The Dynamics From Scottsbluff

While researching dates for our Concert Archive, I discovered a number of ads for The Dynamics in back issues of the Scottsbluff Star-Herald, as well as other area newspapers, dating back to their first paid gig in 1961. Although, I was aware of the band’s popularity in Scottsbluff, I didn’t realize how often they played. There was a gig almost every weekend. One could say that this is where Randy cut his teeth as a performer. At 14, he was a founding member of The Dynamics (also known as The Drivin’ Dynamics) and remained with them until 1966. Below we will take a closer look at a few of these dates and their venues. My sincere thanks to former Dynamics keyboardist, Steve Cassells, and former roadie and doorman, Mark Anderson, for their help in putting the pieces together and sharing their stories.

Perhaps a fitting accompaniment to this post would be Randy singing “Kansas City” with The Dynamics in 1962.


Highlights

April 7th, 1961
Terry’s Arena
Terrytown, NE

Terry’s Arena was located in Terrytown, a small incorporated area of Scottsbluff, named after local politician and entrepreneur, Terry Carpenter. Hap Ellis was a local promoter for the arena and booked not only local acts, but also major recording artists like Johnny Cash, Fats Domino, and the Smothers Brothers. According to Dynamics guitarist, Larry Soto, the band’s first performance was at a private party at Riverview Golf Course in Scottsbluff. It was at this party that the band was introduced to Hap Ellis, who invited the band, who was still unnamed, to play during the intermission of an upcoming Bobby Vee concert. Also performing that night were The Checkers and The Ventures. Soto claims that the guitar player for The Checkers gave the band their name that night:

“At the show, the guitar player of The Checkers gave us a list of names to call our band and we chose The Dynamics.” (Gering Courier, October 23, 2014)

Scottsbluff Star Herald, April 5th, 1961


December 9th, 1961
Little Moon Lake
Torrington, WY

Scottsbluff Star Herald, December 9th, 1961

On December 9th, 1961, the band played what was most likely their first paid gig at Little Moon Lake,* which was located about 30 miles northwest of Scottsbluff on the Nebraska-Wyoming state line.

Larry Soto recalled the excitement of that first dance at Little Moon:

“That concert went so fast it was like it was over in a split second. The excitement level was incredible as the people were screaming and hollering and wanted to dance. Dances at Little Moon were big.” (Gering Courier, July 25, 1991)

This dance the start of what became a regular job, in which the band performed at least two weekends a month. Twenty years later, Randy remembered how his parents drove him to the dances:

“Our first regular job was playing at this dance club that was about 30 miles away. I think we earned about $12.50 a night. My mom and dad would drive me out there, sit through the entire dance, and then take me home.” (Teen magazine, February 1981)

*In an article for the Gering Courier in 2014, Larry Soto recalled that the Dynamics’ first paid gig was at Little Moon Lake on December 13th, 1961. Since the ad above precedes that date (I could not find an ad for the 13th), I assume this was their first paid performance.

Although Steve Cassells, who joined the band in 1964, never played Little Moon Lake with the Dynamics, he did perform there with his previous band, The Continentals (which also featured future Dynamics guitarist, David Margheim):

“We would drive up Highway 26, cross the state line, immediately turn left on a dirt road that was very much a ‘corduroy road’ that would jar your teeth as you drove over it.  We used to joke it was left that way to wake up the drunks when they drove home.” 

Sign pointing to Little Moon Lake off Highway 26

The stage where the bands played had a quonset hut ceiling, covered with wood, which you can see in the photos of The Continentals below:

Little Moon Lake also had “Hooks”:

“They had a big burly bouncer (a middle-aged local farmer) everyone called ‘Hooks’ because he had lost both hands in a corn harvester accident and had two shiny metal hooks jutting out of his sleeves. He used those two prosthetics to his advantage in controlling bad behavior in the parking lot.” (Steve Cassells)


Terry’s Arena
October 26, 1963
Terrytown, NE

Two years after the Dynamics performed during the intermission of the Bobby Vee concert at Terry’s Arena, promoter Hap Ellis booked the band for a gig of their own. The show was advertised in the Scottsbluff newspaper for a week with an ad that included a photo of the band.

Scottsbluff Star Herald, October 25th, 1963
Randy at top left.

