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Grand Slam Jam to rock River Falls

First National Bank of River Falls Field will host its very first concert when the River Falls Baseball Council presents the Grand Slam Jam Saturday, Sept. 8.

The day-long music festival will feature the Gear Daddies with special guests 4onthefloor along with Firewater Gospel Choir and Easy Hour.

RFBC president Greg Peters said it's been a goal of the council to host a concert ever since the ballpark opened in 2014. And he believes they've found the perfect lineup for the Grand Slam Jam.

"Deciding on which bands we thought would be successful for our first concert was a process in itself," he said. "We are so excited to have the Gear Daddies and 4onthefloor. Both bands and their management have been so easy to deal with and very accommodating."

The nationally-renowned Gear Daddies started out in Austin, Minn. in 1984 with guitar player and singer Martin Zellar, bass player Nick Ciola, electric and pedal steel guitar player Randy Broughton and drummer James "Billy" Dankert.

Their most notable mainstream success was when they played their hit song, "Stupid Boy," on Late Night with David Letterman in 1991, although their best known song is arguably Zellar's "I Want to Drive the Zamboni," which was featured in the movies "D2: The Mighty Ducks," and "Mystery, Alaska" and is still played during intermission at hockey games all across North America.

"Ironically, there's some baseball connections there too," Peters said. "The father of the bass player played in the majors and Martin Zellar played baseball and is a big baseball fan. They are definitely into helping our cause."

That cause is to raise money to maintain the ballpark. Peters said the RFBC needs to replace the left and right field foul line fencing and is still paying off a loan from the original construction.

"Nice ballparks don't come cheap; it takes a ton of elbow grease," Peters said. "This community raised over $700,000 to build the ballpark six years ago and not one cent of taxpayer dollars were used. It is volunteer-built and volunteer-run, but we still have about $230,000 on a loan left. We're going to try and knock that loan down a little faster."

In addition to the Gear Daddies, Peters believes concert-goers will enjoy the rest of the bill as well. 4onthefloor's music has been featured in such television shows as ABC's Nashville and A&E's Duck Dynasty and its debut record, 4x4, was called one of the best rock and roll records of 2011 by Indie Media Magazine.

"4onthefloor is going to blow the roof off," Peters said. "I've seen them four or five times and they are one of the best live bands I've ever seen, and I'm old and I've seen a lot of cool bands."

Peters said Firewater Gospel Choir drummer Brandon Clark lives in River Falls and designed the Grand Slam Jam logo.

"I had a picture in my head what it looked like and was trying to mesh baseball and music together," Peters said. "Brandon's logo was exactly what I was picturing and I didn't even really tell him too much."

Peters knows the guitar player from Easy Hour, Dave Senne, from college in St. Cloud, and said Senne's friend, Jamison Geisler, owns PublicMedia and is hosting the Grand Slam Jam website for free.

"Their help has been off the charts," Peters said. "There's something about that ballpark out there. It's tough to explain, but people just feel the urge to help out."

Easy Hour will open the day-long concert at 1:30 p.m. and Firewater Gospel Choir will play at 3:30 p.m. with 4onthefloor at 6 p.m. and Gear Daddies at 8:30 p.m.

Tickets are $25.99 each and can be purchased online at grandslamjam.com or in person at Shooter's Pub, Johnnies Bar, or Junior's Restaurant & Taphouse. VIP tickets are only available at First National Bank of River Falls and include preferred parking, bathrooms, and concessions.

Peters said people can bring their own chairs or sit in the grandstand on a first-come-first-serve basis. He said the RFBC has also locked in a few food vendors that will have some different ballpark and tailgating food twists.

"I'm keeping my fingers crossed this first concert is a success, because we plan on having one per year," Peters said. "The ticket sales are going really well right now so that's been a big stress reliever. If someone wants to go, they better buy a ticket pretty soon because we'll likely be sold out by Sept. 8."

Bob Burrows
Bob Burrows has been sports editor at the River Falls Journal since 1996 and at the Hudson Star-Observer since 2009. Prior to joining the Journal, Burrows served as sports editor with Ledger Publications in Balsam Lake, Wis. A native of Bayonne, N.J. and a U.S. Navy veteran, Burrows attended Marquette University before completing his studies at UW-River Falls in 1992.
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