Members: Terry Yarns, Joe Cuttell, Mike Monnahan, Denny Gamble, Ben(Hankey)Sorenson, Bob Rusk, Ron Schueller, Loren Paulson, Mike Buckley, Steve Lutz, and Jay Reinders
The Dentairs band of Spirit Lake was formed in 1964 by Denny Gamble (Den) and Terry Yarns (Tair) following the breakup of Terry’s first band, The Torkays.
The original Dentairs included Steve Lutes (lead guitar) from The Torkays and Jay Reinders (rhythm guitar) from Graettinger along with Denny on bass and Terry on drums.
Through its many evolutions, The Dentairs were one of the busiest bands performing out of the Iowa Great Lakes Region in the mid-60’s and may be the only Hall of Fame inductee having never recorded under its own name except for promotion demos. However its inclusion in the Hall of Fame recognized the efforts of “workhorse” bands that built ballroom business and complimented major national acts that appeared in the Midwest.
The original Torkays had formed a close tie to Darlowe Oleson of the Roof Garden Ballroom in the early ‘60s, traveling all over Iowa supporting the Little Miss Iowa Pageants. Olseson became instrumental in helping the new Dentair band get immediate bookings throughout Iowa and the surrounding areas.
The band really came into its own in 1965. After attending a Turtles concert, the group leaders decided to add a fourth guitar player, Joe Cuttell from Everly. Joe’s addition expanded the group’s vocals and complimented its hard-driving rhythm making it an extremely popular band for dancing. They built a reputation for sharp musical execution accompanied by choreography for band members to perform while playing. Audiences loved the combination.
That same year, Terry’s father, Harold Yarns, renovated a barn on the Yarns’ Anglers Bay Farm into a dance hall. Thus the Iowa Great Lakes Barn Dance became The Dentairs’ Saturday night home base. Crowds quickly grew to overflowing.
The band competed in the Roof Garden’s first Battle of the Bands event and won it that summer. The trophy now resides in the IRRMA Museum. As a bonus, the band participated as the fill band for the Everly Brothers’ second performance at The Roof.
Later the band widened its musical sound and versatility by adding keyboard player Tom Vallie and Mike Monnahan on bass after Reinders departed.
Experimentation with R & B music and the addition of horns led to Ben (Hankey) Sorenson joining the group. “Stormy Monday Blues” became the band’s trademark song. Then the Activators horn personnel, Mike DeVoss (sax) and Ron Schueller (trumpet) from Primghar came on board as did Mike Buckley from Estherville to solidify the rhythm section so Terry could join the horns on sax.
As personnel began pursuing other interests, Terry Brown (trumpet) from Lake Park, Loren Paulson (sax) of Estherville and Bob Rusk (trumpet) from Dickens became the heart of the horn section. By 1967 The Dentairs had developed into a top area show band. Choreography and lights were incorporated into all the music.
One of the band’s most unforgettable experiences came when playing a gig at The Roof Garden on the same bill as the nationally famous Electric Prunes. Following the audience’s enthusiastic reaction to The Dentairs’ Virginia Wolfe set, the Prunes’ road manager had the band pulled from the show so the Prunes could play the rest of the night.
Soon the draft caught up with many of The Dentairs and they were forced to disband.
The core group of Denny, Joe, Ben, Mike M., Mike B., Bob, Ron, Loren and Terry have reunited over the years for various functions and will perform together again at the Hall of Fame Induction Spectacular.
Gamble works in the insurance industry in Missouri and Yarns owns two food service businesses in the Lakes Region. Cuttell works with challenged kids in the Los Angeles area as well as being a composer, studio musician and performer. Sorenson is a Tucson, Ariz., music educator, private vocal instructor and professional opera performer.
Monnahan resides in Cedar Rapids and owns a specialty coffee shop business. Buckley enjoys an advertising and film production career in Kansas City, Mo. Rusk manages a large family farm operation near Dickens. Schueller operates an insurance business in Sanborn Paulson operates a commercial trucking insurance firm in Lees Summit, Mo., Jay Reinders is a retired school teacher and resides in Winnebago Mn.