December 14, 1963
Fort Sidney Hotel
Sidney High School Christmas Cotillion
Sidney, NE

The Dynamics’ performance at the cotillion was reviewed by students and teachers in the local newspaper, The Sidney Telegraph. Students thought the band was “real sharp,” if not “a little fast at times.” One teacher thought they were “a little loud.” Another had “no comment.”

Sidney Telegraph, December 20th, 1963
In the photo at bottom right (L-R): Bobby Soto, Larry Soto, and Randy Meisner

December 31, 1964
Terry’s Arena
Terrytown, NE

1,500 people attended this New Year’s Eve dance by the Dynamics.

“The largest dance I remember working was New Year’s Eve at Terry’s Arena in Terrytown, just across the North Platte River, between Scottsbluff and Gering. There were two of us taking money at the door, Steve West, a good friend of Randy’s, and myself. (Mark Anderson)

Newspaper clipping courtesy of Steve Cassells

The poster below mentions KOMA, a powerful 50,000 watt radio station out of Oklahoma City, who played ads for the band, which helped increase their popularity.

New Year’s Eve poster signed by members of the band in 2001.

PROMS & HOMECOMINGS

Gering Courier, October 23, 2013

POSTERS

Stories

Steve Cassells (former keyboardist):

“The Dynamics toured all over Nebraska, Kansas, eastern Wyoming and western South Dakota, playing to large crowds and lining our pockets with money. We were a ‘KOMA Band,’ advertising late at night on the powerful signal coming out of Oklahoma that reached small towns all over the Great plains. A ticket to the dance cost only a dollar or two, but even so when we would divide the take at the end of the night, we made anywhere from $50 on the low end to more than $200–almost all in one-dollar bills. That was in the mid 1960s when gas was $0.19 and everything else was cheap too, so we felt we were loaded. In fact, I bought my 1948 Woodie station wagon after a Friday night gig in Laramie, Wyoming, and paid for it with 95 one-dollar bills I had brought home in a paper lunch bag.”

Steve (right) with his 1948 Woodie wagon that was used by the band to haul equipment. Dynamics roadie, Mark Anderson, is on the left & classmate, Rick Hollingsworth, in the middle. Steve still has the wagon to this day. (Photo courtesy of Steve Cassells)

“Perhaps the biggest nights we had anywhere were at Frontier Park in Cheyenne, Wyoming. We always advertised the dance on the local station, KRAE, and did interviews on that station the days of the gig with one of their popular young rock jocks, Dave Capps, who later hit the big time in Denver. We were literally able to draw thousands of kids to that venue creating traffic jams leading into the park in the process. It was there we made the most money and felt the most like stars. We met a lot of girls at the Cheyenne gigs which when you come down to it, was why many of us joined a band in the first place.”


“We had played a gig at the auditorium in Alliance, NE, and then stopped afterwards at a small truck stop on the edge of town to grab a bite to eat before heading home. There were a couple of drunk ranchers there who took exception with the length of our hair (very short by today’s standards) and they began harassing us. We tried to ignore them, and then when we finished, we got in our cars and headed down the highway.  They began chasing us and eventually got us to stop (can’t remember how they stopped us, but no cars were dented).  At any rate, we got out and listened to them scream at us. One of them had a gun and fired it off in the air.  We all were ducking for cover. Surprisingly enough, they eventually became friendly and backed off. Very strange night (the power of alcohol), and fortunately the only time something like that happened to us.”

The Dynamics at the National Guard Armory in Scottsbluff, c.1964
L-R: David Margheim, Paul Asmus, Randy Meisner, Larry Soto, Bobby Soto, and Steve Cassells

Mark Anderson (former roadie):

“Regarding Randy, he was upbeat and joking, poking fun, and enjoyed being on stage. I’ve read this is one of the aspects of his personality the Eagles wanted less of on stage. I bought my first car (a 1955 Chevy) from Randy in 1965. He hired a local bodyman, Ed Sumner, to work on it and paint it. It had racing slicks on the back when I bought it that protruded from the radiused wheel wells of the two-door 210 sedan. 105 louvers in the hood, black vinyl interior, 3 on the floor and a Sun Tach on the dash.  You can imagine the feeling of kinship I felt with him and the memories when ‘Ol’ 55′ came out on the album On the Border, not to mention his ‘Take It To The Limit’ on One of These Nights!”


Sources:
Correspondence with Steve Cassells & Mark Anderson
Scottsbluff in ’62: A Rock ‘N’ Roll Retrospective by Steven J. Rothenberger, 2018
Gering Courier, October 24, 2014

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