IRRMA Hall of Fame Inductees

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Crystal Axe

Inducted:2014
Hometown:Hawkeye, IA
Category:Band

Crystal Axe

Crystal Axe formed in 1980 is based out of Northeast Iowa.  The rock band was brought about by Iowa Native Harley Sunnes and Kat Bauer. Throughout the years, Crystal Axe has had many talented musicians join them.

 

Harley grew up on a farm in Hawkeye Iowa. He is a self taught musician who started out playing Bass guitar and Drums.  For a while he played with his brother’s rock band BANDIT.  Around 1980 , Harley decided to put together his own rock band.  They needed a singer and had heard about a girl named Kat Bauer who was looking for a gig.  Everyone said she was another Janis Joplin.    

 

Kathleen (Kat) Bauer a longtime resident in Northeast Iowa originated from Peoria, IL.  Singing, playing keyboards, and writing music has been in her DNA since she was very young. She has been performed since 1972 and has worked with many different musicians in organized bands since 1976.  Through the years she has performed as a soloist, in quartets, and as a guest singer in multiple groups. Her knowledge of music contributed quite a bit to Crystal Axes success.

 

Originally, the band was named the RED BUFFALO BAND and later changed to CRYSTAL  AXE a name inspired by former band member Dave Johnson.  CRYSTAL AXE began by playing cover music for local school dances, parties, and anyone who needed a good cover music band.  Their style of music was a mixture of classic rock, current hits, southern rock and the beginnings of original songs.

 

There has been many musicians through the 34 years from 1980-2014.  As the band replaced members who left the group, they were successful in finding talented musicians. The early Crystal Axe years produced Gary Berns, a very important member of the band.  From the onset, Berns from Hawkeye, IA helped with the bands financial needs, sound production, history, photography and much more. The early years also produced talented musicians such as Dale Damaris and Kent Moore.

 

Dale Damaris joined Crystal Axe in 1981. As a songwriter, he contributed his original songs, ‘I’ve Been Waiting For You’ and ‘Poor Man’.  In 1988, Crystal Axe released their first musical effort of original music.  The album was called “Back to Basics” Produced by Tom Tatman of Catamount Studios in Cedar Falls. 

 

Kent Moore had been playing music since high school. Moore joined the band in the 80’s and designed the Crystal Axe Logo. In 1990 another album was recorded at Catamount called “Nobody’s Listening” who included members Harley, Kat, Kent, Dan Sullivan, Joe Helgerson, and Jim Gades.  The music was sent to various radio stations and gained the attention of 93.3 KDWZ, now know as 93.3 KLOA-FM out of Des Moines, IA.  The two original songs played were “All Night, All Day” and “Save Me From You.”  

 

In the early 90s, two talented musicians, Steve Manges and Brent Woodson joined Crystal Axe. Woodson began his musical career in grade school. He was 19 years old when he joined the Crystal Axe family and stayed for over 17 years. Eventually, the band went on the road and toured throughout much of the United States. In 1990, Harley, Kat, Steve Manges, and Brent Woodson recorded the next set of original songs with John Carnes at Carnes Bros. recording studio in Elkader, IA.

 

In 1995, Crystal Axe was invited to play with Cub Koda (of Brownsville Station) at the 25th  Anniversary of the Wadena Rock Festival which included Harley, Kat, Brent, and Kent.  Rare Earth, Dr. Hook, Edgar Winter, Starship, and Greg Khin were also on the bill. Through the years, the core members have also performed with Bad Company and actor Tom Arnold.

 

Bauer left the band in 1995. However, she continues to join Crystal Axe for special performances. 

 

Harley Sunnes is the composer and lyricist of most of Crystal Axes original music. However, Kat Bauer, Dale Damaris, Steve Manges, Wendell Whitcher, Amy Woodson and Brent Woodson have also contributed to Crystal Axe originals. In 2010, Kat, Gary and Harley co-produced their latest Crystal Axe CD. This CD contains music from all their past endeavors. It was put together for all their fans and friends and called “Watching The Years”.

 

The Crystal Axe band still holds popularity thanks to their many fans and friends. One fan stated that “Crystal Axe’ has been their “American Idol” long before the show ever began. Much of their original music can be found on the internet and has been shared with many people throughout Australia, Canada, England, Germany and the United States.