2009 - Band

In the early ‘60s in Jewell, Iowa, a group of talented musicians put together a big band called the Continentals.  They were playing the standard big band tunes of the ‘40s and ‘50s and working Central Iowa. A core group of younger musicians in that 17-piece orchestra consisted of Ray Burkhart (string bass), Bruce Burchfield (trombone), Greg Tesdall (tenor sax), and Mike Christianson (drums).  These well-trained musicians were drawn to a different beat and attitude during this musically changing period.

This was the spawning ground of the “Sensational Surfinks”, later known as the “Surfinks.”  Talented on their individual band instruments, the musicians added second instruments--electric guitars.  Gary Nagell, another local, known for his vocal talent, became the fifth member and final piece to this rock and roll band, the “Surfinks.”  Chuck Walker of Eagle Grove performed with the “Surfinks” as the drummer for a period of time during 1965, and Kim Coats took over as the drummer in the fall of 1965.

They started playing in local bars, at street dances, firemen’s dances, car shows, dances at the University of Iowa, Iowa State, and the University of Northern Iowa , and several junior colleges.  They would promote themselves in small towns such as Eagle Grove, Webster City , Ames , and many more too numerous to mention. Within a year they were working the major ballrooms: The Roof Garden in Okoboji, Star Ballroom in Dakota City , the Surf in Clear Lake , Val Air in Des Moines , Guys and Dolls, the Starlight in Boone, the Playmor and Remsen’s Avalon.

During 1966, the “Surfinks” recorded at the IGL Studio in Milford and participated in the 30-band festival.  Brian Vaubel joined the group on bass for a short stay during the summer of 1966. Thirty years later, they have found their recordings of these events turning up in music stores.  The “Surfinks” was one of the finest cover bands of the surfin’, car crazy and R&B styles of the time.

These Iowa musicians still continue to perform, record, and write music.  Individual “Surfinks” have music currently being sold on iTunes, CDBaby, Rhapsody, and various internet music stores.  Ray Burkhart has recently put this band back together as the “Planetpassengers”. With the addition of Greg Tesdall on sax/ guitar/vocals, Jane Todey on keyboards/vocals and Brian Holt on drums/vocals, this new group is rockin’ more than ever.  They can often be seen at “Planetpassengers”, a music venue at Axis Lanes in Jewell. The “Planetpassengers” are still playing that good old rock ‘n roll with a little more blues thrown in the mix.

The Iowa Rock 'n Roll Music Association Hall of Fame & Museum exists to preserve the legacy of rock and roll music in Iowa by honoring achievements, educating youth and inspiring artists. Established in 1997, we are a501(c)(3) non-profit statewide organization with many areas of service.

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