2015 - Band

Band Members:  Mike Rohwer, Gary Baumbach, Larry Jensen, Bill Carpenter, Sue Gaskill Hydinger,
Vicki Bartels Schultz, Sid Knitel

In 1963, two Milford High School students, Mike Rohwer on bass guitar and Bill Carpenter on rhythm guitar, caught rock & roll fever and began playing together. They were soon joined by a younger Milford High student, Gary Baumbach, who became the lead guitarist for the group. The Castels came into being when they were joined by two Arnolds Park high school students, Larry Jensen, on drums, and Sid Knittel, on rhythm guitar. Carpenter later dropped out of the group, but continued to write songs for the Castels. Carpenter and Rohwer ultimately wrote six songs that were recorded by the Castels.

The Castels honed their talent playing local high school dances. Their main influence was the harmonies of groups such as the Beatles and the Byrds. The Castels played countless Saturday night dances at the old American Legion in Milford. As time went on, they became one of the favorite local bands hired by Darlowe Oleson, owner of the Roof Garden ballroom in Arnolds Park. Not only did they play the local Friday and Saturday night gigs at the Roof Garden; they also were the opening act for such bands as Mitch Ryder and the Detroit Wheels, Sam the Sham and the Pharaohs, The Mindbenders, and Jerry Lee Lewis. In the summer of 1965, the Castels came in second at the Roof Garden “Battle of the Bands.” They expanded their travels to play ballrooms and high schools throughout the tri-state area.

In 1965, they entered IGL Recording studios and recorded “Look What Love Has Done” and “How Can You Tell”.  This was the seventh record released by IGL studios. “How Can You Tell”, with its catchy chorus and Beatles style harmonies was selected as “pick hit of the week” by KWWL radio in Waterloo, IA. The group pressed 500 copies and sold them from the stage at local dances. They later recorded two more songs at the IGL studios, “its Probably Better That Way” and “Dum Dadey, Dum Dadi.”

In 1966, the Castels added two female vocalists, Sue Gaskill and Vicki Bartels, from Estherville. The addition of Vicki and Sue added a new and vital dimension to the group’s performances. With this new line-up, the Castels entered and won a battle of the bands contest held at the Lakeland Drive-In Theater in Milford, IA. First prize included a recording session at Lynn Recording Studios in Rochester, Minn., where they recorded two more Carpenter/Rohwer penned songs.

The Vietnam War and the draft spelled the end of the group in 1967 when drummer Larry Jensen was drafted into the Army. Bass guitarist Rohwer got his call from Uncle Sam a few months later.

Mike Rohwer went on to practice medicine in Salem, Oregon, where he lives with his wife, Julie. Gary Baumbach and his wife, Diane, live in Iowa City where he is Professor of Pathology at the University of Iowa. Larry Jensen lives in Sioux City and is co-owner of the Sioux City Holiday Inn and the Hampton Inn in Orange City. Bill Carpenter is retired and lives in Okoboji with his wife, Jackie.  He still performs as a solo act and with a group called the Itty Bitty Boji Band. Sue Gaskill Hydinger is a retired librarian living in Rosholt Wisc. with husband Jim. Vicki Bartels Schultz and husband, Tom, live in White Bear Lake, Minn. Unfortunately, rhythm guitarist Sid Knittel passed away in Sioux City several years ago.  

The Castels are excited about playing for their hometown friends at their 2015 induction into the Iowa Rock ‘n Roll Hall of Fame. They proudly join the IRRMA Class of 2015.

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