Jim Reed and the Shellabration Committee didn't have to go far to bring in some talented local bands to open for Foreigner at Shellabration this year. In fact, he found three Iowa Rock-and-Roll Hall of Fame members in a band right here in Fort Dodge.
"This is unprecedented for Shellabration," Reed said. "The fact we have an opening act that has three, repeat three, Iowa Rock and Roll Hall of Fame members from different bands, it's pretty powerful."
Hall of Fame drummer Dean Davis, keyboardist Dave Hearn and guitarist Tim Chipman will all perform in Wheelhouse. Davis and Hearn are regular members of the band, while Chipman is a guest artist.
-Messenger photo by Joe Sutter
Tim Chipman, left, and Dave Hearn work on a song during a recent rehearsal of the band Wheelhouse, which will open for Foreigner at this year’s Shellabration. Hearn and Chipman are Iowa Rock and Roll Hall of Famers.
The rest of the band is Sean Minikis on lead guitar, Shelly Bottorff as lead singer and Nick Schelle on bass.
Reed described Wheelhouse as playing "soulful, rockin' blues. "
For Davis, Wheelhouse has been a chance to get back to doing what he loves.
"When I moved back to Fort Dodge, I thought my music career was over," Davis said. "Nobody here would want to play like I would want to play. We did form an old '60s band, but I really wasn't into playing that music anymore."
Davis spent some time jamming with Minikis at the Eagles Club, and in January this year they decided to get together and start a band. Minikis is now the lead guitarist for Wheelhouse.
"This band, we're playing music that I like," Davis said. "You never stop learning. I'm still practicing, still working, still trying to get myself better. That's the challenge and that's the fun of it."
Wheelhouse is a blending of old and new rockers.
"I'm playing with kids," Davis said. "Some of these guys are half my age. To play with such good, talented musicians, it rejuvenates me."
Minikis said his first real gig was in 2008.
"I started at some jams Kris Karr used to host," he said.
Though he played in high school for fun, Minikis said he didn't keep it up in college while studying to be an engineer.
"I didn't play for probably six or seven years," he said.
Once he was done with his education, his love of music pulled him back in, he said.
"The Lizard Creek Blues Society helped a lot. The acts they were bringing in and the quality of the musicianship they were bringing to the community inspired me to play again."
Minikis played in Shellabration with other bands in 2009 and 2011.
Chipman said that in Wheelhouse he mostly plays rhythm guitar to Minikis's lead.
"Sean is really the lead guitar," Chipman said. "My focus is to back Sean up. He's unbelievably good."
Although he's played many venues, Chipman said opening for Foreigner is a big deal.
"Shellabration is a pretty big thing," he said. "I think this is one of the highlights of my career."
Davis got into the Hall of Fame with the group West Minist'r, which played from 1968 to 1971. They were famous for their Beatles medleys, and met celebrities such as The Guess Who, Dick Clark and Mike Bloomfield. Davis now works as a drumming instructor.
Hearn reached the Hall of Fame for his work with The Hawks in the late '70s. Two of their songs reached the Billboard Top 100 in the early '80s.
Hearn was living in California trying to make it big, when he got a call from back home that a record label was interested in his old band.
"That's how I moved back from Los Angeles to Otho, Iowa, to get a recording deal. It's an unlikely story," said Hearn.
During the day he works as an optician, fitting people with glasses.
Chipman was inducted into the Hall of Fame with the band The Fifth Generation, which played from 1968 to 1971, but said he might be more well-known here for the Fabulous Flippers, an influential eight-piece rhythm and blues band based out of Lawrence, Kan.
Shellabration gates open at 5:30 p.m. Friday. Wheelhouse will play at 6 p.m. Just Around Midnight will start at 7:30 p.m. Foreigner is scheduled to play at 9:30 p.m.
Tickets are available for $32 online at www.ticketweb.com, by phone at (866) 468-3401 and in Fort Dodge at CS Bank, First American Bank, First Federal Savings Bank, Hy-Vee, Hy-Vee Drug Store, Northwest Bank and Wells Fargo.
Children under 12 will be admitted free with an adult. All tickets are general admission, with festival-style seating.