Gary Davis said he’s had a great music career.
Having worked as the band director in Cedar Bluffs and Schuyler, he retired after over 20 years of work at the University of Kearney.
But when his former bandmate Steve Hasebroock called him for the first time after 40 years, Davis said he knew he still had to prepare.
“When I left Studio Five, I put my guitar in the guitar case. And until they called me, I’d never opened the case,” he said. “I had to go buy a ‘how to play bass’ book.
Studio Five, a top-40 cover band that played at the Valley View Golf Course’s nightclub in Fremont in the mid- to late-1970s, will finally reunite for a show during the Fremont Fall Festival this weekend.
The band will perform at 8 p.m. this Friday at the Milady Coffeehouse.
The five-piece band has Davis on bass guitar, Hasebroock on drums, Jeff Jenkins on piano, Bev Draemel on vocals and Larry Boles on guitar.
Hasebroock has lived in Fremont his entire life, having worked in the retail music business for many years. A Midland University graduate, he worked at First National Bank of Omaha for 32 years and retired three years ago.
Jenkins, an instructor of jazz studies at the University of Colorado Boulder, was a freshman music major at Midland during the band’s inception. He currently lives in Denver and has made his own recordings and played piano for other musicians.
Draemel, a Midland alumnus, lived in Fremont until 1983. Now retired, she has worked in the jewelry business for 30 years.
Boles also attended Midland and lived in Fremont for many years before moving to Oklahoma 20 years ago.
The band started around 1975 or 1976 as a house band. Boles said Ray Bundy from Valley View had talked to him about forming a band that would play at the nightclub every Thursday, Friday and Saturday.
Boles reached out to people he knew and sources to form what would become Studio Five.
“Somehow the whole thing went together, and it lasted a couple years,” he said. “In the realm of musicians in bars and grills, when you can set up like we did here and be there every weekend and turn on the amps and go, it’s awesome.”
Although he had music experience, David had no experience playing the bass and took lessons from Boles.
Studio Five played mainly at the Valley View, performing covers of top-40 songs.
“If it was popular, we sang it,” Boles said.
Some of Studio Five’s repertoire included Olivia Newton-John, Linda Rondstadt and Jim Croce. The band also covered country acts like Waylon Jennings, Johnny Cash and the Eagles and Dixieland, with a trombone and trumpet.
“We even got into disco,” Draemel said. “But people liked it, and they danced, so we played it.”
But some of the bandmates were somewhat mixed about the genre, which exploded in popularity in the late ‘70s before dying off.
“Hated it,” Boles said. “My throat would just lock up, because you had to project out in the bar.”
The band specialized in one singer — Linda Rondstadt. But Draemel said with all these covers, she didn’t try to imitate their singing.
“I did me,” she said. “I didn’t do Barb.”
After covering songs by Rondstadt, Hasebroock said he knew the performances needed something more for these tunes. He approached Bundy about a fading spotlight, but was told the lights only turned off and on.
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“So I went to my workshop and I built a little fader that we could hook this spotlight up to,” he said. “And I had the fader back by the drum department, and when she started singing, the lights came down and everybody kind of looked around.”
Boles said he would often remember the nightclub kitchen serving the band food late after their performances.
“Chicken and fries, 2 in the morning,” he said. “We were wolfing them down.”
Studio Five started to develop a fanbase, who would come from cities like Omaha, Lincoln and Wahoo.
“We had a lot of followers,” Boles said. “A lot of people came in to see us, regulars, and they’d sit at certain tables every time.”
Davis said he would even see his students in Cedar Bluffs come to some of the shows.
“They’d watch us, and then next Monday in school, I’d hear ‘Man, that was really cool!’” he said. “When you’re playing in a traveling band, you don’t have that kind of community feel that we had.”
Although they couldn’t afford roadies, Studio Five did travel for special gigs, including one at the Timberline Lodge in Estes Park, Colorado.
“We rode horses all day and drank all night,” Boles said.
“We were cowboys,” Davis added.
The band broke up after a couple years after several of the members moved away to other places. Many of them lost touch and hadn’t spoken with their bandmates in the 40 years since.
The bandmates were reunited by a mutual friend, Jane Dugan, bereavement specialist at Dugan Funeral Chapel and Cremation Services.
Boles, the oldest member of the group, joked about his first conversation with Dugan.
“Jane Dugan told me, ‘We want you guys to come back here,’ and I said, ‘Janey, they’re all dead,’” he said. “And I should have been the first one.”
But the group has spent months preparing and practicing for the upcoming show, gathering together in Fremont. For some, it meant playing songs that hadn’t been performed in decades.
“I was just so excited to see everybody,” Draemel said. “That’s been the biggest deal. And to hold the mic again, it means a lot to me. It really does.”
The reunion brought back old memories for the bandmates, as Hasebroock recalled reminding Boles that he borrowed Boles’ car for his honeymoon.
But Hasebroock said he feels lucky to have played with the musicians in Studio Five.
“These were very talented musicians, so it was the best band I had ever played with,” he said.
Davis said he often thinks about how much fun he had while playing in Studio Five.
“The camaraderie was so special,” he said. “And that doesn’t always happen in music groups. Somebody always wants to be the leader. We just like each other.”
Even with this reunion, the band knows that this Friday will be its last performance.
“This is it,” Boles said. “We’re not going to do it again.”
“And that’s what makes it special,” Davis added.