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Monday, August 4, 2003

41 years of rock 'n' roll behind them

They've been around longer than the Rolling Stones and outlasted Elvis by over 25 years, and they don't show any signs of slowing down. "Ladies and gentlemen, from Buena Vista County, Iowa, The Senders!"

After 41 years, Iowa's longest running rock 'n' roll band still gets the crowds dancing and play their rock classics long into the night.

The Senders, formed in 1962 with brothers Don and Dave Schossow and Dave "Maynard" Wayt, performed everything from The Everly Brothers to Stevie Wonder for a packed house recently during the Sioux Rapids Tall Corn Days.

The six-piece band has gone through 21 different members in their two score existence, but Don (lead vocals and rhythm guitar), Dave (bass guitar) and Maynard (lead guitar) have been with the group since they played their first sock hop.

Joining the trio are drummer Kenny "Skinner" Bright, who has pounded his Ludwig five-piece and crashed on his Zildjian cymbals as a Sender for 12 years, Marvin Whipperling, who has been the Senders' organist for two years, and saxophonist Darwin Eaton, the newest member who joined one year ago.

Don, the founding Sender, was inspired to begin playing the guitar by Ricky Nelson, teen idol who played himself on the 50's hit sitcom, "Ozzie and Harriet."

"He was on TV, and when he started singing on the show, I started taking guitar lessons," said Don. He coerced his brother to play bass and taught Maynard how to play guitar, and The Senders were born.

The band, which averages three shows a month, is a part-time gig for the members, who all have full-time jobs. Don, who is a private investigator, says they continue to play, "because we like the music. It just makes you feel good."

And of course, they play for the fans. With supporters traveling from as far as Colorado and Nebraska to catch a show, Don said they owe their longevity to their loyal crowds.

"With people here, the pressure is on, and you do a lot better," Don said. When The Senders played for the Aurelia Fire Department two weeks ago, Don said he met a man who attended the second sock hop The Senders ever played at the Saddle Club in Sac City.

With somewhere between 250-300 songs in their repertoire, Don said The Senders could play all night, three nights in a row and never play the same tune. They prefer to play '50's rock 'n' roll they grew up on, but they have dabbled in modern country, which Don says is exactly like old time rock 'n' roll.

Over the last 40 years the band, with every member located in the local area, has traveled all over the Midwest and as far as Oklahoma. But no matter where they have been, Don said his favorite place he ever played was at The Cobblestone in Storm Lake.

They are excited to see the Cobblestone inducted into the Iowa Rock 'N' Roll Hall of Fame next month.

The band, which had its 40th anniversary concert last year, plans to hold a 41st anniversary concert on October 18 at the Lakewood Ballroom in Lakeview along with recording artist Roy Head, who made is fame in 1965 with his number two hit, "Treat Her Right."

Don said their 40th anniversary was so much fun, they plan to have an anniversary concert every year until they call it quits, which isn't likely to be anytime soon.

Said Don, "we'll keep going until arthritis sets in and we can't play anymore."

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