Saturday, April 5, 2008

Ivory, Rapid City & Spearfish, SD

I've already written a bit about Ivory, one of South Dakota's top cover bands in the late 70s/early 80s. Check the Artist list at right.

The core of Ivory was brothers Darren and Mike Drew on dueling keyboards and drummer Craig Katt. Guitarists and bass players came and went through the course of the band's life, including Sioux Falls kids show favorite Phil Baker on lead guitar for a short stint.

Here's a show at the Four Aces bar in Rapid City in July of 1983.

Darren Drew was always flashy and sang David Lee Roth stuff to perfection.

This is a later show, probably around 1985 or '86 at Toomey's Mill in Spearfish with Jeff Dirkson on bass.


Anonymous said...

You must have never heard Ivory when they first started. They were much better then when the DREW brothers joined. To bad for you you missed the best part of this band.

spdolphs said...

Wow! I didn't know they had cameras back then! I had a copy of a song they did, on cassette....long since gone. I am putting these pictures in the virtual Pomp Room club in Second Life! (A recreation of the Pomp Room bar in Sioux Falls)

Chad Coppess said...

Interesting, I've never taken a look at Second Life. Thanks for reading my blog.

Anonymous said...

The original Ivory was Craig Katt (drums), Jimi Williams (bass), Curt Nesbitt (gtr), and Randy Crain (keys) formed in 1975. Four incredibly talented musicians that many considered the Midwest's first supergroup! They did most of the song-writing and studio sessions. All four sang lead providing Ivory with incredible harmonies for the backgrounds. They wrote over 200 songs- probably some of the best music to ever come out of a midwest band. Too bad they never got all of it on vinyl. What a waste!
Katt was always the leader of the group sitting behind a massive white drumset with a whirlwind of great talent surrounding him through the years. He was the creative guy that came up with all the different stage sets and marketing. They had semitrucks and a huge sound and light system.
The revolving door included- Greg Kellogg, Monte Madison, Danny Malloy, Phil Baker, Scott (Scooter) Stackhouse, Bernie from Iowa, Todd Olson, Kenny from Nebraska, Jeff from California, Scott Pack and Tim? all on guitars. Bass players included Mike English, Jeff Dirkson, Jeff O'Connell and Talin. Keys were Dick Mattson, Mike Drew, Darren Drew, Mike Niva, and Scott Schmitt. At one time, even Yanni was considering joining the band. Oh yeah, their road manager was IGOR!

Chad Coppess said...

Wow, thanks for all the info!

Mike English on bass? Guessing that's the same Mike English that was later with Asia and Midwest Coast, right? Had no idea.

And THE Yanni? That's pretty weird. I thought Phil Baker was a strange fit, but that would have been even stranger.

Jeff JJ Gross said...

More Ivory secret squirrel trivia:
The last performing lineup of Ivory in 1987-88 was Kenny Odean (NE) on guitar, Jon Koopman (SD) on keys, Scott 'Scooter' Stackhouse (IA) on guitar, Lynn Thayer (SD) on drums & Jeff 'JJ' Gross ( that would be me, from WI & CA) on guitar. All of us sang & everyone in the frontline not only took turns as frontman but we also all swapped around playing bass because we didn't have a dedicated bass player. John & Scooter played a white fretted Ibanez bass & Kenny & I shared a black fretless Ibanez that the crew nicknamed THUD because it had such a deep sound.

At that time the bank was well versed in playing very large shows and working with national acts. The biggest single show I'm aware of though was summer 1988 for SD's Riverfest in Hot Springs SD. It was a full weekend featuring an all-star lineup including Three Dog Night, Head East, REO Speedwagon & Cheap Trick. The night CT played was coincidentally the day they found out "The Flame" was the number one song in the world. Due to REO's tour schedule, they swapped time lots with Ivory at the last minute, meaning REO played BEFORE Ivory & we closed the show in front of over 20,000 people under clear skies in perfect weather. I have pictures from that show and it was awesome, especially getting a big thumbs up & toothy grin from Gary Richrath (lead guitar, REO) as we finished out first tune.

At that time the crew, known as The Rhinos, were Roger on followspot & stage manager, Doug on lights & Scott Nesbit (Nezzie) on sound. Lynn Thayer was hired by Craig in summer 1988 to play during Craig's leave of absence for the birth of one of his daughters. Craig never returned to the band and since he owned the name the remaining members reformed in November of 1988 as 'Empyre'.

Most of us lost touch over the years but we've all reconnected via FB since we're mostly scattered all over the country by now. Craig lives in Georgia now, Kenny has a recording studio & plays in Nebraska, Jon & Lynn are both still living & playing regularly in SD, Scooter plays all over Iowa and I'm back living & playing in & around WI after moving all over the country. There has been talk of various reunion gigs but the distance makes that kind of tough, especially since most of us are still playing regularly and have gigs booked months in advance.
You never know though. ;)

Chad Coppess said...

More cool stuff. Sounds like a book could be written about Ivory! Thanks Jeff.

Anonymous said...

Updates! Ivory will be inducted into the SD Hall of Fame in April 2016 and perform with an All-Star lineup of original Ivory members plus the current lineup. We are hoping most of the old Ivory guys will be able to attend and do some cameos during the concert. So far, the first original band (1975) of Randy Crain, Jimi Williams, Curt Nesbitt, Dick Mattson and Craig Katt will be joined by the current band (listed below)from the 1985-1988 era. Danny Malloy, Don Lerdal and Phil Baker will also join in. Mike Niva is planning on attending, and we are anxiously awaiting confirmations from the Drew bothers, Jeff Gross, Scott Schmitt, Jon Koopman and Jeff O'Connell.
The current lineup, which includes all original members, is Todd Olsen, Scott Stackhouse, Kenny O'Dean, Talon Isom and founding "father" Craig Katt. The band has a number of reunion concerts scheduled for 2016 including a two day show down in Florida.

Check out the Ivory website at for more updates and pics.

Chad Coppess said...

Very cool. Thanks for all the info!