only at Bentsen Grove); and Shirley Spanhanks - guitarist and vocals from Minnesota (only at Bentsen Grove)
The Esquire’s band is managed and promoted by Cliﬀ’s wife Cathy who integrates the music selections provided by each jammer (days or moments in advance of each jam) with the iPads of each stage musician. Then, the selected music is printed with the music in order of performance.
The announcer, Barry Brett, from Garson Ontario, Canada, introduces each performer together with their song selection. Barry, a retired police oﬃcer, is a self-taught drummer and guitarist who also does vocals at each jam. He was inspired by his father who was a pianist and vocalist to pursue music.
The rock and roll jammers who arrive from Canada and around the US in November are (most perform with a guitar) George Bowers (host of the Green Gate Grove jam), Barry Brett, Ann Butler, Tim Cameron, Jean Closson, Jerry Colburn, Al Cully, Bub Harper (plays sax and harmonica), Julie Houck, Craig Kay, Don Leet, Tony Ozark, Ronald Riopel, Peggy Soucek, Suzy Q Schutz, Banjo Bill Swartz, and Bill Ward.
The stage musicians are all highly skilled and proficient in music and could have chosen a full-time career as a performing musician. Except for Shirley Spanhanks who chose music as a career including many years as a “road musician,” the remaining stage band musicians pursued other primary careers with music as a secondary career.
The majority of the stage musicians were inspired by their family to consider trying music for fun or as a career. Some took formal music lessons while others were self-taught. All were first introduced to music between the ages of eight to 18. Most of the stage musicians have made CD’s/records with many performing on TV and/or radio.
Several of the musicians have performed with famous entertainers such as Cliﬀ - Neil Young; Mark - Jim McCarty, Paul Cruize, Bill White; RK - The Senders (Iowa’s longest performing rock and roll band); Jerry - Marvin Rainwater, Crystal Gayle; and Shirley - Outskirts Band.
As a special award, RK was inducted into the Iowa Rock and Roll Association Hall of Fame. Jerry was a two-time Minnesota State Champion as an instrumentalist. Shirley won first place at the Minnesota State Fair for guitar/vocals and her band won first place at a Minnesota bluegrass festival.
The talent is outstanding with these rock and roll band musicians and the jammers. You are encouraged to visit these five parks weekly which are open to the public and are free to attend.