“United We Dance” for United Way in 12 Sherburne County venues

Drop Tailgate band members xxxx, Kelly Jean, xxxx, Matt Anderson, Durand Onell.
Drop Tailgate band members Chris Durow, Kelly Jean, Erik Grater, Matt Anderson, Durand Onell.


by Bruce Strand, Arts editor

Durand Onell’s day job is teaching Spanish at Rogers HIgh School. He also coached girls golf for several years.

His night job, whenever his group can get a gig, is singing and playing guitar for the country band Drop Tailgate.

The group will be entertaining, and helping raise money for a good cause, on Saturday evening, Sept. 14, at The Friendly Buffalo in Big Lake, 9 to 11 p.m.

“We play the modern rockin’ country music,” Onell said, “with a little southern rock mixed in.  Think K102 with a dash of southern rock.”

Sherburne County Area United Way is hosting its second annual United We Dance event Saturday with 12 venues in five communities participating (see list below).

Drop Tailgate has appeared at Boondox Bar & Grille in Otsego, JR’s Outpost in Ramsey, Rollie’s Bar in Sauk Rapids, and Chop’s Bar in Hanover, as well as Friendly Buffalo previously.

“We always have a great time at the Buff,” said Onell, an Elk River resident.

Drop Tailgate also includes Jeff Anderson (drums) of Rogers, Chris Durow (bass) of Minneapolis, Eric Grater (lead guitar) of South St. Paul and Kelly Utech (lead vocals) of St.Cloud.

“There is nothing more fun,” said Onell, “than playing the music we love, for a room full of people dancing and having a good time.”

Onell’s own country roots are deep, as he grew up on a farm near Litchfield.

The other local band member, Anderson, describes himself on their web site (www.droptailgateband.com) as “an orthopedic assistant by day and country-lovin’ metal head by night.”

A veteran of many bands, mainly rock and metal, he drifted toward country in recent years. “The older I get, I’m realizing that country has the best shows, the best attitude and the best fans,” said Anderson, who also play drums at Riverside Church in Monticello a couple Sundays a month.

The county-wide event will have a battle of the bands to see which can raise the most money for United Way.

“United We Dance combines philanthropy and music for an entertaining, engaging event throughout the communities served by Sherburne County Area
United Way,” stated the group in a press release.

In Elk River, the Time Out nightclub will feature S. Madison. Elk River Golf Club will have a “Vinyl Night” where people bring their long-play albums from the bygone era and dance to an old-fashioned stereo.

In Otsego, Boondox Bar and Grille will feature Country Crossings, Cowboy Jack’s will feature Acoustic Revolver, and Rockwoods Grill will feature Saintrio.
In Princeton, House DJ will provide the songs at Finish Line Cafe, and Jac’d Karoake and Sound will do the same at Shooters.

In Zimmerman, four clubs will take part. Copperhead Creek will play at Angeno’s/Zimmerman Bar and Grill, The Last Chance Band at American Legion, and Red House Band at Ridgewood Bay. At The Whistling Pickle, the manager said they’re still hoping to land a band but if not they’ll have a live DJ.

The venues participating will encourage donations from 7 to 11 p.m. The winning venue and band will be announced after 11 p.m.

The event also includes a street dance and speed volunteering in Elk River in the parking lot behind Kemper Drug from 3 to 11 p.m. The Teddy Bear Band will open the street dance at 3 p.m. and Outside Recess takes over at 7 p.m. (These are not a part of the battle of the bands).

“Speed volunteering” means five-minute sessions of packing personal care bags for Big Lake Community Food Shelf, CAER, Great River Family Promise and Rivers of Hope. Items are being donated by local businesses, including Cub Foods and Great River Energy.

All proceeds from United We Dance go towards Sherburne County Area United Way’s 28 funded agencies.